the HAES® files: Healthcare Providers Get Our Marching Orders for the War on Fat People

“It is infuriating that people who call themselves obesity experts are claiming the authority to act upon our lives and bodies when their source of information about our lives is research that is methodologically among the worst in our history. Obesity Experts are experts on a failed model of how to view and treat a problem that they have created out of the weight stigma we are all raised with. We should be humble about the vast amounts we do not know – not just in general from medical training that is steeped in weight bias, but also from medical research that rarely elucidates how to care for the actual medical issues of people who are stigmatized and face oppression. What we do know is that the most consequential factors in health by far – the social determinants of health – are almost never the target of intervention. And the sources of the information, communities of actual fat people, are almost never partners in research and as far as I know, have never directed the agenda.

This has to stop.

While you do not have to have the lived experience yourself to be knowledgeable, you do have to learn from the people who are living it, rather than the people who are stereotyping and oppressing them.”

Health At Every Size® Blog

by Deb Burgard, PhD

My brilliant friend Jessica Wilson has taught me so much. She is fond of asking, “What is the problem we are trying to solve?”

The question is burning in my mind after reading a recently released Washington DC think tank publication called “Provider Competencies for the Prevention and Management of Obesity”

Go take a look at this 8-page document that attempts to dictate how healthcare providers should carry out its vision, complete with a whopping 8 citations.

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Weight Watchers Works. For Two Out of a Thousand. (And They Probably Weren’t Fat to Begin With)

Showing how ridiculous it all is. #nothankyouOprah

fat fu

fatfu-48.jpg

One of the things you often hear – even among fat activists – is that 95% of weight loss attempts fail long-term. It sounds like an impressively discouraging number, but still, it leaves us with the idea that 5% of fat people are able to leave their corpulence behind and join the world of respectable, acceptable, normal-weight humanity. Or at least get somewhere in the vicinity.

We should be so lucky.  When weight loss failure numbers are presented (generally 80-95% failure) “success” doesn’t mean achieving “normal weight” – let alone permanently.  It means the ability to keep off some very modest amount that a given researcher (usually with a vested interest in the weight loss strategy) has arbitrarily defined as “weight loss success.” Typically 5-10% weight loss maintained anywhere from 1 to 5 years.

If that’s enough to make you thin, then I have news for you: you weren’t fat.

And studies that look…

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Diets Don’t Work, But…

In the spirit of stupid New Year’s Resolutions, here’s a reminder from the wonderful Kate Harding’s that just because you don’t use the word diet, doesn’t mean it isn’t one! Beware of diets in disguise. 💋

Shapely Prose

Brain: How are we going to get the earth to lose weight?
Pinky: I know! We can get everyone to go on a diet!
Brain: Diets don’t work, Pinky.
Pinky: Not even if you call them “a whole new way of eating”?
Brain: No.

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I Am Fat….And Yes, I Do Model a Healthy Lifestyle For My Kid

Power, Peace, and the Porch Gym

PREAMBLES AND DISCLAIMERS: If you read the title of this post and are thinking that I am  about to advocate judging others on the basis of their health status or whether they engage in healthy behaviors ….I want to make it clear that I am not. One’s health status and/or lifestyle does not make anyone morally superior or inferior to anyone else. To quote Ragen Chastain, “health is not an obligation, a barometer of worthiness, entirely within our control, or guaranteed under any circumstances.

Also, there are very few people who are role models in many areas of life at the same time. So even if someone is not modeling a healthy lifestyle by any one person’s definition, it is possible that they are kicking ass in another area of life. Maybe they work tirelessly to support their families or pursue their passions. Maybe they go above and…

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Because I Love My Body (aka In Defense of Corissa)

Amply Emmy

corissa_05-1080x720One of the fashion bloggers I enjoy following is Corissa of Fat Girl Flow. I love her style and “I’m fat and don’t give a fuck what anyone says about it” attitude.

Recently she posted a video where she stated “Do not look me in the eye, tell me you are on Weight Watchers and then, in the next breath, tell me that you are body positive”. This was addressed to bloggers and others who claim to be body positive yet have intentionally lost weight or are currently in the process.

What a brouhaha that started. People… mostly women… vehemently asserted that they indeed love their bodies and/or are body positive. Usually, though, those claims were followed by some version of “but I need to lose weight for my health”. Others praised Weight Watchers as a company that promotes a healthy lifestyle.

I consider myself body positive and completely…

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The Worst Thing You Can Say to a Woman, Brought To You By Fatphobia

Power, Peace, and the Porch Gym

The first time someone ever asked a friend of mine “when are you due?,” I was in college. My friend had a baby blue empire waist top in a soft flannelly fabric that she like to wear. She felt beautiful when she wore this top; however when she would sit down while wearing it, her belly was accentuated. One evening she wore this top and went out to dinner with her boyfriend. She came back devastated because the server had asked her when she was due.

My heart sank. This friend had a history of eating disorders, including a flare-up in the past year. When I heard that the server had asked when she was due, I felt so angry and scared for her that she was going to have another flare-up.

Over a decade later, when my son was about 2 years old, I had taken him to the…

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Trusting Your Body Again

Letting-GoWhen I work with women we discover often that we have lost trust in ourselves, in our bodies, in being OK as we are. This loss of trust leaves us in a vacuum of wondering that usually gets filled with symbolic substitutes like turning to food for love, hiding our insecurities in constant busyness, burying our needs and desires under the masks of professional achievement, or even emptying all we have and are into the lives of others so that we become shells of our true selves.

All this from lack of trust in ourselves.

Being open and vulnerable when you are in the middle of weakness is tremendously difficult to do–and close to impossible without deep trust. Believe me, I get it. I hate crying in front of people and that seems to be my “go to” response!Bbrown vulnerability qte

How do you find that trust? In relationships, it’s from other’s behavior being proven true over time. It’s through experience that doesn’t violate our safety, that trust can be forged.

Sometimes, trust is a volitional act of faith. We simply choose to trust that the other is worthy and deserving of it. We have no proof of experience yet. We have nothing but the decision to step into that space.

I participate in and lead small groups of women. I’ve done this all my life because I believe that we become our best selves when we walk through life together creating safe spaces to be vulnerable, build trust, heal, grow and expand.

Sometimes it is REALLY hard. Sometimes, all I can do is show up and be in that moment. Sometimes, I even fail to show up for myself and others.Brene Brown show up

But, I always keep trying, joining, leading, committing because that is the best way I know how to live: In a specific place, with specific people creating community. It’s easier to learn to trust ourselves again, to trust our body’s innate wisdom, within the context of community.

So many women have told me over the years how comforting it is just to talk to someone who knows and understands what is going on with them. We take a big risk when we do this. When we put ourselves out there, bare and raw. It is hard. And so very rewarding.

If we can’t be real and vulnerable and lay it “out there” with safe people, then the change we desire in loving ourselves and bodies won’t ever happen. I know it was really scary for me when I worked with my coach to trust my body again, to let go of false control and listen for real. This really hits us when it comes to food, because we think if we stop controlling and restricting we will start eating and never stop.

But we do stop. I promise.

When I tell you that it’s possible to learn how to trust yourself again, what runs through your mind? Do you believe me? What’s been your experience with trust, vulnerability and your body? If you are too shy to reply on the blog (I get it!), email me instead (mh AT BraveGirl DOT me)

In Love and Trust,

 

Michelle

PS. If you are ready to explore rebuilding trust in yourself and your body, so you can live in body freedom and peace, schedule a complimentary Body Freedom Breakthrough Strategy session with me (25 min).

 

 

“Feeling Fat” Today?

feeling fat nametag

I know you have those days when you feel fat and disgusting, no matter what you do. We all have those days. And guess what? It doesn’t matter if you are ACTUALLY fat (like me) or not. It’s really not about your body.

Think about it. How can you feel fabulous in the exact same body on a different day? Exactly.

I learned a loooong time ago that this is a head game, through and through. I remember when I was 16 and feeling fat wearing my snug fitting navy blue/turquoise pinned striped skinny jeans (although they were not called that back then!).  This is etched in my brain (which amazes me and shows the power of emotions), me sitting on the edge of my water bed, talking on the phone (with my 25 foot cord–I’m totally dating myself here) and looking at my ENORMOUS thighs in those pants.

soccer thunder thighs skinny jeans

I was an athlete and had powerful beautiful thighs back then. But what mattered wasn’t that I fit current beauty standards, it was what was going on in my head. I felt “fat”. What I really felt was insecure, unhappy and tired, but all that stuffed emotions got put onto my poor thighs.

Later that year, on a youth ski trip, I was still “feeling fat” and by now very unattractive because I kept liking boys who didn’t like me back. It was on that trip that I performed my very first BODY LOVE EXPERIMENT. Woot.

This experiment is called the “As If” game. I decided I would act like I was the hottest girl on that bus and that every boy wanted to date me (I was not a particularly deep teenager!). The results amazed me. It was like I became a magnet. I exuded confidence and BAM!

The lesson I learned that trip impacted me hard: It’s ALL in my head. The fact that I even remember all this when I’ve forgotten so much of my youth attests to this.

This is a powerful, life-changing, pretty much instantaneous experiment.

You’ve got to deal with your issues, obviously. My little experiment didn’t fix my problems, but it sure put them in perspective.

 

It’s like putting on Marilyn Monroe’s mink coat or something.
To-all-the-girls-that-think-youre-fat-because-youre-not-a-size-zero-youre-the-beautiful-one-its-society-whos-ugly

Have you ever strutted your stuff? Did it boost your confidence? I would love to hear about your experiments. Comment below or email me.

Have a fabulous day!

 

Love,

 

Michelle

PS If you want to share more body love experiments come join our FB group! Or sign up for the email group to be kept up on the BLE happenings by going to https://BraveGirl.me

blog-feel-fat

 

Am I a “hard body” hater?

hard bodyHere are some thoughts in relation to two media items about women and their bodies. One was an article and the other was a video infomercial type ad. This isn’t very eloquent, but you’ll get the gist…

My friend pointed me to this article the other day, which seemed fairly reasoned to me—but she said to read the comments for the “ugh” factor.

 

The topic was “Why do women over 40 have to kill themselves to have 20-something looking hard bodies like the celebrities?” Good question, right?

Well, the comments in the post blew up.

Of course, there were plenty of reasonable replies that didn’t miss the main point (reading comprehension 101 anybody?), but many women were triggered by a few things. Some were in the camp of “I don’t want to be a sick, fat lazy person, like my parents became.” A valid desire without the moralistic blaming.  Who wants to be sick or infirm in old age? Zero.

 

The other responses fell into the, “How dare you say that what I have poured all my energy into (creating a chiseled “bikini-bod” after 40) is not something to be valued and admired!” These women, as so many people do, took the thought that you could be ok without all that effort, sacrifice and “working my butt off” (literally), as a personal attack to their identity, their reason for being. These are women that feel their worth is completely tied up in their physical appearance. To suggest that softer bodies are ok, that it is natural and normal and nothing to be ashamed of…well, it really pisses them off.

In their minds, you are attractive (“worthy” of love) with a hard body that takes hours of discipline & restriction each day to achieve, or you will end up trolling the “big box stores” in your motorized scooter because you can’t walk.

(BTW, psychologists call this extreme or black and white thinking. One of the patterns that leads to depression, anxiety and other problems. Just sayin’).

Now, with all that said, before the “health” advocates and athletes send me hate mail, I must clarify:

  • I think exercise is a good idea! No matter how hard or soft your body is, finding consistent movement you enjoy (either during and/or after!) is key to overall health & happiness. If your body CAN move, it wants to and needs to. So get off the couch and go dancing,walking, swimming, cycling, hiking, surfing, yoga-ing…You get the idea. Get outside (if you can) and enjoy yourself.
  • I reject the harrow and racist notions of what is considered attractive, sexy & beautiful in our culture. If your criteria for a woman being sexy is 23 % body fat, a six pack and no visible cellulite anywhere, then there is really no point in us talking at all–or, if beauty to you is ONLY EVER a 5’11” super thin photoshopped supermodel, ditto.
  • I support health at every size as a movement. Being emotionally, spiritually & physically healthy are personal values of mine. They aren’t for everybody. Plus what is health anyway? Do you mean cardiovascular health? Metabolic? Mental health? Being an elite athlete? Does health mean being a certain size to you? Because if it does, there are waaay too many people debunking that myth.

 

I just listened to an infomercial online the other day that was targeting women and their fear of being fat. It wasn’t selling itself as a diet, but rather targeting our endocrine system. Yet, even though getting our hormones balanced is SUPER important, (when out of balance we can pack on extra, unnecessary pounds and not be able to lose said lbs until back in balance), this does not make us unattractive, unworthy, or ugly!  Hey, I’ve got hypothyroidism. I know of what I speak!

Throughout this whole reasonable sounding pitch words like “unattractive”, “fat”, “soft parts”, and “problem areas” were constantly repeated. These qualifiers were in constant use. It was so subtly intense, even I had to remind myself it was bunk!

All these “soft problem areas” are what make our figures more feminine versus masculine. These parts of our bodies are designed to store fat for energy and warmth (and providing for healthy babies). So basically, they are saying that the parts of you that “mark your body as female biologically are bad. Instead of being life-giving, they need to be cut away, dieted away or burned away. Your body needs to be more masculine–“harder”, “firmer”, and “less curvy”. (To my gender-fluid intersectional friends, I’m sorry I am only able to address this issue from a dominant culture social construct.)

Back to the infomercial. As this man is so kindly telling women that it isn’t their fault they have unattractive soft fat on their bodies, they were made that way after all, nevertheless you can make your body more valuable to men by remaking it to fit suposed masculine ideals. How crazy is that?!

I can hear the jaws clenching now from my gym rats, so here’s caveat #4

  • I support strength training and “lifting” for women. A lot of women like to lift weights. Me, not so much, I do a little, but prefer using my body weight and resistance bands, etc. But that’s just personal preference. Strength training is excellent for women’s self-esteem and confidence. It can be a healthy activity when done correctly. We all lose muscle mass as we age and so I think we all need some type of strength training whether it is cross-fit, yoga, or lifting cans of food in your kitchen. But then again I value personal health and think most of us (myself included) need to move our bodies more.
  • I think we need to all join Tess Holiday’s movement #effyourbodystandards and claim our own definition of what is attractive, sexy, beautiful and not let the diet industry decide that for us.
  • And finally, if you got this far, BRAVO! Please know if you want a hard body, go for it, just know why you are doing it. However soft your body is, does not define WHO you are or How Valuable you are as a person.

You are valuable.  ‘Nuff said.    

P.S. No nasty anything will be published in the comments, so don’t bother. And don’t give me any “health concern” arguments either. I’ve read the research and do not buy into the hype.

                                                              

Wake up, it’s your turn to shine

BraveGirl Running...Life, Faith & Sport


This picture from a NASA study on wingtip vort...

There are those days when I just feel lost. I think, What am I doing? It’s usually in the middle of an overwhelm tornado and I need to find the eye of the calm in all that is pulling for my attention. You would think that it would get easier, but overall that doesn’t happen too much. Partly, it is because I am lost. I have lost my routine that keeps me on track (and that’s saying a lot for a personality that abhors routine!). My healthy daily habits got disrupted for too long and I have completely wandered off the trail. I am lost.

This happens to you also. I know it does. Mabe not as often as for me, but life interrupts your flow too, I know it. Those big changes like moving, new jobs, extensive travel, over work, illness, injury, stresses and challenges beyond your control. Yeah…

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