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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Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

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

I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at www.IronFat.com

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

Published in: on July 30, 2015 at 7:27 am  Comments (12)  

Wondering Why We’re Fat?

Things you can tell by looking at a fat person

If you want a graph about fat people, I recommend this one.

Reader Michelle forwarded me a ridiculous graph called “This is Why You’re Fat America” listing the calorie counts for some very rich restaurant foods. I seriously doubt that The Cheesecake Factory is the patient zero from which all American fatness stems.  But this highlights a larger issue.

I have noticed that guessing why fat people are fat has become one of our cultures very favorite pastimes.  I don’t know a single fat person who hasn’t had to deal with people guessing why they are fat. I can’t even count how many times I’ve been told to “eat less and exercise more” by people who can’t possible know how much I eat or how much I exercise.  Or we get told that no matter what we’re doing our bodies make it completely obvious that we must not be doing it right.  We  are not doing enough cardio, we are doing too much cardio, we need to cut down on this food or eat more of that food or natures newest miracle berry blah blah blah.

This goes really badly because we’ve devolved so far from anything resembling scientific method and true healthcare when it comes to fat people that any theory that anybody comes up with becomes instantly actionable.  The mayor of New York thinks that banning extra large sodas will make people less fat, no need for any kind of evidence – just do it.  Michelle Obama wants to make her time as First Lady about focusing on the weight of children even though there are no interventions proven to lead to long-term weight loss in kids? No problem, take your best guess and turn kids into lab rats for 8 years.

I’m not going to go into explanations about why people are a lot of different sizes for a lot for different reasons, nor am I going to go into the fact that after over 50 years of intense study there is not a single intervention that has been shown to lead to long term weight loss, or that there is no study that shows that such weight loss would lead to greater health.  What I’m going to say is that this treatment of fat people is ridiculous.   It’s bad enough when people use their very limited time on Earth to make random guesses about why fat people are fat, but it’s worse when it comes to people who think that these guesses constitute some kind of basis for evidence-based health interventions.  The way that you can identify an evidence-based health intervention is that it is based on evidence, and has something to do with health.  It is not based on somebody’s random guess about why people’s bodies are a certain size and how that size might be manipulated.

If I want someone’s rectal-pull-generated guess about why I’m fat, they will be among the very first to know.   Otherwise,  people are allowed to spend as much of their free time wondering why I look like this, but I don’t give a flying frick. And I will continue to insist that my rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness include the right to exist, in a fat body, without being made the subject of a war on people who look like me, which includes a massive society wide game of “why is she fat” and “how can we change her.”

New Fit Fatties Videos

Want to see some awesome representations of athletes of all sizes?  Check out this month’s Fit Fatties Montage!

And if you missed last months, check that out too!

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

I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at www.IronFat.com

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Published in: on July 28, 2015 at 5:50 am  Comments (11)  

Screaming at Fat People for Fun and Profit

Jillian MichaelsSeveral people have sent me a video of an individual who takes it upon himself to scream and rant and rave at, and about, fat people.  He is not the first person to believe that fat people are just a little bit of emotional abuse and bullying away from being thin (or pretend to believe it as a way to justify his abhorrent, abusive, bullying behavior.)

People do this for a number of different reasons.  Many, like the dude in the video I saw, seem to be partaking in some combination of attention-seeking, and enjoying being a bigot and bully out loud. Some are still stuck on the junior high school that-trick-never-works attempt to put others down to feel better about themselves. Others do it for profit. Jillian Michaels is certainly not the only person to do this, but she does seem to be one of the most successful in terms of getting attention and money. Of course we can’t know other people’s intentions and it doesn’t really matter since this behavior is inappropriate regardless.

Let’s get something very clear. This is not about helping fat people – the idea that we should abuse and bully fat people (or any people) “for their own good” is not a conclusion that can be arrived at through logical, rational thought.

It is possible that a few of these people have become so deluded and confused by a culture where fat hating is rampant and encouraged (including by the government) that they think this is a good idea, or their sense of self-importance is so over-exaggerated that they think that they are being brave and helping those who are beneath them, but at the end of the day they are still bullying and abusing people and their behavior is still deeply wrong.

There are things to be learned from these people and their ranting.  Nothing about fat people of course, as this actually has very little if anything to do with us.  It can, however, be helpful in illustrating just how screwed up our society has become when it comes to size and health.  It can also show how people are comfortable treating fat people, and how comfortable people are or aren’t with the bullying and abuse of fat people. (Just as a reminder: while the bullying, stigmatizing and harassment of fat people is certainly often socially accepted, it is definitely not the “last acceptable prejudice”  racism, transphobia, homophobia, ableism, ageism and more are all alive and well and if they weren’t “acceptable” they wouldn’t be happening.)

If you are a fat person and you have the misfortune to deal with this behavior either in person or by coming across one of these videos, I recommend that you do whatever it takes to keep yourself ok.  You can do activism around it, or ignore it, leave a comment, report it, or block it.  If one of your friends posts this crap you can leave a comment, send them a private message, unfriend them, or do nothing and move on with your day.

Whatever you do, just be clear – it’s not you, it’s them  Fat people are not the problem, fat people should not be treated like this, ever.  These people and their behavior are completely and totally unacceptable and wrong. Period.  And no, it doesn’t matter if they can find someone who says that their life got better because of this bullying and abuse.  If people want to be treated this way then they can request it, otherwise there is simply no excuse, justification, or reason for this behavior.

If you are not fat and you see this behavior, please consider speaking up – reminding people that even if someone believes that they can judge others by appearance (even though that’s obviously bullshit) there is no way to bully and abuse people for their own good and that this behavior is completely unacceptable.

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Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

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

I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at www.IronFat.com

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Published in: on July 27, 2015 at 11:08 am  Comments (18)  

Finally a Weight Loss Scammer Gets Some Consequences

Diet Ad BingoAh, Kevin Trudeau.  He came to the diet book world like so many others – as a con man (*cough* Steve Siebold *cough*).  He originally found himself on the Federal Trade Commission’s radar for schilling a cure for severe pain, and then a cure for cancer.  As part of a settlement he promised to, you know, stop lying about stuff for money.

So he wrote a diet book!  I imagine he looked around, saw the world of weight loss and said “hey, this is an industry where not only does absolutely everyone lie about how well their stuff works, but everyone, including the customers, blames the customers for failing! Hot damn why didn’t I start with this?”

His book was called “The Weight Loss Cure “They” Don’t Want You to Know About.” Ooooh, tell me more! Apparently what “they” don’t want you to know, is that if you sell a book claiming “easy” weight loss with “no exercise”, but your book actually says that people must exercise an hour a day, eat only 500 calories a day, and get injections made from the urine of pregnant women, the shit will hit the fan. Kevin got 10 years in prison and now it looks like he has to give refunds to the people he conned.

While this is good news, I think it’s important to note that, based on the research, there isn’t any company, program, or book selling weight loss that is any more honest about their success rate (or any more successful) than Kevin. People try to act like there’s a difference between “fad diets” like Kevin’s and “lifestyle change” programs like Weight Watchers, but the fact is that the only difference is that Weight Watchers has been getting away with this longer. (though the FTC did get involved, which is why companies like Weight Watchers have to put up a disclaimer that says that their product doesn’t really work every time they advertise it. Though I would prefer that they be forced to have realistic slogans.)

The truth is that whether they are selling us pills that come with a warning to carry extra pants, suggesting that drinking 5 reconstituted soy protein shakes a day is the path to health, or trying to get us to take pills that might kill us, nobody selling weight loss has any research to suggest that more than a tiny fraction of people will succeed long-term.  So here’s hoping that what’s happened to Kevin is the start of a trend.

Like the blog?  More Cool Stuff!

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!

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

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

I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at www.IronFat.com

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development, you can follow the progress on Facebook!

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

Published in: on July 25, 2015 at 9:11 am  Comments (4)  

Waqas Khan is a Bigot Who Should Never Practice Medicine Again

Bad DoctorOn the blog KevinMD, (self-described as “Social Media’s Leading Physician Voice”) a video was posted [every trigger warning that you could possibly imagine, I definitely don’t recommend watching it] under the title “This is the video that will make you feel sorry for doctors treating obesity.” (Update:  The blog has been removed from KevinMD – way to go everyone, thanks for your activism!)

It’s a slickly produced video by Waqas Khan (who I don’t even want to acknowledge is a physician because it’s just too horrifying), the premise of which is that fat people are all stupid walking stereotypes, and that everyone should feel sorry for doctors because they are expected to treat fat people like human beings.

I mean, who do these fatties think they are, expecting healthcare practitioners to provide evidence-based (god, even compassionate?) care rather than just making assumptions about us, diagnosing us as fat, and prescribing weight loss (using “interventions” that have not only been shown to be almost completely ineffective long-term, but to actually have the opposite of the intended effect most of the time.) Poor doctors, oh the humanity!

Or, in Waqas’ case, the complete lack thereof. (Activism options are listed at the end of this blog post.)

The videos are created by Waqas’ company called “Healthcare Not Fair” (I guess “Doctor Bigot Films” was already taken.)  He claims the piece is satire. So we can add “satire” to “compassion,” “basic human respect,” and “evidence-based medicine” on the list of things that Waqas Khan does not understand. What this video actually shows is what happens when a bigot abuses a position of authority and trust to wallow in, and perpetuate, his bigotry.

Make no mistake though, his behavior is a direct and serious threat to the health of fat people. Waqas is trying to spread a message of weight bigotry, body shame, and self-loathing. If he succeeds, many fat people (and those who feel fat) will believe that our bodies are not worthy of good care and that we are not worthy of being treated with respect by healthcare practitioners, or anyone else which will make it nearly impossible to make decisions in our best interest.

Many of us will see doctors like Waqas who ignore our actual complaints, trust their bigotry and stereotypes over what we tell them, and miss actual health problems because they are so busy trying to manipulate our body size.  Some of us will see doctors who refuse to give us routine care until we meet some ratio of weight and height.

Others will be so scared that our doctor will be a bigot like Waqas that we’ll avoid seeking care, causing us to miss out on preventative care, early diagnosis, and to have worse outcomes than those who can go to the doctor without being terrified that the doctor might create and promote videos making fun of patients like them. This is a real public health threat. If we’re going to wage war against someone in the name of public health, let’s wage war against bigots, and bullies, and people like Waqas Khan.

By the way, this video (called “Miss Fatty”) isn’t the only one, this is a series that includes “Ms. Stupid Taxpayer,” and “Ms. Have it All” among others. Nobody, of any size, should be subjected to a physician like this.

The video contains a “watch at your own risk” warning at the beginning that says “Just like cancer, there’s no cure for getting offended.” His trivialization of cancer to defend his bigotry aside, I beg to differ. I think the cure for getting offended is taking action. Here are some actions that you can take: (Regardless of whether you engage in activism or not, let me just remind you that this guy is the problem, not you. This is severely fucked up, you are fine.)

Activism Opportunities:

Leave a comment on KevinMD.com  and e-mail him at contact@kevinmd.com asking him if “Social Media’s Leading Physician Voice”  really wants to be a voice for bigotry, and suggesting that he take the video down.   DONE!  Thanks to our activism, KevinMD.com has removed the video! There’s still work to be done:

E-mail Waqa’s company (by the way, his next project is a “memoir” film called ““Superdoc: Healthcare’s Own Superhero”” about himself) and let him know what you think of him healthcarenotfair@gmail.com

He works with Healthtap so you can e-mail them and let them know how you feel about their choice of physician partners.

If you wanted to file a complaint with the California Medical Board online (perhaps for unprofessional conduct?) Waqas Ahmad Khan’s License Number is 108929

Leave comments on his social media:

Twitter @driamsorry1 https://twitter.com/driamsorry1

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/healthcarenotfair

Like the blog?  More Cool Stuff!

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!

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

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

I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at www.IronFat.com

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development, you can follow the progress on Facebook!

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

Published in: on July 24, 2015 at 10:51 am  Comments (30)  

Food, Fat People, and Double Standards

What a Load of CrapIn response to reactions to my post yesterday about Ariana Grande’s #DonutGate, I wanted to revisit a post I wrote a few years ago about the double standards we have around eating in our culture when it comes to fat and thin people.

I’m watching the show Friday Night Lights, it’s the episode where one of the tall thin beautiful female characters decides that she is hungry, she asks her boyfriend for a long list of junk food from the convenience store, and reminds him that she was going to eat all of it (so he better get other food if he wanted something.) He smiles at her.  You can see this repeated all over the place in pop culture.  This is iconic – she is a hot chick who is “one of the guys”, she can eat her body weight in wings, she orders beer and not wine, she orders her hot dog with chili and extra cheese and in the event of a break-up she eats a gallon of mint chocolate chip punctuated with sprays of whipped topping directly from the can into her mouth.  She looks like a model but eats like a linebacker. She’s cute, adorable, hot, sexy, quirky.

But what about this girl:  She’s fat, she can eat her body weight in wings, she orders beer and not wine, she orders her hot dog with chili and extra cheese and in the event of a break-up she eats a gallon of mint chocolate chip punctuated with sprays of whipped topping directly from the can into her mouth. She is a fat woman who eats like a linebacker.  She is the subject of shame, stigma, humiliation and ridicule by everyone from random strangers on the internet to her doctor. She is disgusting, she is everything that’s wrong with the world.

Why if someone is thin are these behaviors considered some combination of hot, sexy, adorable, and quirky, but if she’s fat the exact same behaviors are irresponsible, disgusting, creating diseases that she “deserves”, costing tax dollars etc.?

I was going to give a hint, but let me just take a stab at the answer – it’s because it isn’t about health, it’s about our cultural bias against fat people and all the ways that people find to perpetuate it. It’s about the way that fat people are used as a target – including and especially by the government – for people looking to blame their misfortune on someone.

I’m kind of surprised it isn’t already a Twitter hashtag. Healthcare costs too high?  Blame fat people (even if the evidence doesn’t support it.) Taxes too high? #blamefatpeople (even if it makes no sense) Licked some donuts and getting (rightly) eviscerated in the media? #blamefatpeople

There is an answer.  It’s not to stop “condoning” these behaviors in thin women or to start “condoning” them in fat women.  The answer is for each of us to realize that, just like our personal choices aren’t other people’s business, their personal choices aren’t our business. Other people’s food choices are not really ours to condone.  The answer is to learn the ancient art of minding our own damn business.

We are allowed to have all kinds of opinions, but nobody else has an obligation to care about what we think. If we start to insist that they do, i think we’ll soon find that this slope is very slippery –  whose behavior do we get to choose and who gets to choose our behavior for us?  It’s a lot less fun when someone gets to tell us how to live.

While we’re at it, let’s stop making assumptions.  Let’s not assume that the way someone is eating tonight out at dinner is the way that they eat all the time. Let’s not assume that we can look at someone and know what they eat.  Let’s not assume that it’s any of our business what people eat.  Let’s stop creating a culture of guilt and shame around food, and we can also stop creating a culture of guilt and shame around bodies, mind our own business, make our own choices, and live happier ever after.

Like the blog?  More Cool Stuff!

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!

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

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

I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at www.IronFat.com

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development, you can follow the progress on Facebook!

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

Published in: on July 21, 2015 at 8:51 am  Comments (18)  

Licked Some Donuts? Don’t Blame Fat Kids.

Ariana Grande gave us a great example of just how ridiculous the “war on obesity” can become:

First, she went with her boyfriend to get some donuts:

mmm donuts

For reasons passing understanding, she decided to lick some of the donuts that were on display on the counter, not tell anyone, and then buy other non-licked donuts.

She was caught on tape licking the donuts while making disparaging remarks about people from the US.

So she was forced to make an apology:

I am EXTREMELY proud to be an American and I’ve always made it clear that I love my country. What I said in a private moment with my friend, who was buying the donuts, was taken out of context and I am sorry for not using more discretion with my choice of words.

First of all, what difference does it make who was buying the donuts?  Whatever. This would probably have been ok, but she couldn’t stop herself there:

As an advocate for healthy eating, food is very important to me and I sometimes get upset by how freely we as Americans eat and consume things without giving any thought to the consequences that it has on our health and society as a whole.

The fuck?  Lady, you licked donuts on a donut shop counter, then you bought different donuts, leaving the donuts you licked behind.  I can’t think of anyone whose thoughts about food and health are less relevant to this discussion in this moment.  But she couldn’t stop there either:

The fact that the United States has the highest child obesity rate in the world frustrates me. We need to do more to educate ourselves and our children about the dangers of overeating and the poison we put in our bodies.

The actual fuck? I have to wonder if she arrived at this on her own or if some adviser was like “blame fat people, no…wait, blame fat kids that will totally work!”  Like fat kids don’t face enough bullying, now we’re to believe that their mere existence has lead poor frustrated Ariana to lick donuts on a shop counter, then buy other donuts and eat them, as a way to educate about healthy foods (which, I would think, should include access to foods that haven’t been licked by a stranger.)

Think of the children

But wait, there’s more.  In a second apology video called “sorry babes” she said:

“I kind of missed my opportunity to actually sincerely apologize and express how I was feeling because I was too busy preaching about my feelings with the food industry, which is not, like, relative,”

No, it’s not, like, relative. Hell, it’s not even relevant. How about instead of “Sorry but OMGDEATHFATZARECOMINGFORUS OMGFATKIDS!” just saying “I’m sorry that I licked donuts that were on a counter, and didn’t admit it until I was caught on tape and those donuts had been sold to other people. Wow, I am really a massive fuck up.”

This is the world that the “War on Obesity” has wrought, where “But fat people!” is accepted as a reason/excuse for everything from the suspension of scientific method/all logical thought, to practicing experimental medicine on kids, to calling for the eradication of fat people, to a pop star licking donuts. Fat people are not political punching bags, we are not yours for the metaphoring, we’re not a convenient way to distract from your donut licking behavior. Fat people are, in fact, people.  We deserve to be treated with basic human dignity and we have the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. So if you want to lick some donuts, you’re on your own – leave fat people out of it.

Like the blog?  More Cool Stuff!

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!

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

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

I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at www.IronFat.com

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development, you can follow the progress on Facebook!

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

Published in: on July 20, 2015 at 11:03 am  Comments (51)  

Say Something Sunday – War on Obesity Edition

Say Something SundayIt’s “Say Something Sunday,” a day dedicated, at least on this blog, to personal Size Diversity activism. I did the math and if everyone who views the blog each week did one piece of Size Diversity Activism a week, it would add up to over 1.5 million body positive messages put out into the world this year.  Multiply that times the number of people who might see each of those messages and things start to increase exponentially. To be very clear, nobody is obligated to do activism so if this doesn’t appeal to you that’s totally cool, I’ll be back tomorrow with your regularly scheduled blog post!

Today’s theme is “The War on Obesity.”  There is no way that you can have a war against fat without making it a war against fat people. Even if you could, the idea that we should wage war against whatever part of people the government thinks makes their weight in pounds time 703 divided by their height in inches squared greater than 30 (which is how “obesity” is calculated) is seriously questionable.  Not to mention that even if people believe that this is about health and not fat, it’s really not ok to start a war against people because of their health status, or because you think that the world would be cheaper for others if people with that health status didn’t exist.  Not to mention that those interested in public health can create excellent campaigns that are completely weight neutral.

This is a pretty simple one – there is just no need for a war on obesity. When you see people talk about a “war on obesity” speak up and let them know that you are not interested in spending time and money going to war against people for how they look, or their health status,

If you want to do more of this kind of thing, consider joining the Rolls Not Trolls group on Facebook, it’s a group created for the specific purpose of putting body positive things in body negative spaces on the internet and supporting each other while we do that.  It’s a secret group so if you want to join just message me on facebook (I’m Ragen Chastain)

Have a great Say Something Sunday!

Like the blog?  More Cool Stuff!

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!

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

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

I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at www.IronFat.com

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development, you can follow the progress on Facebook!

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

Published in: on July 19, 2015 at 11:57 am  Comments (3)  

That Ridiculous Oprah Crop Top Thing

Biscuit doesn't care about flatteringIn case you missed it, in the latest issue of O, The Oprah Magazine a reader asked creative director Adam Glassman “Can I pull off a crop top?”  He told her:  “If (and only if!) you have a flat stomach, feel free to try one.”

So, obviously, Adam Glassman can bite me. (And why O Magazine has men telling women what they can and can’t wear will have to be a subject for another time.)  The good news is all the pictures of fat women rocking crop tops that have followed.

In the grand tradition of shitty apologies following shitty body-shaming behavior (*cough* Jamelia *cough*) a spokesperson for the magazine said, ostensibly with a straight face, “We support, encourage and empower all women to look great, feel confident and live their best lives—in this case, we could have expressed it better. We appreciate the feedback and will be more mindful going forward.”

We could have expressed it better? I mean, really. To be able to express it better, they would have had to express it at all. What they expressed was the opinion that women should feel confident “if (and only if!)” they have a flat stomach. Which is bullshit.

To be very clear there is no clothing requirement to “prove” that we are part of body positivity or Size Acceptance – if you don’t feel like rocking a crop top for any reason that is completely fine.  We have the right to bare arms, and legs, and stomachs, but never the obligation.  That said, I think the idea that there is any clothing that’s ok for thin people and not ok for fat people is total crap.

I am personally a member of the F*ck Flattering club. When someone tells me that seeing rolls isn’t flattering, or showing fat arms isn’t flattering, or bright clothing on fat people isn’t flattering, or clothing that *gasp* isn’t slimming, isn’t flattering, what I hear is “I’m interested in buying into and reinforcing the idea that we should all try to get as close to some arbitrary stereotype of beauty as possible.”  People are allowed to do that for themselves, they aren’t allowed to dictate it to others.  For me, I think it’s feeding the machine that oppresses me and so I personally have no interest in doing anything but fighting it. and you can believe I’ll wear whatever the hell I want while I’m at it.

Like the blog?  More Cool Stuff!

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!

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

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

I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at www.IronFat.com

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development, you can follow the progress on Facebook!

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

Published in: on July 17, 2015 at 10:19 am  Comments (14)  

Even if Weight Loss Would Solve Every Problem

BullshitWeight loss is touted as a miracle cure.  We’re promised that it will make us healthier, happier, more attractive  – that the life of our dreams is just a diet away. We are told that being fat is the cause for everything bad in our lives – single and want to be in a relationship?  It’s because you’re fat.  Have mobility problems?  It’s because you’re fat.  Have diabetes?  It’s because you’re fat.  Hit by a truck?  It’s because you’re fat.  Abducted by aliens?  It’s because you’re fat.

For today let’s put aside the fact that there are people of all sizes dealing with health challenges, unwanted singleness, diabetes, auto accidents and alien abduction.  Let’s set aside that there isn’t a single study of people who have lost weight long term showing that they were healthier for it.  Let’s not even get into a discussion about alien abduction (it’s beyond the scope of this blog).

Even if becoming thin would solve every single problem in every single fat person’s life (and I don’t think it would), the truth is it doesn’t matter.  Because we don’t know how to get it done. The belief that we know how to help people lose weight long term, and that weight loss leads to greater health, is a major Galileo issue of our time – widely believed, fervently defended, and unsupported by the evidence.

Let’s talk about what would define successful weight loss.  If we are going to buy into the idea of “healthy weight,” “overweight and “obese” categories (and I don’t) then successful weight loss would have to move someone at least one category lower than they are to make them “more healthy”, and the ultimate goals would be to move people into the “healthy weight” category, otherwise their risk – based on this system of categories – doesn’t really change.

We are nowhere even close to knowing how to do that.  In studies of long term weight loss the vast majority of participants regain all of their weight long term, and many regain more than they lost.  Many more never lose enough weight to change categories.

The Nutrition Journal published a review of studies used to prove that dieting works called “Validity of claims made in weight management research: a narrative review of dietetic articles.  Here are some of the findings:

  • [studies included] claims of non-specific ‘health benefits’ which are not substantiated
  • It appears that beliefs about weight and health acquire a truth status so that they circulate as intuitively appealing ‘facts’, immune from scrutiny and become used, and accepted by editors, without supporting references
  • Dietetic literature on weight management fails to meet the standards of evidence based medicine.
  • Research in the field is characterized by speculative claims that fail to accurately represent the available data.

This information is even more fleshed out in the same journal in the piece “Weight Science:  Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift.”

When I first started reading weight loss literature, it was amazing to me how many studies cite an extremely low success rate (between .17% and 5%) but then assert in their conclusions that it’s still a good idea to set a weight loss goal and use the method that they just showed almost never works.

Weight Watchers own numbers show that the average person maintains a 5 pound weight loss after 2 years (a feat I feel could be accomplished by regular exfoliation and without paying a small fortune to Weight Watchers.)  When asked by the Federal Trade Commission to do longer-term studies, representatives from WW refused because “it would be too depressing for our clients”.

Weight loss is promised to “cure what ails ya”, no matter what that is, when in truth there is basically no more research to support weight loss than there is to promote any other snake oil. There isn’t a study that shows that weight loss is possible for the majority of people, and there isn’t a study that shows that if it was successful it would make people healthier.  This entire thing is based on everybody knows.

Almost everyone who attempts weight loss fails.  Yet doctors keep prescribing the same things and blaming the vast majority of people for “not trying hard” enough or “not doing it right”. Can you imagine if Viagra only worked 5% of the time and we blamed 95% of the guys for just not trying hard enough?  It’s completely ridiculous.  But when I point this out people roll their eyes and say “everybody knows” that you can lose weight if you really try.

Let me say it again – even if weight loss would solve every problem (and I don’t think it will), it doesn’t matter because we don’t know how to get it done and my opinion, based on the research that exists, is that it is a massive waste of time, money, and resources to keep suggesting, marketing, prescribing, and pursuing weight loss.  (Especially when there is good evidence that there are other ways to pursue health if that’s a priority (knowing that health is not an obligation, barometer of worthiness, entirely within our control, or guaranteed under any circumstance.)  If people want to keep researching weight loss methods that’s fine, it’s also fine if they want to keep researching ways to help people fly like superman, but I certainly won’t be dieting or jumping off my roof and flapping my arms. Attempting weight loss to get healthier is doing something that nobody has proven is possible for a reason that nobody has proven is valid.

Like the blog?  More Cool Stuff!

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!

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

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

I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at www.IronFat.com

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development, you can follow the progress on Facebook!

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

Published in: on July 15, 2015 at 9:15 am  Comments (18)