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HAES finally getting positive media attention

August 1, 2011 Leave a comment

This article, “End of dieting? New movement focuses on health at any size” appeared on the health page of MSNBC, courtesy of Prevention magazine. This article is excellent at describing what Health At Every Size is and why it’s healthier than weight-loss dieting. Thanks to JenInCanada for posting this on Facebook.

Some gems from this article:

Before coming to Green Mountain, Troy had spent countless days—and dollars—dieting. She isn’t alone: At any given time, 53 percent of Americans are trying to slim down. So why, then, are so many women overweight? Many experts believe it’s because diets simply don’t work for keeping weight off long term. “If we had a 95 percent failure rate with a medication, it would never get approved by the FDA. Yet that’s dieting’s record,” says Michelle May, MD, founder of Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Workshops.

After decades of yo-yo dieting that only leaves them heavier than they were to start with, many women lose the will to work out and watch what they eat, and they begin dodging doctors who seem to blame all their problems on their weight. Some ultimately give up on dealing with health issues such as high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol, believing that without dramatic weight loss, it’s useless.

But according to a controversial new movement, it is possible to break this cycle of failed diets and poor health, even if you never end up in a pair of skinny jeans or in the safety zone of the BMI chart. It’s known as Health At Every Size (HAES), and its principles are so radically simple that they can be difficult to grasp after a lifetime of trying to follow complicated plans full of rules, stages, calories, grams of fat, points, scales, and math.

The basic premise is that healthy behaviors can improve your life regardless of whether they result in weight loss. You abandon diets in favor of “intuitive eating,” which means paying close attention to what you crave and how the foods you eat make you feel, as well as gradually learning to distinguish emotional hunger from the physical kind. For exercise, you identify any activity that provides enough fun that you don’t need to force yourself to do it regularly. HAES also demands that you love and respect your body just as it is, whatever size it is right now. At its core, HAES is about stripping away rigid ideas about food and fitness.

Some experts believe that the negative effects of yo-yo dieting go beyond the physical and emotional tolls of being overweight or obese. According to Linda Bacon, PhD, associate nutritionist at the University of California, Davis, nutrition professor at City College of San Francisco, and author of Health at Every Size (the bible of the HAES movement), many studies suggest that yo-yo dieting itself increases the risk of high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and high blood cholesterol. Studies also show that a vast majority of dieting ends up being yo-yo dieting: Up to two-thirds of people who lose weight regain it within 1 year, and nearly all the rest regain it within 5 years.

As an aside, I have a policy of not reading comments in news articles, so tread lightly with this one.

Best Weight

December 4, 2010 1 comment

This piece by Dr. Arya M. Sharma came across my tweet stream this morning.  In terms of health issues and weight I definitely think that this doctor is on the right track.

He writes: “A patient’s best weight is therefore whatever weight they achieve while living the healthiest lifestyle they can truly enjoy. There comes a point when a person cannot eat less or exercise more and still like their life. The weight they attain while still liking their life is thus their “best” weight, as without the addition of pharmacotherapy or a surgical intervention, no further weight loss will be possible.

It reminds me of this excellent quote by Dr. Linda Bacon: “If you exercise as “punishment” for weighing too much, how can you learn to enjoy being active? If you eat salads only as a way to change the body you hate, how will you enjoy the wonderful tastes of fresh vegetables?

Besides, if hating one’s body effectively motivated change, do you really think there would be many heavy people in the world?

Accepting yourself as you are today doesn’t mean giving up. It means learning to live in the present with the body you have. It means facing and acknowledging reality.

Categories: Fat Acceptance, HAES

Fat Acceptance for Haters

February 21, 2010 1 comment

Bri at Fat Lot Of Good brought my attention to this absolute gem by  “polimicks” about what fat acceptance is and isn’t.  It’s called “I can NOT believe we have to have this conversation again.”   Here is an excerpt:

“Fat Acceptance does NOT mean that one is against better diets (as in way of eating as a whole) for everyone, including increasing access to healthier and less processed foods.

Fat Acceptance does NOT mean that one is against exercise, or that one thinks kids getting exercise is a bad thing.

Fat Acceptance does NOT mean that I think you need to find me fuckable, or even likable. I probably don’t like you, either.

What Fat Acceptance means is that you have to treat me like a human being, with courtesy and observing the bounds of civil interaction. That’s it.

No one in Fat Acceptance land is advocating that everyone sit on their ass in front of the tv and mainline lard and cornstarch, washing it down with Jolt cola.

No one in Fat Acceptance land says kids shouldn’t go outside and play.

NO ONE. Hear that, douchefucking assheads?”

I think I’m in love.

Categories: Fat Acceptance, HAES

You look great, have you lost weight?

February 8, 2010 5 comments

You have no idea how g-d irritating that statement is to me.  I know people mean well.  I know that we live in a culture where thin is in and fat is hated.  But just take a moment to think about the implication of that statement.

“You look great, have you lost weight?”

Meaning, if I didn’t lose weight I look like crap?  Meaning if I gain the supposed lost weight back I look like crap?  Meaning that how you look is more important than how you feel?

I already know that I’m fat.  And I know that because of that most people think that I look like crap, whether it’s true or not.  I don’t really appreciate having that idea reinforced on a regular basis.

My weight noticeably fluctuates regularly so I hear this statement a lot.  And I really want to tell people to knock it off, but I realise that believing in Fat Acceptance and Health At Every Size puts me squarely in the vast minority.

And I have been guilty of saying the same thing in the past.  I just hope I didn’t offend the person I said it too.  I no longer think it’s appropriate to comment on other people’s weight loss or weight gain for several reasons (unless it’s so extreme that there might be some underlying health issue).

1.  It’s not my place to comment on the state of other people’s bodies, whether it be calling them an anorexic toothpick or a giant fatass.  I don’t like it done to me so I won’t do it back to other people.

2.  Weight loss could be due to illness, and I wouldn’t want to congratulate someone on that.  What an ass I would feel like if I went to someone and said “you look great, have you lost weight?” and the response is “yeah, I’m getting chemotherapy now, I was just diagnosed with cancer.”  Way to make the other person feel special!

3.  I wouldn’t want to congratulate dangerous, unhealthy behaviour.  Losing weight by drastically reducing your caloric intake, cutting out carbs, taking diet pills, exercising excessively or only drinking milkshakes is not healthy by any definition.  I wouldn’t want to help reinforce that kind of behaviour.

Categories: Fat Acceptance, HAES

Now what do I blog about?

November 16, 2009 Leave a comment

I don’t think I can find one thing to focus on to write about repeatedly. Maybe because I don’t have the attention span to hold interest in one thing? Who knows. I have a lot of varied interests that are more prominent or take a backseat depending on what is happening with my life. These are a few off the top of my head:

1. Body Image

I don’t think most people realize how much effort it takes to hate your body. You can waste a lot of time staring in the mirror wishing that some aspect of your body was different. Too many people (mostly women) hate themselves and their bodies because they are trying to live up to some unrealistic, media-driven ideal.

To me it makes much more sense to learn to accept yourself just the way you are. Nobody is perfect. What is perfect anyways? I think it’s perfect when people learn to love themselves in spite of the messages we get from the media about what we should look like.

2. Fat Acceptance

I am a fat woman. I have always known that some people, such as myself, just aren’t meant to be thin. I have always felt that people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect whether they are fat or thin. I have recently taken a step back and decided that being healthy and happy is more important than being thin. Therefore I will no longer be dieting.

I am a believer in Health At Every Size (HAES). The idea is that if you can learn to listen to your body, your body will tell you what it needs. No foods are forbidden. You can listen to your internal cues, eat what you want when you want it, and stop eating when you’re full. When I say ‘eat what you want’ I don’t mean eat an entire bucket of KFC in one sitting. I mean if you want a piece of chocolate eat it, forbidding certain foods only makes you obsess about them.

Combine this with a mode of exercise that you enjoy rather than something that feels like punishment (exercise can be just about anything, it doesn’t only have to be done in a gym). If you can do these things your body will settle into it’s weight set-point, the healthiest and most natural weight for your body. For some people this means weight loss, for others it means weight gain. Some people will be thin and others will be fat, but both will be healthier.

By the way, fat does not mean stupid, lazy, gluttonous, smelly or ugly. I am none of these things.

3. Aviation

I have a strange interest in aviation. I love watching planes in the sky. I love going to the airport to watch the planes take off and land. But the reason my interest is strange is that I am more focused on aviation mishaps and accidents than I am in actual flight. I am terrified of flying so this obsession is probably not such a good idea.

4. Music

Music is like air, I can’t live without it. Everything goes better with music. My favourite band is Pearl Jam. According to my iTunes my most listened to bands are Les Savy Fav, Queens Of The Stone Age, Alkaline Trio, Q And Not U, Weezer, Sleater-Kinney, Minor Threat and Magneta Lane. I will listen to anything except for most modern hip-hop, homophobic reggae and new country.

5. Travel

So many places to see, so little money . . . But there are some places I definitely want to see eventually: New York City,
Iceland, The Netherlands, Egypt, Dubai, Australia, Caracas, Cancun . . .

So we’ll see how it goes. Maybe I will learn to focus a bit more, maybe I will write the first thing that comes to my head. Stay tuned!

Categories: Fat Acceptance, HAES