Health, The Bod
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A History of My Life in Diets

It’s time. Or at least that’s what I’ve said every time, since about 1982. It’s always time and never time to lose weight. There’s always a new artisanal grilled cheese shop waiting for me to experience.

Damn you, Brooklyn.

But this time it’s different. This time I’m in pain. You mean vanity hasn’t prompted me to try and lose weight? Nope.

The fact that I’m a fashion hound and can’t shop anywhere but tasteful and drape-y Eileen Fucking Fisher? Nope.

That I do my best to afford a first-class ticket so I don’t have to worry about oozing into my neighbor’s seat? Nope.

The fact that my little niece likes to giggle and say to me, “You’re fat!” and then slap my belly with her pint-sized paw.


And funny, that thing called love. My husband and I like to tell each other, “Every day is not a celebration.” Because sometimes, happiness is yet another great excuse not to worry (or care) about losing weight.

How did I get here? Years and years, my friend.


Looking back at pictures, I’m always flummoxed to see that I wasn’t really a heavy kid, just a normal, dorky, tall, chubby-cheeked girl. But a few fellow 12-year-olds thought otherwise, and made it known that I was, in fact, a chubbo. Mind you, this was back when teasing and bullying was just a normal part of growing up, not something requiring parental intervention

Seventh grade fucking sucked.

Since then, decades years later, I have indeed made good on my pre-teen pal’s premonitions, and have reached 260 lbs.

Which brings us back to the pain thing.

At the end of last year, in an effort to ignore the food part of losing weight, I’d decided to sign up with a trainer three days (and a thousand dollars later) a week. At the same time, stairs had become a problem; I would grip the railing, huff and puff to reach the top of several flights of subway stairs and noticed that my legs, feet and knees hurt all the time.

The trainer idea sounded smartish. Except that my 20-something, former professional soccer player trainer — I’ll call him Guillermo — decided to have me work through my pain, running speed laps on the treadmill and jumping up and down from those aerobic step benches. When I’d complain about the sharp pain in my knees and say “maybe I have arthritis?” he just waved me off, laughing “I always thought I had arthritis after a match,” he’d say ”but it probably just means you’re really getting a workout!”

Uh, yeah… Turns out, it was arthritis. And, an MRI indicated a torn meniscus in both of my knees. Ugh. Major ugh. I can’t say it was the trainer’s fault exactly — it’s possible it was something that I’d had for a while (have an MRI and you don’t what the heck they’ll find), I may never know.

So I traded in my trainer for a truly awesome physical therapist (Hi PT Mike!), and after six weeks of massage, ice, stretching and strengthening to help alleviate the pain around the torn-up knees, I started to feel a bit better. When my doctor told me surgery wasn’t entirely necessary, at least for now, I asked him if there was anything else I could do to help alleviate the pain. He said, in words a bit more diplomatic than my five-year-old niece, “Lose weight.”

So here I am again.

But this time, I want to do it right and I want to do it for good. The doctor suggested I perhaps try medical weight loss or a nutritionist, two approaches I’ve never tried — and I’ve tried them all. I’m by no means a diet newbie; in fact at one point I was the editorial director for AOL Diet and Fitness.

Honey, I know everything there is to know about dieting, it’s just that putting it into practice thing.

The trick is that my brain has to be completely focused, a little “fooled” and in the game. I remind myself that this is only temporary; that slice of pizza is in my future, just not right now.

It’s also about not battling myself or anyone who’s ever called me “fat.” I have to pipe down that inner voice that says, “Screw it, I can have that cheeseburger and fries, I can do whatever I want! Fat is a Feminist Issue, people.”

Well, it is… until your legs start to give out and you can’t get up the stairs anymore.

I just want to fit in narrow spaces, I just don’t want to take up so much room. I just want to unload some of this pressure, change the height- to-weight ratio. If I think of it like a science project, maybe I’ll succeed.

(a version of this article originally appeared on



  1. Shelly "Splinters" Rabuse
    Shelly says

    Margit – you are wonderful – in any shape and any size! But I am glad you are working at being healthy! This time it will happen! I’m going to see a nutritionist too that helped a friend!

  2. So much of your story is similar to mine! I am currently on what I hope to be “my last” weight loss journey. I am currently 38 pounds in. My first goal…40 pounds before I turn 40 (which is in about a week and half…Halloween). Lots more to go after that. None of this is easy. This time what I have done differently- tell everyone! I post on facebook, tell everyone I know- it helps because it keeps me accountable and gives me tons and tons of support. I highly recommend it 🙂 Wishing you well on your journey.

    • Margit Detweiler

      Meg, you’re absolutely right — accountability is everything. That was part of my thinking in writing this piece. If I tell the world, maybe the world can hold me accountable. It’s tough stuff. Wishing you, too, the best of luck. Keep me posted on your progress!

  3. Just stumbled on this site, and liked it a lot until I got to this article. Pro-diet stuff is rampant throughout our culture, and I wish there were more people/blogs/etc. promoting real science-based mental and physical health over thinness for the sake of “fitting in narrow spaces.”

    I recommend checking out Health at Every Size (book and website) at and Intuitive Eating (book and website) at

    In my opinion, restriction isn’t the answer and can lead to unhealthy obsession with calories, avoiding certain foods, etc. A healthier and more sane approach involves re-learning to read your body’s cues and responding accordingly.

    Also, BMI is not an accurate measure of health. Various resources on this:

    • Margit Detweiler

      Girl….I hear you. Boy do I hear you. I don’t disagree with you and I’ll absolutely check out the books you recommend. Don’t think I mentioned BMI, I’m with you on that too.

      I’m just trying to find a way to physically feel better. I don’t deny that you can be healthy at any size (in fact, I’m extremely healthy in every other way), it’s just that I, personally, have experienced tremendous knee and arthritic pain (as noted) and need to relieve pressure. I noted the Fat is a Feminist Issue” book which I’d recommend back to you (you’ve probably read it). For me at my age, frame, health it’s just becoming a much trickier issue — I hope to explore that here. And I hope you’ll continue to share your insights, they’re a great help.

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