Introductions.

Today has been a strange day.

For instance, this happened. That link is to a story about a fat news anchor who called out the writer of a very concern-trolling email about what a bad example she was setting for THE CHILDREN by publicly being a fat person with a job.

Watch the video if you haven’t already seen it. It’s pretty great. She points her finger several times, which I loved.

You might also notice the little link there at the bottom. Kaye, the kind soul who posted the video to Upworthy.com, included a link to my site as a place to read more about fat and health and fat stereotypes. Very cool! The influx of traffic is also kind of bananas. I hope my website doesn’t break – if it’s taking longer than usual to load, that would be why. As a result, I’m kind of sitting here babysitting things for tonight.

If you are new here, from Upworthy or not, hi and welcome. This is a blog written by a fat lady (me, I’m Michelle) who has a degree in nutrition.

I don’t do clinical nutrition (the kind where you get a special diet for diabetes or high cholesterol or kidney disease or cancer and whatnot) and I am not a registered dietitian, but I have similar training and I teach people who’ve had a lifetime of guilty, weird, or otherwise restrained eating to feel good about food again and eat relatively normally.

I didn’t make up the idea by myself – I was trained by a dietitian named Ellyn Satter, who created the approach (known as eating competence.) I’m one of the few people in the world who does this work. I work online over Skype with people all over the world, so if you’re in the market for that kind of thing, check me out.

This blog, and my work, takes a Health at Every Size approach, meaning that instead of focusing on making weight changes as an avenue to good health, I focus first on behaviour changes (like eating normally) that improve quality of life and health, regardless of weight.

As part of this work, a belief in the ideas of size diversity and fat acceptance, or fat liberation, is critical. This is the philosophical and political stance that fat people are not lesser members of society because of their bodies, that appearance-based prejudice is never okay, and that stereotypes based on those prejudices are always flawed. This stance is linked in sisterhood to larger anti-oppression activism.

I also like science a whole lot, and I take an evidence-based approach to my work, although the moral principles (that people of all sizes and in all states of health are equally worthy of respect and have the right to exist) stand independent of weight and health science.

I like comments, if you want to chime in, but I want you to know that I have a whip-smart set of readers already who will be critical of any comments championing weight loss or indulging in stereotypes about fat people. Most people don’t make that mistake, but I thought I should give you a heads up.

At the bottom of this post, however, you are totally welcome to comment and introduce yourself and ask any (polite) 101-type questions you might have about this whole strange idea. We will try our best to help you out. Or you can just post links to funny YouTube videos and cat pictures. I’m happy either way. Comments are on moderation right now – see note below.

Last thing: I live in Canada and often spell things funny. I grew up in the US, though, so I do know what milk in jugs and Milky Way bars look like.

Intragalactic battle between Mars and Milky Way bars in comments. Comments are on moderation so I can get some sleep. If you want to comment, go ahead, it just won’t show up until tomorrow. Please try not to submit multiple times – even if you see an error message, the comment most likely went through. The site is getting hammered right now.

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173 Comments

  1. Xandra Scott
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Hello there! I have indeed found my way here through Upworthy, and I am mighty pleased to find myself here. I’ve read through a few of your blog posts and am finding your intelligence and passion really enjoyable (and informative!). Thanks for writing a blog, and thanks for doing what you do. As a fat girl with a complicated relationship with food and myself, your work here is a wonderful thing for me to find.

    <3

    • Posted October 2, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

      I appreciate that, and I’m really glad you’re here!

  2. Ang
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    Ooh, I didn’t know you were trained by Satter. Very cool!

    • Posted October 2, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

      Yes, and I was really honoured to meet her and learn from her. She’s a brilliant lady.

  3. Linda Strout
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    I wanted to share an eating problem I had. I went through a period of a few years where I was HUNGRY ALL THE TIME. Even immediately after eating a good meal. It drove me crazy because I didn’t want to eat so much I hurt myself (diabetes) and I was reduced to watching the clock so I would know when it was time to eat my next snack or meal.

    One thing I discovered was that high-fructose corn syrup can trigger hunger pains in some people. Ditching this helped me some. After a conversation with my doctor about my various heath concerns, he told me that one of the effects of my polycystic ovarian syndrome was often feeling hungry all the time. The metformin I was taking helped a lot more. Finally I figured out I was gluten intolerant and avoiding all gluten has finally let me feel full after I eat a meal.

    I really wanted to share this since you discuss learning what ‘feels full to you’ as part of eating competence. If someone, like me, doesn’t ever seem to feel full, it is terribly frustrating. I felt like a failure since I couldn’t seem to feel full. Now I don’t have to watch the clock to see how long until I should eat. Now I feel hungry and I think, “Hmm, must be around such and such a time,” I’ll look at the clock and my hunger will have told me roughly what time of day it is. It is such a HUGE relief to not have that rampant hunger making my eating habits stressful. So if anyone is reading this and can’t seem to learn to feel full, there may be an underlying medical reason for it.

    • Posted October 2, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

      I have had other people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease tell me this same thing – that they went through a period where they felt hungry ALL THE TIME before they were diagnosed, I imagine due to the intestinal damage meaning they weren’t fully absorbing some nutrients. So glad you figured out what it was!

      • Issa
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 10:22 am | Permalink

        I am really intrigued following this trail of conversation. I have never been diagnosed with any IR-related problems, but I noticed with the past year, as I have been trying to eat more intentionally and pay attention to what goes into my mouth, that the less sugary food I eat overall (whether it’s HFCS or any other refined sugar), the more stable I am, mood-wise. I have long had issues during my “time of the month” with moderate to severe mood swings and depression, and I’ve noticed that this is exacerbated when I’m also taking in a great deal of sugar (and incidentally, I also want to eat more…but that may be emotional eating, not true physical hunger). When I’m in low-sugar mode, my cycle can come and go and I barely notice!

        • brad
          Posted October 3, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

          I went all Sherlock Holmes with hidden sugars and enriched flours. 40#’s melted away in like 3 months and hasn’t returned in 2 years. Energy and mood levels are high and stable. Skin and BM’s way smoother.

          • Posted October 3, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

            That’s great, I guess, but this is not the place for talking about melting the pounds off. I mean, I hope you’re happier and healthier, but this just isn’t a conversation that I want to start having here.

    • Posted October 2, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

      Wow. I have NEVER made that connection, and I am totally floored right now. I go through this cycle every month (or whenever my body decides to go through its womanly “monthly” joyhood) where I want to eat and eat and eat and I am always SO hungry. It lasts about a week or so, and then I feel normal again. I have known I’ve had PCOS since I was 16, and I have never known that there could be a correlation there. Thank you Linda…I’m pretty sure that is what is going on and it makes me feel better knowing that!

      Michelle, I love your site, and I love your theories. I am very motivated to finish school soon (was a history major, now pre-PA). I want to be a PA just so I have the authority to tell people how to eat. Nutrition is becoming a passion of mine, and the fact that most doctors aren’t required to and don’t take even one nutrition course in college troubles me. I am currently desperately trying to influence my in-laws about eating well, and using nutrition to guide their health and longevity. Thanks for being so awesome. ;)

      • Linda Strout
        Posted October 2, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

        Kate, you are so welcome! Knowledge is power.

    • Posted October 3, 2012 at 4:12 am | Permalink

      PCOS is an insulin resistance (IR) disease, so it makes sense that you would feel hungry all the time.

      According to one explanation, the reason people with IR (which includes many people with excess fat) feel hungry even just after eating, is that they are actually internally starving. IR people release way more insulin than normal for a given amount of incoming glucose from food. Insulin traps fat in fat cells, and prevents the liver from releasing glucose. At the same time, insulin signals cells to use the glucose, but since insulin is overproduced, there is not as much glucose there as would be expected. The end result is craving sugar, because the body’s supplies are unavailable. So there is a perpetual feeling of needing to eat more, regardless of fat stores.

      One of the commonly reported effects of a low carb diet (which is the best treatment for insulin resistance) is that you stop feeling hungry all the time. So I’m not surprised that eliminating HFCS helped.

      This excess-insulin-derived hunger is quite different from the hunger associated with intestinal damage from gluten, but note that avoiding gluten not only can repair the intestines — it also usually reults in a lower carb diet. Unless you are directly replacing gluten foods with the same amount of gluten substitutes, avoiding gluten reduces your overall starch consumption.

    • Jenn
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      Linda,

      I found out just a few months ago that I have a gluten intolerance, among others. I was going through the same thing with feeling hungry all the time. I went to my Doc and he did multiple blood tests (non-allergy related). Nothing showed up abnormal. I didn’t have diabetes. This had been going on for years and I just kept gaining weight because I couldn’t stand the feeling of hunger pangs and would try to alleviate them through food, pretty much whatever I could get my hands on. Anyway, a few months ago a friend of mine (who has had the allergy test and is allergic to just about everything but water) suggested I get an allergy test done. I did and found out that I not only have a gluten intolerance, I also have problems with dairy, legumes, soy, cane sugar, corn, tomatoes and just about every grain out there except rice. It’s been a struggle with getting my diet regulated and working around my allergies, but I can now say that I feel amazing. I found some cookbooks based on a primal diet that include most ingredients that I can eat, so I’m staying full and eating good food. I’ve lost a little bit of weight, but honestly I think I’m more excited about feeling normal again.

      Thank you for sharing your story! I would never wish this on anyone, but at the same time it is nice to know that I’m not alone. :)

      • Linda Strout
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

        Jenn,

        A friend of mine had the same sort of experience with a food allergy test as you did! Even though her allergens were different, once she eliminated them, she felt tons better.

        Hopefully stories like ours will keep getting passed around and help other people.

    • Posted October 3, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      THere is a book called Wheat Belly and the author claims that wheat in the US (a genetically modified strain) is digested and then these new proteins that are created from the genetic modification are attaching to the opiate receptors in your brain and give a mild euphoric feeling causing a sort of addiction to wheat.

      I had real bad wheat intolerance and was never diagnosed with celiac because my doctor didn’t test until I had stopped eating wheat, felt great and lost 20 pounds.

  4. Lisa
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    So glad to see your efforts getting lots of attention. I’ve been following you for awhile and have thoroughly enjoyed doing so.

    • Lisa in Boston
      Posted October 2, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

      Ditto from another Lisa! I LOVE watching new people “get” HAES, and Michelle you are a wonderful embassador!

    • Lisa in Boston
      Posted October 2, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

      “Ditto” from another Lisa! It’s always fun when other people discover HAES. New questions, new stories, new insights. Everyone adds so much! Michelle you are a great embassador!

  5. Afiya
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    Hello,

    So I made a decision to lose weight since I am the heaviest I have ever been right now and have received so much criticism for it. I have been so depressed and living in Miami with the “South Beach” body craze it is even harder to feel confident in my own skin. After countless rejections because of nothing but my weight and losing people in my life it has been hard. I eat what I want when I want because my sleep habits are horrible. I work overnight as a security officer even though i have a degree in Psychology (economy sucks when you’re not bilingual). I found this because of the video posted about the news anchor and she inspired me. She is beautiful and confident and I need more women like that in my life to look up to.

    I have realized that I can’t lose weight like I want to because I hate who I am now and I have habits that reflect that disgust.

    I think I will be contacting you for advice on how to be healthy.

    I may not be fully able to afford your services just yet but knowing there is someone like you out there helping people like me who may need a little extra love and encouragement to be a better me is a breath of fresh air!

    Happy life!
    Afiya <3

    • Posted October 2, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

      Hi Afiya, I know how you feel. I agree that a lot of times, it’s disgust with ourselves that drives weight loss attempts, which isn’t really the healthiest foundation to be starting from.

      There are lots of books you can access to help you, plus on the sidebar of my site under “Notes from the Fatosphere” there are links to blogs written by like-minded people about self-acceptance and health at every size.

      One book people like a lot for learning to eat well is Intuitive Eating by Tribole and Resch. For self-acceptance, there is a good primer called Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere by Kate Harding and Marianne Kirby. And there is a great book called Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon that has a lot of the background science as well as some concrete lessons on healthy eating.

      If you liked the lady in the video, you will probably also love Joy Nash.

      • Afiya
        Posted October 2, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

        OMG I loved that!!!! Thanks for the advice and kind words!

    • schmemily
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 5:40 am | Permalink

      Hi Afiya! I just wanted to say I was where you are (could it be?) almost three years ago. For me, self love has come harder than eating competence–I’m still working on it–but everything is better now. I have used Linda Bacon’s guidelines for finding regular- and mental-health practitioners who don’t shame me about my weight, and that has been huge for me (no pun intended). Best of luck to you, welcome, and hang in there!

  6. Lori Munson
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    Bravo! Thank you for what you do and how you do it! You are wise beyond many and I applaud your respect, honor, compassion, and love for others! Keep up your work because you make a difference. :)

  7. Kathleen
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    As someone who has been in recovery from an eating disorder for three years, sites like this make me believe in the goodness of people, and instills hope that one day we’ll all love our bodies as completely and joyfully as woodland creatures frolicking about a meadow.

    But I’d like that meadow to be made of chocolate and honeycrisp apples, thanksverymuch.

    • Posted October 2, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

      Congratulations on being in recovery, and also on your fine selection of snack. One of my clients taught me the secret of Nutella and Granny Smith apples, which I enjoy to this day.

  8. Posted October 2, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    I saw “Meteor” bars today at the dollarstore checkout. Next to a chocolate bar called “Island Paradise ” that was a knock-off of a Bounty bar.

    • Posted October 2, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

      Was there a Baby Ruth knock-off called the Pete Rose?

  9. Pam
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    Hello! I’m glad to meet you!

    I very recently decided that I love my body, just the way it is. I’m working out and trying to improve my diet. And I’m just doing it to stay healthy!

    I am quite proud that I actually lowered my A1c by half a point and my LDL cholesterol by 17 points over six months. And I intend to continue this progress.

    So now I will be browsing around your site and learning more. Thanks for being here!

  10. Ara
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    I’m hooked. I am a waaaay big woman who eats well, has some pretty epic muscle mass, and constantly tries to feel good about that. And, it saddens me greatly to say, I didn’t meet anyone willing to accept me as a person instead of a number on a scale until I was in my 20s. Allow me to explain (in a very wordy, autobiographical fashion): my mother, my brother, my friends, my teachers, and my doctors have told me I’m fat and that’s bad ever since 3rd grade. Doctors bounced me from nutritionist to nutritionist, but half the time, those nutritionists couldn’t find a problem, because I already ate very healthy. The other half of the time, they would restrict my protein intake so much I actually fainted on several occasions trying to follow their rules. After high school (in which my class decided I had an eating disorder because I liked to put whipped cream on top of hot mint tea. Still don’t understand that one) I did things my own way for once, and yeah ended up gaining a little weight. The doctors went nuts, always pulling my blood to try and find SOMETHING, anything, to prove I was unhealthy. It’s pretty clear to me that I have a body that can take being fat, maybe even likes it, but obviously that can’t be really true! Fat people can’t be happy, that would make the universe fall in upon itself and collapse! But, with a little help, I am. Yeah, I was bullied about how I look, had things thrown at me, was insulted, was shunned from the lunch tables by people who didn’t even know my name. I was once surrounded by a group of upper-classmen who pushed me around their little circle calling me ‘Butterball.’ Another time, a group of girls brought a bag of sugar to school to dump over my head. My mom would tell be to just lose weight, get back at them by becoming drop-dead gorgeous. The insinuation being, of course, that I was not beautiful the way I was. I almost believed that, until I met my fiance. He never said a word about my weight, just told me I was beautiful. I finally asked him about my weight, and he just said he thought I’d look great if I lost weight, but he thought I already looked great. This was my first experience with pure acceptance. With his help, I have developed confidence, self-esteem, and a rad sense of style. My only regret is that I didn’t have this kind of support when I was younger, and that there are many young people who may be going through the same things I did, years of believing the people who tell you that what you are is bad when what you are is the best part.

    • Posted October 2, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

      God, I’m sorry you went through all that, but it sounds like you have really come through. I also experienced a really healing form of acceptance when I met my husband, who seemed to like me just fine even though I thought I was totally grotesque and unacceptable. I’m hoping we can maybe make the world a little kinder for the people who are growing up now under the shadow of this whole “obesity epidemic” zeitgeist.

    • LadyTL
      Posted October 24, 2012 at 12:37 am | Permalink

      Having just one person close to you who doesn’t shame you for how you look makes such a difference it seems. I had the same issue with feeling like fighting a losing battle against people’s negative ideas about my looks until I met my now husband. Having that one person who said every time that they accept me however I look helps me brace against the onslaught of negative stuff thrown at me about my weight each day. Of course I’d feel the same if it was a close friend who was the support too.

  11. Cristie Thuren
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    Yay You. Found you because of the “fat anchor” vid and can’t wait to read all your stuff! Everywhere I see overweight people who are beautiful and lovable. They even act like they love themselves. Then I look in the mirror and find myself repulsed by the wonderful size 16 woman looking back at me. It is just wrong. Thanks for what you are doing.

    • Posted October 2, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

      I’ve been there. At first, it seems like everyone else is acceptable, but not you. And it’s totally untrue. It takes time, but it’s worth it. I promise you that someone is looking at you thinking the same thing, and feeling the same way about themselves.

      • KimC
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

        Thank you. Just thank you for existing. I’m so glad I found your site and your message (via upworthy). The Universe just gave a big “you-need-this” smack in the head. I’m reeling a bit to see my own thoughts and words with someone elses name, particulally about accepting everyone buy myself, but I think this could be the first step in a good direction. I will be exploring your site more thoroughly in the near future, but in case my nerves fail me then, just know that you may have just made a huge, though choked-up difference. THANK YOU!

        • Posted October 4, 2012 at 8:45 am | Permalink

          Thank you very much! It makes me happy to hear this.

  12. Karolyn
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    I found you via Upworthy too. Nice blog, good information and BTW, your picture is gorgeous.

  13. Beth
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    I’ve commented a couple of times, but this seemed like a nice chance to “officially” delurk. :-)

    I came over from Shakesville – Melissa regularly includes you on her blogroll, and I enjoyed what I was reading so much I finally just subscribed directly.

    I’ve been suspicious of and frustrated with the Whole Diet Business for some time, and had heard of HAES. But last year my partner, who had been fat most of his life, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer – and wow, digestive-tract cancer is like a crash course in What’s Broken About How America Thinks About Food. From awkward compliments about weight loss to standing in the middle of the grocery store realizing that, no, we SHOULDN’T be buying diet beverages to trying to create a varied and interesting six-week diet of soup. We both came out the other side of it HAES True Believers.

    Thankfully he’s

    • Posted October 2, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

      Wow, hi! I’m always thrilled when Melissa puts me on the blogaround because I love Shakesville and have been reading it for a long time.

      I hope your partner is doing well. That is such an ordeal to go through. I actually had kind of a similar experience because I assisted a dietitian for a while in head and neck cancer. All of the advice the dietitians gave to patients was basically, “DO YOU LIKE ICE CREAM? MAYBE YOU SHOULD EAT MORE OF THAT. AND PUT SOME WHIPPED CREAM ON IT.” It was amazing, especially since I was coming from working in a diabetes clinic where the advice, naturally, was almost exactly the opposite. That’s one of the times when it really hit home to me that, hey, different people with different health conditions need different food to be healthy! And that is really okay.

      • Beth
        Posted October 2, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

        Weird, my comment posted before I was quite done – yes, he’s cancer-free and healthy now, thank you!

        “DO YOU LIKE ICE CREAM? MAYBE YOU SHOULD EAT MORE OF THAT. AND PUT SOME WHIPPED CREAM ON IT.”

        Haha, I think those very words may have come out of his nurse practitioner’s mouth at one point. And yet! “No, don’t stop taking metformin!” (when his fasting bg measurement had been around 95 every morning for over a year. WTF whiplash, right there.)

  14. Posted October 2, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    I’m new here too! I am really enjoying your blog. I will be back. :-)

  15. Jo
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    <– Jo here, longtime reader of yours. I just watched the newscaster clip and I have to say as much as I loved her spirit, I was disappointed she went on the 'don't be a bully' angle and not the HAES angle. That guy PRESUMED she was unhealthy because she was fat. She did nothing to argue that point. I know you pick your battles, but that's one I would have picked.

    Love your blog as always. And I'm Canadian too. :)

    • Posted October 2, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

      Hi Jo, nice to see you commenting. It’s true, it’s a real tricky issue whether to go into the HAES spiel or not when you’re under that kind of attack. I’m sort of on the fence about whether it would have helped. On the one hand, of course fat people can be healthy and people really need to learn that you cannot assume things about people’s behaviours or health based on their appearance. On the other hand, a lot of people are really just not going to be able to HEAR that and will stop listening altogether if someone tries to point it out. And on the third hand (what, those are a thing), bringing up “But I’m a healthy fat person!” if not done very carefully, runs the risk of basically sending the message that it is ONLY okay to be fat if you can prove x, y, and z about your health.

      I guess for me the bottom line is, fat people exist because they exist. They exist in all states of health. And guess what, they perform jobs and live human lives like other people, and if you (not you, Jo) don’t like seeing them do those things then maybe you should bury your head in the sand and let the rest of us get on with living like grown-ups. /rant

      But I think the HAES argument is important and CAN be done well. I guess we’ll see if there’s a larger discussion about this online in the days to come.

      • Jo
        Posted October 2, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

        When I was new to size acceptance and HAES, I read something that blew my mind. It was something along the lines of when you look at a 300 pound woman and presume she’s an unhealthy lazy pig, you don’t know. She could very well be the healthiest she’s been in her life. She could be walking every day, eating well, and down from 500. She could be eating and exercising better than you.

        Since then, I’ve taken a bit of issue with the “down from 500″ again as to assume something is WRONG with 500 and 300 must be better, even though there is something WRONG with 300 in a fat-phobic world too. The whole thing actually presumes that ONLY healthy people deserve respect and deserve to be on this planet, and she deserves no respect if she’s lazy and fat but if she’s TRYING to lose weight and succeeding, then we must applaud her. Or even not trying, but just losing weight accidentally as a byproduct of healthier living… we are still supposed to applaud her.

        Regardless, that line I read was the first time in my life it woke me up to the idea that you can seriously tell NOTHING about a person by looking at them. And that started me down the size acceptance road, and for that I’m grateful. So if her newscast just starts people even coming here (which it looks like it has) then it will have been a good thing.

        • Linda Strout
          Posted October 2, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

          In the “you can’t tell anything about a person’s size” vein, I met a woman who liked very physically fit (thin, good skin, etc) and discovered she had seriously lung damage from tuberculosis.

          • Jo
            Posted October 3, 2012 at 6:42 am | Permalink

            Exactly. I was a skinny minny through most of my 20s and I lived on sickarettes and white rice. I eat a thousand times better now, but genetics and age caught up with me, and I am no longer that ‘acceptable’ size.

    • Posted October 3, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

      Hey, Jo.

      I noticed that too. And I got the impression that she did it to make the point that she does not owe anybody an explanation for being fat. I think her basic argument was that, the minute a bully makes her body type his business, he has crossed the line. She was more invested in drawing the line and saying “This is not acceptable behavior” than in jumping into the fray.

      I’m actually glad she did that, because there is a tendency on the part of many people to be rude and offensive towards others because they look or behave ‘differently.’ It’s as if they are asserting that they are authorities (mini-gods, essentially) and that others must account for their body type, skin tone, sexuality, adoptive status, etc to them. Sometimes, trying to educate these bullies implies that ‘different’ people do in fact owe them an explanation.

      It can be tricky figuring out the appropriate response in these circumstances. I think the issue of whether or not to educate the bully comes down to what the person being bullied feels at that particular moment. If he or she is feeling particularly generous, then I say go for it. If not, then I think it is fine to put the bully on the defensive.

  16. Jeff
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    Watching the video from Upworthy and reading your post have left me with a few thoughts. The man who left the initial comment that catalyzed the entire issue at hand was admittedly a bit cruel, however I’m left at a loss that more people weren’t on his side. It’s admirable (and wonderful) to see what you’re doing here, but the fact is that obesity is a serious issue in this country. Bullying aside, the LA Times recently released an article noting that by the year 2030 more than 42% of the United States will be considered medically obese. This reveals several issues, including but not limited to, growing cost of healthcare, a rising endemic of child obesity based on the abuse of parents, and the growing health risk of such a great population of Americans.

    I’m astounded that a somewhat cruel email has led to such an outcry against bullying, rather than the much greater issue of American obesity. I applaud the work of you and so many others out there, and I hope that you continue to do the work you do, but I must also insist that Americans come to their senses and realize ALL of the dangers we’re faced with, rather than simply the convenient ones.

    • Posted October 2, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

      Hi Jeff – so the health argument is really the thing that most people think of when they think of “obesity.” The problem being that 1) it’s not our business to police the health of strangers, and 2) weight is not a behaviour. Some people are fat, yes, because of environmental reasons (eating and exercise being two of many, very many environmental factors), and some people are just fat despite doing the same things that a “normal” person does. Humans naturally come in a range of shapes and sizes, and unless you have intimate knowledge of someone’s lifestyle, you cannot just point out who is who based on appearance alone.

      A group of researchers is actually questioning whether the outcry over obesity has been overstated by interests who stand to make a lot of money by promoting the idea of an “epidemic.” I’m not going to give you the full essay right here and now, but I’d encourage you to read this article which is a pretty good overview of the arguments in support of Health at Every Size and size acceptance.

      One last thing – weight stigma, even though it is intended to “help the health” of fat people, hurts people directly. And people are not getting any thinner. What we are doing at present (shaming fat people, engaging in stereotyping, and perpetrating appearance-based discrimination) isn’t working. Time to do something different.

      • Jessie
        Posted October 2, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

        Hi Michelle. Thank you for your insights and all of your good work to educate people on both healthy eating and bullying. I absolutely agree that it is wrong to judge a book by its cover, to be cliche. However, I do share Jeff’s concern. I know you say you are not a nutritionist, but do you think that the “epidemic” (if there is one) of obesity is in some way related to what I consider the skewed food pyramid? I am appalled at what they offer for lunch in the public schools. I personally find a lot of truth in the “paleo” diet and it has served me well. I eat healthy, I eat clean and I don’t struggle with weight. In your work, do you endorse any prescriptions to healthy eating that differ from what some of us consider an outdated food pyramid? I also think that fast food plays a role in obesity. Having worked in China, I know that there are many that point to the growth of fast food chains to the growth of waistlines in a country that is normally considered “thin”. Do you have any comment on the preservatives used in fast food, or any other ingredients, that you think may be at fault? Also, do you think if a healthy diet took these things off the menu that as a nation we would lose weight? I do understand that we come in all shapes and sizes – a fact that I genuinely appreciate, and that not all fat people are unhealthy, but do you think a lot of obesity may be a result of our food choices (not necessarily binging as you note) and the quick and easy access to non-nutritional food that has become ubiquitous? Again, thank you for your work.

        • Posted October 3, 2012 at 8:51 am | Permalink

          I think there are a lot of unanswered questions about what type of pyramid is actually appropriate for the population, and I don’t have those answers. However, I don’t think anyone else really does either. At this point, I advocate that people eat in an individualized way – the idea of food groups might be a very rough starting point, but from there, people should eat food in amounts and combinations that help them feel and function well.

          I am skeptical of the alarmism over food in general, I have to say. I think there is a deeply orthorexic vein running through much of that alarmism that makes me distrust it. Only time will really tell who is right about what – in the meantime, people have to eat in a way that makes sense to them. Paleo does make sense to some people, and they do fine on it. Other people find it too restrictive and it makes them crazy. To each their own.

    • Lisa in Boston
      Posted October 2, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

      A “bit cruel”? To suggest that someone should not be doing her job as a newscaster because of the size of her body? Would you think it a “bit” cruel and wonder why more people were not on your side if someone suggested her skin was the wrong color for newscasting?

      Jeff, if you are **truly** interested in understanding why many (MANY!) people of all different sizes – including registered dieticians, psychologists, medical doctors, PhD researchers – are using and recommending a Health At Every Size approach then I suggest you check out some of the websites, books or published research Michelle has mentioned or you can see on the right hand side of this blog.

    • Jeny
      Posted October 2, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      I must agree with you. He was somewhat cruel, but he has a point.
      I waited that whole video to hear of her medical reason for being overweight, but heard none. She pointed out bullying someone based on skin color, disability, etc is wrong. And it is, but being obese is NOT in the same category. The other issues were things that cannot be helped, but being overweight can.
      I don’t care what anyone says.
      Do we need to have compassion when trying to educate people on getting healthier? Yes. Do we need to accept obesity? NO!
      As someone with a medical reason to be fat (Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis), I was not going to accept, “eh, it’s just the way it is with this disease”.
      As someone who has dealt with weight issues my whole life, then to RAPIDLY start gaining with this disease, I realized I needed to focus on getting healthy. I have almost 0….yes that is a ZERO….metabolism, and my body WANTS to pack on the pounds, but I would not allow myself to get caught up in the “excuse” of my disease to allow it to stay.
      Should a child be allowed to bully another for their weight? No, but a full grown woman being called out on it shouldn’t get “support” and encouragement to stay that way. If people truly loved her, they would lovingly encourage her to eat better, and shed those dangerous pounds.
      Do we all need to be bone thin and supermodel like? No, those are dangerous body images at the other end of the spectrum. We need to encourage all around healthy relationships with food.
      We take drastic measures to save those with bulimia and anorexia, for obvious health reasons. Yet, when we even TRY to encourage those overweight to get healthier, it’s considered bullying. Why? It’s all about eating the wrong way.
      I understand many overweight people aren’t binge eaters, and some go without eating only to make wrong choices later in the day. I get it. I’ve been there. This is what needs to be fixed. We need to educate and help people understand losing weight does NOT equal starving yourself.
      You are right Jeff, and I’m concerned with the fact more people haven’t spoken up like you did. I’m am NOT a bully, and I say what I said with compassion and love for all humans, but I’ve seen with obesity can do to someone first hand.

      • Posted October 2, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

        What you are suggesting is ableism, and it uses the idea that “it’s for the good of their health” that we are allowed to stigmatize fat people.

        It is true that illness can coincide with being fat. It is much harder to know what caused which issue. Some people lose weight and become healthier, and that’s great for them – but it does not work out that way for the vast majority of people, because long-term weight loss is poorly maintained by most who attempt it.

        People deserve basic humanity, respect, and PRIVACY, no matter what their weight or their health status. It is not the job of some yokel who has watched the news once to speculate on the health of a fat newscaster. The fact that he feels entitled to do so is symptomatic of a deeply oppressive culture around both women and fat people.

        It is absolutely bullying to speculate on someone’s health issues, unasked, in public, and to suggest someone cannot do their job because of the way they look. No amount of blustering makes it otherwise.

        Caring about people sometimes means butting out when it’s none of your business.

        • Jeny
          Posted October 2, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

          I disagree, she puts it “out there” on public television, and that allows for her to be a talking point in this debate. Does it make her unable to do her job? No, but it does try and show that obesity is “normal” and it’s not, except in the country of the “starving overweight”. What you are doing is enabling, and it’s just as dangerous as hurting someone for what they look like.
          Are there obese people that are perfectly healthy, with no reason for their size? I’ll be nice and say it’s a possibility, but in no way is it the norm.
          I’ve lost family member to obesity, and all I heard was how they didn’t feel “accepted”, or people just needed to accept them.
          Would you allow someone to jump from a tall building, suicide, because it’s “not your business” and you should “butt out”. If you would, I have nothing else to say to you.
          If you wouldn’t, then you need to realize that watching someone kill themselves slowly with food is the same thing. It’s just easier to stop, and reverse, than a leap from a tall building.

          • Posted October 2, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

            I don’t care how public your job is, your personal health info and your weight are not open to public speculation without right of rebuttal. That is crossing the line.

            I’m sorry you’ve lost a family member, but I am also sorry that your family member didn’t feel accepted.

            Fatness is not the same thing as suicide. One is a trait, and one is a behaviour. Yes, fat people can be unhealthy. So can thin people.

            “Eating oneself to death” describes an eating disordered behaviour, not a body type. Disordered eating needs to be addressed from an eating (and psychological) perspective and not a purely weight-centred one.

            I think we are done here.

          • Posted October 3, 2012 at 11:41 am | Permalink

            Are there obese people that are perfectly healthy, with no reason for their size? I’ll be nice and say it’s a possibility, but in no way is it the norm.

            You know, if you’re an epidemiologist who studies size and health and follows the literature you should really say so. And if you _not_ such an person, then maybe stop spreading common misconceptions as if they were facts. You can’t possibly know what is or isn’t the norm unless you’re a person who studies it full time.

        • Jeff
          Posted October 2, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

          I think that the original comment was a private Facebook message, not a public one. As I states above, I do agree that the comment was a bit superflous, and I agree also with the fact that this is an issue that’s not always associated with overeating or an unhealthy lifestyle that’s usually associated with obesity, but I do think that it should be part of the discussion.

          To open up that discussion, several people that I care for are overweight. Many of these issues are related to the lifetsyle they live and not a medical issue. Care to point me to one of your posts on methods that can be prescribed to help alter that lifestyle?

          • Posted October 2, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

            Regardless of whether the message was private or public, it really was crossing the line of her privacy (health issues) in my opinion.

            Regarding your request, healthy eating and exercise are for everyone. But before you go and and prescribe healthy eating and exercise to the people in your life who you care about, I would suggest waiting for them to ask you. Adults often don’t take well to unsolicited advice.

            That said, you can click on the categories drop-down at the bottom of the page about Humane Nutrition or Eating, and there are books people can read – the most commonly recommended is Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon. There is also a fitness book called The Fat Chick Works Out. If you see books related to those, you’ll find lots of others in the same vein – focusing on behaviours rather than weight.

            The blog Dances with Fat is another great source of information – http://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/blog/

      • schmemily
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 5:53 am | Permalink

        “I don’t care what anybody says.”

        OK, cool. Most people aren’t honest enough to admit that.

        • Halla
          Posted October 3, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

          Yeah it kind of rules out the need to engage with someone when they flat out tell you that they don’t want to consider that they could be wrong.

          • Jeny
            Posted October 4, 2012 at 2:29 am | Permalink

            There are many things I *could* be wrong about. But, I feel that putting obesity in the same category as people being discriminated against for skin color, disabilities, etc is ridiculous. The last one’s have to do with actual permanent disabilities the person can’t fix. It’s the way I feel, how are you can’t argue the way someone feels about something. You can disagree with me, but on that SPECIFIC point, nothing anyone says will change the way I FEEL about it.
            Also, apparently I come off as some “skinny b&%$@”, I’m not. I’ve been what they call “obese”, and am currently “overweight”, but I’m not going to sit there and kid myself that it’s healthy. I have a medical condition that makes it next to impossible to lose, but I don’t let it stop me. Did I ever get mad at someone else for a look, comment, or otherwise? Nope. Maybe it was the way I carry myself, but I just didn’t have issues with it like most people here. Then again, I was honest with myself. It could be, and was, fixed. In a very healthy way. I did it for energy, alleviating joint pain, and to quit being awkward in my own skin.
            Curves are beautiful, and I don’t want to ever be bone thin, just curvy and healthy. I don’t advocate for people to starve themselves, and on the contrary, most of our weight issues stem from not eating enough (especially of the right foods). If we don’t eat enough, then fill up on carbs (and there IS a place for carbs in a healthy diet), and other “empty foods” we essentially become the “starving overweight”. And it does damage. Filling ourselves with calories, but no nutrition, IS damaging.
            Once again, what I wrote was my opinion, and I know they’re just like, you know, “Everyone’s got one”, but it WAS asked for at the bottom of this article.

          • Posted October 4, 2012 at 7:00 am | Permalink

            No one here thinks you’re “skinny” that I’m aware of, and since I don’t tend to engage in weight bias on this site, or encourage my readers/commenters to do the same, it wouldn’t make a difference if you were. Thin people are welcome here as much as fat people, because weight bias hurts everyone. It is usually the self-hating fat people (or formerly fat people) who give me the hardest time and are the least empathetic to other commenters. Make of that what you will.

            You are entitled to your own feelings and opinions but not your own facts.

            But, I feel that putting obesity in the same category as people being discriminated against for skin color, disabilities, etc is ridiculous.

            The Rudd Center at Yale disagrees with you:

            “Obese individuals are highly stigmatized and face multiple forms of prejudice and discrimination because of their weight (1,2). The prevalence of weight discrimination in the United States has increased by 66% over the past decade (3), and is comparable to rates of racial discrimination, especially among women (4). Weight bias translates into inequities in employment settings, health-care facilities, and educational institutions, often due to widespread negative stereotypes that overweight and obese persons are lazy, unmotivated, lacking in self-discipline, less competent, noncompliant, and sloppy (2,5–7)”

            The idea that fat people can somehow “fix” themselves is popular but not necessarily true.

            Assumption: Anyone who is determined can lose weight and keep it off through appropriate diet and exercise

            Evidence: Long-term follow-up studies document that the majority of individuals regain virtually all of the weight that was lost during treatment, regardless of whether they maintain their diet or exercise program [5,27].

            There have been reviews of behavioural interventions for obesity (i.e. diet and exercise for weight loss) going back to 1979, 1991, and 2007 that state the same thing. Whether or not you choose to “feel” that you agree with these articles, this position is at least represented in the literature and deserves to be talked about rather than shoved under the carpet in our optimistic zeal to help fat people look more pleasing.

            Since I do nutrition and all, I take exception to your suggesting that I am somehow encouraging people to “fill up on calories, but no nutrition” (?) I have said repeatedly that healthy eating and exercise are for everyone. It just so happens that not everyone magically becomes thin by doing these things, and maybe that needs to be okay so people can live their lives in peace. (And also, perhaps, it happens that “healthy eating” looks more like eating competence and less like a restrictive diet. But we’ll get into that later.)

            Being allowed to have an opinion does not mean it will not be criticized. If that’s hard for you, then you should probably take a break from this site, because the things you are saying will always be challenged here. You have the other 99.9% of the internet on which to share your feelings and have them taken at face value. But not here.

      • Fatadelic
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

        Why should she feel obliged to make her medical details public to satisfy a bully – or you? Even stating “I’m healthy” buys into his initial premis.

    • Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      Do we really need more outcries against obesity? Haven’t we had enough? I’m for more outcries against bullying, because the science shows that shaming and humiliating people leads to worse food choices, not better ones, and if you do buy into the prevailing poorly-supported view that obesity is caused by bad food choices, bullying cannot be condoned, and a discussion about bullying vs obesity becomes totally redundant. Bullying is a choice. People like to talk as if obesity is a choice, but in this world at this time – who do you think is choosing it? And refusing to diet, refusing to participate in one’s own debasement – this is somehow seen as a bad thing. Because the status-quo hates to be challenged.

      People like to talk about the cost of obesity because it detracts from the truth that obesity makes money. But even if it didn’t – a civilised society takes care of their sick. That’s what they do. They don’t ridicule them, or deny medical treatment because of some vague idea that if they’d only diet, all their problems would be fixed. And when a two year diet study following 811 people revealed an average weight loss of 3 to 4kg – http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa0804748 – , and an eight year diet study following more than 48,000 people showed an average weight loss of 0.7kg – http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com.au/2007/10/junkfood-science-exclusive-big-one.html – , and when a diet-evaluation-report for medicare – http://motivatedandfit.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Diets_dont_work.pdf – didn’t show any significant health improvements associated with dieting either, what sort of diet should we be doing? Why not just take a placebo and be done with it?

      In fitness people say stuff like “you’ve gotta want it” – but when did wanting it harder magically make ineffective methods suddenly work? When did wanting it harder suddenly give you the skills of self-analysis and introspection, and the ability to design a training program that was effectively geared for athletic progression?

    • Halla
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      I haven’t seen this addressed yet (may have missed it, if so sorry) but part of the reason there was a sudden huge increase in the number of obese Americans? Successful lobbying to change the BMI number at which a person is considered obese. Ta dah, overnight there is an increased market for the very lucrative dieting business. Can’t go around shifting the goal posts and telling us that *we’re* the ones at fault.
      http://econlog.econlib.org/GQE/gqe142.html

  17. Posted October 2, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    I am so glad that I found this site. Someone posted the video of Jennifer Livingston and I found you through there. I have been overweight for many years and struggle immensely with self esteem issues. I think it’s great that she stood up for herself. I am tired of all the bullying. I am exited to check out your site and read your posts. I am an emotional eater and it is very difficult to get turned around. (so to speak…LOL)

  18. Kay
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    Wow. I came here through Upworthy. I read the current post, and curiously clicked through the “Work with me” button on the right. That page made me laugh out loud (for real, not just a LOL), then brought tears to my eyes.

    I haven’t the time tonight to go through this site in detail, and I haven’t even read all the comments here, but I just wanted to say hi and thanks, that I’ve bookmarked it, and that I will be back.

    Kay

  19. Posted October 2, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    I came here via UpWorthy as well and will find time soon to dive more into your site so I can learn more! I am intersted by your approach because I think it’s always so important to conceptualize health and wellness from new vantage points…assuming the current norms are ‘the way it is’ is dangerous to diversity and progress!

    I read this as a ‘thin’ woman, mother to a daughter (who is American and Canadian…though she is Manitoban so doesn’t know the joy of Ontario’s bagged milk!) and a N. American expat living in Japan where the concept of bodies is very different from ours. An example: my two year old is, per her most recent wellness check this summer in the US, 10th percentile in height, 50th in weight, healthy overall and developing well. Since returning to Japan after a 4 month visit at home, I have received SO many comments about how ‘big’, ‘chubby’, ’round’ she is and I am full of conflicting responses…I don’t want her to be witness to those kinds of descriptions of herself when I know she is perfectly healthy, but also I don’t want to respond too strongly to the comment-makers because I don’t want her to see words like ’round’ as negative. Parenting is confusing! :) What’s a mom to do!?

    • Lisa in Boston
      Posted October 2, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

      I’m sure Michelle will have some great ideas, but one other resource you might want to check out is a HAES oriented childhood feeding expert and pediatrician named Katja Rowell. She’s been extremely helpful to me and my 6 year old.

      Her website is http://www.thefeedingdoctor.com

      Best of luck!

    • Posted October 2, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

      I totally agree with checking thefeedingdoctor.com (she’s also a Satter student and a friend of mine.) Body image and eating stuff is so crucial at that stage of life. The best you can do is to reassure you that you love her as she is and don’t pressure her about either eating or weight. You might want to talk to her (or the commenters) about the idea that making *any* comment about someone’s body, positive or negative, is kind of stepping over the line. Because it really is. We shouldn’t be socializing our girls to accept the idea that their bodies are public property.

      If anyone has book suggestions or links to articles about this topic, I’m all ears. I’m not a mom so this isn’t my area of expertise, for sure!

    • Alexandra
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      I am an American who has spent some time in Japan and a lot of time among Japanese people in the US, and I have observed a couple of things (as both a tourist and an anthropologist) which might help to put the comments about your daughter in context. I’m sorry, this is long but I hope it may be useful.

      (1) Beauty and health standards in late-20th/early-21st century Japan are at least as extreme as anything I’ve seen in the US. I have seen Japanese people refer to individuals with a slightly stocky build, who I swear could not have had more than 1% body fat, as “fat.” I read (and unfortunately I can’t remember the source now, but it was a scholarly source comparing pre-natal health beliefs in the US and Japan) that in the recent past (1980s-1990s) Japanese OBGYNs recommended that pregnant women not gain any weight. Which would actually mean LOSING a lot of weight since you’re adding a baby and amniotic fluid and increased blood volume and whatnot. They also expect much skinnier babies than we do in the US, so I’m not surprised they think your daughter is “chubby.”

      (2) Just as with old American movies, if you watch old Japanese movies, the “beautiful” actresses were plumper, so I conclude that the extremism about fatness is a phenomenon of the last 30-40 years, just as it has been in the US. I don’t think this is a coincidence, as this period has also seen a lot of social status attached to Western bodies in general in Japan. Circumcision is a very clear cut example of the high status of Western bodies, I think. Koreans adopted circumcision for babies/young boys after the influx of American men during the Korean War and it is usually explained as a matter of hygiene, but in Japan it’s a relatively recent adoption and is done by adolescents and young adult men to look cool (once again, I can’t remember the source for that). I believe slenderness is really bound up with social status in Japan, as it is here, because I have seen men refer to a woman as fat one second, and then fall all over themselves to get into her pants the next. There has been a certain amount of what I can only call fascination with my own (fat) body among men there. I also noticed that the Page 6 girls in the newspaper are WAY curvier than the popular actresses and “idols.” So just as in the US I think that although high-status (super-thin) bodies and desirable bodies overlap, desirability and super-thinness are not exactly coterminous.

      (3) Commentary on other people’s physique and health seems to be totally acceptable in Japan. However, I find that when it comes to body size, those comments don’t seem to be meant in as censorious a way as they would be in the US. I’m always hearing Japanese people say that Americans are all fat, but usually there has been a sort of “that’s just the way Americans are made” attitude. Just like how white people supposedly have “big” noses. I’m not saying there isn’t real prejudice or that the comments are always innocent, but I think there’s less of a filter because the comments aren’t perceived as being loaded.

      Now these are just my personal observations and experiences. I don’t claim to be an expert. I realize that right now your daughter is too young to have these discussions with her, but putting the potentially-hurtful commentary in a cultural context really helped me take it less personally. I mean, this is all a parent can ever really do to help their child navigate negative feedback about their appearance, especially when you know it’s objectively undeserved. As my mother always said to me when I was a kid, “Consider the source.” :)

  20. Jenny V
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    I stumbled upon your website tonight after watching the Upworthy post about the beautiful, strong and smart news anchor who (respectfully) ripped that bully a new one with her intelligence, confidence and humanity.

    I have struggled with weight my whole life, as well as struggling with OTHER people’s problems with my weight: I experienced severe bullying for several years as a child/youth in a small Ontario town, which had a lasting and complex effect on my self-esteem and the way I interact with people. At 38 I’m coming to terms with the impact of these experiences, and finding the news anchor’s video and your website is like finding a new and different world where I have as much worth as a thin person.

    THANK YOU for doing your work and spreading your word. It makes all the difference! I’ll be back to read all your posts!

  21. Posted October 2, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    It was nice to find your blog. I am a huge proponent of fitness, but never felt comfortable with the way most fitness professionals defined fitness, nor many of the motivating factors they use to promote fitness and activity. Not to mention the whole messed up food portion of that world.

    Having been an athlete my whole life I know how great being active can feel, but it has nothing to do with the thinness that may or may not result. I love that you are able to show that we can all be healthy and happy regardless of the shape or size of our body.

    I was so moved that I wrote my won rant on this topic.

    http://desastresastre.blogspot.com/2012/10/lay-off-me-im-starving-making-sense-of.html

    Thanks again for being a fresh voice.

  22. Jason Sandeman
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    Hey there! I come from a site – The carbsane Asylum – and saw and read through your last few posts. Wow.
    I’m a recently diagnosed (2 years ago) insulin dependent double diabetic. I’m lucky enough to need insulin to live, and be resistant to it. Fun times!
    I have a nice Buddha (46 inches as of this morning) that I’m trying to improve.
    For a while after diagnosis, I flirted with low-carb, then paleo, then primal. I’ve read all sorts of fringe stuff. It all comes down to one thing for them : follow a set of rules, or you’ll get OBESITY which is an EPIDEMIC.
    Yawn.
    I’m a chef by trade. I’ve learned a lot of traditions when it comes to preparing food. I refuse to believe that science will provide us with better foods, or a fringe diet excluding certain items will be better. (ie NO GRAINZ!)
    If there is one thing I hate, it’s the assumption that I did this to myself.
    I am also interested in dietetics. I worked as a Chef in a retirement home with a clinical section. Parts of that were sad, but rewarding too.

    • Dana
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 6:08 am | Permalink

      Hey Jason!

      Have you tried the Neal Bernard thing? He’s a bit of a “no-no” in terms of Fat Acceptance (he has slunk into fatshaming in public campaigns in order to get his diet more press) but his original work is actually quite good about separating obesity and health: the goal of his diet is to reverse diabetes, and weight loss is a some-time side effect.

      The plan is:
      Vegan
      Low Fat
      Low Sugar
      Low Glycemic Index

      The idea is that you should eat things that fit those four criteria.

      I’m trying it out now just because I don’t want to develop diabetes, which runs in my family, but as a non-diabetic I don’t know if it’s working. I feel more energetic and have fewer ups and downs over the course of the day, but I don’t do regular bloodwork so it could be psychosomatic.

      Also, am a vegan by choice, so I would *love* there to be an eating program that aligns my ethical commitments and my health. I really want this to work.

      Have you tried it? Do you know anyone who has?

      • Dana
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 6:11 am | Permalink

        Just re-read my post and it looks on surface very diet-centered (which it is, but not in a “lose-weight” sort of way), so I just wanted to make clear: I am a proponent of HAES and am looking for ways to eat healthfully within that ethical commitment, as well as the vegan thing!

      • Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:12 am | Permalink

        I’m generally really worried about going too low-fat. There’s the risk of nutrient malabsorption and one of the good things about fat is that it lowers the GI of a food, which of course means the sugars are absorbed more slowly when consumed with fat. I’m a type one diabetic, and I find, for example, chocolate is significantly easier to metabolise than boiled sugary candy that has no fat. Also, a friend who had gestational diabetes found that eating grapes after lunch spiked her blood sugar too much, but when she took my advice and ate cheese as well, they no longer spiked her blood sugar.

        I have this crackpot theory that increased cases of diabetes could be blamed on low-fat dieting much more reasonably than they could be blamed on obesity. But I’m quite aware that my sample size of two does not make for anything statistically significant or sciency, so… Just wanted to chime in, really…

        Exercise, more than anything else I know of, seems to contribute to good insulin sensitivity. It stimulates sensitivity at the skeletal muscle, and that’s where the vast majority of insulin is used. It’s not used to get sugars into the brain, for example. In my experience, tai chi is totally awesome for diabetes-balancing, which I just referenced below. I hope this has been someway interesting and not of the nose-butting-in sort of commenting.

    • Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      I’m also diabetic – type one for twenty years now. Best thing I’ve ever done has simply been exercise – it increases insulin sensitivity more effectively than anything else I know of. I was vegetarian for twelve years, but a three year period of no dairy meant my fat intake was too low, and I became malnourished and hormonally depleted which wasn’t any fun. Increasing fat intake has been really good across the board, and these days I don’t diet at all – I spent a lot of time giving myself full permission to eat, and my diabetes is getting along very well on an “I’ll eat whatever I damn well please” diet. The thing is, there’s no time off. There’s always blood tests, insulin injections – what people often don’t get is that it’s always on your mind, if you want ‘good’ blood sugar levels. And if you take time off, it goes off the rails pretty quickly. What was that quote – “youth is wasted on the young?” – well health is wasted on the healthy.

      Sickness is a perspective-changer.

      Incidentally, I lift weights a lot these days, but of all training methods I’ve ever undertaken (and there have been a helluva lot), it was the incredibly low-intensity tai chi (the tai chi 32 sword routine in particular) that seemed to have the most positive and dramatic impact on my insulin sensitivity. I’d recommend looking into tai chi if you can.

      • Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:09 am | Permalink

        Tai chi for insulin sensitivity…wow. That’s interesting.

        • Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:16 am | Permalink

          It’s good stuff, it is. There was this program I saw one time – Tai Chi for Diabetes – it was about sixteen beginner tai chi moves, and it really was very basic. Any traditional form would give you just as much (and probably better) benefit.

  23. Caitlin
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    I’m here today through the Upworthy link, though I have come by via Shakesville a couple of times before. The video made me cry, and I think I’ll spend a while here looking around. It was timely, as the doctor I saw yesterday because my thyroid has gone wonky again decided it was appropriate to scold me for my weight, and insist I needed to lose it. Diet and exercise. I tried to point out that we could just deal with the thyroid problem, I’d be able to exercise again, and the rest would deal with itself as it’s one of the symptoms of my thyroid being out of whack. But she smiled, and jiggled my belly, and repeated that I need to lose weight, and I’m having trouble holding on to 7 years of recovery from an eating disorder, and not restricting aggressively etc. I need to hear what you have to say.

    • Jeny
      Posted October 2, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

      First of all, you should find a new doctor. THAT was crossing the line, and no matter the “demonization” I got for my previous post, I do understand the pain of your situation. Especially the thyroid part, and the Dr acting like it was your fault. Exercise is EXTREMELY hard when you barely have the energy to even roll out of bed in the morning.
      I too deal with a wonky thyroid (Hashimoto’s Disease, think extreme hypothyroid), and when I went to my Dr (preferred provider, as well as my endocrinologist) I was met with the same “eat better and exercise” speech, with no outline on what I needed to do specifically. Even when I asked what I should be avoiding, or eating more of, I was given no answer. I had to research and find things on my own.
      While I disagree with the blog owner on some issues, she is a nutritionist, and should be able to research your specific diagnosis and help with your goals.
      I feel like this is what most people get when specifically asking for help from our doctors, and it’s sad, but there are good ones out there that do want to help. It’s hard going back and forth to new ones, but trust me, finding one that truly cares, and will help, will make all the hard times and heartache worthwhile.

    • Posted October 2, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

      Thyroid is a hormone. A thyroid disorder is probably not going to be cured with diet and weight loss. In fact, having a weird thyroid makes it harder to control one’s weight, so it’s backward to suggest such a thing. Especially given your ED history, this is ridiculous and bordering on incompetence. I would complain to the board of physicians and find a new doctor. I am so sorry that happened to you.

      • Caitlin
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 11:20 am | Permalink

        The doctor I saw is not my regular doctor, but another from her clinic, as my regular doctor is on maternity leave. My regular doctor is great, understands my history of ED and hypothyroidism (and surgical adhesions–the other reason I gained weight this year was that I could eat without pain for the first time in two years, because I had emergency surgery for the adhesions when they caused a total obstruction, and was finally actually eating enough food to be well), and we work well together. This other woman is awful, but if I want my great doctor back, I have to take pot-luck at her clinic until May.

        I thought things wouldn’t be so bad, but now that my thyroid is in wonky territory again, I need to do the whole test-adjust synthroid dose-test again cycle, which means seeing a lot of awful doctor for a while.

        And I think I’m babbling now :)

        • Posted October 3, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

          the fact that this doctor JIGGLED YOUR BELLY is more than enough to report her to the medical board. and the management of the practice. and your normal pcp. that is beyond unprofessional and rude, and slams right into “dehumanizing” territory.

    • Donna Skelton
      Posted October 2, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

      A doctor reached over and jiggled your belly? OK, time for a new doctor. Talk about invasion of your personal space and treating you like … I don’t know, a dog or cat? Losing weight does not solve every freaking problem that a human being can have. Ugh. Sorry for the rant, but I’d have to remove that doctor’s hand and go find one that didn’t treat me like I was less than human.

    • Halla
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      Caitlin, your doctor needs to hear that if she dares jiggle a belly again she’ll be fired. That’s out of order.

  24. Angie
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    Hi! I came by to visit through the link on Upworthy. I’m so glad I did! You have a wonderful site and I can’t wait to read more of your posts! And I have to say, your picture is absolutely beautiful!

  25. AmandaB
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    Jeny, I have to ask: If you “don’t care what anyone says” why should anyone care what you say?

    • skye
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 12:42 am | Permalink

      That’s what I thought, AmandaB. As soon as I read that, I realized that Jeny was unlikely to actually read any of the science backing our OP’s post. I’ve met many people who refuse to believe that the assumptions about fat are just that…assumptions.

  26. Posted October 2, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    (Sorry if this posts twice, I was getting database errors trying to post originally.)
    I found my way here from the Upworthy link, to…. after bawling from it!

    I have fought my weight my entire adult life. I was born with congenital hypothyroidism. I have had doctors over the years tell me if I would get my weight down my hypothyroidism would go away. Really? Because I had it when I only weighed 4 lb (I was a preemie) and I’m pretty sure that’s less than I weigh now!

    My grandmother was obese. She lived on her own, mentally alert, to the age of 99. She did have breast cancer in her early 70s but beat it. She had NO medical conditions that could be attributed to her weight… no diabetes, no cholesterol issues, no blood pressure issues, nada!

    My mother has fought her weight her whole life. She is bitter and refuses to allow anyone to enjoy anything. When I turned 12 and got that pre-puberty “pudge” she put me on a starvation level diet so I wouldn’t be “as big around as you are tall!” (one of her favorite phrases). I managed to starve my way through high school… and then got pregnant with my oldest. License to eat! (And a good thing I did, too, she was a perfect, healthy baby.)

    Now I am the mother of 7 and yes, I count as obese. I am active as both a mom and as a RN in the neonatal nursery (12 hours on my feet running around 3 nights per week) and breastfeeding educator.

    When we moved to our community 2 years ago I got a lecture from my new doctor about getting the weight off (he’s a real stickler on weights). I told him to run bloodwork because I know I’m healthy despite the weight. He agreed to, but I still got a lecture about going to weight watchers, learning to eat more healthfully, blah blah blah… but the bloodwork DID shut him up. High healthy cholesterol with the bad cholesterol so low that my overall levels were still very low. A1C of 4. All of my bloodwork came out PERFECT.

    I’m fat. I’m fit. Would I like to be thinner? Of course. I hate how I look (most of the negative comments being injected into my brain from the constant comments of my mother)… but I have kids who associate eating with health and happy times, who adore veggies and fruits above everything else, who eat to appetite and neither force themselves to “clean their plates” nor avoid the fun treats in life (because I know 95% of their diet is amazing.) Kids who think brussels sprouts are an extra treat. Kids who are active and fit and healthy. (Kids who I don’t let hang out with my mother.)

    Keep up the good work. I am bookmarking this site and will be adding it to my list of reference material for my lactation clients!

    • Auburn
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      Love your story! My mother has NEVER had weight related health issues. She has struggled with her body since she was a teenager, resorting, at times, to starvation-level watered-down OJ diet. She is getting back to exercising after years of not thinking it was worth it because she never lost much weight. She eats healthy, has for years, low cholesterol and great BP. I wish she would stop trying to lose weight and beat herself up about it, she’s beautiful and vibrant and it makes me sad to hear her talk about her weight when her health is so good and that’s all that should matter.

      That said, I am thin and always have been. Putting weight ON has been a struggle for me, I know without a doubt that I have nutritional deficiencies in my diet and my overall health suffers for it. When I go to the doctor, I rarely get the level of attention that I need for this BECAUSE I have a low BMI. I am so frustrated by the way that people are treated by society at large, and Dr.s in particular. Weight is almost never an issue, but health is. How many people don’t get the treatment they need because they are stereotyped by their weight and their Dr.s don’t look deeper than that? It’s lazy and dangerous!

      I absolutely LOVE that you don’t hassle your kids about eating. As a mother, it kills me to see them “living on air”, I have a visceral drive to feed them! *L* I try to encourage them to eat, and then let them convince me that they aren’t hungry pretty easily. They are all growing fine so I figure I can’t be starving them too badly! *L*

      Final note, I don’t like the way I look, either. Most women don’t, it’s the way we’re raised by society, even if our parents DON’T make us feel inadequate. Also, Breastfeeding ROCKS!

  27. Donna Skelton
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    I’m very glad to have found your blog. I’ve always been overweight–likely I was born that way and have been all 39 years of my life. Whereas some women harken back to high school when they “only weighed 150″ (or whatever number it was) I think the last time I saw that was maybe 4th grade. On the flip side of this coin, at least I didn’t start dysfunctional eating behaviors/disorders and I haven’t yo-yo dieted. I started, at nearly 360 last year, to realize that my body wasn’t performing very well and that I wanted to be more mobile. So I started modifying my diet to be healthier and started moving, slowly at first with just walking. This graduated into working out (cardio and strength training) at the gym by last November. I now am only down about 40 pounds and the weight loss has definitely SLOWED to nearly no progress downward. I still work out, I’m much stronger, and my blood/glucose/blood pressure are all normal, whereas they were heading into not normal areas early last year.

    I’m very glad to have found your site, through the Upworthy video, because today was biometric measurement day at work. (Yes, I’ll do most anything to cut some costs off my contributions for my health insurance.) And in the BMI, since I’m above 39, I am considered (use a big, booming voice here): DANGEROUSLY OUT OF RANGE.

    (Pause for dramatic effect.) So yeah, it affects your take on all your progress, what you put in your mouth, the consistent exercise you’re doing… all of it. But then you hear that nearly everyone around you that is so-called normal in your mind, is coming in as “overweight” or “obese” on this BMI scale. That helps a little, but realizing that the health can be achieved at all sizes is also important too.

    Anyway, rambling way to say thank you.

  28. DMJG
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    Hi – found you through Upworthy and like your site a lot. Haven’t had time to read a ton yet but wanted to throw something out that I’ve been feeling for a long time. I’m frustrated that I can’t seem to find anybody who understands me. I’m overweight/obese but pretty darn healthy. I’d like to be more fit and I’m working toward that, but I’m pretty happy with myself and always have been. I’m just fine with the way I look and I know with certainty that, at the age of fifty, I can still turn heads if I want to because I exude confidence and that is sexy. All my life I’ve had friends who have tortured themselves about how they look, or conversely, emphasized their good looks over their brains or talent. I want to tell all of them not to give strangers power over how they feel about themselves. I think the main reason I’ve been ok is because I have flatly REFUSED to loathe myself under any circumstances, no matter what anybody tells me. Nobody – not my model-thin mother or anybody else – is going to make me feel bad about myself because how I feel about myself is up to me alone. I pay attention to being healthy and that’s really all that matters. Food and exercise are parts of life that should be enjoyed and shouldn’t cause so much pain. I’m not trying to say that everybody should just snap their fingers and adopt this attitude, but it really works for me and maybe it can work for others. I have a daughter and a son, and I worry that whatever I tell them won’t be enough to counteract the incredible sucking sound coming from so many people trying to drag other people down.

    OK, I’m ready for the trolls now…

    • Posted October 2, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

      I have flatly REFUSED to loathe myself under any circumstances, no matter what anybody tells me.

      I think this is amazing and striking, and I wish all of us were strong enough to do that. I think this could actually have a direct and positive impact on people’s physical health, as well as mental health. But it can be so difficult to do when you are socialized from a very young age to believe you are “less than” for one reason or another.

      Your kids will benefit from your strength no matter what else they encounter out in the world.

    • Posted October 3, 2012 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      I love it. I take a very similar stance myself these days – I’m fit and strong, and I’ve got a belly (borderline obese according to the BMI) and I’m both hairy and balding and it makes me feel bold and masculine to proudly clothe my belly in a tight white t-shirt or singlet. I used to never wear white, but now I’m proud of my shape, and I like white. My simple refusal to pander to bullshit beauty standards reinforces my sense of self worth, even though I might be a bit too attached to being defiant. I believe confidence begets itself just as acquiescence breeds doubts… Anyway, I love what you said, it strikes a chord with me.

  29. Tori from Maine!
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    Hi Michelle!

    You have no idea how uplifting it is to find a blog like yours, and an approach to health and nutrition and weight I would have never thought existed. As a young woman who has always struggled with my weight (and I mean always…. my mother toyed with bulimia throughout my childhood, so you can imagine how weird my attitudes toward food are), it’s refreshing to find an opinion that is, for once, not entirely centered about losing extra pounds. I’m totally guilty of finding your blog through the Upworthy video, but you can guarantee that I’ll be coming back!!

    THANK YOU!

  30. Little Fish
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    Hello. Like many others here I found your site after seeing the video on Upworthy. I have found your site so inspiring in so many ways.

    First – I have struggled with bulimia, anorexia, and every imaginable combination of the two for nearly 10 years now. It’s been better since being diagnosed with bi polar II in combination with getting all of the negative people out of my life, but it’s still there. One of the reasons it started though was that aside from my mother, I am the *only* person in my family who is not overweight. My relatives constantly made comments when I was growing up about how unhealthy I looked and how underfed I appeared. It really bothered me, to have a body type that a lot of girls do serious damage to themselves trying to achieve, and not be able to embrace it as my own because my family held me to being the ideal to go after, and constantly pointed out how different I was from the rest of them.

    Second – My dad who has always been heavier built, always jokes that he is one of the healthiest fat people on earth. He faces a lot of stigma at the doctor’s office … after losing 100 pounds, he is still overweight, but he is off his blood pressure medicine, his antidepressants, and pain medication. But he finds the nurses taking his heart rate and blood pressure sometimes three times in a row making sure that their equipment is not malfunctioning, because his numbers match a “skinny healthy” person his height. Though everyone except my mom and I are overweight, about half of the people in my family are healthy just like my dad.

    Third – I am working to make myself healthy instead of super skinny. I go by nutrient levels and how I feel, rather than by what the scale ( for food and myself ) says. I have learned to incorporate all sorts of vegetables and fruits into my diet, and at the same time I have not eliminated junk food by any means. You’ll find ice cream sandwiches in my freezer and cookie dough in my fridge. I have been working very hard over the past six or seven months to really focus on how I feel and eat normally rather than follow a specific regimen or diet. It has really opened up my life. I am not preoccupied with food at all anymore, and I work out because I want to, not because I feel like I have to. I have a friend that is constantly trying to coax me into fad diets and fad exercises all the time. She gets so frustrated with herself because she can’t lose weight and constantly feels more and more unhealthy on top of it, and doesn’t understand that being healthy and weight aren’t correllated. Yet she scoffs at me when I order dessert and a drink with my dinner and she picks at half a dry salad. I am hoping to show her this site and help let her know that it’s not about weight, it’s about how you feel.

    Fourth – I read a few of your posts already, one that stuck out to me was about how you have to work to love yourself before you can really do anything else. It really spoke to me. It is something my boyfriend has been encouraging me for and talking to me about for about a year now. I am going to start following your site and use it to further my recovery from eating disorders. In my journey to love myself and make myself healthy instead of skinny, I have started to gain a bit of weight, but with your site I now feel I have a resource to go to to be able to know that it’s OK. Gaining five pounds isn’t the end of the world. And neither is 10, as long as I feel healthy on the inside and can get to that point where I am not constantly worried about how I appear to others.

    Thank you for this site, and thank you for being proud to be yourself. You are an inspiration to me, and I hope many others as well. You give me hope that one day I really will be OK.

  31. DMJG
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    OK, took the time to read at least these comments. Love all the support out there, and it sounds like I’ve found at least some people who feel like I do – finally! Self-acceptance and healthy living for all! Sorry about the troll comment since there are so many nice people on your blog!

  32. Bob
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    Please tell me if this is the wrong forum to be addressing this through.

    Hello! I found this site through upworthy. I’m not overweight. I think I am underweight. Here’s my story. Right now I am 15. Four years or so ago I decided to become a vegetarian. I eat pretty healthy. The problem is I have been pretty skinny and still am. I get constant remarks at school or from my family about how I don’t eat well, but I do eat well. It makes me feel bad about myself. I go out of my way to eat more protein and various nutrients. I am even taking vitamin pills. I feel as self conscious about my weight as some “unhealthy” people do. I love being a vegetarian. That’s what makes it sad.

    I hope some people scrolling through the comments can maybe reply? Anyway, I love the site!

    • Posted October 2, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

      No one has the right to be commenting on your weight or making assumptions about how you eat, unless they are your guardian or caregiver or a professional you have given informed consent to. That said, “eating well” might mean something completely different to you than it means to your family. I don’t know whether you are eating well or not. Maybe you are perfectly healthy and just naturally skinny – this happens to a lot of people. If you’re worried about it, you should check with your doctor to make sure you don’t have any nutrient deficiencies. Then you can tell people to bug off :)

    • Emilia
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 8:00 am | Permalink

      Bob, our son was rail thin at 15 yrs old too. He’s 23 now and still very thin, but he did begin to bulk out a bit (for him) around 18 years old. I was concerned about his underweight for a brief time until my husband and I did a little mental review of what body types run on one side of his family ,and then we realized the Polish side had men that looked — just like our son. And they usually lived into their 90s. As long as your bloodwork looks fine and you feel like you have energy to do what you want in life, really, don’t sweat it.

      Of course, being a skinny guy will get you crap just like being a fat girl will. I hope you have been able to “consider the source” when people make ignorant remarks as I expect they do.

      LOL this reminds me the last time some “helpful” person remarked on my weight, I mentioned that fortunately my soul seems to have no weight issues. ;)

    • Posted October 3, 2012 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      Hey Bob!

      I was a vegetarian for about twelve years, and I’m not any more for two years or so (for various reasons). I was always into training and weightlifting and stuff, so I was always conscious to get enough protein, but after a (relatively) short period of almost-veganism my testosterone was really low, and I had zero progress in my training.

      When I started eating fat, everything started to get better. Insufficient fat intake is associated with hormonal problems – don’t know exactly what the interaction is – but I was astounded when eating large amounts of butter and cream corrected a hormonal imbalance and I started finally gaining some pretty awesome strength. I was a bit disordered and too obsessive, myself, but somewhere I realised that if I was going to be healthy, I’d have to be eating something that someone else thought was going to kill me – it just so happens I respond really well to dairy, even though I kinda thought I wasn’t supposed to. It was really very surprising. And I don’t think eating meat again was necessary as such, but I noticed a huge improvement when I seriously upped my fat intake – it seemed to help a lot across the board. I had been eating eggs and avocados and nuts and oils, but it wasn’t enough.

      These have been my experiences, and I don’t necessarily think you should do the same because humans can be quite different, but as a result of all that I’ve become rather pro-dietary-fat. I’m not into low-carb, but I’m certainly into making darn sure you’re eating enough fat.

      Which I think, for me, pretty much means: if in doubt, just eat more.

      On a personal note, I gotta agree with Michelle, it bugs me that people think it’s okay to comment on someone else’s body. There’s not much I can say to help out with that, because that’s always going to happen. Maybe I’m too cynical…. but if you don’t look quite ‘right’, people will damn well let you know, and if you do, they’ll ask you what you did to make it happen. It’s like our own shape has become everybody’s business, which I do find lamentable. I hope it gets easier for you.

  33. Posted October 2, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    I’m so glad to have found your website. I’m a chiropractor who is also fat. About a third of my practice is nutrition and you can be healthy at any size or unhealthy at any size. As a doctor, I’m appalled at the many people who cite studies that “prove” that being heavier is unhealthy. There are NO valid studies that show that and it simply isn’t true.

    The attitude about weight is the last big prejudice. My weight is not your business and your weight is not my business (unless you want it to be). Commenting on how good someone looks if they’ve lost weight is a huge insult. It would be tantamount to telling them how much better they look with lighter skin. I look good just the way I am, thank you very much. I’m happy to be pretty healthy and that’s what matters.

    • Posted October 2, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

      I appreciate your support and thanks for coming by. I just want to point out, though, that unfortunately there are a lot of big prejudices in the world that are still upheld, even if we sometimes give lipservice to the idea that they are bad (racism, homophobia, misogyny, transphobia, ableism, a million other things.) I don’t want to put myself in the position of focusing just on this one thing and pretending the others don’t still exist and still get protected by our culture, because they do to a large extent. I think it’s important to recognize how they interlock and interact with each other. I think they all have roots in similar attitudes about the need to have a social hierarchy that puts some people up over others. I hope we can address all of them going forward and have a better future as humans.

  34. Charlene
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    Growing up i’ve always been quite thin. I never had any problems with people being overweight, but wondered, why is it so hard for friends of mine to try and lose weight.. then 10 years ago before I had my son I found out I had a rare hereditary joint disease and was bed ridden most of my pregnancy. I gained 200lbs in 6 months and because of my joint disease it took me about 8 years to shed 150lbs of it off. I’ve been through more tough times than most people (like coming clean off a 2 year heroin addiction for example) and losing weight, especially with my joint disease, was the hardest thing I was able to do. To this day I struggle to keep the weight off, but since I became overweight it gave me a whole new perspective about how I see big people and understand better in what they face day by day. It truly is tough to love yourself as being overweight, but once you accept it, you’ll see that there’s plenty of people who care about you for who you are and not what you look like and understand that the people trying to let you down aren’t bad people, but just don’t understand what its like living in your shoes and really, don’t know any better.

  35. Bianca
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    I found your blog through Upworthy and I am so glad I did. I am 32, 5 ft tall and 210 lbs (BMI ~ 41). I like many others here, feel that I have struggled with my weight my whole life from the time my mother decided we needed to do the “Cabbage Soup Diet” together when I was about 12. I have gone up and down, with Atkins, Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers until finally I read Health At Every Size a couple of years ago. Since then I have tried to avoid focusing on my weight and just eat as healthfully as I can without counting calories and restricting myself to only “good” foods.

    Yesterday at my annual physical my doctor decided that we had to discuss the weight question, at which point he recommended bariatric surgery. I was shocked and greatly upset by this as I have reached a point where most of the time I can see myself as a very healthy individual who happens to carry some extra weight. In my mind, doctors only make this recommendation as a last resort and for him to strongly suggest that I should be having surgery in order to control my weight made me feel like an abnormal & grotesque person. Only after long and agonized discussions with my husband and my best friend did I stop feeling like jumping off a cliff. Both of them (being naturally thin people) still felt that I should do something to try to lose weight for my health, which was not necessarily the helpful advice I was looking for to feel better. I’m really looking forward to reading more from your site and finding ways to truly improve my well-being and relationship with food.

    Also, to those who have said it is valid to criticize someone for being fat so they will make more of an effort to shape up and be healthy, I just want to point out that mortality is holding steady at 100%. Whether or not certain diseases correlate to BMI, the evidence that excess weight is causative is suspect. Despite the medical establishments emphasis on weight as a factor, thin people are still at risk for most of these diseases.

  36. Valerie
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    Like so many others, I found my way here via Upworthy. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  37. Posted October 2, 2012 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    Hi! I also found your blog through Upworthy, and you’ve probably gotten comments saying this a million times by now, but I’m really excited to read your blog, go through the past posts, and read the new ones. Like so many women, I’ve been struggling with what society thinks is best for me, even though it doesn’t know me. I’ve been struggling with not liking what I see in the mirror, and the frustration of not being able to fit in certain clothes that I really like in stores, or comparing myself to other women as they walk down the street, or feeling guilty when I decide to have something a little unhealthy just because it tastes good. Things are slowly, slowly getting better. I’m working with a dietitian and have decided to try losing weight, not because of what society says, but because I want to. Because I want to fit into some of my old clothes again, because I don’t want my body holding me back from things, because I want to be healthier and live a long life. I know losing weight or being skinny doesn’t mean you are healthy, but there are practical reasons I want to do this. And I certainly don’t want to be skinny. I love my curves. Either way, I’m looking forward to reading what you have to say. I’ve been a supporter of the “normal eating” notion for a long time as well. :)

  38. Britt G
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    I too got here from Upworthy. Seeing that video and your post reminded me of something that happened to my husband’s coworker. He works at a non profit health club. His coworker (who at the time was 7 months pregnant) is very overweight. A patron commented that there shouldn’t be any fat people at a health club, that only healthy people should be allowed to work there. He did get written up for his comment. But it actually lead her to go to the back room and cry.

    In fact most of the employees at this facility are over weight (my husband included).

    My husband for instance, teaches water aerobics two days a week, teaches swimming lessons 5 days a week for more than 4 hours a day, and needs to be able to lift 250+ lbs from the bottom of the pool at all times as a lifeguard.

    For me, at an “obese” weight, I have low blood pressure. To the point that I have fainting spells. I metabolize sugar so quickly that when being tested for gestational diabetes during my pregnancy with my daughter, the nurse and doctor were wondering if I had finished all of the glucose drink.

    The last time I was 130 (which is supposed to be the ideal weight for my height), I was 17. My mom lost her job and we had no food. I ate through the generosity of my friends. I walked to school daily and had PE daily. If that is what it takes for me to be that ideal weight, than it isn’t ideal for me.

    • Posted October 3, 2012 at 8:52 am | Permalink

      I don’t really look it because a lot of my mass is muscle, but I’m technically borderline obese. And I work as a personal trainer. And although I’m generally confident, I have occasional fears that someone is going to realise I’m fat and tell me off for it. And then they’re going to realise I don’t hate fat. But my girlfriend pointed out that everyone already knows I don’t hate fat, and it’s a funny feeling, feeling isolated in your workplace because you don’t hate fat – in a workplace where people say they care. I might be rambling a bit, but what I wanted to say is this strikes a chord with me, and in the past – what I had to sacrifice to try to stay or get thin – it totally wasn’t worth it. Did way more harm than good. And I’m proud to not participate in all that hypocritical beauty-standard stuff any more.

  39. Scott
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 2:08 am | Permalink

    I support your community in encouraging healthier lifestyles. I personally cannot choose one way or another on how I feel about the News Anchor video that led me to this site. One on side, there was no reason to send her the comment about her weight. It was not his business and should have kept his thoughts to himself. She knows as she said that she has issues with her weight. However, now reading some of these responses, it enrages me that people think it is acceptable to be obese. Heart attacks in people’s early 50′s astounds me, especially when they have a responsibility for their loved ones around them.
    You can check any accredited website or journal (AHA for instance) for the data that shows HIGH correlation between Obesity and CVD, with CVD being the number 1 cause of death in the United States. Obesity can then be synonymous with smoking and lack of exercise since they are also risk factors. So saying stop being obese to me is like saying stop smoking or go exercise. Especially when it is so easy to be under 30% BF (which is considered below obese). I know saying “So Easy” sounds a little far-fetched and blunt, but all it takes is education and will-power. I speak saying this as a Fitness Professional myself, and have seen success in the clients who give the commitment necessary. Lack of time, injury, and low finances are all just excuses.
    To comment on another post I read about skinny people not being healthy, yes they still can have a poor diet. However, they have less body mass that is putting pressure on their joints and cells. This means less inflammation and lower the chance of issues that will lead to CVD. I do not mean to flame your forum and would appreciate a response back. Motivation is hard to come by, especially in this manner, which is why I appreciate your community.

    • Posted October 3, 2012 at 8:31 am | Permalink

      “Enrages” seems like a pretty strong word. I don’t have a lot of time, but if you’re interested in why some people would take this seemingly bizarre position, you can read more here: https://www.sizediversityandhealth.org/content.asp?id=122

    • Posted October 4, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      Have you seen the recent studies that show overweight and obese people are more likely to survive a heart attack?
      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/18/health/research/more-data-suggests-fitness-matters-more-than-weight.html

    • ksol
      Posted October 4, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      Scott- I think part of the problem is you are conflating behavior/health outcomes and body size. I have no doubts that a cruddy diet and little to no exercise lead to a higher risk of the heart attacks you mention. It’s not correlated one on one to size, though, and many larger people have better habits and better health measures than you might think. I’m (in theory) 20 pounds out of BMI range and 35 above the “ideal” weight for a woman, yet metabolically healthy, very active and a veggie fiend. I believe in HAES, that I’m better off controlling my behavioral factors than trying to mold my body to a particular size. As for thin people living longer, you might look at the 2005 Flegal study that showed the lowest rates of excess all-cause mortality were in people in the “overweight” (BMI25-30) category, not those who were a “healthy” weight.

  40. Helen+ilana=Hi
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 3:22 am | Permalink

    You are a breath of fresh air. Before menopermanent (well the ‘pause’ has been going on a while now) I lived the flip side of this coin. I come from thin genes. I was a healthy weight for me but I was always made to feel that I should be heavier and that it was my fault I wasn’t. Si should just eat more and ‘Dix’ myself. Maintaining that elusive healthy weight was a struggle. The more I worried about it the more weight I’d lose. I was in my 30′s before my skin got thick enough to ignore the pressure and just be me. Bit that didnt stop people from asking me directly if I was suffering from a mental disorder like anorexia, if I had cancer or some other life threatening illness, if I was ‘alright’ and then carrying on to tell me that I was sooo lucky to be skinny. A word I hate btw. So many kinder ways to call me small. Slender, slight, sleek but I digress. Genetic heritage was never considered a factor but all you had to do was look at my Dad to understand my size! People are meant to come in different sizes, shapes and colours. Thanks for saying so in this forum.

  41. Christina
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 3:46 am | Permalink

    I have been told I was fat because of my bmi since I was in the 3rd grade. Hearing that all the time made me believe it. I heard it all through highschool too, which is a horrible time to tell a kid they are fat. What pisses me off the most is that I have pictures from that time and I look so skinny but since I didnt have a proper bmi I was concidered fat. My bmi is still an issue and I am so sick of doctors still using it, because there are so many faults to it. I have been sick for the 5 years with high liver enzymes and pancreatic enzymes. I also have had pains, inflamed liver, and stomach problems. But everytime I go to my doctors they just say Im fat. I ended up in the ER three times this year and the last time it was so bad they finally thought something was really wrong and gave me a referral to see gasto. I was so happy my issue was finally taken seriously and I was going to get help. But that was not the case, I walked into my appointment and my doctor was on his computer he looked at my charts (and never at me) typed away on his computer for 10 min then was like “your fat and that whats causing your elevated liver enzymes”. I was in shock for a minute he still never looked at me never asked for my other symptoms and never examined me AT ALL how could he come up with this diagnoses. He claimed it was NASH, which os a fatty liver for obese diabetic women over the age of 60 (I am 23 and dont have high sugar at all). So i asked if that could cause any of my other symptoms and he was like no it doesnt cause any of those its asymptomatic, so i argue with him that maybe its something else. He was like not likely (still never looking directly at me). I have a family history of several diseases and I told him all of them and asked if those could be causing them, and again he brushed me off and told me to loss 30lbs. Im so tired of my doctors being bullies and always just thinking that not having a perfect BMI is what is the cause of every problem. For anyone who thinks being overweight and obese is the unhealthiest thing in the world for a person concider this obesity takes tops 10 years off your life, however having anarexia or bulimia takes an average of 30 years off your life. So which is actually worst?

    • Posted October 3, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      if it’s possible, i would try another gastro. your physicians are your employees — you pay them for a service. you wouldn’t keep hiring a carpenter whose furniture fell apart when looked at funny; don’t pay for a doctor who will not work to discover what is wrong with your body.

  42. Susan
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 4:04 am | Permalink

    I am so tired of people dressing up their criticism and hate in “concern” for health and role models. I know several people like that. If someone is thin they praise them to the high heavens. Size is the ONLY thing they care about and comment on. I can tell when it’s just a prejudice for slenderness rather that a concern about health.
    Next someone is going to decide that only thin people can teach our children as they might “influence” them.

  43. Alexandra
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    I too found my way here from Upworthy.com. I’m not one to write fawning comments on blogs, but damn–I really love your blog. I particularly liked your post from 2009 on beauty awareness. You expressed so many experiences that I have wanted to articulate but for which I’ve never been able to quite find the words. (Full disclosure: I’m going to be borrowing the phrase “wearing beauty,” because YES. That is what it is.) A couple years ago I gave up wearing beauty because I felt it was too much trouble and time for too little reward. Until recently I worked in a male-dominated profession and was constantly hammered by the awareness that I could be more “successful” if only I would conform more to prevailing beauty norms; I felt I had to wear beauty in order to appear sufficiently professional (and no, I didn’t work in the beauty industry, in fact I was an academic, where you’d think beauty drag would be the LEAST influential–but alas.) I was enlightened when I heard from a conventionally-very-beautiful friend in the same field that she was constantly belittled for being “too pretty.” Although she was able to easily conform to beauty standards, along with that came the expectation that she be always-amenable–when she wasn’t, she was a “bitch,” all the more so because “everybody knows” how bitchy pretty girls are… I don’t regard myself as a victime, but sometimes it feels like being a woman means being constantly assaulted, or at the very least vulnerable to assault, no matter how well you toe the line.

    Ok, sorry, that was kind of a tangent. Watching the Upworthy video reminded me of that sense of being under/subject to assault, and it’s a double, insult-added-to-injury kind of violence we face if we’re fat, because it’s not just the cruelty, but the sanctimonious tone of the bullies who pretend they are either (a) doing us a favor by pointing out our failures, and/or (b) justifiably punishing us for our brazen refusal to give them what they desire. It’s easy to get dragged under by all that nastiness, and I think it’s admirable that you have created a blog that is so positive and healing while still being honest.

  44. Megan B.
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    I absolutely love Ellyn Satter and the health at every size movement. I actually started to learn about the movement at the tail end of my undergraduate work and was a little shocked that this idea isn’t more mainstream than what it is. I think it is quite commendable what you are doing, the stigma that is attached to being “overweight” (over what weight by the way?) is absolutely ridiculous. We as a society need to move away from the dichotomous way of thinking thin- good, fat- bad and realize at the very least that weight is a terrible indicator of overall health.

    Thank you for sharing!

  45. Posted October 3, 2012 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    I just wanted to say thank you. I look forward to learning more from your sight.

  46. Chrissie
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    For some of us, famine is only a few generations away, & fat makes more sense than thin in the face of food insecurity.

  47. Posted October 3, 2012 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Scrolling through the comments, and noticing a lot of people saying things like “oh hey, wait, didn’t you see THIS THING that says it’s bad to be fat? I know you say it’s okay to be fat, and I want you to keep doing that, but just so you know – it’s BAD to be fat – but I mean that about health, not like, that I’m all hateful and stuff – but you can keep saying it’s okay, but if you didn’t know, here’s this link that I’m sure you’ve never read, because if you’re saying it’s okay to be fat then you mustn’t have ever read anything, and it proves how bad it is to be fat. Just so you know. Because clearly you didn’t know”.

    Gee, people can be so helpful… And by helpful I mean really damn condescending. Not like these sorts of comments really piss me off or anything with their prejudice or ignorance…

    I love what you write, and I love that you do what you do.

    I guess to me, HAES is the only thing that ever made sense. It’s like there’s this whole movement I discovered that perfectly captured how I already thought about health. It feels like coming home, and I don’t understand any more how some people just can’t seem to quite get it. The only thing I can think of is: mega fear of death, which I understand, but… the way out is through… if that makes sense. The answers lie deeper, not in prejudice, ignorance and propaganda.

    • Posted October 3, 2012 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      Hey, if you want to help out and answer some of these, be my guest! I know you can handle it with the best of them.

      Any of my other regular readers/commenters are free to help answer 101-questions too. You are all way smart and will remember things that I forget to say. Moderation is now off for the most part, so your comments should come through if you have a previously approved comment.

      • Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:23 am | Permalink

        Thanks! I sometimes get a bit shy, and worry about inflaming an argument that might have died a natural death before I found it… but apparently I am not above blatant sarcasm and ridiculing people for shooting their mouths off. Ah yes, there’s the hypocrisy, I shoot my mouth off with the best of them.

    • Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      Chris I hear you and totally agree.

      I’m fat. I’m also healthy (low BP, cholesterol, sugar, etc.) My friend is a pathology technician for a hospital, has been for many years. Her specialty is cancer. Pathologists tell her that the cause of 70% of all cancers is …”random.” Lifestyle, genetics, etc. only account for 30% of all cancers and she can even break that down further, statistically speaking.

      • Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:20 am | Permalink

        My girlfriend has some experience with cancer, and what worries me at the moment is the way dieting and fat restriction can really mess with immune function. Because of the immune-function-cancer-connection thing that doesn’t seem to get much press…. which essentially means I don’t know much about it, but am a bit ‘concerned’.

        • Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:52 am | Permalink

          Diet and immune function – on a smaller scale (non-cancer related) I can attest to that personally; when I calorie restrict – either to lose weight or when my disordered eating surfaces (denial of hunger), or even for non-diety reasons (leaving on holidays and cleaning up the food in the fridge and not buying more) I (obviously) nutrient restrict too and my immunity isn’t as good – I catch viruses more easily, for example.

          I’m sorry your girlfriend has had to deal with cancer.

          • Chris
            Posted October 4, 2012 at 2:11 am | Permalink

            It’s always very hard. I’m lucky in that I haven’t really had any cancer in my family that I’ve had to deal with. Thanks for saying.

            Also on a smaller scale – I’ve noticed the same sorts of things – when I was eating low fat I’d get sicker more often, I had hayfever, and even though I eat a lot of dairy these days that’s supposed to be bad, the hayfever’s all gone since I started eating more fat. I think it might have had something to do with vitamin malabsorption on a body-chemistry level. E and/or K and what have you. Immune function is such a funny and complicated and largely unknown thing, still…

  48. Posted October 3, 2012 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Hey Michelle! I found your blog through Upworthy and I completely love it. I’ve been naturally thin my whole life, but as sane people know being thin does not necessarily mean that I’m healthy. The last few years I’ve been struggling to eat regularly and eat well, and I love some of the advice I’ve found here so far (like dealing with perfectionist cooking paralysis!). Keep on keeping on, I look forward to reading more!

  49. Annie
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Hi Michelle, I love your blog and the people that comment on your posts. I’ve been feeling myself getting more and more angry at the public discourse related to obesity, dieting and nutrition. It’s a relief to have someone talk about these topics in a sane and respectful manner.

    I’ve recently lost about 15 pounds for reasons that I can’t exactly put a finger on: probably a combination of being less stressed and finally starting to figure out how to manage my IBS. Several people I know have been asking me though what it was that I did, expecting me to point them to some kind of magic bullet. I have to be honest that I can’t do that necessarily because each person is different with different lives and restrictions. This isn’t something people like to hear though. To be fair, people often seem to talk about weight loss in a prescriptive manner. It’s as if they’ve discovered some kind of secret and are teaching you, the ignorant student, about it. Except, and this is the part that really gets to me, the “secret” is always the same thing: “eat less calories, exercise more, if it’s not working you’re not doing it right.”

    I like your blog because it really helps to unpack that dogma, make things more individualized, and put it all in context. Thank you very much for your work. I expect I will be following more of it in the future. And probably will recommend it to others.

  50. Karen
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    I’m honestly surprised I hadn’t stumbled across your blog before, as I tend to do a lot of reading on the subject.

    See, I’ve been obese all of my adult life and throughout much of my childhood, years before any “fat epidemic” became a hot topic. I’ve been put on prescription pills and crash diets by specialty doctors, have followed advice from dietitians and even the government-endorsed food pyramid, and yet I have always been overweight. I’ve also spent a lifetime feeling guilty and being shamed because I’m apparently a lazy, selfish, out of control glutton. According to our society, being fat is a crime, no excuses, end of story. So it doesn’t matter how good of a person I may be or what I do with my life, the very fact that I am fat apparently gives others the right to belittle and scrutinize every single aspect of my life.

    It’s taken me years to figure out that I’m just as human as the next person, and deserve every opportunity as someone in a more socially acceptable size. Obesity is the symptom of other issues, not the disease itself. People are so conditioned to believe that being a certain dress size or seeing a particular number on the scale is the key to acceptance and happiness, and they’ll do anything to obtain that. Including sacrificing their health, the very ideal that being thin is supposed to represent. But health is the last thing being thin represents, in fact they often have very little to do with each other. Being thin is sexy and powerful; claiming that it’s the epitome of health is just an excuse to use it as bully tactic.

    Through some concerns over my eyes earlier this year, I learned that I was an undiagnosed diabetic for at least ten years. The eye doctor berated me for being an idiot since I was apparently oblivious to such a glaringly obvious condition (the majority of obese patients are diabetic, right?) but I pointed out to him that my current blood sugar numbers looked fine and that I’ve been eating a very nutritious diet for ages (although admittedly in the past I wasn’t properly educated, hence the old, undiagnosed diabetes issue). I don’t think he believed me. I even pointed out that I’ve lost over 100 pounds since I’ve learned healthier habits, but since I’m still 80 pounds over a healthy BMI I’m apparently little more than another one of those fat, stupid Americans that doesn’t know she’s killing herself.

    So . . . my blood sugar looks good, my cholesterol looks good, I eat healthy, I take the stairs over the elevators, I even participated in a cancer walk last weekend and outdid many of the more slender gals . . . but since I’m in plus sizes I must be a lazy glutton that doesn’t deserve equal treatment. And in the meantime the government continues to advocate a “healthy” low-fat diet with a dozen daily servings of carbs, one of the very issues that made me gain an ungodly amount of weight in the first place. Go figure.

    It’s just so easy to feel hopeless when even your doctors write you off; how many people feel losing weight is impossible with so much misinformation out there and turn to extreme procedures (gastric bypass, pills, eating disorders)? I agree that health is very important, and that working toward thinness with a blind eye to everything else is not the answer. But most can’t see beyond that.

    • Linda Strout
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      Karen, the American Diabetes Association states that being overweight does not cause diabetes:

      http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/diabetes-myths/?loc=DropDownDB-myths

      Yes, it can contribute, but there is a whole raft of other considerations. I also think the ‘low fat, high carb’ diet contributed to my diabetes development, although it runs in my family, so I may have developed it regardless.

      I hope you find a better doctor and figure out what is really going on with your eyes.

      • Posted October 3, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

        Hi Linda! Thank you for the info.

        Perhaps I didn’t clarify, but I do think I was diabetic when I was younger, and not as a result of my weight. I believe both my weight and diabetes was the result of the constant rising and falling of my blood sugar, brought on by my every day choices as well as the serving sizes (I didn’t always consciously eat healthy like I currently do and I got particularly bad about ten years ago). It definitely runs in my family as both of my parents were diagnosed with type 2 when they were in their 50′s-60′s. I’m only 36, and I was showing diabetic symptoms more than fifteen years ago. The constant thirst, always looking for a restroom (it became a running joke with my friends), slow-healing wounds, numbness in my limbs, etc. But I felt very self-conscious about my weight (who doesn’t when they’re over 300 lbs.) and with no health insurance, I never went to the doctor to get tested.

        Anyway, I’ve been told I have years of damage to my retinas consistent with those that have uncontrolled diabetes, and I do believe that. But the damage isn’t extensive enough to affect my vision and none of the doctors I’ve seen thus far have any clue what’s really wrong with my eyes (I’m seeing unexplained spots that several retina specialists have yet to explain). It wasn’t what the doctor was initially telling me that ticked me off, it was how he told me. He actually treated it like a guessing game, asking me what I thought was my general issue outside of my eyes, then became extremely condescending about the way I eat. He had no clue how what my lifestyle has been for the past several years and how I’ve improved my numbers, and I know he was basing his lecture on only two things: the fact that my retinas showed the damage, and that I’m fat.

        After that eye doctor dropped that bomb on me, I cancelled my following appointment and will be trying a new one for my next eye check-up. I was also be speaking to a new GP soon to get an A1C and to discuss further concerns with my eyes.

        And thanks. Thus far it seems my spots are at least harmless, since they’ve ruled out flashers.

        • Lil
          Posted October 3, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

          Have you been evaluated for pseudotumor cerebri? It can often cause visual occlusion and what I used to call “sparklies” or spots…basically, your body starts producing too much spinal fluid, and the pressure gets too high, compressing your optic nerve. It is blamed on weight (of course) but they don’t actuallyk now the mechanism that causes it….it can be managed with a medication called Diamox, so don’t believe them if they say that weight loss is the only solution, or try to put you on steroids (both of which happened to me – and you try losing weight on a starvation diet while taking steroids because a doctor tells you you’ll *die* if you don’t lose 80 pounds in 6 months…now that’s fun!).

          • Posted October 4, 2012 at 12:27 am | Permalink

            Lil, thank you for bringing up the pseudotumor cerebri, I’ve never even heard of it so I doubt I’ve been checked for it. I do know I have an usually high amount pressure in my eyes, so when I visit the new ophthalmologist I’ll be sure to bring it up.

            Ugh, I know the feeling with trying to lose weight while on steroids, I’m asthmatic and was on them as a kid. Thanks for all the information and good luck to you!

      • Chris
        Posted October 4, 2012 at 2:14 am | Permalink

        I’ve got type one diabetes, but I totally agree – I reckon the massive low-fat eating craze – which therefore becomes high GI eating – is as much to blame as anything for increased incidences of diabetes.

  51. Jesse
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    I was also one of the many that came across your blog via Upworthy yesterday. Thumbing through your posts for an hour or so yesterday changed my perspective quite a bit on weight, food, health and wellness. For the better.

    I live by the maxim that is the opposite of, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Which is, “If you think something nice about someone, by all means, TELL THEM.”

    You do good work here. Informative, considerate, thought-provoking, funny.

    Thanks.

    Jesse

  52. Jay
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Well I’m someone who prides in being healthy and fit.

    But I don’t think being a jerk to people with an unhealthy weight is how you can help them appreciate the benefits of being at a healthy weight.

    Yes I said it “unhealthy weight”, I find there is too much going on about “it’s ok being fat or you can be fat and healthy”… well, the science does not really show that.

    For one, the more weight you have the more your heart has to work to pump blood in all those uncesserarry fat cells, that alone is not good.

    I don’t think we should teach acceptance of overweight as ok, we see way too much of this and it’s only started because more and more people are overweight (unhealthy) and not it is NOT ok. We should teach what and how to live a healthy lifestyle, if people follow that, they’ll end up with a bodyfat % that is healthy along with proper resistance exercises.

    Bodyfat % should be a baseline as PART of being healthy, not just being small, too many skinny fat girls going around who just don’t eat and also don’t exercise, they are as unhealthy as overweight people.

    Note: I’m not talking about the less than 1% who gain weight because of medical conditions, that’s a whole other topic.

    • Posted October 3, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think we should teach acceptance of overweight as ok, we see way too much of this and it’s only started because more and more people are overweight (unhealthy) and not it is NOT ok.

      It has to be okay, because these people exist already and deserve to be treated like human beings, whether you like their weight or not. It is not your place to go around determining whether it is okay that people weigh a certain amount. That is for them to decide.

    • Posted October 4, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      You wrote: “We should teach what and how to live a healthy lifestyle, if people follow that, they’ll end up with a bodyfat % that is healthy along with proper resistance exercises.”

      That’s not true. Plenty of people who eat nutritiously and exercise regularly have a higher bodyfat % than what the government tells us is appropriate.

      The fact is, most of the time you can’t tell anything about a person’s lifestyle by looking at them.

    • Posted October 8, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think we should teach acceptance of overweight as ok, we see way too much of this and it’s only started

      …yeah, I wouldn’t worry about that. I don’t think we’re in danger of that happening in the near future. Not while weight loss is a $60 billion industry. (Yup, that’s “billion”, with a “b”.)

      We should teach what and how to live a healthy lifestyle, if people follow that, they’ll end up with a bodyfat % that is healthy along with proper resistance exercises.

      Well then, I guess there’s no reason for you to be opposed to Health At Every Size. Of course, oddly enough, people following HAES don’t all get to a BMI <25. This is almost as funny as the commenter on XOJane I saw recently (permalink isn't working, but it's the handle "Rich" commenting on this article) who believed that pretty much anyone could be thin or could prevent becoming fat easily: “I get up and walk around every once in awhile, it’s not that hard.” Because the human body is no more complex than a bomb calorimeter, and doing the same thing always leads to the same result in different bodies.

  53. Posted October 3, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    I’m so glad to have found this website, Michelle. I have been grappling with the issue of stigma in other contexts for ages. I’m of East African origin, and from the 1980s onwards, HIV/ AIDS has been a health crisis in my part of the world. In that context, stigma has reared it’s ugly head and made treatment and support for those living with AIDS and their families a challenge. It has also made the education of the general public difficult.

    One of my favorite bloggers, Melody Moezzi, also writes about stigma in another context: that of living with bipolar disorder: http://www.bphope.com/bphopeblog/post/Duh-Alert!.aspx . Synthesizing all of this (your posts, her posts, the situation back home) makes me realize that one of the biggest obstacles to addressing real problems is stigma. I am truly grateful to people like you for highlighting that.

    I also have an interest in nutrition and am glad to see the perspective you espouse on this blog: the idea of focusing on “behaviour changes (like eating normally) that improve quality of life and health, regardless of weight” makes perfect sense. It also cuts through all the rubbish out there about dieting and weight loss that is really calculated to sell products and make money. I’m sad about the current state of modern medicine. Too many doctors out there do not understand nutrition and don’t offer their patients real help. They simply repeat the cliches that popular culture has handed to them. So I like your back to the basics approach and think the world would be a healthier place if we approached most health-related issues similarly.

  54. Becky
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    This really resonates with me.
    My mom called me out on wanting some food about an hour after dinner.
    In her words I would destroy all my hard work and gain back my weight.
    How do I even respond to that? A strict diet got me 2 kilo of weightloss in a month, but at the same time totally disturbed me. So after 25 days I stopped and started overeating.
    I’m trying to let go of the weight and food obsession, but my mom doesn’t really get it I guess.

  55. Kathy
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Hi Michelle
    I just wanted to say to everyone just finding you. This woman was fantastic, I was a client of hers for several months, until I had a financial glitch, and hope to one day pick back up with our sessions. Spending time with Michelle was one of the most important things I could do for myself and my health. I learned a great deal in my short time with her and it forever changed my view of myself, my body and they way I look at food. Its no longer my enemy.

  56. Beth
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for another great post! This story has really gone crazy, and all the concern trolling annoys me. When will the health/concern trolling stop? Do they think they are fooling anyone except themselves and the other trolls? Why not just admit the truth, that you are a fatphobic jerk, instead of trying to pretend you care about the other person’s health? We know you don’t care about health. The reason we know is because you trolls respond the same way each time. She states she engages in healthy habits, the troll response is that she’s lying or not doing enough. She provides a clean bill of health, the troll response is that it’s inaccurate or she’ll ‘eventually’ get sick. If she were to claim that she’s always been healthy at this size or show studies demonstrating the point that obesity doesn’t equal bad health, the troll response is to just repeat that ‘obesity is bad’, ‘they know fat people who are unhealthy’ and ‘fat is bad.’ Then they’ll sometimes throw in the faulty line claiming that ‘they’re paying for her health care’, which in the US is complete bunk. Bottom line is they don’t care about her health, and know nothing about healthcare and costs associated with it.

    • Posted October 4, 2012 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      People don’t want to admit to themselves that they are engaging in something very ugly and indefensible, so they will always cling to the health argument wherever possible. It allows them to continue feeling like good people when they are acting like bigots.

      • Beth
        Posted October 4, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

        Very true. I’m sure they don’t want to confront the fact that they are demanding that another person change their appearance simply to make them happy. It still baffles me how people can be that narcissistic, though. I’m grateful for your posts though, and that quite a few of the comments are positive. :)

  57. Posted October 3, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    Hi Reagan,

    Have you read Two Whole Cakes by Lesley Kinzel? If you haven’t I’d be happy to send you a copy. It’s very much in line with Lessons From the Fat-o-sphere, but with a bit of memoir thrown in. It’s a quick read.

  58. Raia
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    I am glad to see the ‘overweight’ issue is getting so much interest.
    As a physician, I would have to agree with both sides. Yes, it is never ok to belittle somebody or bully somebody because they are overweight. And, yes, a lot of this does go on in schools, and if we are used to referring to some people as ‘fat second-class citizens’ at home, then our kids go to school and have the same attitude.
    However, it is NOT ok to accept that America is just getting more and more obese with explosion in obesity-related diseases and death. Easily, more than half of my patients are overweight, and my treatment options are limited for severely obese (just being honest here!). Quite a few of my patients have been sent back to me from the surgeons, not being able to get much-needed open-heart surgery, because their risk of surgery is too high due to their weight. Would you rather try to control your weight now, or have to do a crash-diet later when you need life-saving surgery?
    I understand people’s comments about stigmas – and I agree that one needs to accept EVERY person regardless of their weight, skin color, ‘jerkiness’ factor, etc – but can I plead with all these well-meaning commentators – please do not give people, especially children, an impression that being overweight can be just as healthy as having normal weight. IT IS NOT TRUE!
    It is time to look at solutions at the system level to combat the weight explosion in this country (which, among other things, should include less bullying at school so overweight kids would feel more accepted, and therefore would be less depressed and more motivated to accept healthy lifestyle) rather than sing this old mantra ‘I am fat and I am ok’. If you are overweight, you may be ok now, but you will not be ok in 20 years – as a health professional I guarantee it. Sad truth.
    Best of luck to everybody.

    • Posted October 4, 2012 at 7:26 am | Permalink

      However, it is NOT ok to accept that America is just getting more and more obese with explosion in obesity-related diseases and death.

      This is questionable. Additionally, many of the diseases associated with obesity are also, coincidentally, associated with social determinants of health such as socioeconomic status, and persistent cultural bias and stigma.

      Quite a few of my patients have been sent back to me from the surgeons, not being able to get much-needed open-heart surgery, because their risk of surgery is too high due to their weight. Would you rather try to control your weight now, or have to do a crash-diet later when you need life-saving surgery?

      This study suggests there is no additional short-term mortality for obese patients in these situations. though there may be more complications after the fact. But the larger issue is this: when fat people exist, doctors and surgeons need to come up with surgical techniques and other interventions that accommodate these people. The fact that they haven’t is a symptom of the systemic weight bias that exists and permeates everyone in this culture, including health care professionals.

      A crash diet before surgery sounds like a good way to actually increase risk. And since behavioural interventions for weight loss, in general, don’t have a fantastic success rate, how would you suggest fat people go about becoming thin to presumably prevent the need for surgery? Good luck with that. How about just helping people of all sizes to lead good, healthy lives to lower everyone’s risk of heart disease, instead of focusing on weight loss interventions that don’t work? Wow, I think I just blew my own mind.

      please do not give people, especially children, an impression that being overweight can be just as healthy as having normal weight. IT IS NOT TRUE!

      It is actually true. All-caps doesn’t make it not true. Telling children that it’s not okay to be fat may have unintended negative consequences that are far more dire for one’s health than being overweight.

      If you are overweight, you may be ok now, but you will not be ok in 20 years – as a health professional I guarantee it.

      Neither you, or anyone, can “guarantee” anything about anyone’s health, regardless of weight. What a foolish thing to say. This is what Ragen calls “The Vague Future Health Threat” and it is used as a way to keep fat people in line.

      If you’re a doctor, for God’s sake, at least examine your weight bias for the sake of your fat patients.

    • DaynawithaY
      Posted October 4, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

      I call bullshit on your idea that treatment options are limited for fat people. If surgeons can perform stomach amputation surgery on super-fat people, then they should darn well be able to crack open a chest and perform heart surgery, etc.

      I think you are just looking at your fat patients, thinking how sad it must be for them to be fat, wringing your hands, and sending them on their way. How about attempting to advocate FOR your fat patients instead of advocating against them?

      • Raia
        Posted October 7, 2012 at 12:34 am | Permalink

        I appreciate that you posted my response on your blog, and glad to generate discussion. I am not trying to point fingers, I am just pointing out facts as they are. I am very much an advocate for ALL people but I cannot in all honesty tell my patients it is ok to be overweight when all the medical research points to the opposite.

        To Daynawitha – yes, it seems that you have heard about bariatric surgery, and it is true that doctors do suture your stomach up when you are unable to stop eating by yourself (by the way, that is all that this surgery does – suture up your stomach, so you can no longer eat large portions). Clearly the surgeons don’t do it for the looks but for health – so here goes your theory about overweight people being just as healthy as normal weight people. What you may not know (because fortunately it seems you have not needed this surgery), is that all the patients before this surgery will go through thorough preoperative testing to make sure they can survive the surgery. None of my heart patients qualify for that surgery – the surgeon will not take you if you have heart disease. So if you heart disease and you are overweight, you will have fewer options.

        I realize that it would be more convenient to think that there are all sorts of options for overweight people, and doctors should just come up with new treatment methods – and we have built new hospitals with wider hallways, wider doors, bigger beds, bigger wheelchairs, bigger scanners. We used to send overweight patients to the zoo to get scans but now are able to scan people up to 450 lbs (better technology, though of course, we have to use a lot of radiation). Of course, above that, you still will have to go the zoo.
        This all may be difficult for you to hear – and I honestly am not passing judgement, just introducing you to the world that I live in and seems that you are not aware of.
        And I do advocate for my overweight patients :) – yes, even if it is hard for you to believe. I had a patient fairly recently who at 350lbs was turned down by surgeons because of his weight, and in his case, he would have died without surgery in couple of months. I called around to several surgeons and found one who agreed to take high risk patients. But not everybody does (call around, or take high risk patients) – and then the patient dies. I am just saying – would it not be better to prevent that? I also had a 700lbs patient recently who had heart failure because of his weight (the pump we are given by nature will not like it when we try to make it pump blood through 700 lbs instead of the 150lbs as it is supposed to), and he could not move himself in bed. I did help him and actually got 150lbs fluid off him before he left the hospital after a long stay – however, I am not sure if he was eventually able to help himself. He had already had stomach stapling surgery but continued eating so much that he burst his staples – and now with heart disease, he no longer was a candidate for any surgery.
        I hope you realize that I am actually advocating for overweight people here on this blog :). It does not matter to me personally whether I convince anybody here or whether I get nasty comments back – but I do feel sorry for people who read your blog and get a wrong idea about their health status because they don’t know any better and here is an eloquent blog convincing them that they are healthy just the way they are.

        • Raia
          Posted October 7, 2012 at 1:05 am | Permalink

          Michelle,
          I hit ‘post’ after writing the long reply, and then it occurred to me that perhaps I was a little harsh. If so, I do apologize. I really do appreciate the work you do – trying to help people eat healthy, find new ways to accomplish that (find food allergies, etc), and encourage overweight people to have positive self-image. All that is very commendable. I also agree with you about bullying and do wish more people would speak out against it, especially in schools where the kids are young and will form their self-image according to peer pressure.
          I guess I just have a difference of opinion with you as to what is healthy and what is not – but also understand that this may be because I see more extreme cases.
          You don’t have to post this comment if you’d rather not – but are welcome to do so if you wish.
          Raia

        • Posted October 7, 2012 at 9:54 am | Permalink

          Of course I would rather prevent people getting to the point of severe mobility issues and disordered eating and heart disease. But I don’t think our current ways of trying to do that – recommending weight loss to all and sundry through diet and exercise, or surgery – are working to prevent those issues (if they were, you wouldn’t be here having this discussion!) And I’m not the only one who thinks so.

          Many people attempt to lose weight through eating less and exercising, and then regain even more weight when they can no longer tolerate the food restriction, and sometimes begin regaining weight even while still restricting. When the weight loss stops, the healthy behaviours stop too, because that is how human motivation works. Those people sometimes “diet” (weight cycle) themselves up to higher weights beyond what they would have weighed, had they been allowed to learn to eat normally, find enjoyable ways of moving, and accept the “overweight” or “obese” original weight that still allowed them to be mobile and relatively healthy, though perhaps displeasing to the aesthetics of their doctors and people on the street (boo-hoo.)

          What I am saying, and what has been demonstrated in some research, is that self-acceptance, along with behavioural changes that are not focused on weight loss goals, can directly improve people’s health status, and that attempts at weight loss, and internalized stigma, can just as directly harm people’s health.

          Read the First, Do No Harm website. I know this is hard to consider. But if you care as deeply as you seem to about the health and well-being of your very fat patients, you will consider what I (and many other people) are saying about this issue.

          • Raia
            Posted October 7, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

            I actually agree with you on most everything that you just said! :) Maybe I should refer some of my patients to you… :)
            You are right, motivation is the key to healthy lifestyle, and keeping the weight off – and without acceptance of one’s self there will be no such motivation.
            And yes, you are correct, I would not have even posted anything here if “regular diet and exercise” we doctors recommend worked really well.
            Good luck!

        • KellyK
          Posted October 8, 2012 at 11:22 am | Permalink

          If a doctor deliberately chooses to let a patient die (and refusing to do life-saving surgery without attempting to refer to someone who can *is* deliberately choosing to let a patient die, let’s be very honest), why are we viewing it as the patient’s fault and not the doctor’s or the larger system’s?

      • Posted October 7, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

        I think money has a lot to do with that. There’s lots of money to be made on gastric bypass, and because the common narrative is that fat people are stupid and non-compliant, when things go wrong, it gets blamed on the patient. I imagine a malpractice suit for botched heart surgery is a much easier sell than a malpractice suit for botched gastric bypass.

        Also, it doesn’t seem like there are consequences for doctors who refuse to treat fat people. So from a risk standpoint and an “avoiding getting sued” standpoint, it’s better to reject a patient and let them die than to do a surgery that has higher risks (or even is perceived to have higher risks).

        Also, doctors are ranked on their numbers. So taking the lowest-risk patients makes you look like a superstar, while taking higher-risk patients screws up your numbers.

        Basically, it’s a lot less “can’t” and a lot more “won’t.” In some cases, with people who are in very poor health, the “won’t” is probably justified. In others, much less so.

        I’m sure it’s also a vicious cycle. Say a 150-lb person and a 350-lb person both need the exact same surgery, and the 150-lb person gets it within a month of diagnosis. Meanwhile, the 350-lb person has to talk to six different doctors, beg, plead, and/or crash diet, and it takes them six months to get it. Since their condition has had an extra five months to worsen, they’re a higher-risk patient, and that risk is going to be attributed to their weight, when really it was the delay in surgery.

        None of this is to criticize doctors, just to point out that the system seems to put them in a position where the patients’ interests and theirs often don’t lie in the same direction.

    • ksol
      Posted October 8, 2012 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      Raia — I’m an inbetweenie, high overweight (by the BMI) but not obese. I’ve been “overweight” for 20 years easily, weight stable and from a CV and glucose standpoint am disgustingly healthy. Yet my endocronoligist’s office blithely tacks on a “wellness plan” to my patient plan advising me to calorie restrict and increase exercise down to a weight that I haven’t been since I was 24, just off a Divorce Diet, on a Poverty Diet, working a physically active job and skiing five days a week. They do this all without making any attempt to determine what my current level of activity is, or worse, whether I have now or in the past had an eating disorder this “wellness plan” might trigger. This is a problem. If I walk into your office, and your automatic reaction is that I have to lose weight — which is the reaction of many doctors — you could do more harm than good. This is not to minimize the significant issues some people face at higher weights, some of which have been exacerbated through weight loss attempts. But the knee-jerk reaction that everyone over BMI 25 needs to lose weight for the sake of losing weight, rather than simply assessing the person’s habits or whether the weight is even a problem, is making things worse. You can “motivate” people all you want, but some bodies do not respond in the expected way, nor do they necessarily need to. I am not “food-addicted” or lazy, and I maintain a healthy lifestyle — I’m simply a big, solid woman. Faced with me in your office, would you tell me I’m going to die early because I’m not at a weight I haven’t seen since high school except when I engaged in severly disordered eating?

    • Posted October 10, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      For me, this sums up the fallacy at the heart of Raia’s comment:

      “It is time to look at solutions at the system level to combat the weight explosion in this country (which, among other things, should include less bullying at school so overweight kids would feel more accepted, and therefore would be less depressed and more motivated to accept healthy lifestyle) rather than sing this old mantra ‘I am fat and I am ok’. ”

      Buried in this statement is the timeworn lie that if fat people just ate healthy foods and lived a so-called “healthy lifestyle”, they would magically stop being fat. What malarkey! There are millions of fat people out there who eat nutritiously and lead active, healthy lives. They just don’t conform to our society’s standard for health, aka slimness. By the same token, there are millions of slim people out there who smoke, drink, stay out late at night and subsist on crap. Yet they are praised for being healthy simply because their BMI (another load of malarkey) is “correct”.

      I suggest Dr. Raia look up Dr. Steven Blair, the fat exercise physiologist, whose numerous studies and decades of work on health have all shown without a shadow of a doubt that physical activity is *the* predictor of a healthy life. A fat, active person is much better off than a thin, inactive person.

      And, as we should all know, there are so many other factors that determine one’s health status–heredity, the incredibly important social determinants of health, etc. etc.

      I rest my case.

  59. Jack
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    I’m another who found my way here through Upworthy. I’ve always been told that weight loss, of itself, does have positive health affects. This is sort of a big question, but do these weight-health correlations diminish or disappear when corrected for differences in lifestyle? Put another way, how much relative strength do weight and lifestyle each have on our health?

    (For the record, I am already in complete agreement both with your moral statement that a person’s inherent human worth has nothing to do with how they look, and also with your vocational statement that eating better improves an individual’s health regardless of their weight.)

    • Posted October 4, 2012 at 7:07 am | Permalink

      Hi Jack – whether or not you’re in agreement with me, your question was worded nicely, so I appreciate that. It’s a good question. The review article that I keep referring to (not because it’s the only article available, but because it is quite comprehensive and one of the best) (and which no one seems to have taken the time to read) states:

      I quoted this earlier, and I think it at least touches on your question:

      While it is well established that obesity is associated with increased risk for many diseases, causation is less well-established. Epidemiological studies rarely acknowledge factors like fitness, activity, nutrient intake, weight cycling or socioeconomic status when considering connections between weight and disease. Yet all play a role in determining health risk. When studies do control for these factors, increased risk of disease disappears or is significantly reduced [61]. (This is less true at statistical extremes.) It is likely that these other factors increase disease risk at the same time they increase the risk of weight gain.

      The Cooper Institute has published a few studies that indicate that aerobic fitness is more important than weight in determining a person’s health.

      Further, if weight loss – or even fat loss specifically – all by itself, and without the aid of the behavioural improvements (like exercise and improved diet) were responsible for health benefits, then interventions like liposuction should improve people’s metabolic health. But they don’t, which tells us that weight loss, in isolation from behaviour changes, may not be all that helpful.

      While many short-term weight loss intervention studies do indicate improvements in health measures, because the weight loss is always accompanied by a change in behavior, it is not known whether or to what extent the improvements can be attributed to the weight loss itself. Liposuction studies that control for behavior change provide additional information about the effects of weight (fat) loss itself. One study which explicitly monitored that there were no changes in diet and activity for 10-12 weeks post abdominal liposuction is a case in point. Participants lost an average of 10.5 kgs but saw no improvements in obesity-associated metabolic abnormalities, including blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol, or insulin sensitivity [98]. (Note that liposuction removes subcutaneous fat, not the visceral fat that is more highly associated with disease, and these results should be interpreted carefully.)

      (Above is quoted from the review article linked first in this comment.)

  60. JeniseMarie
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    I too found this site via the news anchor’s clip…loved her, and love you (all of you!)

    Growing up being bigger than your classmates is something that I have loads of experience with. I was a healthy, active (every sport and activity under the sun) child and when I hit 8, I just gained weight. We weren’t the worst eaters in the world…ate 3 square a day…not always snacking (although yes, I do have a sweet tooth)…I was bullied so harshly through school…all the way up till my senior year (grade 12 for those of you who live in Canada like me!) The kids even gave me my own theme song…it was humiliating! Doctors visits and specialists and trips to the children’s hospital all showed nothing wrong with me…except for allergies…and then at 15…BAM! I was diagnosed with PCOS…and told that my odds have having children one day were “slim to none”.

    Well here I sit…almost 30…having just gotten married…and now are working on the fertility issues that PCOS is known to cause. I had to demand my doctor put me on Metformin to help with the insulin resistance that goes along with PCOS (since this can throw ovulation right off)…because her response was “I won’t even discuss family planning with you till you’ve lost at least 50lbs”. My husband and I are still trying…I’m being mindful of what I put in my body (read: not going for the sweet stuff all the time) and yes…I know it would probably help to loose a little weight…but when I’m trying so very hard to do so, end up in her office in tears only to be told that I need to now count my calories, not eat more than 1500 in a day…and that will do the trick because “there’s no magic pill I can give you”…yeah.

    Why is it that there is such a stigma amongst the health professionals against plus size women and pregnancy? And health for that matter? I have been tested regularly since I was young…my sugars/glucose are PERFECT, cholestorol is PERFECT…only slight blip I get every now and then (depending on how stressful my day has gone) is a slightly elevated blood pressure…but then who of us doesn’t!?!

    Thank you for this site…reading all the comments as well really makes a girl feel like she’s not alone in the path she is on…Loving yourself takes effort some days…and I’m thankful that I’m finally able to say that I do…and the best part is…so does my husband…he was worth the 25 year wait! ;)

    Keep up the good work! I’ll be back often!

    ps: having lived in the US and Canada…I too know about milk in jugs and milky ways…and Cherry Coke! LOL!

    • Posted October 4, 2012 at 8:30 am | Permalink

      I think you would probably get a lot of good information out of reading this blog – http://wellroundedmama.blogspot.ca/ – it discusses pregnancy and weight and the bias doctors have. I think they talk about fertility too.

      You are definitely not alone – there’s actually a fairly significant community of people agitating for fat acceptance. Thank you for the encouragement. And I love how I have to buy Cherry Coke at the import store here :)

  61. Kat
    Posted October 4, 2012 at 3:50 am | Permalink

    Hello there,
    I am a naturally skinny girl who has struggled with being called BOTH fat AND anorexic my whole life. I feel women are damned in this arena no matter what as our bodies are considered public property for anyone to judge as they see fit, and our mothers often make things worse by reflecting their own insecurities onto us. Like many others, I found you through upworthy. I am vegan, and I do yoga, and I do my best to stay fit and healthy, but I don’t starve myself and I do enjoy vegetable-based fats. I think they are helpful with reducing inflammation. But I am not here to give advice, I am hardly the picture of health: I am only in my late 20′s, but I have struggled with degenerative spinal disease all my life, and now struggle with renal failure after a terrible infection following a back surgery. I believe that you should be the healthiest you can be, and not let others define health for you, although it took me years to get to this place.
    Which is why some of the comments just shocked me. The last thing ANYONE (obese or otherwise) needs is shaming. There is soooo much pressure on all of us, and none of us lives up to the Photoshopped and made-up standard of beauty put forth by the media. And you really CAN’T tell how healthy someone is just by looking at them or even a few of their habits- I am proof of that. I do still have some of my own issues surrounding food and weight that I’d like to get rid of. I think “fat” is the go-to insult in our society, for ourselves and others, when we want to express the absolute horribleness of a human, regardless of their size. I would like to end the tyranny of that, in my mind at least.
    I plan to continue checking back with this blog. I think you do some amazing work. I am sorry a few people who came here just don’t seem to get it, and came out with accusatory “questions” and “concern” instead of an open mind to learn.

    • Posted October 4, 2012 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      I completely agree – women’s bodies are treated as public property. Women are criticized for being too fat, or too thin, or too human, or too air-breathing, or too food-eating, or whatever. Thanks for coming here and giving me your support.

  62. Posted October 4, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    “Our bodies and the status of our health are not public property. Our existence is not open to debate or discussion.”

    How can an issue which is related to federal policies, economic policies, national health costs, and medical research not be a topic for public discussion?

    McDonalds would love America to love being fat.

    • Posted October 11, 2012 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      In that case, every single person’s body and existence is then up for debate, since every single person’s body has issues which may be related to federal policies, national health costs, and medical research.

      There is this wonderful thing called “informed consent” and also “confidentiality.” It means that your health and the way your body works, on an individual level, is actually no one’s business but yours and your health care provider’s. I have no idea why this is such a difficult concept for people, mostly supposedly individualist, personal-freedom-loving Americans, to understand. Is it because you are all secret little proto-fascists? I’m beginning to wonder.

      And you’re talking to a fat person who actually doesn’t eat at McDonald’s because I don’t live anywhere near one, and haven’t for about eight years. So I’m sure McD’s couldn’t care less about whether I like being fat or not.

  63. Erin
    Posted October 9, 2012 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Hello there-

    I understand what you’re about and am actually glad that there is a different body type representing people in the public eye.

    I however have had disastrous results from gaining weight. About a year ago I got a Mirena IUD put in. At that time I was also training to become a volunteer fire fighter and weighed in between 140-150 pounds. By Christmas I was a solid 165. I couldn’t ski well and had the frustration on having to quit long before I wanted to, and seeing a much fatter friend than I go waaaay longer (he’s packing a keg, but just moves it along with him in whatever he does. He’s a powerhouse) By February my knees were hurting and I couldn’t go upstairs without being winded or in pain. I experienced acid reflux for the first time. By the time I got to 175 and then nearly 180, things were at the point where I wondered where “my” body went.

    Please understand that my lifestyle and my diet had not changed. I ate organic as much as possible, tried to go with good fats whenever possible, and made much of my food from scratch, as I don’t have the money to indulge in prepackaged foods.

    I cleaned up my diet even more. Put in many more veggies and dark leafy greens. Joined a TRX club led by a personal trainer (I am sore right now as we speak). This was in July. I am still 175, but I don’t have the knee issues so much. My back pain is subsiding slowly. I keep moving because I know it will only get worse if I don’t, and there are several other people heavier than me that are doing it.

    I am growing to accept that 175 may be my number until it’s time to take that IUD out. I have never been sizist, and didn’t worry about things until it impacted my ability to do things. I’m concentrating on doing my best right now, strengthening my body to protect my joints and support this extra weight, and above all, trusting myself and my body to do what’s right for me.

    That said- I can see why others come to generalizations. I know of a woman on synthroid, over 300 pounds, that continue to eat portions twice what they really need. Tablespoons of butter are slathered on bread and the ability to move and function is a fight. She claims to want better health, and I’m sure she really does, but eating to alieve the mental pain of being rejected and labelled inferior is what is holding her back and leads to what others would call a lack of discipline. There are times it disgusts me, but I realize that it’s MY reaction to MY health and what gaining wieght has done to MY body. It has nothing to do with her or her worth. That’s her job, not mine, to judge whether or not she is a goid person. She has her own choices to make. At some point she may decide the confort of all that food is not worth the physical effects on her body, and she’ll insist her doctor to put her on medication that works better for her so her energy’s not so low in the adternoon. Whatever she does do, I hope she learns to really accept herself for who she is, as she’s fairly insecure, and THAT makes for a far more dangerous issue- mental happiness is directly related to health, stress, and the ability to make your way forward in the world. Far more than that number on the scale or the size on a pair of pants.

    I’ll continue to struggle until I get to the point where I feel functional again. Just yesterday I bought a few size 14 skirts, and looked at the belly fat I’ve never had before. Last year, at this time, I was in an 8. I’ll look forward to being strong again, with this wieght or not. My greatest terror is that I’ll not be able to have or keep up with the future kids my wonderful man and I want to have. I am not healthy at the moment and I’m trying to fix it.

    I think that’s what people who hate on fat people should realize- and piling on the mental abuse doesn’t help- it just distorts behavior so that food and a person’s fat is either comfort or a control mechanism instead of helping that person find their ideal weight for their health.

    • ksol
      Posted October 9, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      Erin — I tend to believe that a healthy body, left to its own devices, maintains a reasonably steady weight and that if it does not, someone needs to look for a reason other than “sloth and gluttony.” Like you, I have had times where my body did not feel like my own thanks to medical issues. Gaining weight rapidly, as you have and as I did, is definitely not the same experience as being weight-stable at a larger size.

      It frustrates me to no end to hear so many stories of people gaining weight rapidly and simply having doctors tut-tut at them rather than looking for reasons, when there is no way, if they were presented with someone who was losing weight unexpectedly, they would chalk that up to bad habits.

      I do not know your friend’s situation fully, but I do have a hard time when someone refers to how much food someone else “needs.” It’s perhaps my own baggage here. I do not count calories or portions, so I don’t know exactly, but I have a good idea it’s pretty substantial. Someone from the outside might cluck their tongue over how I am eating more than I “need” and that I am somehow food-addicted or binge eating. Nope and nope. Just a big, active, moderately muscular girl who eats when she’s hungry and eats enough to be full. I’m like the Hulk: don’t make me hungry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m hungry. ;-)

      First aside: I have been on the thyroid-go-round, and my experience was that many doctors will tell you you’re fine with a high-normal number even if you are having hypothyroid symptoms. I was exhausted for no reason, gaining weight and going through gallons of hand cream and hair conditioner, but they kept telling me I was fine. Or I was just depressed — yep, it’s pretty depressing when you have NO energy. If your friend is in the same boat, she may want to try to get re-assessed.

      Second aside: I don’t know what options they gave you when you got Mirena, but women should know there are non-hormonal IUDs available that work well for those of us that hormones do not treat well.

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