Wednesday, February 23, 2011


So between all my fashion stories about trends in summer swimwear or springtime footwear, I'm working on a story for the paper about hCG diet supplements.

What is hCG, you ask?

Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin aka hCG is a hormone found in pregnant woman. When you pee on a stick, the little stick is looking for hCG in your urine. If you have a certain level of hCG -- you're pregnant.

And what does that have to do with diet supplements?

Well, I'm still trying to figure that one out. The theory (or one of the theories) is that the hormone found in pregnant woman works to preserve a woman's fat stores. So if said pregnant woman doesn't take in enough calories for the ever-growing baby, the baby will eat off of the fat that already exists. I think the idea is that if you aren't pregnant and you take the hormone, your body will eat your stored fat, instead of the calories you do or do not put into yours system.'ll have to wait to read more about hCG when my story is done. I promise, it's going to be an eye-opener.

Last week I spoke with an obesity specialist named Mary. And you know what she told me off the record (i.e. this won't be in my story)? She told me everything about weight loss is a scam. My first reaction was, "what?" But later it seriously made sense.

Mary said all anyone ever hears about weight-loss is that it's necessary, and that weighing too much is bad for your health. However, Mary said, they don't tell you about all the negative side affects of dieting/weight loss. A doctor tells you to drop the weight because it will be good for you...but neglects to tell you that the chances you'll gain it all back (and some) is pretty high, that you'll be fatigued, that your metabolism will slow down, you'll feel nauseous, etc.

Mary told me quite frankly that the medical world at large doesn't understand obesity. They're playing a guessing game. They're groping around in the dark, uncertain of how to actually help their patients. They don't have all the answers to the questions. They don't know why some people battle the bulge, and others walk on toothpicks their entire life.

They just don't know.

And the worst part, Mary said, was society's view on it. As a society, we really do think it's a self-control issue. If you just didn't eat that last piece of cake. If you just ran a little longer. If only you weren't so lazy, you'd be healthy -- scratch that, you'd be skinny, and therefore, beautiful.

But that's just not's much more than a number's game, calories in vs. calories out. It's more than self-control. It's more than just not being lazy. It's more than cultural expectations. It's more than our environments. It's more than hormones, diseases, disorders or psychology. And of course, it's more than just genetics.

It's a strange, complicated mix of all of the above and probably more.

Of course, health is important. Of course, sometimes weight loss is necessary. But that's not my point.

My point is, sometimes we don't have as much control over our bodies as we'd like to think we have. And I think that's okay.

I'm a former fat girl. My waist line has yo-yo-ed from a size 10 to a size 16 my entire life. I've never been stick-thin. I used to look in the mirror and think to myself, "If only I was skinny, then a boy would like me. Then I would be loved. Then I would be desired." And that was so wrong.

Health is important. But maybe, just maybe, we need to relax a little bit -- stop judging ourselves and others so harshly. Stop counting every calorie. Stop worrying about how tight our jeans are from day-to-day. Stop obsessing over how much time is spent in the gym.

We're missing life over something we can't totally control -- something our medical professionals don't even understand yet.

So as a former fat girl, I'm saying we enjoy life, we still take care of ourselves, but we don't sweat the small stuff. It's okay if the scale goes up or down, it's inevitable. What's important, is remembering that a person's value is so much more than a number on a scale.



Jess said...

Wow, that is so amazing to hear. To bad that they don't tell people this. I think we would have a better definition on beauty. I yo-yo as well always have. Though I am at my largest size that I have been. But I also ride my bike, go on walks, and sometimes go on hikes. But I have never been able to control my weight.
I have come to realize that I can't always help it but I can help with being as healthy as I can.
Great post. And great blog as well.

Hannah said...

Thanks, Jes! It was amazing talking to Mary, and really an eye-opener. She reminded me that it's more important to be healthy i.e. you eat a well-rounded, balanced diet and live an active lifestyle and be heavier, than stick thin and eating poorly and not exercising. She said she thinks real health is when you have a twinkle in your eye and a bounce in your step...she even cried at the end of the interview. It really was very touching.

I finished the full story on hCG. You can find the link here:

If you read it, let me know what you think! I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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