“It’s Not a Diet It’s a Lifestyle Change” is Bullshit

Talking NonsenseYou’ve heard it. I’ve heard it. We’ve all heard it. Back in my dieting days before I did my research I believed it. The secret to lasting weight loss, they say, is that you can’t go on a diet, you have to make a lifestyle change.

This is total, complete, utter bullshit. It’s a lifestyle change alright – you change to a lifestyle where you’re dieting all the time, and it still doesn’t work.  One of the big issues that the weight loss industry has created is a world where any weight loss claim said with authority that sounds even remotely plausible is accepted and repeated as proven fact.  Even in the world of peer-reviewed research, incredible liberties are given to weight loss research when it comes to not having to support their assumptions with evidence.

I was on a panel at a very prestigious school for their Eating Disorder Awareness Week. At one point the school’s dietitian who was on the panel said that the reason people don’t maintain weight loss is that they lose the weight too fast, that you you should lose 1/2 pound a week and then you would keep the weight off. I wasn’t surprised to hear it, there have been versions of this going around since I was a kid.

I knew that the students at the school were super smart and data driven so I said “I must have missed those studies, , who conducted the research.”  She stammered for a moment, then said “Oh, there isn’t any research.” Had I not been there those students would have heard only from a professional dietitian employed by their school authoritatively telling them that they could achieve lasting weight loss by losing 1/2 pound a week as if she was stating a fact, despite having not a shred of evidence to back up her claim.

I think that one of the hardest things we have to come to grips with as we get off the diet roller coaster and start a non-diet path is the sheer number of times we’ve been lied to, and the extraordinary breadth and depth of people who have done the lying.  Some because they believe the lies, some because they want to believe the lies (despite that fact that they’ve been weight cycling for years), some because they want clicks on their site and they know that anti-fat articles are always good for that, and many, many of them for profit.

I hear about far too many people who, on their death bed, regret having spent their entire life dieting. In order to break free of the diet and weight loss paradigm that holds us down we have to see it for what it is – a lie, created on lies, supported by lies, and perpetuated by those who lie for profit.  It’s a Galileo issue – the idea that anyone who tries hard enough to lose weight can do it is widely believed, supported fervently with religious zeal, and not at all supported by the evidence.

My life got better immensely and immediately when I stopped buying the lies that I could manipulate my body size, and that doing so was a worthy pursuit in the first place. When it comes to diet culture, that’s the only lifestyle change that I’m interested in.

Ready to put an end to diet culture? Then join us for the Fat Activism Conference:

Click Here to Register for the Fat Activism Conference

The Fat Activism Conference is all online, so you can listen by phone or on your computer wherever you are.  Plus you get recordings and transcripts of each talk so you can listen and read live and/or on your own schedule. The conference is happening October 6-8, 2017!

If you enjoy this blog, consider becoming a member or making a contribution.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support fat activism and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

If you are uncomfortable with my selling things on this site, you are invited to check out this post.

Published in: on August 9, 2017 at 1:09 pm  Comments (26)  

When Healthy Eating Is Anything But

Do I need to eat this-We live in a culture where people mistake the stereotype of beauty for everything from morality, to work ethic, to healthcare qualifications. One of the places this becomes the most apparent is in celebrity diet culture. There isn’t a single study where more than a tiny fraction of people have maintained any amount of weight loss long term (and even among those, the weight lost is incredibly small), but we’re supposed to believe that because someone is thin and talented, they hold the secret to weight loss and/or healthy eating — and let’s remember that these are most definitely two different things.

We also live in a culture that encourages us to have a seriously messed up relationship with food. Chips are a “guilty pleasure,” but baked chips are “guilt free?” Desserts are “decadent” and vegetables are “clean” (and I don’t mean given a good scrub in the sink).

I have seen “clean eating” defined as everything from a chock-full-o-meat paleo diet, to a vegan diet and plenty of eating plans in between. I’m “good” if I eat some broccoli, but “bad” if I eat it with cheese sauce.

Then there’s our society’s bizarre insistence that we make all food into a performance — from the obligatory “This is so much food, I could never eat all of this” we’re obliged to say when our plate comes in a restaurant, to our tendency to discuss why we are or aren’t eating a particular food (and I’m not talking about in the context of allergies or sensitivities). Or how many minutes on the treadmill we feel we have to do to “make up” for eating whatever we’re eating, how “good” or “bad” we are being with our food choices.

And we have these discussions with whatever rando strangers are also in line at Chipotle.

Combine those three things and you get the total cock up that is celebrity diet culture. In his piece “Clean eating websites like Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop ‘indistinguishable from pro anorexia sites,’” Dr Christian Jessen wrote:

Click here to read my full piece!

Ready to wave goodbye to celebrity diet culture and all the nasty stuff that comes with it?

Click Here to Register for the Fat Activism Conference

The Fat Activism Conference is all online, so you can listen by phone or on your computer wherever you are.  Plus you get recordings and transcripts of each talk so you can listen and read live and/or on your own schedule. The conference is happening October 6-8, 2017!

If you enjoy this blog, consider becoming a member or making a contribution.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support fat activism and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

If you are uncomfortable with my selling things on this site, you are invited to check out this post.

Published in: on August 3, 2017 at 12:04 pm  Comments (23)  

Do Body Positive Spaces Have to Allow Weight Loss Talk?

What Will you DefendThis question comes up a lot in a lot of different ways.  For our purposes today “weight loss talk” includes any discussion of the desire, reasons, and/or process by which someone wants to attempt to manipulate their body to be smaller.

So, that brings us back to our question: Do fat positive spaces have to allow weight loss talk?

Short answer:  No.

Slightly longer answer: Hell no.

Long answer:

People are allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies – but that doesn’t make every choice people make appropriate for fat acceptance (or even the co-opted and watered down concept of “body positive”) spaces.

While no two oppressions are exactly comparable, as a woman who is both queer and fat, I liken this to someone who wants to have “reparative therapy” to try to become straight. They are allowed to do that, but they should not expect that discussion of their desire, reasons, or process of becoming not queer would be welcome in queer positive spaces. Similarly, it’s completely appropriate – and, in fact, absolutely necessary – that we have fat positive/body positive spaces that do not allow weight loss talk of any kind.

Social justice works in systems, and fatphobia is rooted in systems that include sizeism, healthism, and ableism. Health, ability, and body size are not obligations, barometers of worthiness, or entirely within our control. Insisting that they be prioritized and/or used to judge the goodness/worthiness of a body adds to oppression. The message that bodies are better if they are manipulated to be a different size adds to oppression. If we want to dismantle systems of sizeism, healthism, and ableism, then we need to vastly change the way we talk about size, health, and dis/ability and ending weight loss talk is a big part of that.

Ready for a world that affirms body of all sizes? Join us for the Fat Activism Conference:

Click Here to Register for the Fat Activism Conference

The Fat Activism Conference is all online, so you can listen by phone or on your computer wherever you are.  Plus you get recordings and transcripts of each talk so you can listen and read live and/or on your own schedule. The conference is happening October 6-8, 2017!

If you enjoy this blog, consider becoming a member or making a contribution.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support fat activism and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

If you are uncomfortable with my selling things on this site, you are invited to check out this post.

Published in: on August 2, 2017 at 8:48 am  Comments (8)