health at every size

Shaking the Tree of Disordered Eating

treeeatingdisorderAt some point in my life I started to challenge my fundamental belief that my self-worth is tied to how much I weigh. I believed that if I lost weight I was good. If I gained it I was bad. That might sound ridiculous, but I share this belief with millions of people. Ask a friend if she can relate to this, my bet is she can. We are sent thousands of messages each day confirming this idea. I sit in a room full of FABULOUSLY BRILLIANT women 9 hours every week talking about removing this core belief from the shelves of our souls and chucking it into the ethereal compost bin. I can’t get the Peter Gabriel song Shaking the Tree out of my mind. That’s what we are doing, shaking the tree of disorder and throwing away the rotten fruit. This core value, core belief is not fair, it is not true, and it is deadly.

Our culture praises weight loss and thinness and loathes fat. Imagine someone saying, “Your ass looks so much bigger in those jeans than it did last week.” How do you think that would go over? But for some reason the opposite statement is ok. We justify it by talking about the health impacts of weight, makes us feel all “doctor like” as we criticize someone else’s food choices and weight gain. If I lose weight, it doesn’t mean I am healthy, it could mean I have cancer! But ultimately, it is my body, my business.

I don’t know a thing about how healthy you are based on what size you wear. I don’t know your blood sugar, A1C, blood pressure, cholesterol levels or when you had your last period just by looking at you. Are there negative consequences to being overweight? Yes and there are medical professionals available to help you. I don’t happen to be one. It can also be dangerous to be underweight which is why there are health professionals for that too. Call one. Please. Quickly.

A couple of years ago when my blood sugar levels were getting dangerously close to pre diabetic, my doctor advised me to lose weight. She told me it was easy, I just needed to keep the carbs out of the house. In that moment I almost lost. I was dejected, I knew I had an eating disorder but I had already “dealt” with it. My doctor, my trusted advisor had invalidated my struggle. It was so simple, why couldn’t I just do it? I kept going up and down and up and down with weight loss and gain. I am fortunate she saw my despair and put me in touch with mental health professionals for eating disorders.

With that I ask you to remember that giving weight loss and dieting tips to someone with disordered eating is like giving an open case of beer to an alcoholic. Just don’t.

Resources and Links:

  • Ascend CHC offers the Midwest’s most comprehensive behavioral health treatment.
  • Insight Behavioral Health Centers provide specialized treatment for eating disorders, mood and anxiety disorders and obesity at five Chicago, Illinois treatment centers.
  • Dr. Lisa Oldson “…an Obesity Medicine physician coming from a Primary Care background, I understand the impact of obesity on health as well as on self-esteem, employment, relationships, mood and productivity.”

I’m still fat–back to the root of it all

I shared the blog a few days ago with a colleague.  She was so down and out about life and weight and her doctor….I remembered myself from a few years ago.  Scared to go to the doctor, scared to not diet.  I know the statistics, I read about them every day in the mainstream media.  Next to the gulf oil spill, the fat epidemic is the hottest news story out there.  “HOW BIG IS YOUR FAT?”  “HOW THICK IS YOUR NECK” “FAT PEOPLE ARE SUPER SUPER UNHEALTHY”

I’ll not spend too much time talking about this issue.  Anyone who knows me or comes here to read knows that I am over the fat frenzy.  The diet talk and calorie counting makes me sleep.  But I understand, there are those out there who have yet to read about the benefits of Health at Every Size.  For that reason, I repost.  Here are some links.  There are tons out there.  Just look around for it.  Here are the links:

A study done by the USDA…very interesting.

  • Health at Every Size–Linda Bacon’s Page

  • Health at Every Size: Toward a New Paradigm of Weight and Healtharticlet on Medscape

  • Remember the mantra……………………………….

    And remember the mantra:

    • I am not what I eat…I’m what I do and what I say.
    • I am not how much I weigh or how much I’ve gained or how much I’ve lost.
    • Changing my shape and size isn’t going to make me happy, however, may make me poor, as I will have to buy new clothes.
    • Having happy thoughts about me, you and the world will make me a better person.
    • I respectfully decline to discuss your size, my size, her size or his size in any way…unless it makes you or me laugh and isn’t hurtful to anyone.
    • I will eat what I want, and move on—slowly or quickly depends on what I ate.
    • Being healthy doesn’t mean being thin.  Being fat doesn’t mean unhealthy.


    Gotcha!!!  NO, there is no baby in my belly, however, a drunk neighbor congratulated me last week.  I was so confused I had no idea why I was being congratulated.  Of course she blamed it on the wind blowing my sweater away from my body, then she blamed it on her consumption of a bottle of “MERLOT!” (spoken with a slur)  Her announcement didn’t faze me at all.  It clearly made the rest of the folks hanging out in the alley drinking feel bad for me.  (man, the images you must have of me and my neighbors…)  I am not embarrassed about the way I look.  My body is mine and I am happy with the way it is right now.  I may have nervous breakdowns about parenting, bills, pressure, but nothing about the way I look makes me feel uncomfortable, unless my pants are unzipped and I don’t know it.

    My Mantra….revisited for 2010

    After a couple of years of posting to the blog and changes in my life, this is where I am.  This blog is evolving.  Initally I created this to write about my struggles with self loathing and size acceptance.  I viewed myself as an activist for fat people of the word.  While I still struggle to be better (than what?) I have begun to reverse my own ideas of dieting culture.  I am less caught up when people comment on thier own weight, how much they eat and how many pants sizes they drop or gain.   As I have changed, so must the blog.  Evolve with me.  Welcome 2010 with my big happy body.  This is my new Mantra…. 

    • I am not what I eat…I’m what I do and what I say.
    • I am not how much I weigh or how much I’ve gained or how much I’ve lost, and I’m going to try damn hard not to be embarrassed if the direction doesn’t make me smaller. 
    • Changing my shape and size isn’t going to make me happy, however, may make me poor, as I will have to go shopping.
    • Having happy thoughts about me, you and the world will make me a better person.
    • I respectfully decline to discuss your size, my size, her size or his size in any way…unless it makes you or me laugh and isn’t hurtful to anyone.
    • I will eat what I want, and move on—slowly or quickly depending on what I ate.
    • Being healthy doesn’t mean being thin.  Being fat doesn’t mean unhealthy.

    Call 2009 my + 1 year

    The other night I was drawn to thoughts of the blog I created and haven’t kept up. Sorry this has been the case. I feel a little guilty writing about this topic since my mantra and much of the content has shifted in the past few months. My attempts at remaining active and healthy have become lame excuses for not working out and eating.  The year hasn’t been a complete loss though.  I have learned some lessons, made some new friends and gained some things (pounds, years and pant sizes)  It’s been a plus one year all around.  Here are a few things I learned this year. 

    1. Somtimes, people throw rocks at you.
    2. Biking to work is one of the funnest, best ways to excercise. (Now STOP SNOWING!!)
    3. You can get bigger than your biggest fat pants.
    4. I still get surprised when people call me names, to be specific, ass and bitch.
    5. Reconnecting with old friends isn’t always a good thing.  Most time you realize you didn’t have anything in common in the first place.   
    6. The Wii Fit is completely ineffective if you never use it.
    7. Sometimes mantras have to be rewritten because I can’t get my ass off the couch.
    8. I can’t keep my knees together.
    9. Midway and O’hare both have Delta…but they fly different places.
    10. If I don’t drive them all crazy first, friends and family are the best things I’ve got going for me.

    I’ll be ringing in the new year with a bottle of bubbly and some great apps.  Thinking of ways to move it next year.  Till then….Happy New Year to all of you.

    Revisiting the Mantra in 2009 + More on my short fat haircut

    1/2 year into this blog thing. I’ve had 5500 visits. Many repeats, some newbies, some meanies, some people curious about health at every size, but most people curious about my short fat haircut.  I’ve learned that many of us out there who fall into this thinking that–

    “Because I am fat I can’t _______ (fill in the blank)” 

    When I started the blog last year, I spent a long time thinking about my mantra. I was new to this thinking, new to actually accepting who I am.  I wrote this little ditty, MY MANTRA! 

    • I am not how much I weigh or how much I’ve gained or how much I’ve lost.
    • I am not what I eat…I’m what I do and what I say.
    • Changing my shape and size isn’t going to make me happy.
    • Changing the way I feel about my body/myself will.
    • I respectfully decline to discuss your size, my size, her size or his size in any way.
    • I will eat what I want, and move on.
    • I swim, bike, or run every day…being healthy doesn’t mean being thin.
    • I embrace my body as a part of me.

    I still believe those words.  I’ve been a little lax on the swim, bike run thing.  But, I am working my way back up to more than 3 times a week. 

    As I go into 2009 here are some things I am thinking about and some things I want to work on.

    1.  I want to do things that help my health. 

    2.  I want to work out and I want to have more conscious eating experiences.

    3.  I want to talk to people more about losing weight about how it makes people feel both losing and gaining. 

    4.  I want to rock the shopping world by confronting shops and stores who don’t have clothing for people who look like me.

    5.  I want to have fun at the events I do (triathlons and other competitions)

    6.  Finally, I want to write about the things that inspire you, make you feel less alone, make you laugh or simply make you make fun of me.

     Here’s to 2009..keeping it short and sassy!

    Back in my fat pants again!

    Sorry guys, I have been out of the writing mode lately.  The holidays have offiically taken over my life.  From baking cookies every weekend to deciding that I wanted to make Christmas gifts for my tri girls (what was I thinking?)  My life has been consumed.  Oh, let’s not forget the evenings of TV.  So, these aforementioned activities have lead to nothing less than, my fat pants.  Yes folks, I am here to say that sitting on your butt, eating cookies not working out, does get you into the big girl pants.  So, another day tomorrow, another cookie perhaps as well, but I hope to at least add a short jog or swim to those events. 

    Here is to a happy holiday to all of you.  May you feel good about who you are, where you are no matter what size pants you’r wearin!

    The fat doctor update–Can Health at Every Size really help me be healthy?

    Many of you have asked what has transpired  since the post related to the fat doctor.  I thought I would flush this out today as it has really weighted on my brain lately.  A couple of weeks ago, I actually followed up on my personal promise to myself to get into the doctor’s office.  I SO didn’t want to go that morning.  I just felt like it was going to be a difficult situation and I wasn’t entirely sure how to deal with it.  But, I did go.

    I waited in the reception room like normal when finally a nurse calls me to the back.  She immediately walks me over to the scale.  I politely tell her that “I am not weighing today.”  She doesn’t miss a beat or even blink, but walks me into the doctor’s office.  She takes by BP, which is still higher than normal, tells me to get undressed and has me wait for the doctor.  I wait and she starts tearing through the paperwork.  Finally though, she looks baffled and says, why don’t we have your weight in here.  I tell her, “Dr. ______ we talked about this in an e-mail.  I prefer not to be weighted unless you find is medically necessary or life threatening.”  Oh yeah, she says and we continue on through the exam. 

    The only issues that come out of the visit are the following:

    My blood pressure is really high enough that I should go on medication.   We are going to wait a month, just in case something changes, but given that I work out like I do AND I am not going to “diet” any longer, the alternative is medication.  It does bum me out, I don’t want to be on drugs for the rest of my life, but there really isn’t another solution for me.

    My cholesterol blood test results came in worse than last year.  My HDL was a little low and my LDL was a little high.  She wants to test me on that again in September.  This one for me is more tricky than the blood pressure issue.  To me, this seems like a direct result of my diet, it isn’t because I am too fat, it isn’t because I don’t work out enough.  It is because of what I eat.  Which leads me to the question and concern of diet.  What if bacon and eggs really do need to be off the list of eaten foods.  A year ago my cholesterol levels were within normal range, now they aren’t. 

    Can I still be healthy in the the Health at Every Size, no diet movement?

    Letter to my size friendly doctor

    I sat down with my counselor a few weeks ago struggling with the idea that I really need to get into my doctor’s office for a physical.  The last time I was there I was down 15 pounds from the previous visit, but still had higher than desired blood pressure.  On top of that, I believe I have actually put some weight on since then.  My counselor sort of put me in check by stating the obvious contradiction….I need to get to the office to check on the status of my health, but I won’t go to the office because I am afraid I am not healthy enough.  Of course after thinking about this, I realize the absurdity of it all.  So, armed with some encouragement from her and a damn good sample of a letter to a doctor from Hanne Blank I was armed with tools to write the following letter:

    I have been doing a lot of personal growth work lately…not to sound too Oprahish. I continue to work out 5 – 6 times a week, I completed 2 triathlons last summer, this summer I am registered for two more and perhaps a mini marathon by the years end. However, I am about 4 months overdue on my annual physical. It is baggage that I have been carrying with me for a while now. The reason I have delayed the appointment month after month is my concern that I have not lost enough weight to actually put a dent in my blood pressure levels. In fact, the reason I can’t muster the courage to come into your office is because I am still fat and I don’t want to discuss my weight.

    In February I decided I needed to talk to someone about my issues with eating. I have been seeing a counselor at the Family Institute for a few months now who has me questioning a lot about health, weight and food. She has introduced me to a movement called Health at Every Size. It is an approach to health that focuses on intuitive eating and physical activity rather than dieting or weight loss. That said, I need to come in for an appointment, to get a general check up and to get some blood work done for sugars, cholesterol, blood pressure, etc. Before I make my appointment though, I wanted to say that I prefer NOT to be weighed when I come into the office. I spent most of my childhood and teenaged years completely focused on my weight. I had to be weighed weekly and was punished when I didn’t lose enough weight in a given timeframe. The whole weigh in experience is traumatic, very depressing and I feel like crap for weeks afterward. If there is a pressing medical reason that I should be weighed, please talk to me about it….

    I‘d like to hear what you think about this. You motivated me to quit smoking…now I’d like to have you as partner in my quest for self acceptance, increased physical activity and normalized eating (without dieting).

    So, stay tuned for the response from the doctor….

    How would you have handled this?

    Do you have any resources with lists of doctors who are size friendly??