Scientific American recently came out with an article that discusses ditching weight loss and dieting because of poor results. It refers to a man with health problems who instead of dieting began exercising and eating his fruits and vegetables. The results were minimal weight loss but an increase in health.
Everywhere we go, from the mouths of our peers, on every magazine rack, Internet ad, and weight-loss reality show, we get the message: you need to lose weight. You are too fat. Maybe it’s time to retire this line of thinking.
The article isn’t fat positive (Although kudos to their using pictures of fat people eating healthy and exercising rather than a headless fatty). It views weight loss as not important yet later says we shouldn’t judge fat people because maybe they already lost weight and it also makes no mention of Health at Every Size™ (HAES) which promotes healthy habits over weight loss.
However, it brings up the point that we push weight loss more than healthy habits. One of the reason I’m such an advocate of Health at Every Size is all my attempts to lose weight failed me. Once I realized diets don’t work for me (And for most people), I knew that I had to instead engage in healthy habits and not care if weight loss happened. I worked to make sure my meals included vegetables and fruit and that I exercised every day. I tried my best to avoid foods my body didn’t like and to not punish myself for a splurge.
Maybe it’s time to go for a walk, or eat some asparagus, just because those are good, pleasurable things to do, and will make our lives better, whatever our weight.
Meanwhile a study shows that children who get vegetables earlier tend to still eat them later in life.
Exposing infants to a new vegetable early in life encourages them to eat more of it compared to offering novel vegetables to older children, new research from the University of Leeds suggests.
I have mentioned on my blogthat as a kid I loved vegetables, especially carrots, cucumbers, and peppers. Dieting ruined my love for vegetables. When I was on the dieting/binge cycle, I would hardly eat them if I wasn’t dieting.
We make habits so complex with dieting. There’s a million different diets out there, all with different advice, none of which have proved to work for most people in the long run. Meanwhile we ignore the age-old advice. Eat your vegetables and go out and play. I must rather the money from the diet industry be used to create parks, healthy school lunches and get rid of food deserts.
I hope everyone in the States had a good holiday weekend and didn’t worry about calories at the multi-BBQ’s they went to (I ended up going to two.)
A lot of the pants I use for work were in dire need of replacement. Because I didn’t know in advance what kind of selection the Big Fat Flea would have, I bought two pairs of pants from Marshalls and ended up getting two more pairs from the Flea. (Technically three, but only two were for work)
My favorite type of pants are pinstripes. I think they are debonair and classy looking. I couldn’t find a single pinstripe at Marshalls. After hunting their lackluster section, I ended up with two black pairs of pants.
At the flea I found many pinstripes and after trying them all on, I ended up with two pairs.
Costs of my pants from Marshalls: $45
Costs of my pants from Big Fat Flea: $10.
The pants I got from Marshalls were just okay. Both were all black. One was cotton and loose and light for summer. The other was heavier meant for all seasons. The heavier one was a lint magnet. It seemed to come out of the laundry already with cat hair. The lighter pair winkled easily.
Meanwhile the two pairs I got from the flea didn’t winkle or attract lint. They were both pinstriped and looked great on me.I have mentioned before how hard it is to buy clothes. This isn’t a rant against Marshall, but department stores and even plus size stores don’t have the sizes, style, price, quality and quantity that I want. I can't just walk into a Lane Bryant or a Macys or a JC Penney and get what I need. I have to rely on a yearly event to make up the bulk on my wardrobe. I rely more on my fat sisters to give me what I need rather than a place that I'm willing to give money.
I've been on multiple diets, but the one I did the most was Weight Watchers. I started when I was 16 and was off and on until I was 24. For eight years I did exchanges, then points. I lost weight then gained it back. No matter what I did, no matter the program, the team leader, my age, or location, I lost weight then gained it back plus more.
I believe it was my third time doing it when I (actually my parents) bought into the program where you can only buy their food. For breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, I could only eat the highly processed Weight Watcher's food and unlimited vegetables (I don't remember if the fruit was unlimited yet.) It didn't work and I weight cycled yet again. Using their foods only DID NOT change anything. I was strict on the program, lost weight, stopped, got hungry all the time, and then went on a massive binge. It was no different from when I did the program using my own foods.
When I stopped dieting, I tried to move to healthy foods which increased my interest in eating non-processed and organic food. Before I stopped dieting, I lived off of canned and boxed foods, even when I wasn't on a diet. (I should still eat Healthy Choice dinners because they were healthy, weren't they?)
Weight Watchers recently made a push to sell more of their frozen processed foods. I haven't eaten a Smart One meal in 15 years. (I don't eat any frozen foods except Amy's Gluten/dairy free burritos which I call emergency burritos because I eat them when my husband is home late and I don't want to cook.)
Unfortunately this push is more than just a "Buy our foods" deal. Katie Lowe of The Huffington Post refers to it as And for your 2014 U.S. marketing efforts, you've come up with a new campaign that -- without a hint of irony -- shames women for eating, and encourages them to adopt a healthier lifestyle by buying the range of processed, chemically formed patties you call "food."
Weight Watchers, Atkins, and genetic diet foods are often processed. (Even Atkins had these awful protein bars that tasted like cardboard) When I first started dieting, I ate diet foods not thinking about their content. It could come in a box, a can, a bag (thanks Nutrisystem) but if it was "Diet food" to me it was healthy.
Smart Ones aren't really healthy. They are high in sodium and low in fiber. To be honest, while my emergency burritos have natural (mostly) organic ingredients, they are also heavily processed. But they don't have things like this list (taken from Smart Ones Egg and Cheese Wrap):
On Friday a train in Queens derailed. Thankfully no one was seriously injured. Unfortunately I needed that train to get to Big Fat Flea on Sunday.
That wasn't about to stop me.
I hate shopping in most stores. I procrastinate because I don't want to deal with tiny racks or trying on the small selections to maybe get two things that still didn't seem to fit right. I'd come home disappointed and frustrated because I didn't get what I needed.
I didn’t procrastinate when I came to the flea. The night before I plotted the best way to get there. Looking over subways lines, MTA advisories and even considered driving in (that was nixed due to the Five Boro Bike tour.) I wasn't about to miss the biggest fat shopping experience of the year.
I got there at about 10:20, checked in as a VIP (If you can afford it for $27 you can come in a half hour early. It's worth it to get your hands on the better selection and to avoid the lines.)
I gave myself 15 minutes to shop, 15 minutes to try on and then I would look at accessories and shoes. Something I could do while the big crowds swelled around the clothes.
Within fifteen minutes, my bag overflowed with dresses, tops and pants. Many of which still had tags on it and I headed into the fitting area.
At one point the temporary wall marking off the fitting room collapsed and many of us stood there wearing just our undergarments (I had just tried on a top) but everyone took that in good humor. The whole atmosphere was lively. The dressing room filled with loving women who would try on clothes, get honest advice, and pass around clothes that didn't fit them.
I tried on everything and put less back than I ever had at any department store. With the amazing selection, I didn't have to settle, there was plenty to choose from.
When I finally paid, my total was $61 for
1 dress with tags (originally marked as $56) Every year at the flea, I have something I call my ultimate find. This was it.
1 swim bottom
1 pair of shorts
Remember I wrote that two weeks ago I spent $60 in Marshalls for two pairs of pants because out of the six I tried, these two looked "okay".
I had made a mental list of what to look for: Pants for work, shirts for different seasons, bike shorts.
Except for the bike shorts (#5 was regular shorts), I walked out with everything I wanted. The Flea gave me something other stores never could, not just selection and sizes but a big dose of self-esteem.
I exercise every day. Biking, walking, yoga, swimming, and/or stretching. If I don't exercise I get tired, depressed, and feel worn out. I feel that I owe my body movement and the endorphins that come from it. I understand that some days my body is more open where I can bike 30 minutes, moderately walk for an hour, do yoga, and a sprint. Other days I'm lucky to get in my bike. Exercise instructor (and all around cool fat chick) Jeanette DePatie understands we need to do exercise but as much as our bodies can do and as we have to listen when it comes to intuitive eating, we have to do the same thing with exercise. We have to listen to the signals our body gives us duing exercise.
This sign to me represents a culture where we learn to ignore the signals our bodies send as we work out. This is about a culture of masochism, where the more pain and agony you endure during a workout, the closer you bring your body to the edge of absolute destruction during a workout, the better. And as an exercise teacher this makes me absolutely crazy. Because, the messages you receive from your body are the most important line of defense, the most important tool you could possibly use to keep yourself safe as you work out.
We live in a culture of all or nothing. Where you either do hardbody exercise or none at all. Consider what I wrote about a few weeks ago about a study that was picked up by the media that fat women don't exercise but neglected to mention that we still moderately exercise. Not everyone (Not just fat people but thin ones too) can do a few hours of exercise a day.
The New York Timeslooked at a study that showed exercise was a key to longevity, regardless of weight.
Over all, people in the lowest exercise category had about twice the risk of dying from heart disease as those in the middle group and six times the risk of those in the group who exercised the most often and vigorously.
Meanwhile Atchka of Fierce Freethinking Fatties did an amazing run down of the Kramer study was picked up by the media as the reason you can't be fat and fit (I wrote about it in December 2013. Which he tracked down the author who even said the study showed that if you are fat, the best thing for you was to get fit.
These are different things. For example, if you are obese, it’s best if you are fit. Let’s say you exercise three times a week or four times a week, it has a protection compared to people that are obese and do not exercise.
The important issue here is to listen to your body. Take it for lovely walks, runs, swim whatever you and it enjoy. Do it as much as you can while listening to what your body says.
On Saturday morning, I decided to go shopping for pants. Being 10 am the morning before Easter, I figured I'd avoid the lines and the crowds at Marshalls, a close-out department store.
I've a hard body to buy for: a rectangle with an apple belly and large boobs, I usually have to try on many things before I can find maybe one item that fits me nicely. Most of the times pants that fit my waist make my legs look like tree trunks and pants that fit my legs make my stomach look like a giant sack. Tops are worse: clothes that fit my chest make me look pregnant or else I'm popping out of my shirt (Something my husband doesn't mind but work might.)
I don't really like to shop at Department stores. I prefer stores that stock only larger sizes (my issues with them are another story). No offense against thin folks, but at least I know the entire store is catered to large bodies including my size. However, I usually can get one or two things at Marshalls if I hunt. My local venue has gotten worse as far as plus sizes go. They used to have a large section in the middle of the floor. Now they are pushed over to the side and are limited to two large racks, and a few smaller ones. Dresses are the only sizes that are integrated.
Some days I go there and find some good pieces. Other days I don't know why I bother.
I was semi-successful on Saturday as I managed to snag Lauren pants that fit me nicely, and a pair of loose yoga pants that for $20 were good enough. Together they were $60.
Remember this is the “discount” store.
On May 4th is the Big Fat Flea in NYC. Last year I spent about the same amount at Marshalls and bought home a much cheaper and better selection. This is a flea market. Selection is based on donation, not a department store which is theory should be serving their customer’s needs. And knowing that two-thirds of the population need plus sizes, I’m surprised that Marshall’s plus size selection has shrunk.
Marshalls was a hunt. A hope that a wild pair of pants would appear and fit me properly. My hunting ground was only a few feet but still not a lot wild pants to be found.
At the Flea, it's a gather. I go through stacks and stacks of pants, dresses, shirts, jackets and miscellaneous. My size is located all in the same place, often towering because there is so much selection. I stuff things to try on in my bag which becomes heavy in my arms while my follow shoppers dig around with me, being friendly, giving advice. No one seems upset when someone grabs an Igigi dress before you can. You feel great when a person tells you, “This doesn’t look good on me, maybe it will look good on you.”
I come home exhausted but in a good way. My spirits are high as I check out my new clothes (and some are brand new with tags). And as I model my new clothes, I feel confident and happy.
More holidays are upon us, where there is ham, peeps, matzo ball soup, chocolate bunnies, and gefilte fish.
Life is too short, families are fleeting and if you like your grandmother's gefilte fish, you should eat it without worry of the calories or fat content because one day that recipe as your grandmother made it will be no more.
I never liked gefilte fish, but I'll take my late grandmother's matzo soup or my grandpa, who died too young, hiding the matzo in an easy to find spot and giving my cousins, brother, and me dollar bills for being so good at finding things.
Food isn’t trouble, it’s holidays, it’s funny stories, it’s seasons. Clams and beach plums are summer; turkey and crispy, lace-edged latkes mean fall; gefilte fish tells us it’s springtime again. Maybe my daughters won’t eat more than the single bite that I’ll insist on, but the finished dish is only part of the point.
A recent study has said people considered “underweight” have a death rate 1.8 times higher than “normal” weight people. Us fatties were only 1.2-1.3 times higher (yippie?)
After reviewing more than 50 previous researches, researchers of a new study have found that excessive thinness is also not good for health. Clinically underweight people have a higher risk of death than obese individuals.
Are we going to break out the term: morbidly thin? Are there going to be Diet programs to help the poor, unfortunate, and stupid thin people, who can't help but not eat?
Are we going to have a national program to help the morbidly thin somehow get to magic BMI number 18.5?
No-- because a campaign like that would be ridiculous.
Or would it?
Recently, Yale student Frances Chan was forced to gain weight because the university health center Yale Health deemed her as having an eating disorder as her BMI wasn’t past the magical number of 18.5. (Yale later dropped it, I assume because they realized how ridiculous it was.) I’m not quite sure what Yale’s obsession with weight is but apparently Chan wasn’t the only student forced to gain weight or leave school. I just know when I went to college the school seemed to care about our academic achievement rather than our personal lives.
Even if she had anorexia (which she doesn’t, she’s naturally slender), forcing an anorexic to gain weight doesn’t cure the eating disorder.In order to get Yale Health off her back, she ignored her natural hunger cues, overate, and didn’t exercise.
If someone goes to the doctor, they should not get a weight lecture, especially if they aren't there to talk about weight (in Chan’s case she was having a lump checked). The only time a doctor should talk about your weight is if you lose or gain it rapidly. While Yale and other schools need to have outreach to students because eating disorders tends to hit college age women, there is outreach and then over reach. Like with many fat people, Frances Chan’s health was judged solely on her BMI.
People have different body types and BMI says nothing about their health. Being as healthy as you can trumps weight loss/gain.
...but for the people who have been losing the battle of the weight, if they can at least become fit, then they can have a very good prognosis and good overall health.
Last week I wrote about two stories where "Obesity experts" just don’t get it. This week I'm writing about a doctor who tries but fails to get it. Dr. Edward Thompson writes about treating a 600 pound man and seems to not realize how much he marginalizes his patient.
The patient lies trapped in his own body, like a prisoner in an enormous, fleshy castle. And though he must feel wounded by the ER personnel’s remarks, he seems to find succor in knowing that there’s no comment so cutting that it can’t be soothed by the balm of 8,000 calories per day.
I've mentioned before that fat people fear going to the doctor. I know that I hate going to a new specialist because I hate to have yet another fat talk.
In this man’s case, the ER doctors couldn’t handle his size and looked at him as if it’s his fault rather than the hospital’s lack of equipment. I don’t believe the doctor went out of his way to marginalize him but fat equaling bad, lazy, a slob, and stupid is so ingrained, he might not have realized he was making his patient less than a person.
Even though dieting does not work in the long run, because weight is fluid and can be artificially changed, doctors assume that it's either the patients fault for being lazy or society's fault for making food so accessibility to people too stupid to know better.
I know why my colleagues and I are so glad to have this patient out of the ER and stowed away upstairs: he’s an oversize mirror, reminding us of our own excesses. It’s easier to look away and joke at his expense than it is to peer into his eyes and see our own appetites staring back.
I have mentioned before that fat people frequently change doctors. Or don't go at all because we fear the doctor will treat our size rather than the problem.
A few months later the doctor's patient died.
Though I have no way of knowing it, within a few months a crane will hoist the patient’s body through a hole cut in the side of his house, a hole that allowed EMS personnel to lower the body onto their new ultra-wide, ultra-sturdy gurney.
I have to wonder if the patient thought about seeking medical care, remembered being made fun of and marginalized, and decided against seeking treatment.
Another doctor Sayantani DasGupta, criticizes the metaphors used describe the man: infantile, slovenly, lazy, and grotesque.
Not only were they a study in the power of negative metaphors, but as a fellow physician, they felt all-too familiar. They were the way I had, on many an occasion, heard patients’ bodies talked about; ways that I, during my training, had perhaps referred to patients’ bodies. The simple words felt so easy, so unexamined, and in that very ease was embedded their violence.
All patients of all sizes need to be able to get the medical care they need, including equipment that fits and compassion from doctors, who treat the medical issue, not the size.
Living in New York City, I climb stairs. In my house, in the subway, at my job, and in random places you wouldn’t think would have stairs. Two months ago I climbed the Manitou incline which was like a giant staircase. I admit when I sometimes climb to the subway (I often take an elevated train), I get winded and going up the incline I thought my heart was going to explode.
Every day I take some kind of stairs, an while the exercise has done wonders for my legs, it has not made me thin. Riding my exercise bike 15-30 minutes a day has not made me thin, walking at least a mile or more a day had not made me thin, my daily stretches, my yoga, my summer swimming, my walks around the office has not made me thin.
There is a slogan: "Nothing about us, without us." which is often used among marginalized groups. It essentially means one group decides the fate/treatment of a marginalized group without their input. Fat activists see this all the time. "Obesity" organizations which decide on policy on how to make fat people thin don't seek input from actual fat people.
I have mentioned before that there is a constant assumption that if you are fat because you stuff your face and sit on the couch all day. Some organizations try to be gentle by saying “It’s not your fault you stuff your face.” Every single treatment for fatness is always the same: eat less calories than your body needs (aka a diet). It is the same treatment used in the last forty years and still hasn’t been proved to work in the long run.
If the people running this International Congress of Obesity would talk to an actual fat person (and not just try to treat them), they might figure out that taking the stairs will not make us thin.
When organizations pull stunts like this, the only thing at which they can possibly succeed is creating an environment that prevents people from, and shames people for, navigating the world in the way that’s best for them and their situation.
And shame on this Amanda Sainsbury who decided fat people must become thin or they will die and Health at Every Size is bad for encourage people to stay fat. But what can you expect from a person who writes diet books? (Even worse this quack is the editor in chief of the Journal of Eating Disorders).
While I certainly agree that it is possible to have healthy behaviours that provide health benefits at a wide variety of body sizes, I disagree that it is possible to be or to stay truly healthy at every size.
This is the second time I've seen someone add a Y to the end of health when referring to Health at Every Size. This, to me, changes the meaning. Even though HAES is more geared to fat people because of the discrimination we face in health care, HAES is meant for all body types. Healthy is an abstraction. You can't really define it because everyone has different ranges. My husband can get to the top of a mountain but put him in a lake, and I’m going to zoom past him. Are we both “Healthy” or “Unhealthy”?
It is thus not surprising that people frequently put off doing anything about excess weight until better conditions arise (e.g. when the children start school or leave home, when a better financial position or home is attained, after retirement, etcetera). The health at every size concept implies putting off doing anything about excess weight indefinitely, instead accepting a higher BMI and focusing on healthy behaviours.
Ironically here she accidently points out how HAES is better than dieting. People put off Dieting. They wait until January or when they have money. HAES you do every day, no putting off. No need for money. It's learning to be as healthy as you can in the body you have whether it be too fat, too thin, disabled, or suffering from a disease. You can do HAES if you walk the stairs, take the escalator, or jump up and down.