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From the OO Email Group Part 1: THE DREAM OF BEING THIN

Is it possible to use the OO approach and still hold onto the idea of losing weight? The online group has discussed this many times over the past several months, and we found that many of us struggle with this issue. Here are some of the ideas we shared about…

Marian: It seems that in an effort to accept ourselves at whatever weight we're at, there's almost been a subtle put-down of wanting to be thin or weigh less. I think I look and feel better weighing less than I presently weigh. The OO books even say that accepting our weight as it is doesn't mean that we have to like it!

Donna: I, too, wonder at the put-downs of wanting to lose some weight. I agree that losing weight wouldn't make me a better person, but it would make me a more comfortable person!

Liz: I really don't think anyone is putting down thin(ner) as a way for a body to be; however, I do think that it can't be a goal if we're trying to use the OO approach. Accepting ourselves as we are is very difficult when the world quite often tells us not to. Everyone struggles with the desire to be thinner, the urge to diet, etc. I just know that I can no longer say I will accept myself as I am—but that I should still be smaller because I will look better, be in better shape, etc. This idea has kept me binging my way through life. I am fed up with living with this idea!

Jacki: There is nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight to be more "comfortable!" The problem is when it's because of appearance or trying to conform—or if it becomes all-consuming. It's also a problem if you don't accept yourself because of this desire. I don't feel anyone's putting anyone down for wanting to lose weight. It's just that OO's main goal is not to lose weight—it's to make peace with food and our bodies. When this happens, weight loss is sometimes a side effect, and we may, in time, return to our "natural weight." Sure, it would be nice to be a little smaller as far as comfort and mobility go, but I can't allow myself to make weight loss a goal. As soon as I do that, I end up binging and obsessing about food and weight again!

Laurie: I agree that trying to lose weight may not be the healthiest attitude. I think that if you are moving when you want and you are eating what your body wants, and you are losing weight, fine. If you are happy about that, fine. If you are turning OO into a diet, not so fine. The whole point of OO is acceptance. I don't love my body the way it is, but I don't hate my body the way it is. It just is. For me, acceptance has been the key to happiness. I accept my body the way it is. I accept that it may change. I accept that it may never change. It doesn't mean you can't wish you were smaller, but if that wish is filling your days and nights, then you might need to rethink things!

Stacey: This thought just occurred to me after reading some of your posts on this subject: "Natural weight"—what does that really mean? Is there any such thing as "unnatural" weight?! Please excuse the slight tongue-in-cheek aspect of this comment, but are any of us unnatural? My body is the size it is as a result of all I have eaten, all my mouth hunger, stomach hunger, diets, exercise, binges, etc. None of these events are unnatural—they just are. We can't assume that weight loss comes from "doing OO right"—just as we can't assume that weight gain comes from "not doing OO right."

Katy: I don't mind that people want to lose weight. I wish that our society didn't value it so much, but I can't blame someone for wanting to feel better or "fit in." In my experience, I felt much worse emotionally when I have been thin because it's such a struggle to maintain a small body. I accept that some people will lose weight if they follow this approach; however, the pit that I fell into with this type of thinking, is that this approach is the way to lose weight. I think these are two very different things. My previous thinking that if I ate only when hungry and stopped when I was full led me straight into "diet mentality." As long as there is a condition on my eating, it is just another diet which has an associated binge. Only after giving myself permission to eat whenever I want, did I reach the point that I notice stomach hunger and mouth hunger and can respond to them accordingly.

Jacki: I agree totally with Katy! The only reason people have spoken up when they see someone focusing on weight loss is because we know that focusing on weight loss will cause you to FAIL with the OO approach and will hinder your progress in curing your compulsive eating! It's not that having a "desire" to lose weight or even having lost weight is "bad" or "forbidden" or anything else! However, making weight loss the goal of the OO approach is a sure way to end up staying stuck in the "diet/binge" cycle and then blaming OO for not working!

Kelly: In order for the OO approach to work for me, I needed to give up the idea of losing weight completely. With that idea still stuck in my head, I would continue to judge food as "good" or "bad" and not completely legalize it. I also needed to accept my body in the here and now. "Future living" is self sabotaging for most people. You may start off with the idea that "I want to lose weight so I feel better, more comfortable, etc."—but it can (and usually does) quickly turn into bad body thoughts and fat-talk, which keeps the cycle of compulsive eating and body hatred alive. There's a difference between wanting to lose weight and losing weight as a side effect of doing OO. The first keeps us in "deprivation mode" and the other just happens automatically.

Laurie: Well, I will absolutely not go back to that place again where weight loss is an issue. It was slowly killing me and destroying those around me. I believe that, as long as you want to lose weight, you can never be truly satisfied with what you have. I followed the OO principles, without question, and have now reached this level of acceptance. I truly don't think dieting has a place here. If you want to ask how I reached this point—great. If you want me to say that weight loss as a goal can fit into the OO approach, I will say "no." OO is about acceptance, not dieting. As long as losing weight is considered a "good thing," acceptance will never come.

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