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Running Down the Up Escalator (Part 2)

EscalatorYesterday, I noted how losing and keeping weight off is like trying to run down an escalator that is moving up and, the minute you stop running, will take you back to the top.

I also shared the rather depressing analogy that as you get further down the escalator, it speeds up so that the lower down you get, the more effort it requires to simply maintain your place on the escalator.

Finally, I noted that there is no real bottom – or in other words, no matter how much effort you put into getting lower down the escalator, you never quite reach the bottom or the point where you can simply get off.

Today, I want to add a couple of important points to this analogy.

Firstly, it is important to remember that whatever took you to the top of the escalator, if not addressed, will make the descent even harder (if not impossible).

In the simplest case – to use an analogy that a reader sent in – imagine trying to run down the escalator on one leg – it’s going to be so much harder than with two legs. So if arthritis in one knee took you to the top of the elevator in the first place, trying to get back down while your knee is still killing you is going to be so much more difficult that if your knees were OK.

Similarly, if depression or binge eating took you up the escalator, trying to get down that escalator while still depressed or still not in control of your eating is going to to be so much harder that if these problems were resolved.

It may help to think of whatever took you to the top of that escalator as additional baggage that you have to lug along as you try to run down – the heavier the bags, the harder it is going to be.

As readers will realise, those excess bags could be anything – from a genetic predisposition to medications that you might be on to lack of sleep to high stress levels to intimate saboteurs to relationship issues to loneliness to body image issues to childhood trauma – the list goes on and on….

This is why it makes a lot of sense to first deal with what took you to the top before beginning your journey down that up-escalator.

clearly, simply jumping on that escalator without first dealing with the underlying problem will make losing weight and keeping it off so much more difficult – remember, running down the escalator with no baggage is already hard enough

But, even if the underlying problem is dealt with – you will still be trying to run down the up-escalotor – that unfortunately will never change – it will only get somewhat easier the less baggage you have to carry.

But why does the escalator move up in the first place and why does the elevator analogy have important implications for how we address obesity treatments?

More on this in tomorrow’s post.

Edmonton, AB


  1. What if you’re depressed because you’re obese?
    What if being obese itself is the cause of depression?

    Too much weight to carry around. Knees hurt. Awkward and clumsy. Hard to find clothes, they’re more expensive. Not being able to do activities your friends do. These are all results of obesity itself, not the result of discrimination or anti-fat bias. Being obese is depressing.

    If you wait until you’re no longer depressed to set off on that run down the up escalator, you’ll be setting yourself up to keep the depression and the obesity forever.

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    • Sure – but often it helps to treat the depression first – the meds don’t care where the depression came from – they just change the chemicals in you brain to improve your mood.

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  2. This FEELS more like running UP a down-moving escalator – while carrying full battle gear.

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  3. So, in what sense will the escalator change , when moving to a “Robinson” island ? What’s the impact of the obesogene context on the escalator mechanism ?? (his speed ?? his lenght ??)

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  4. What got me to the top of the escalator is the escalator itself. My memories of being “the fat girl” go as far back as my memories. There was never a time in my life when I was an “average” weight. My mother has been stick-thin all her life with little concern for food. My brother is just like her. They occupy one end of the Bell curve. With a bodytype identical to all my father’s sisters, I exist at the other end—a body that wants to be larger and a brain that loves to think about food, connecting food to everything in my life that I experience.

    My escalator decides its own speed and it’s made my life in our highly obesogenic culture rather difficult. Not impossible, but I have a much more difficult run down the moving stairs than a lot of people. But I’ve spent my life being asked what’s eating me, what’s my real underlying problem? There’s nothing “wrong” with me. I’m fine as I am. We all have something to deal with in our lives and managing my weight is mine. Life could have handed me much worse than being doomed to regular exercise and a simple diet.

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