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Snarky, sane, smart and down-to-earth weight loss support?
April 12, 2011 8:43 AM   Subscribe

I want a weight loss community for people like me.

I'm a woman in my twenties. I'm not "shedding for the wedding", "losing my baby bump" or trying to earn that bikini body. I don't take advice from Cosmo, I don't overthink every single little thing I eat and freak out in my journal about it. I probably smoke too much weed and I definitely overdo it on the alcohol when it comes to maintaining a diet. I have a sense of humor about body issues and know that it's a constant lifestyle change rather than a quickie diet. I've had major success already, but need to lose about fifty more pounds until I get to the highest end of "normal" on the BMI. I'm not doing P90X, South Beach, the Insanity Workout, Couch to 5k, Paleo, Weight Watchers, Atkins or any other diet or routine with a buzzname. I'm simply not eating like a pig and the food I do inhale needs to be rich but healthy. My resources involve reading food labels, watching portion sizes and not falling into the disordered-eating trap of playing tricks on my brain to eat less.

But I'm missing a support group. I tried Weight Watchers and my local branch as well as the online support groups were packed to the gills with insecure, dramatic 18pt pink Comic Sans and smiley-infected messages about how the author ate ten too many M&Ms and fell off the wagon. Fatsecret, Livestrong and similar sites are no better. /r/loseit comes close to what I'm looking for, but there's too much noise and boys-club-style posturing there.

What I'm looking for is the Metafilter of weight loss communities or perhaps even the Jezebel/Hairpin of weight loss communities. Snarky, sane, smart and down-to-earth people (preferably women, since we deal with unique perspectives on weight) looking for answers, discussing issues, giving support and generally keeping the world updated on their weight loss journey.

Does this kind of a community exist? It's hard to regularly cover the topic of "weight loss" without being shoved into the pseudoscientific, diet-industrial self-hate corner, but I know it can be done.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (26 answers total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
 
Maybe try creating such a community on meetup.com or something? I don't know if meetup is active in your area... but it seems like you should be able to find these people around even if the community doesn't already exist.
posted by brainmouse at 8:56 AM on April 12, 2011


Prevention.com has an amazingly robust assortment of interactive tools and groups, and I'm sure you could find or create something.
posted by jgirl at 8:58 AM on April 12, 2011


There is this MeFi weight loss group on Spark People. I don't know whether it's still active, but hey, this thread might give it a kick in the pants that it needs.
posted by orange swan at 9:01 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've had good luck finding sane people losing weight/getting fit on Tumblr, of all places. There are definitely some teen ana princesses, but there are also people serious about losing weight, getting fit, running, lifting weights, eating healthy, etc. Some of them are pretty inspiring, and you can interact with them as much or little as you want via messages, reblogs, likes, etc.
posted by hepta at 9:06 AM on April 12, 2011


I'm looking for something similar. For anybody interested, please MeMail me - perhaps we could set something up?

I'm also going to look into the MeFi group on SparkPeople.
posted by nathaole at 9:18 AM on April 12, 2011


Things like "Couch to 5k" and "Paleo" are both fairly unstructured programs that will vary tremendously from group to group. If it's fitness you're after, join a gym or YMCA, and take a look at the various classes they have available. Odds are, you'll find something that scratches your itch. Spinning is quite popular these days.

If it's specifically dieting that you're after, I'm afraid that I can't help you as well, although I would caution that your approach of steering clear of anything that's successful/popular is probably going to be counterproductive in the long run. Give a few different groups a try and see what works; just because you had a bad experience at one place does not mean that you'll have the same experience everywhere.

Also, it'll help to know where you live.

(Personally, I'd still steer clear of Paleo, given that it's got a pseudoscientific basis, and seems to conspicuously align with whatever foods your particular trainer happens to like.)
posted by schmod at 9:18 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm just starting to try and get fit, but I've actually gotten some useful information from the fitness subforum on SomethingAwful. There's a lot of good info for getting started in this or that activity, and they have a... I guess sub-subforum where you can list your fitness goals and post progress photos, and people can encourage you. They would probably appreciate your attitude toward this whole thing.

(Also, if you do have any interest in running but are bad at it, I'd take another look at Couch to 5k. It really isn't anything like P90X or whatever. It's literally just running, but you start slow. I'm having a lot of success with it, and I hate the same parts of 'fitness culture' that you seem to.)
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:19 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe calorie count ?
posted by marimeko at 9:19 AM on April 12, 2011


Maybe try creating such a community

Forming a group based mainly on the idea of feeling superior to other groups is not likely to create an environment where people feel welcome to share their personal thoughts and feelings, and as you mentioned, the subject of weight loss is a veritable minefield of insecurities. So you may want to go a bit easy on this kind of rhetoric when it comes to approaching people about forming a group, unless you just want to hear a lot of "Well... good luck with that."
posted by hermitosis at 9:19 AM on April 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


Well, the phrase that you may be looking for is Health at Every Size. It's about accepting yourself and focusing on eating normally and doing physical activity that is fun. The idea is that you become less obsessed with the number and accept yourself and focus instead on how you feel.

There's a bunch of online communities that have adopted HaES, but I've no connection or direct experience with any of them.
posted by inturnaround at 9:21 AM on April 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'd also suggest the fitness subforum on SomethingAwful. You'll get noise with your signal--you'll get that anywhere--but there is definitely a "Suck it up, buttercup" attitude towards weight loss and you definitely won't get any smiley hearts-and-stars-and-chocolate-bars hugboxes. There's a lot of helpful info in the FAQ threads and you can count on people to offer frank advice.

However, you will get trolls (though for the most part they target the very drama queens you dislike) and your internet-geek-shut-ins. Though not as many as you'd think.

(Also, if you're dealing with emotional eating/ED/etc, you will probably not get the support you need, though it has been getting better)
posted by schroedinger at 9:26 AM on April 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


i feel you and im in basically exactly your boat, maybe a few years down the line. I found some friends that were basically like me but no official group. The trouble is finding people who want to talk about some aspects of this stuff and not allowing talk about other aspects of it. Im not at all sure how groups would police the membership to keep out the smiley-faced-pink-comic-sans crowd.

It might be better to go through the existing communities and pick out people you jive with, and try to tolerate and ignore the comments about the ten m&ms.
posted by Blisterlips at 9:26 AM on April 12, 2011


I've looked into this and so far spark people is the least annoying community I have found. I didn't know about the metafilter spark people team - it would be great to get that active.
posted by medusa at 9:28 AM on April 12, 2011


I found the people in "moderate low-carb" (i.e. not standard Atkins) and "paleo" communities much less body-negative and less "OMG I need to lose X pounds until next friday!!!1" than other weight-loss communities.
Pros:
- There are lots of people there (like me) who do the diet for other health reasons, not for weight loss
- Big part of the community is in it for the long term (i.e. as a way of eating) - no annoying short-term dieters
- Low-carbers do not believe in starvation a a legitimate means to losing weight. BIG PLUS!
- wide variety of diet styles - so people are less likely to lecture you on what's "allowed" and what isn't (this is especially true for Paleo)
- hardly any Cosmo readers there...
- There are usually more men around there. You say you prefer women, but I sense some ambiguity in your question - you value womens' "unique" perspective, but at the same time are decidedly not interested in uniquely female challenges like baby bumps or fitting into size 8. IMHO, if both genders contribute to diet discussions, that tends to move conversations away from the old "my body is so deficient/ugly" topic and more towards down-to-earth approaches, body functionality, and health. I found discussions more balanced and healthy in communities where both genders are involved.

You might not agree with the low-carb approach, but why not post in one of the subforums there (look for "moderate low-carb"), describe your approach and try to find people for a spin-off community? Or you could just ask your question there - seconding hermitosis, though, I'd leave out the negative/dismissive descriptions of what you don't want in a community and focus on the positive/what you're looking for.
posted by The Toad at 9:30 AM on April 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


I haven't visited in many years, but the Vegetarian subforum on the Weight Watchers website used to be the meeting place for liberals, LBGT, natural/non-processed food eaters, and other assorted smart people.
posted by Daily Alice at 9:30 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


This may swing too far in the other direction, but I saw in another thread here someone recommending the forums associated with people using the Hacker's Diet.
posted by whatzit at 9:46 AM on April 12, 2011


Have you checked out myfitnesspal.com? There are lots of people on there, with many different motivations. People don't follow any specific diet, either.
posted by MorningPerson at 10:19 AM on April 12, 2011


ocherdraco runs a MeFite group on Health Month, which might be up your alley. Here's the MeTa thread about it.
posted by brina at 10:45 AM on April 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


if both genders contribute to diet discussions, that tends to move conversations away from the old "my body is so deficient/ugly" topic and more towards down-to-earth approaches, body functionality, and health.

That would be wonderful, but that end goal requires a firmly egalitarian website in the first place. Otherwise, you get SomethingAwful and Reddit and 4chan - try being a woman and posting a weight loss progress photo there.

It's much easier to find a sane fitness and health site geared toward women (simply by virtue of there being many, many more health sites geared toward women) than it is to find any kind of site welcoming to all genders - especially one dealing in loaded topics like weight loss.

Metafilter is the only site that comes close to being firmly egalitarian, so I'll be checking out the Sparkpeople group.
posted by theraflu at 10:55 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seconding that I've found the general climate in the moderate low-carb and "paleo" realm to be very much what you're looking for. Paleo's just a very general framework anyways, it's not a diet.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 11:36 AM on April 12, 2011


Metafilter has a Health Month team, and it does give me a sense of community. You pick your own goals and rewards/punishments for sticking to them. You can definitely put your own sense of humor and writing style into the goals. Look at Health Month!!
posted by shortyJBot at 12:04 PM on April 12, 2011


I used to be active in the Bodybuilding.com* forums (which I DON'T necessarily recommend as a viable community for you, btw!) and found that there are a lot of thoughtful women there who were serious about weight loss and fitness.

Were I you, I'd join that forum and send a PM to some of the women there -- maybe particularly in the over-35 forum -- and ask them for suggestions for other forums that might be a fit for you.

*Contrary to the name, it's much more about fitness than bodybuilding. Also, it's totally overrun with 4chan-type trolls.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:05 PM on April 12, 2011


Well, some Weight Watchers meetings are better than others, and each group has it's own personality. I've had great success with Weight Watchers in the past, (as have several family members), so I'd suggest shopping around for a meeting that you like. Try a meeting in a hip part of town. Or, alternatively, bring a friend who you can heckle with.
posted by ladypants at 1:37 PM on April 12, 2011


You could try Peer Trainer. They have several different user-created groups that you can search, similar to meetup.com, and hopefully find one that fits your needs. You can also create groups specifying the sort of people you're looking for. The downside to this is that groups are small (limited to four people, I think) so if one person leaves or drops out or stops posting--which happens pretty commonly--then you're kind of down on support. But they have general forums as well.
posted by Polychrome at 3:51 AM on April 13, 2011


It's a stretch, but you might be interested in the Electrical forum's thread on losing weight, since as mentioned above when it's more mixed-gender there tends to be less of the body hatred and obsession over appearance. (Though, as you can see from the thread title, it's a little...testosterone-front-y, as is the entire site usually.) It's not any one approach and it won't necessarily be helpful for advice or guidelines as it's just a zillion different people with different goals and different methods posting about their progress and getting high fives, that's all. And I agree with other comments above about low carb and Paleo/Primal forums being somewhat more sane about "this is the rest of your LIFE, you can't starve yourself" though there is still lots of buzzword zealotry, granted. And I too like the Something Awful forums a lot because there tends to be a lot less bullshit, more of a get-'er-done sort of tone (I do agree though if you have problems with emotional eating/body dysmoprhia/ED it's probably not the best place for you).

I also have to admit hermitosis hits on exactly what I was thinking while reading your post though. You will probably never find a forum--that is, many people from different starting points and perspectives--that is exactly just like you, and there's a tone there that everyone else's concerns or approaches are silly compared to yours. As he said, if you want to get friendly with people that tone, whether wittingly or unwittingly presented, might not be in your favor.
posted by ifjuly at 8:46 AM on April 13, 2011


Anyone interested in the Spark People group the invite to the private group is in this MetaTalk thread. If you're interested we would love your input.
posted by dog food sugar at 1:50 AM on April 19, 2011


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