You Guys!

I know I said I wasn’t gonna see you until after my vacation, but I had to pop in to tell you that Jes Baker is coming to Rochester! Before you say, “Who?!,” see if this picture rings a bell:

I still wouldn't shop there, but this is amazing.

I still wouldn’t shop there, but this is amazing.

Yep, Jes Baker, who blogs over at The Militant Baker, is the amazing fat woman who created an ad campaign (that’s her tattooed self in the picture) after Abercrombie & Fitch’s CEO made those ridiculous comments a few years ago about who he wants to wear his clothes (hint: not fat people).

Jes’s life exploded after these photos came out, and now she lectures all over the country. She’s bringing her talk, “Change the World, Not Your Body” (come ON with that awesome title, am I right?), to the First Unitarian Church on Winton Road here in the ROC a week from today – that would be Wednesday, April 8th. You can get tickets here, and join the Facebook event here.

Me? I cannot wait to meet this woman! She is a force in the body- and fat-positive movements, and I plan to completely fangirl when I meet her. Pretty much like this:

kermit

Hope to see you (local) guys there!

Sunshine on My Shoulders

BFD is taking a vacation! I’m heading to the beach with some of my favorite people. While I’m frolicking in the sand, soaking up the sunshine, and unabashedly wearing a bathing suit while fat, I hope you continue to treat yourself and your body with kindness and respect and love.

Sooooon.

Sooooon.

If you’re looking for a few good reads while I’m gone, check out this article over on Slate – the tag line sums it up pretty nicely: It’s time to stop telling fat people to become thin. You can also check out the links at left, under Big Beautiful Blogs, to see some of the places I get my information and inspiration.

And be sure to follow me over on Facebook, because I might take some time away from sunbathing and relaxing to post a few things. As always, feel free to share and comment on things there.

See you after Easter, my friends! I’ll try to bring some sunshine back with me.

Where Are Our Super Heroes?

I found myself alone with a remote in my hand this past weekend, and I stumbled upon an excellent documentary on PBS (cause that’s how I roll). It’s called Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines, and it was spectacular. I can’t describe it without a lot of superfluous gushing and fan-girling, so I’ll let them sum it up:

Directed by Kristy Guevara-Flanagan and produced by Kelcey Edwards, Wonder Women! is a fun and warmly witty look at how popular representations of powerful women often reflect society’s anxieties about women’s liberation.

I feel like fighting crime just looking at that title.

I feel like fighting crime just looking at that title.

The documentary was fantastic. It was full of inspirational stories told by women and girls from all walks of life – different races, different sexual orientations, different life experiences – all centered on how the image of a strong and empowered superheroine positively impacted their lives. There was a single mom (and huge Wonder Woman fan) who had come to America in her 20s, put herself through college, and was now raising a strong and self-confident daughter of her own. There was a young girl who got picked on and bullied in school whose love for comic books (and Wonder Woman in particular) gave her the self-confidence she needed to hold her head up high on a daily basis, and inspired her to look beyond her current situation and into a bright, light-filled future. It was very moving, very funny, and I highly recommend it to anyone who could use a good “HELL, YEAH! GO ON, GIRL!” every once in a while.

Yeah, ladies, you got this.

Yeah, ladies. You got this.

Now, I’m a tremendous geek. I love comic books and superheroes. I grew up watching (and loving) the brilliant (and only slightly dated) TV adaptations of Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, Superman…heck, I even watched Shazam!

It’s ok, kids. This all made sense in the 70s.

It’s ok, kids. This all made sense in the 70s.

But as I was watching the Wonder Woman documentary, hearing about how revolutionary the idea of a female super hero was (and is), seeing the impact this character has had on women and women’s roles over the years… I was struck by the realization that, despite my love of comic books and positive role models for women and girls… my life was impacted not at all by Wonder Woman, or any female super hero. I watched the documentary trip through the decades, showing all of the strong and powerful women who rose from the embers sparked by Wonder Woman’s flame: Charlie’s Angels, The Bionic Woman, Ellen Ripley, Sarah Connor. I started thinking, I grew up in an era when women’s liberation was at its peak, and while I wouldn’t say I was surrounded by positive female role models in pop culture, they were definitely out there, and definitely well within reach in my nerdy little world. So… why did Wonder Woman – and all of those strong and powerful women – not have the impact on me that they did on those women in the documentary, and thousands of others?

Because these women looked at Wonder Woman, and saw themselves. I looked at Wonder Woman, and saw a tiny little waistline and gigantic boobs.

And hair. Lots and lots of hair.

And hair. Lots and lots of hair.

Most girls look at superheroines and see a projection of their fantasy-selves – they see a woman that they could one day grow up to be. I saw a thin, beautiful woman – something I would never be. The same applies to the rest of those pop culture superheroines I grew up with – Charlie’s Angels, The Bionic Woman, Buffy Summers, all of the female X-Men (don’t get me started on that name), and pretty much every single superhero to ever grace the cover of a comic book. All thin, all beautiful, all completely and totally NOT ME.

So that got me wondering (in a purely rhetorical way, of course): Why no fat super heroines? There are countless numbers of male super heroes who don’t all have rippling biceps and six-pack abs, and their powers and abilities are no less valued than those of Superman or Batman. Where are the plus-sized X-Men (ugh…that name again) who are strong and beautiful and a valued member of the team, and FAT? We want to inspire our daughters to be independent and self-confident and to teach them that it’s okay to be strong and to stick up for yourself. So why doesn’t that apply to ALL girls? Why doesn’t that apply to the girls who need it the most??

Where is my strong, body-positive, fat-as-hell, ass-kicking superheroine??

Let me know what you think. Were you positively influenced by female super heroes as a child? Were you able to look past the fact that they didn’t look like you, and see just the “power within”? Are you bothered by the fact that there has never been a fat female role model in pop culture, or are you happy taking what we’re given, and adapting them to suit your needs?

Sound off – shout it to the rafters! LET YOUR VOICES BE HEARD!!

(Sorry…too many comic books…)

My Perfect World.

My Perfect World.

Health at What Size?!

The other day, someone asked me to distill the message of Big Fit Deal into a single sentence. I quoted a variation of the blog’s tagline, which is that health and fitness are for everybody, and every body. I also mentioned that I am a proponent and personal practitioner of Health At Every Size (HAES). We haven’t talked about that much here, not in detail since I first started the blog back in 2012 (!).

Jeanette DePatie, VP of ASDAH

Jeanette DePatie, VP of ASDAH

I think it’s worth bringing up again, for a couple of reasons. The first is because it’s still not a very mainstream idea, and I think a lot of people could benefit from it. Here are the basic principles of HAES (with thanks to the Association for Size Diversity and Health [ASDAH]):

  1. Weight Inclusivity: Accept and respect the inherent diversity of body shapes and sizes and reject the idealizing or pathologizing of specific weights.
  2. Health Enhancement: Support health policies that improve and equalize access to information and services, and personal practices that improve human well-being, including attention to individual physical, economic, social, spiritual, emotional, and other needs.
  3. Respectful Care: Acknowledge our biases, and work to end weight discrimination, weight stigma, and weight bias. Provide information and services from an understanding that socio-economic status, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, and other identities impact weight stigma, and support environments that address these inequities.
  4. Eating for Well-being: Promote flexible, individualized eating based on hunger, satiety, nutritional needs, and pleasure, rather than any externally regulated eating plan focused on weight control.
  5. Life-Enhancing Movement: Support physical activities that allow people of all sizes, abilities, and interests to engage in enjoyable movement, to the degree that they choose.
Deb Lemire, President of ASDAH

Deb Lemire, President of ASDAH

I think these are excellent principles on which to base your health. Of course – and here comes point number two  – there are a lot of people who believe that body weight is the best indicator of health, that fat people cannot also be healthy. Some even think that HAES encourages fat people to gorge and laze around. (Strange… I didn’t notice any of that in the principles above.) It’s fascinating to me that if I choose to live by these principles, some people will think I am neglecting my health because of my size. These principles allow me to accept my body at the weight it truly seems to want to be. They also help me to enjoy life more – something which is so difficult when you are focused primarily on weight loss.

One of the most important aspects of health and wellbeing is in your head. No, really! Your mental health plays a huge role in your physical health. Some people believe that we should shame and stigmatize fat people, that this will cause them to hate themselves thin. HAES, on the other hand, encourages people of all sizes to treat themselves kindly and well. Which of those approaches sounds like it would be most effective in increasing your mental wellbeing?

Amy Herskowitz, International VP of ASDAH

Amy Herskowitz, International VP of ASDAH

The final thing I wanted to talk to you about regarding HAES is that people really like to fight about it. I ran across this article, and read through most of the comments, some of which are from Linda Bacon, who wrote the book Health At Every Size. The post is actually several years old, but I think it’s still relevant, because while these two medical professionals argued about science, I sat back and thought, They are missing the point! It doesn’t matter what this study or that study does or doesn’t say. To me, HAES isn’t about the science. It’s about feeling good, making decisions for my body that help me to keep it functioning and strong, and – this is the most important part – not hating myself because of my body size. When I learned to stop hating and fighting my body, everything got better, including my physical health.

My lived experience is worth so much more than any scientific study. And my lived experience has shown me that caring for my body, fueling and moving it because I want to live long and well, is the key to health. My lived experience has shown me that feeding my body less calories than it needs to function, and moving my body because I don’t like what it looks like, are not sustainable practices, and do not make me feel good – physically or mentally.

Ragen Chastain, Dances With Fat

Ragen Chastain, Dances With Fat

So tell me: What do you think of the HAES principles? Do they seem like a healthy approach to life? Or do you need to see the science to know if they really work?

Back to School

My son’s daycare used to be on the same main drag that a middle school is located on, so every morning I see many kids trudging the streets making their way to school. Then one day I saw the fat girl. She was making her way to school just like all the other kids, but when I first saw her ,my immediate thought was “poor kid.” POOR KID!!! What is wrong with that picture? I made a snap judgment about a young girl who was simply walking to school. I know not two things about her life, her personality, her hopes and dreams, yet I felt she was doomed.

IMG_5965

Look how cute I am!

For the next six months or so, I’d keep an eye out for that girl, and my thoughts would reel. I knew right after I made that initial judgment that it was wrong of me to think this girl’s life was crappy just because she was fat, so I started to think deeper about it. I believe the thing that resonated with me the most was my past.

Middle school was the single roughest time in my life, as far as being fat goes. There were no jokes in elementary school (kids were all too young to know any better), but middle school was on its own level. There was one kid who made life especially terrible for me (we’ve actually reconnected and he apologized for making my life hell, but this is beside the point), terrible to the point of tears at the end of some school days, and what I truly feel is the birthplace of a lot of my defense mechanisms.

IMG_5966

Middle school age, circa 1997. 7th/8th grade. Here I am with my BFF. I’m the fat one, of course.

What do I mean by defense mechanisms? Well, after middle school (and during) I’d turn everything into a joke. I always think that I know what other people are thinking of me, so I immediately make a joke based on my projections of their thoughts to beat them to the punch. It let me make fun of me instead of having to deal with others doing it.

Case in point: My little family had Valentine’s Day photos taken with a good friend of ours. While we were reviewing the pictures at the shoot, my mom said, “You are so beautiful! You could be a model.” I just knew the photographer friend was thinking “She’s too fat for that!,” so I stated that I was 15 years and 80 pounds over my modeling career. Our friend laughed, and I laughed for the sake of the “joke,” but when I replay that moment in my head I wonder what would have happened if I had simply said, “Thanks, Mom.” I feel the photographer might still have been thinking to himself, “She’s too fat for modeling,” but who cares? As long as he wasn’t telling that to my face, that’s his opinion.

Bev - Val-018-Edit

My loving husband and me, Valentine’s day photo.

I initially felt bad for this girl walking to school because that was me walking to school. I was miserable in middle school, so I just instantly felt she was, too. Her clothes weren’t the greatest (just compared to the other kids I’d see), her hair was pulled tightly back into a ponytail ,and she always walked with her head down at a slow pace. Every time I saw her, I wanted to pull over and talk with her about life. Give her my number, take her on a girl’s day or something, and get an insight into her life – to know if she was unhappy about things or if she was 100% happy, etc. To tell her she should walk with her head up, facing the world, and to let her beautiful hair down. To take her to stores that carry plus-size clothes. In my head, we were BFFs. Then reality brought me back, and I thought she’d probably think I was some weird psychopath, so I’d stare at her as I drove by (a lot less psycho, don’t you know!) and have all these emotions and thoughts crop up.

IMG_5963

Another ’97 beauty. My dad, me in the middle (food in my mouth, of course!) and my BFF at the Grand Canyon.

If I knew the things I knew now back in middle school, I wonder how I would have turned out? If someone had sat me down and explained, “Look, pretty much everyone hates their body or some aspect of it. Life is not about your size, it’s how you carry yourself, it’s about your achievements, it’s about your experiences, it’s about so much more than your size,” would I have turned out differently?

So, this mystery girl gave me an idea: What if I collaborated with some folks and offered a small online site (BFD Junior!) that lays out the fundamental ideals behind BFD? “You hate your body? You’re fat? You’re skinny? Stop trying to please others. Take your life where you want to go, regardless of size or what you think your limits are! You can do what you want. Here are a few tips for learning to love your body just the way it is. Life never gets easier, and there are always bullies, but how you respond/react to such foolishness can really change your outlook on life.”

I’d love to feature photos of real girls of all ages (probably under 18, as this is what I think my target age would be) and sizes, get their hair and makeup done, make them feel as special as they are, and just see a slew of beautiful, smiling faces from all walks of life. Get the parents involved to let them see how much positive reinforcement can impact their child’s life. Root for them to be unique and different, not trying to fit the same mold of media standards we’ve all come to know.

IMG_5964

Last day of middle school, and my sister’s high school graduation.

Bethany wrote a piece on having so many ideas of things she wants to accomplish, and this one has been on my mind for at least a year. I’d like to think that if I had seen something like this in my younger years, I would have known that I wasn’t the only one affected by the poisonous thoughts I had of myself, to see other girls my age featured in my YM Magazine or Seventeen, I can only believe it would have had a positive effect on me.

I’d love to hear any input the readers of BFD have. Do you know a young person who has a drab outlook on life that my idea would benefit? Do you think this would help you, a parent of a teen or tween, guide your child through one of the perils of life? Let’s hear it!

Bev - Val-032-Edit

Can you guess which one of us didn’t have a nap that day?

The Grief Thief

You’ve heard the quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” right? It’s the idea that comparing yourself (or your life, family, love, career, or anything else) to someone else will only serve to make you unhappy. The someone you choose to compare yourself to probably doesn’t actually have the perfect life, but no matter: You feel inadequate in comparison. So, you know, don’t do that.

Today I’d like to talk to you about something similar – what I’ve decided to call the Grief Thief. This is the idea that we can’t feel our own grief because someone else has it worse. You’ve heard people say this, and I guarantee you’ve said it yourself: “I shouldn’t complain, because [whoever] has it worse than me.”

You are allowed to feel like mud.

You are allowed to feel like mud.

Well, of course! There is always someone who has less, who suffers more. But why does that mean you aren’t allowed to feel your feels? It doesn’t, and yet we have this sense of… obligation, I guess?… to compare our woes to someone else’s, and find our woes lacking. I think we should stop doing that, too.

Think of it like this: Let’s say you sprain your ankle. Ouch! That’s a huge bummer for you. Now, what if you know someone who broke both their legs? They obviously have it worse than you, so you should probably just keep your trap shut about your pain and inconvenience, right? I say no. You can feel for that person, of course! But that doesn’t mean your own pain and suffering – or your wanting to talk about them, and get sympathy for them –  are invalid.

You are allowed to feel dry and cracked.

You are allowed to feel dry and cracked.

You can do more than one thing at a time. You can feel for yourself and for others. You can be sympathetic, and understanding, and caring, to yourself and to others. You can try to help someone who is suffering more than you, but you can – and I believe you should – allow yourself to feel and experience and share your own pain, your grief, without comparison.

I don’t think this is a selfish or self-centered thing to do. In fact, I think it’s a big part of caring for your own mental health. The more I do this thing I do, the more I realize that mental and emotional health is just as important – maybe even more so – as physical health. This is why we’re seeing more and more evidence (I like to file it under Duh) that the stigma of fat (the bullying and shaming) is often more detrimental to our health than our actual weight.

You are even allowed to feel like a tumbleweed stuck on a barbed-wire fence.

You are even allowed to feel like a tumbleweed stuck on a barbed-wire fence.

The next time something in your life goes awry and you feel one of those knee-jerk “I shouldn’t complain” moments coming on, take a breath. Acknowledge what you’re feeling. Express it. Take care of yourself and your needs in that moment. I promise you’ll still have room to feel for the rest of the world when you’re done.

Say What You Mean

Did you follow all this brouhaha about the “feeling fat” emoji on Facebook? In case you aren’t up to date on these kinds of things, Facebook has an option to express how you’re feeling using little smiley faces. And some people took offense to the fact that one of them is a chubby-faced, rosy-cheeked, doubled-chinned fella you can pick if you want to say you are feeling fat.

Is the blushing because he's embarrassed?

Is the blushing because he’s embarrassed?

Those people started a petition to get the emoji removed because fat is not a feeling, it is a physical state. Here’s part of the petition:

When Facebook users set their status to “feeling fat,” they are making fun of people who consider themselves to be overweight, which can include many people with eating disorders. That is not ok. Join me in asking Facebook to remove the “fat” emoji from their status options.

Fat is not a feeling. Fat is a natural part of our bodies, no matter their weight. And all bodies deserve to be respected and cared for.

Sixteen thousand signatures later, the petition was declared a success: Facebook removed the emoji. Now, if you want to keep whatever faith you have left in humanity, do not look up any articles about this and read the comment sections. If you do, you’ll see bunk like this:

Sir, you could not be more wrong about why this emoji had to go.

Sir, you could not be more wrong about why this emoji had to go.

So, how you feel about this whole thing? Do you think fat is a feeling? I don’t. I think fat is a physical state. I think “feeling fat” is a poor vocabulary choice, and what people usually mean when they say it is that they are feeling full, that they ate too much. Why can’t you just use those words? Because whether I eat a small salad or a giant honkin’ burrito, I’m still gonna be fat. It’s not a feeling that passes. I totally get why this is a controversial thing, how some people think this is political correctness run amok. Me? I’m on the side of people learning to express themselves in more accurate ways.

Which makes me think about another way in which I wish people would stop beating around the bush and say what they mean: online dating. If I have to read one more profile that says a man is looking for someone “fit” who “cares about her health,” my head will explode. Because what that translates to, I’m more than willing to bet, is: “thin.” I mean, if I respond to that ad, am I being deceptive, because I should know he’s using “fit” as a code word for “thin,” or is he being deceptive because he can’t just say what he’s really looking for because he’s afraid he’ll offend someone? Sorry, I’m more offended by this. I would much rather a profile say straight up that a guy is only interested in thin women. Then neither of us will waste our time.

What do you think? Do people not say what they really mean out of fear of offending someone? Do you say what you mean? Do you think fat is a feeling? Sound off in the comments!

There’s No Way This Ends Well

It’s been a rough start to the year, right? I mean, you couldn’t turn on the television, open the paper, or go online without being bombarded with weight-loss ads. (I mean, come on, bikini season is right around the corner. PANIC!) My favorites (sarcasm!) come from a chiropractor here in Rochester who sells a weight-loss system called NutriMost. Maybe you’ve heard of it? NutriMost claims they can help you lose 20-45 (or more!) pounds in forty days. Forty days, people! I totally believe it, too (not sarcasm).

As seen on TV.

As seen on TV.

I used the website contact form to ask Dr. Nate a few questions, such as if he has ever been fat, if perhaps he used this miraculous system to get thin (I am extremely skeptical of thin people who claim they can make me just like them). I also asked for statistics that show long-term weight loss of participants. I asked for stats of five years or longer after participating in the program, because pretty much every weight-loss success story you’ve ever seen is within a year or so of the weight-loss attempt. (Case in point: As a former contestant pointed out, the reason they don’t do reunion specials on The Biggest Loser is because they’re almost all fat again.)

Dr. Nate wrote me back very quickly (I’m sure he thought I was a potential customer), and told me that no, he’d never been fat, and no, he did not have the data I was looking for. He did let me know, however, that “Everyone has the ability and tools to keep the weight off.” He later clarified that he meant everyone who has used in the NutriMost system. Of course.

NutriMost slogan.

NutriMost slogan.

I looked up this system, which was developed by a chiropractor out of Philadelphia. Apparently it costs over a thousand dollars to participate, and involves eating 500-600 calories a day. If you research it, you’ll find two things: People who tried it and regained all the weight, and people who are currently using it and think it’s the greatest invention of mankind. Pretty typical of any commercial-weight-loss program.

As you can imagine, Dr. Nate and I disagreed about a lot of stuff. I believe that rapid, massive weight loss is not healthy or sustainable. I believe that weight-loss programs like this are about making money, not about wanting to help people be healthy. I believe that programs like these can’t provide long-term success rates because they don’t exist. Dr. Nate believes he is helping fat people get healthy, forever.

Through all that, you know what really bothered me the most about our conversation? When Dr. Nate said: “Honestly if someone goes back to eating French fries, Oreos, and/or hot dogs of course they will gain the weight back.” Wow. That’s just the kind of doctor I want to help me with my health: one who assumes they know what I eat by looking at my body, one who perpetuates the idea that fat people make “bad” food choices. When he said that, I knew I was done with the conversation.

In our email conversation, Dr. Nate had the last word, and I’m willing to bet he thinks that’s because he was in the right, and I had nothing left to say. The truth is, I had nothing left to say to him.  I’d rather talk to you good people any day.

Down to the Bones

If we all took off our clothes right now (stay with me here), and then stripped off our hair and skin and muscle and organs, what would we find underneath? Why, our bones, of course!

Have you seen this remarkable video?

It’s a wonderful message about how alike we all really are, and how we all make judgments about others based on labels. From the official video YouTube description, the creators say:

[…] many of us unintentionally make snap judgments about people based on what we see—whether it’s race, age, gender, religion, sexuality, or disability. This may be a significant reason many people in the U.S. report they feel discriminated against.

We’re touched by this video because it reminds us that we are so very much alike, down to our bones. The creators of this video challenge us to rethink our biases, and remind us that Love Has No Labels. Of course, I wish that the video included the lesson that Love Has No Size, and that the creators had mentioned size in the description I quoted above. That said, there are references to size bias on the website. Great!

Anyway, this video got me to thinking about a new ad from Reebok, as part of their “Be More Human” campaign. It caught my eye because it’s a commercial about athletes, and, sigh, features no fat bodies. (I’m not surprised, but I am disappointed.) This is the “Freak Show” commercial, which is the only one I’ve seen on the telly; there is also one called Honor (“How will you honor the body you’ve been given?”) and one called Play (“How often do you let your inner child out?”); neither feature fat bodies.

So! I decided to go to the website and find out how human I really am. Here are my results (click the image for a closer look):

reebok

Well, “sturdy” is definitely not the worst thing I’ve been called. (I do find it funny that I scored highest in fitness. Doesn’t the quiz know that fat people aren’t fit?!) I’m a little concerned, though, that I’m only 87% human. What’s the rest of me, Cylon? Time Lord? If you want to find out if you are part alien, too, be my guest.

While the quiz bases humanity on a variety of factors, the advertising campaign seems to say that your level of humanness is centered around what your body looks like because of the fitness activities in which you partake (because, obviously, everyone ends up looking lean and muscular…). I guess the people who came up with this campaign missed the message that we’re all the same in our bones, eh? Well, I suppose they must have done some market research that proves you make more money preaching their message, rather than one about how we’re all wonderful and worthy, no matter what we look like.

Despite what Reebok (and thousands of other companies with their eyes on your wallet) would have you believe, your degree of humanity isn’t determined by or dependent on how you look, what you do, what you believe, how old you are, or who you love. So here’s a challenge for you: Go out in the world and see people’s bones. Look through the things that make us different – race, age, gender, religion, sexuality, disability, and size – and see what makes us all the same.

Same Thing, Same Results

You know that old chestnut about doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, and how that totally doesn’t make any sense? In theory, we all see how true it is. And yet, I see people trying another diet, another method of weight loss. The weight hasn’t stayed off in the past, no matter how badly you want it to and how hard you’ve worked, but this time it will be different. This time, you want it more. This time, you’re going to do it right.

Here’s the truth: Pretty much every diet fails. Not ever dieter, but every diet. The people who sell diets want you to believe that you are failure, but the truth is, they sell products that do not work. If I offered you a product that was known to fail 95% of the time, would you buy it? No, you would tell me to go on my way and never come back to this neighborhood, and you would slam the door forcefully in my face!

It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle change... right?

It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change… right?

Okay, so if diets don’t work, and you’re unhappy with your body, what can you do about it? All hope is certainly not lost, my friends. You just need to shift your focus from your stomach to your head. We have been conditioned to believe that weight loss can be permanent, and that it is the key to eternal health and happiness. I challenge you to let those beliefs go. Give up the idea of getting smaller. Give up the idea that a thin(ner) version of you will be happy and healthy. It’s not easy. In fact, it can be downright scary to let go of these long-held beliefs. But there are good things waiting on the other side of letting go, I promise.

goals

Take a look at your body and your life, and list your goals – goals that might seem to be related to or incumbent upon your body becoming smaller. Here are some suggestions:

  • I want to be able to keep up with my kids.
  • I want to not be winded when I take the stairs.
  • I want to find love.
  • I want to like what I see in the mirror.

These are excellent goals! And while “getting thin” might seem to be the means to those ends, these goals aren’t really about the size of your body. Rather, they’re about your physical health and mental health.

It can be tempting to believe that if you make your body smaller, you will be able to race around the park with your kids, and you’ll take the stairs two at a time without breathing heavy. Think about this: If you are not feeding your body enough calories to properly function, how is that going to help you chase your kids around? Instead of putting down your fork, try picking up a dumbbell, or lacing up your sneakers. Want to feel better physically? Train your heart and lungs to be more efficient. Make your muscles stronger. Even small increases in physical activity will have benefits, and there’s a good chance that you’ll get hooked on the endorphins from exercise and want to keep moving.

As for your mental health, that’s probably going to take more work than it will to get your heart, lungs, and muscles in shape. You’ve likely spent a lifetime believing that you are not good enough because of the size and shape of your body. Learning to accept, like, and even love yourself is a rough slog, for sure. Start by treating yourself the way you would treat someone you love: be kind, and be patient. Stop talking to and about yourself in negative ways. If you have issues with food, find help (and make sure it’s not the kind of help that focuses on weight loss). You are not in this alone. Mental health is a crucial component of your overall health; exercise your head and heart just as you do you your body.

And I've never felt better!

And I’ve never felt better!

The dieting world is all about less: calories, foods you are ‘allowed’ to eat, your size (temporarily, at least). I challenge you to leave that behind, and instead embrace a world of more: More movement, more kindness, more joy. Instead of decreasing your calories as a way of improving your health, try increasing your cardiovascular endurance and strength, and your mental well-being. I’m confident you’ll end up with a happier, healthier you.

Different thing, different results!

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