Two Common Questions about Health at Every Size

Ask QuestionsI got an e-mail from reader Sarah, who asked the two most common questions that I hear about starting a personal Health at Every Size practice.  I’m going to answer them but before I do, just a reminder that the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are not size, health, or “healthy habit”, dependent, nobody is obligated to pursue health or health habits by any definition.  Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size are two separate things, more about this here.

So the answers to these questions are for those who are interested in considering/practicing HAES, but we each get to choose how highly we prioritize our health and the path that we take to get their and that’s not anyone else’s business unless we decide to make it their business.  Now that we’re clear on that, here is Sarah’s e-mail:

I have been reading your book and like it so far. I like the message that fat and health are not synonymous. I’ve heard about the HAES movement and feel it is the best option for me. I do have have a question or two for you:

1) I think a big part of my own health needs to be loving myself and I find that difficult. Any tips?

2) How does one eat healthy and exercise without weight loss in mind?  Every time I try try a health approach,  I I was end up worried about weight loss so I become scale dependent and depressed if it isn’t going well.  I also tend to restrict too much and that never lasts long.

I don’t think that there is a single answer to question 1, I think it’s a process and it’s different for everyone.  My journey started without getting to a place of being really grateful for what my body did.  Then came the realization that the ability to perceive beauty is a skill (so if I can’t see the beauty in someone, it’s not because they aren’t beautiful, it’s because my skill set is lacking.) The last steps were the hardest and they started when I got to the point where every body but mine was beautiful.   Feel free to get support around this, using  books, blogs, classes and coaching. To me the  most important thing was making the decision – I wasn’t going to stop until I figured out how to love myself, no matter what it took.  From there it was about learning things, trying things and celebrating progress.

The second question is hands down the most common one I get.  Many of us have been so inundated with the idea that the only acceptable “outcome” of eating and moving is weight loss, that we can’t imagine what other goals there could be.  My advice here is to set goals that you can, for at least the most part, control and then measure those.

For example, one of my goals is five servings of vegetables a day.  Another is at least 150 minutes of movement a week (of course training for the IRONMAN I get way more than this.)   These are things that I can, for the most part, control.  I can then measure things like how I feel, my energy level, strength, stamina, and flexibility to see how I’m doing.  Sometimes I set specific goals, like as a random hypothetical completing an IRONMAN triathlon.   In that case I get a training program, set intermediate smaller goals, and work through that.

I want to suggest a bit of caution with using metabolic health (blood glucose, cholesterol, blood pressure etc.) as a measure of success. These things can be affected by behaviors, but they can also be affected by genetics, other medications, and other factors.  I think it’s interesting to get these measurements taken sometimes, but it’s important to remember that while you may be in control of the behaviors, you cannot control the outcome.

I would also recommend making your health practice blame free, shame free, and future oriented.  As far as I can see, there’s no point in having any blame or shame for where we are now.  The only thing that we can hope to control at this moment is our behavior moving forward (and that can often rely on how much privilege we have around access, money, and physical and mental health and other factors) .

To me, that’s at the heart of choosing the Health at Every Size.paradigm rather than the weight loss paradigm (and of course there are more than just two choices)  HAES holds that people at every size can make choices based on their prioritization of health and the path we choose and our current situation (rather than the weight loss paradigm which suggests feeding our bodies less food than they need to survive in the hope that they will eat themselves and become smaller, and also healthier.)

I think the research suggests that, while of course there are never any guarantees and health is never entirely within our control, healthy behaviors are the best way for me to support my body.  Based on the research I have rejected the idea that my best way to support my body is to use food and movement in an attempt to manipulate my size and hope that health comes along for that ride.

Finally, I think it helps to look at the whole thing as a journey, and remember that, like all journeys, there will be ups and downs and good days and bad days. What I know is that since i left the diet lifestyle to pursue Health at Every Size I’m healthier – but I also know that my health could change at any time, but  know that I’m happier, my ups are higher and my downs are less low, and I have healthy relationships with food, movement, and my body, and a sense of peace and partnership with my body that never seemed possible during my diet days.  Your mileage, of course, may vary.

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Published in: on July 30, 2015 at 7:27 am  Comments (35)  

35 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Reblogged this on Advocate for Invisible Illness! and commented:
    Another good one for us Fluffy People.

  2. For exercising without weight loss in mind: For me, an important point is to find the exercise that you love to do, that makes you happy just doing it. Sometimes one has to search a little to find the right things. I do bike riding and yoga, for example. I love biking for all the beautiful places ist takes me to, it always improves my mood, and if I want to set me a goal, it would be to some day to be able to ride up a difficult hill wihtout having to get off the bike in the middle. And I love Yoga for the centered feeling I have afterwards. And I never weigh myself, so weight loss doesn’t have anything to do with exercise for me.
    For you it might be something totally different that you love. But never do exercise just because someone says that’s the most healthy, if you don’t like it. If moving isn’t fun, I sure would start to think, well, if I have to endure this torture, there should at least be some weight loss. But if It’s fun, the great feeling is reward enough for me.
    Find some way of movement that you love and that is good for the way your body is now, not for the way people tell you it should be.

    • The Aha-moment, after which I decided to follow a non-weight-loss-related approach to excercise, was after a talk with a trainer at the gym.
      I had approached him, because I was wondering why my “progress” in lifting weights seemed to plateau for a really long time and I was just curious (beeing new and lacking expirience) if that was “normal”. He looked my up and down for a really long time and then said:
      “I wouldn’t worry about gaining muscle, you’ll only get even heavier than you are now. Better get on that treadmill and do 1-2h cardio 5 or 6 times a week, to loose all that unneccessary fat.”
      Now, I was a size 42(EU, it’s about a size 10 in the US) at that time, but even more importantly I HATED and still HATE treadmills and cross-steppers. I use them from time to time to do sprints or intervall training for 15-30Min, but that is as much boredom, as I can stand. (This is just me, of course, and no slight is intended on cardio training for those who love it!:-)
      But what got to me was this:
      I had a goal. It was to pogress slowly, but continuously to lift heavier weights. He not only did not help me one bit in this, but thought I should refrain from excercise that I enjoyed and do something that I hate, to avoid the terror of getting “heavier”.

      This – even to my 16 or 17 year old brain – sounded so stupid I have refrained from setting weight-loss goals for my excercise ever since. Geepee really said it all: If you love doing something, the joy of doing it, is a reward in itself. Improved mobility, strenght etc. etc. is kind of a bonus.:-)

      I can’t be bothered to spend my limited freetime doing things that I hate. I don’t feel that it is really “neccessary” to make life more difficult for ourselves, if we can avoid it.

      • So he failed at his job of being a trainer. That’s bad business, stepping outside the boundaries of their job description.

        Does he know he just lost a customer, and therefore, a paycheck?

      • Oh, honestly, dropping body size is gonna increase your lifting poundage?

        Oh, pluh-eesse!

        Two hours of cardio per day 5-6 times per week is going to cause you to lose muscle as well. And that won’t do a thing for increasing lift poundage.

        Thinking that trainer flunked a few physiology classes. Or he doesn’t listen well.

        • But your question is a good way to screen a trainer to see how they think.

          IF they rattle off an answer similar to what you received, pass them by.
          IF they ask follow-up questions to clarify how you define “progress” then maybe you have someone there who can be worked with.

          • Yes, this kind of question is definitely a good “quality check” for trainers, I have encountered many great ones since that first expirience 15years ago! But every once in a while you still find the “only the number on your scale matters, drop everything else you are doing” theme, so you know when to just walk away.

            I think the problem might be that hereabouts you need to take a 6 week course to be certifed as a trainer and only 1 day of this is dedicated to nutrition and 1 other day to anatomy, the rest is mostly “how to sell our products” and “read this book published 25 years ago to learn how to help men build muscle and women lose weight” – because obviously no man and no woman can have other goals.

            I did not know that at the time, it was “revealed” to me by a colleague, who seriously thought about working as a trainer, but was appaled by the skimpy “education” they get and dropped out of the certification class in week 2… that one was a real eye-opener.

            • Some men want to be thin, and not bulked up. Some women want to be strong, and don’t give a hoot about their size. Some people want to be “wiry.”

              Some women actively want to stay large and visible, rather than become thin enough to disappear. Really, whenever I hear that size 2 people still want to get down to size 0, I think they just want to disappear.

              If the diet drug people could come up with a pill to make people invisible, rather than thinner, I think they’d have a better business.

              Being large in our society is an act of rebellion because we ARE visible. Especially for women. After so many years of being told our place is behind the men, or even behind a screen or behind a wall, we are coming out and claiming our own, and that includes being seen. AND it includes being strong.

              That’s why I believe that Fat Activism and Feminism go hand in hand, although they are separate and distinct movements.

          • Another good one: If the gym sells workout clothes but doesn’t sell them in your size, they’re probably not a good fit.

            • Yeah- both the clothes and the gym.
              ** wink!**

              • Each time I hear “Just wear some comfortable, loose clothes,” I want to shout, “YOU wear loose clothes when you’re riding a bike! They make those spandex shorts for a REASON!”

                It used to be that people sewed their own clothes to save money. Now it’s because it’s often their only option to get clothes that actually fit AND serve the right purpose.

                Now where did I put that book on designing my own underwear?

    • If you’re really goal-oriented, then I recommend setting specific exercise goals that have nothing to do with size or weight, such as “Bench press X amount of weight,” or “Increase stamina to be able to run X distance without needing to stop for a rest,” or something like that. I like treadmills because not only can I measure my distance, but I can go exactly until I reach my limit, and then just STOP. Walking around the park is great, but the distances aren’t measured, and you always have to walk back to your starting point. I tended to walk until my hip started saying, “HEEEYYY! Remember, you were hit by a truck! Stop!” and then, I’d have to walk home, and then I’d be laid up for a few days. Whereas with the treadmill, I found out that 0.33 miles was OK, but 0.35 miles was OW. But when I stopped immediately at that first OW, I was able to move the next day, so that was good. So, if you’re into that sort of thing, maybe set a distance goal, and when you reach that, linger there for a few weeks, and then increase your distance goal. Same with weights and time, reps and sets. Those are all good numbers to measure.

      Another option is to just find an activity you love doing, and not worry about goals, at all. For me, that used to be belly-dance. I LOVED belly-dance. Not only was I never once shamed for my size or shape in a belly-dance class (with my grand total of 3 instructors), I always, Always, ALWAYS felt beautiful. No matter what I was wearing or how I looked, I just felt beautiful doing the movement, and smiling in the mirrors. My goals were to learn new moves and new choreography, but mainly just to enjoy the class and the feel of my body moving to the rhythm. If I missed a class, and a movement, I figured I’d get around to it, eventually, in some future class, so I never fretted about it.

      I can’t do belly dancing these days, because of my spine, but for non-goal-oriented exercise, it was fantastic! I also loved ballroom dancing for the same reason. But that required a partner, and the classes were harder to find. But if you have a good partner, ballroom dancing is a blast, and a major workout, as well. Ask any samba or swing dancer about how much of a work-out it is. It’s amazing. You’ll move different muscle groups, so if you love dance, I highly recommend taking up a variety of styles, to get different muscles going.

      If you know HOW to swim, that can be excellent, depending on your body issues. It makes my back and shoulders hurt like heck, but other people love it for the non-impact on their legs and knees. There again, you could set goals for distance and time, or just enjoy moving in the water, and learning new strokes.

      First rule, though, is either find something specific to your type of exercise that is measurable, without any reference to the scale or the measuring tape, or else find an exercise that you enjoy doing, and just don’t worry about goals, at all. Or, do both, and switch off between them.

      And if anyone says “No pain, no gain!” just reply, “My motto is ‘No pain.’ Goodbye.”

      • This is in reply to your disappearing comment above (it’s too far over though). Yes, it seems historically most cultures have wanted to hide women, either with a veil, hijab, or foot binding (which meant they couldn’t walk, so they couldn’t run away), the same is true today. I think North American society is still reeling from the women’s emancipation that occurred after WW2, and the men feel threatened by the presence of women “taking all their jobs” or not “at home in the kitchen”. In order to lessen our “presence” would be to: a) take up less space, b) not be as visible so not wear “loud” clothes, c) all look the same in a burkha, d) don’t act out of place or draw attention to yourself.

        Of course, the only real way to disappear for sure is to be 6-feet under, then we are truly not there. Unless you count interacting with the dirt creatures as presence, or taking up a burial spot.

  3. So true that metabolic measures aren’t entirely within our control. I have Type II diabetes. No matter what I do, my sugars are always highest in the morning—when they take that fasting lab. Turns out there is a real thing called Dawn Phenomenon, where the liver releases sugar about the time the sun rises.

    Even accounting for that, I had a jump in my blood glucose a while back and my doc wanted me to start insulin. I also have hypertension (which pre-dates my “obesity” and runs in the family), for which I take 4 drugs. A pharmacist friend pointed out that one of them is known to raise blood sugar and my dose had been increased. My doc was skeptical, but we talked her into trading that drug for another and voila! Diabetes labs now say “well controlled” with no change in diet and my blood pressure is fine on the new drug.

    • Diane — Was the drug in question carvedilol, by any chance? I’m wondering if that’s partly responsible for my elevated glucose the last couple of years and would like to talk to my cardiologist about maybe switching to something else.

    • Wow, so many times they love to rely on drugs without considering the consequences.

      • That’s cuz they are too busy thinking about the kickbacks they’re gonna receive for prescribing the drugs.

        • Not necessarily. There are a HUGE amount of drugs, and keeping up with them all is really hard. Pharmacists are better at keeping up with all the drugs, as well as the drug interactions and side effects, because dealing with those is all they do. Doctors, on the other hand, have to keep up with drugs, medical studies, new diagnoses, new treatments, including drugs, physical therapy and surgery. It’s an awful lot to expect from a person. So, I don’t blame it all on the kickbacks. I think it’s more a case of “out of sight, out of mind,” and they remember the drugs they hear about the most.

          So, yeah, the drug reps still have a LOT of sway in what drugs the doctors think of, but not necessarily because of kickbacks. It could just be that they are squeaky wheels that won’t let their product be forgotten.

          Doctors are human beings, and some are good, and some are bad, and some are horrible, and some are wonderful. Some take kickbacks, and some don’t. But they ALL of them have imperfect, human memories.

          I’m very happy with my current doctor (I knew him socially before I even knew he was a doctor, and now he’s my doctor, and I LOVE him – doctor-wise. He’s wonderful!) and even he forgets things about me and my treatment. He also can’t always know what’s covered by my insurance, and what isn’t, and will change drugs to try to get something that my insurance will pay for, and switch around until we find something that both works, and that I can afford. Today, I just want to give them all the benefit of the doubt.

          • I agree, Michelle. I see several doctors (a cardiologist, an endocrinologist, a rheumatologist) and while each is very familiar with the medications appropriate for his/her own specialty, they sometimes drop the ball on possible interactions with medications other specialists have prescribed me. I don’t blame them for this at all — they can’t be expected to keep up with every possible side effect or interaction of every drug in every specialty. I consider it *my* responsibility to try to keep track of how the various medications I’m taking may interact with one another and remind them as necessary. So, for instance, when my rheumatologist wanted to prescribe Celebrex for my arthritis pain, I said “But I thought that was counterindicated for people with congestive heart failure” and she said “Oh my gosh, that’s right, you have CHF!” I like her, and I think she’s a good doctor — but she had momentarily forgotten a crucial part of my medical history. She’s human.

          • Seems like my family has had the bad luck of the draw then. All the new fangled snazy drugs have been prescribed, all to detrimental effect, but no lawsuits were forthcoming. When Avandia was brand-spanking-new, both my parents were put on it, even though my dad had no diabetes (he does now because of statin therapy). My mom had all the textbook side-effects and nearly died. No sorry was given.

            Now they are both on statins (caused sleep apnea in my dad and diabetes, liver and kidney failure in my mom). Also, he got “samples” of this “new” and “better” diabetes drug called Onglyza (?) which is supposed to be hundreds of times better than metformin. No mention of what the side effects are, but gosh her liver took a turn for the worse, and no one seems to know why. I certainly do, but no one listens to me.

            So far all the drugs they’ve been put on are due to them being “all the rage” and “new”, and I’m pretty sure the doc makes extra money by putting everyone on these drugs first thing, otherwise waiting means that the pharm reps will go somewhere else, and take their money with them. I’m surprised his office is still running because there are so many negative reviews of him online.

            • I’ve had a few problems with new drugs and excited doctors, too, but lately, I’ve had better luck, because I tell my doctor how broke I am, and that I need the generic options, as much as possible.

              Something I learned at my previous job: It takes seven years, in the U.S.A., for a drug to go generic. The R&D on a new drug costs millions of dollars, and they only have that seven-year window to recoup the R&D costs. Once it goes generic, they have to sell it so cheaply that they can make a small profit (enough to justify the business continuing to produce and distribute it), but not enough to hope to recoup the losses.

              This leads to a lot of people thinking that the EVIL pharmacological companies are gouging customers, because “these pills can be manufactured for just a few cents per pill, but they’re charging dollars per pill.” Yes, manufacturing is cheap. Clinical trials, properly and safely run, on the other hand, are REALLY expensive. Not to mention all the study and experimentation that happened before it even got to the trial stage.

              Yes, there were certainly a few greedy fools at my pharma company, but the vast majority of people there were genuinely excited about helping people with their health issues. I remember the big excitement when we thought we had a fantastic drug that would really, truly help a lot of people with a common, hard-to-treat ailment. We were so excited! The early trials were going well, and looking so promising. It was all wonderful! And then, BAM! A more thorough trial (late-phase) showed that it wasn’t effective, after all. There were rumors of the early trials being fudged by a greedy fool, but I don’t know for sure. I do know that while we were bitterly disappointed, we were also greatly relieved that we found out BEFORE it hit the market.

              There was also “the study that never dies.” It was long-term, and we were sooooo sick of it, but it was a systemic drug, and we HAD to keep going long-term, because of the nature of the drug and the treatment, and the possibility of long-term complications. I worked there for more than a decade, and the study was old when I got there, and I don’t believe it ended before I left. If it ever got to market, I would trust that one. Most studies, however, were short-term, maybe one or two years. You have to take different approaches, when you’re dealing with acute vs. chronic conditions.

              Now, if a doctor is all about brand-new-isn’t-it-exciting-untried drugs, I run away. Another thing I learned about the pharma business is that the clinical trials are only a MIDWAY step. Post-Market trials are a BIG part of it. You see, they market and distribute the medicine, and then collect data from the people in the market, to make sure that the clinical trials were right. Sometimes, they discover something post-market that they did not know during clinical trials.

              You see, clinical trials are limited, by law. You can’t test on pregnant people, for instance. Testing on children is severely limited, as well. But once it hits the market, the pharma company can FINALLY get some data on how the drug affects pregnancies, and how children respond to the drug. That post-market data can have profound effects, including changing the usage instructions, prompting new studies on the drug, and even recall.

              Sometimes it’s really good. There was a case of an eye drop that worked really well for certain ear issues. Doctors found out somehow, passed the word to their friends, and a lot of them started using it “off label,” in order to help their patients. The post-marketing data reflected that, and the company ran new trials specifically to test it for use in the ear. When it was clinically proven to be good for that, they released an ear version, so doctors would be able to prescribe the drug as needed, without risking getting in trouble for going off-label. It’s not just a legal issue (although there could be legal repercussions). Patients who actually read their drug labels would get quite upset with their doctors for going off-label.

              So, yeah, I’d say your poor family had some really lousy doctors. I’d rather go with the older tried-and-true medicines (at least 5 years old, I would say), than jump right into using the new ones. By asking for generics, in the first place, I automatically jumped to the seven-year mark. By that point, any recall would most likely already have happened. Generics are MUCH safer, for that reason alone. Some issues will still crop up, even after that point, but the odds are much better that they won’t.

              Another benefit to getting the generics is that the doctor will have seven years or more to get used to the drug, and be MUCH more aware of side effects and drug interactions. Familiarity with the drug means they’re more likely to prescribe it properly.

              I prefer my doctors to be compassionate and risk-averse. I prefer my warriors to be badass and brave.

              On that note, I DID try a new-fangled medical thing last week. I went to my ophthalmologist, and instead of getting my eyes dilated (which makes me queasy and I’ve been known to pass out from it), I used “OPTOMAP,” which quickly takes a digital picture of the eye, with no dilation required. It was fast, painless, and accurate, and I got to see the pictures of my retina, myself, which was awesome. It was also completely non-invasive, no drugs or drops involved, which made me feel confident of its safety. From now on, I will always go with that.

              So, you know, tried-and-true with a balance of new is a good route.

              Wow. Sorry about the novel, there. This just really means a lot to me.

  4. For me, what keeps me motivated to exercise without weight loss as a goal is using progressive workouts. I am a fan of the “200 sit-ups,” “200 squats,” and “100 push-ups” workout programs, though I no longer follow each of them exactly. My goal is to complete the day’s workout, and each day’s workout is a little harder than the previous day’s. That way, when I finish that last set of 28 push-ups, I can go, “AW YEAH, I AM MIGHTY!!!” and feel super-accomplished. I can see the progress I’ve made, and I know what my next step is.

    • You know, I have avoided the gym lately, because of my back issues, which mean I hurt myself ALL. The. Time, but especially when lifting heavy objects. I can’t do weight-training, anymore, for my upper body.

      But, if I could get one of those weight machines, where you lie on your back, and push up with your legs, I’m sure I could push up 250 pounds all day long, alternating one leg with the other, and now and then using both, just for variety (you know, like walking and standing), singing, “Easy Peasy, Lemon Squeasy, Tralalalalala!” I weigh less than that, but it would really be like pushing up about 15 pounds more than I lift all day, every day, and would probably be a good “cardio” workout.

      Fat people have REALLY strong legs (except for those fat people who are not able to stand or walk, for reasons such as injury, illness, or other mobility issues). We carry around a whole lot more muscle than thin people realize, because it’s necessary to support all that weight, ALL the time.

      Maybe it’s my pain pill talking, but I totally want to go to some gym, right now!, get on one of those lie-on-your-back machines, and totally blow their minds! The look on a fat-bigot’s face might even be worth the price of membership.

      Well, maybe a trial membership.

      Anyone know what the typical starting weight is for such an exercise? Among “fit” people? I bet most don’t just start out at 250.

  5. For me, it’s a matter of wanting to keep the mobility I have. I’ve got a lot of chronic pain (arthritis and various other things) — my hands, feet and legs hurt pretty much all the time, even when I’m sitting or lying down — and exercise, any exercise, ALWAYS hurts. So for me, finding an exercise that “feels good” is an impossible dream. My only reasonable expectation is to find one where the pain level is tolerable enough that I can keep moving, and that is (usually) walking. My motivation is to continue to be able to walk — I don’t want to use a scooter before I absolutely have to, I want to be able to take walks in the country and in parks, I want to be mobile. So I’m working on preserving that as much as I can.

    I also want to try to control my blood glucose levels and 150 minutes of exercise per week is supposed to help with that. But as Ragen (and commentator Diane) say, there are real problems with setting that as a goal. Exercise MAY help control glucose levels, but it’s also possible that it won’t. When my readings are high, I try very hard NOT to say to myself “It’s because I didn’t exercise enough” or anything like that. I hope that walking keeps me metabolically healthier than I would be otherwise, but I have very little evidence that it does (I’m pretty unhealthy according to metabolic measures) and I can’t let that be my main motivation or I’d become extremely discouraged very quickly.

    • I agree. We can’t let those lab values control our lives. Plus you can’t tell by looking what someone’s lab # is.

    • There are SO many variables and causes at play in one person’s body, that you can’t really say for sure what is and isn’t helping. You can only say, “I feel X way, when I do Y activity.” If X is positive, then keep doing it. If X is only less worse than if you don’t do it, then you have to decide whether it’s worthwhile to keep doing it based on how much less worse you feel, and the opportunity cost of doing it.

      In other words, don’t fret the labwork, when you’re looking at your exercise goals. Focus on how you feel, and if your body tells you that it’s helping you, at all.

      As for walking, I hear you on that. I already use a scooter quite often, but I much prefer those days I don’t have to.

      For a walking goal, I’d say to picture yourself walking around your favorite park, countryside, or perhaps a vacation destination. You want to build up your ability to walk further and longer, without wearing yourself out, so that you can really enjoy your time walking around the park or vacation destination. Then, when you reach the point where you can walk as far or as long as you want, schedule that trip! Enjoy the countryside, or the park, or the historical tour of _____town, or whatever. But when you’re out there, please be safe and make provision for in case of collapse. Bring a cell phone, make sure it’s charged and that you have reception (check for bars as you go along, especially in the countryside), and have a buddy to help you, in case you fall down. And don’t be ashamed to use some mobility aid to get you back home again. Scooters are a godsend.

      When my Mom and I went to Disneyworld, I insisted that we rent a scooter for her (she has neuropathy in her feet), and there were a few times when we switched out, and I rode the scooter, while she walked. Either way, though, we were there to take care of each other, and take care of our bodies’ needs at the time. And we loved that vacation, pain and all.

      • By the way, I really advocate for renting a scooter from a local company, rather than renting one at the parks (at Disney World). The ones at the parks are first-come, first-served, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll get one to fit you, even if they have them in your size, because they seem to hand them out totally randomly.

        There is at least one good scooter-rental company in the area, though (They treated us SO well! When we had an issue with a battery, they came right to us in the park to swap it out, within 30 minutes!). There are probably more, but that one was recommended to me, so I went with it.

        They brought the scooter rental right to the hotel room, and Mom and I had fun decorating it, for Christmas (and also to be sure no one would mistake it for their own rental and take it by mistake), and it never mattered what time of the day we went to the park, because we had our scooter, and never had to worry about them being “sold out” of the park-rentals.

        I just have to give a plug for Disney – we had a WONDERFUL experience, and although some of the guests made rude remarks, none of the “cast members” ever did, and they were so very helpful getting us on and off the rides, and directing us to the proper accessible entrances, and although there were a lot of rides where we’d have to transfer from scooter to the seat, there were also plenty where we could just bring the scooter right into the ride. And in the case of transfer, they were willing to physically assist, so if you’re not just mobility impaired, but actually stuck in that wheelchair, you could still get all the help you need to enjoy just about everything they have there. Plus, they have bathrooms equipped with accessible sinks, as well as stalls (and the cutest little child-size sinks, so toddlers can wash their hands by themselves! SO CUTE!). I love how they really embraced accessibility, for mobility, at least.

        I believe they also have accessibility aids, such as headphones for hard-of-hearing people, and I noticed braille all over the place. And if you went to a restaurant and said “I have dietary issues, and need X/to avoid X” they were super helpful! You can call in advance, and ask for something special, but even if you just luck out and snag a canceled reservations spot, the chef will cook up something according to your needs. The counter-service options might be a bit more limited, but the table-serve options are amazing, for dietary restrictions!

        And every time I went to any customer service counter to ask for help, they always had a “Let’s make this work” attitude, without any judgement. Accommodation for special needs? Let’s DO IT! That’s one reason I want to go back. All politics aside, the Disney parks really treat their guests as real people (not marks or suckers), and WANT us to be happy.

        Now, I don’t know what it’s like at other amusement parks or tourist destinations, but at least one place is really taking accessibility seriously, and this really gives me hope that it will spread to all the other parks and tourist attractions.

        If they came up with an airline, I might actually fly again.

        That’s the thing the anti-accessibility crowd just don’t seem to get: You can get a lot more people buying your service/product if you give them what they actually need and want, INCLUDING dignity, rather than telling your customers to change to suit your own selfish bigotry. Yeah, it’s more of an investment, but it’s extremely profitable, in the long run, because of customer loyalty.

  6. Not having a scale has been the best solution ever.
    My work out and eating decisions have no weight to measure against.
    My clothes are sufficient to know I’m doing fine.

    • I have congestive heart failure (well controlled) and therefore MUST weigh myself every morning. A sudden gain of 3 or 4 pounds overnight — which has happened a couple of times — means that my CHF has flared up and I need to call my cardiologist immediately.

      It has been an immense struggle for me to learn to look at the number on the scale only as a measure of how well my CHF is controlled and not to let myself think about it in any other terms. It’s really difficult. One thing I do is that I write only the last digit, the decimal, and the tenths of a pound in my daily log — e.g., 7.3 — rather than including the first two digits. That gives me what I need to know and helps me focus on what I’m keeping this log *for*.

      But I have to admit I envy those of you who are able to just throw the scale away and not ever weigh yourselves.

      • Just the last digit and the tenth? That is a GREAT idea! After all, sudden weight change, up or down, is a symptom of many different conditions, so monitoring that can be a real life-saver. Gradual weight change, on the other hand, is no big deal. But weight doesn’t always show up in your clothing size. Location has a lot to do with that.

        You know, with that in mind, I might just buy a scale again.

        • So glad you like the idea! I’ve found it really useful for helping me keep my focus on *why* I’m weighing myself–to monitor my heart function–instead of freaking out over “OMG, I weigh x amount!”

          • Right, because it’s not the weight, itself, that is the issue, but the rapid CHANGE in weight. And that is almost always an issue, with various possible causes. And I think your way of dealing with the medical necessity of measuring it, while maintaining your own mental health is just brilliant. It really could be very triggering, but you found a way around that. Kudos!

  7. For me, the answer to question two involves a few different things.

    1. I do not own any scales that can measure a human – only small kitchen scales for baking. So I literally cannot give into the temptation to weight myself. It has now been so long since I measured my weight that I no longer know what it is.

    2. I set exercise goals for myself that are based on achievements unrelated to the shape of my body. Such as, making a goal to try and swim twice a week, at least 3 out of every 4 weeks. Or to improve my swimming to the point that I can swim one lap in under a minute. Or to learn a new yoga pose every week. Or to reach level 15 on fitocracy.

    3. I set goals for diet that are either utterly divorced from the concept of measuring calories or food amount consumed, or go in the opposite direction of what diets usually involve.

    For example, one big problem I am always working on relates to my upbringing and how it related to food, which has resulted in me really struggling to eat any kind of breakfast. I’m constantly battling this and making improvements and having setbacks because it is such a deep, deep old thing in me. But my goals for this have varied from “get up at X and use that extra time to prepare and eat some sort of breakfast” to “Prepare something with both protein and fruit for the morning” to “Consume, at the very least, a glass of fruit smoothie. Try to have something solid as well when possible”.

    Depending on budget, time and specific issues, good food goals might include “pick a vegetable each week that I have not tried/don’t like and prepare three meals using it in different ways – look for interesting but simple recipes” or “include a fruit snack with my lunch every day” or “keep a diary of my food cravings and take record what foods I find most satisfying when I have them”. This was a useful one for me, because it allowed me to identify that I have some regular cravings which I used to misidentify – turns out sometimes my body just REALLY REALLY WANTS spinach and brussel sprouts with every meal for like a solid week

  8. I’m not sure if loving yourself means you have to see yourself as beautiful. I struggled for a long time to see beyond what I saw in the mirror and what other people saw. I had to realize that being “beautiful” doesn’t indicate value. I’m intelligent, funny, nerdy, cultured, talented at various things. I’ve been through a lot in my life including accepting andl earning to live with mental illness, I’ve overcome injuries and ailments, and I am surrounded by people who love me for all of those things, none of which have to do with beauty.
    Love yourself for who you are.

  9. To love yourself – are you spiritual? G-d loves us all, we are all in the image of G-d, and all inherently worthy of love. G-d made us all different so we could learn to love all aspects of humanity – not just the supposedly ‘beautiful’ people by superficial standards. As we know, some of those are not beautiful on the inside. Are you good and kind and caring and help others? That’s all that matters. Would you find someone with a birth defect ugly – of course not, so why are you judging yourself?
    For the second part, healthy for me right now is trying to put less chemicals and processed stuff into my body. There are people of all shapes and sizes who have heart attacks or strokes because of crap they ingest (can be from food, smoke, drugs) – so just be careful of what you put into your body as much as you can. That’s a very good start.


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