sarahmichigan: (Default)
I was really excited to see Judith Matz, director of the Chicago Center for Overcoming Overeating, writing an article for Psychotherapy Networker about intuitive eating and non-dieting, especially since psychologists and other mental health professionals have just as many (or more) prejudices against fat people and misconceptions about why people are fat and/or overeat as the general public.

In Consultation: Beyond the Diet Mentality

x-posted to [ profile] no_more_diets
sarahmichigan: (Default)
There's lots of good posts in the fat-o-sphere today about No Diet Day, but I particularly liked this one, as it was brief, got to the point quickly and has good links:

A few other good ones here, here and here.
sarahmichigan: (Default)
More articles published:

How do cats get worms?
How water gets to your house
How does the volumetric diet work?**
About Psychology Careers

**If I was being snarky, I would have answered, "About as well as other diets, which is not very good at all for long-term weight loss." However, out of all the diets around, I think the volumetric diet is the closest to being sensible, and it's actually pretty close to how I -- ideally-- try to eat. Lots of low-energy density foods are really high in fiber and nutrients while being low in fat and calories, so it's a reasonably healthy way to eat. It's just the focus on weight-loss I disagree with.

sarahmichigan: (fitness)
1. I've mentioned we did some house renovations/fix-ups in previous posts. J. did a nice post in words and photos, with bonus pictures of the Cutest Cat in Our House here.

2. I enjoyed the inauguration party some friends hosted last night. They had hamburgers, hotdogs and apple pie for an all-American meal. We brought veggie burgers and potato salad and many other yummy side dishes were contributed by others. And champagne while we watched the re-play of the ceremony.

I can understand why my conservative or libertarian friends and acquaintances might not be thrilled with Obama, but I have a harder time understanding the bitter criticisms from some of my progressive friends. I don't think Obama shoots rainbows out of his butt or anything, but he's a big improvement. I'm not crazy about some of his picks for cabinet, not crazy about Rick Warren to lead a prayer at the inauguration and I have other nitpicks. But I don't want to hear any bullshit about the political parties all being the same, because they aren't. "Not different enough as I'd hope for" is not the same as "No difference." I listened to a bit of Obama's "The Audacity of Hope" as a book on CD, and it made me optimistic about having a Constitutional scholar in the White House. I imagine I'll disagree with him from time to time in the next 4 years, but overall, I'm pretty freaking thrilled.

3. Freelancing just picked up in a big way this month, and now, my office job may want to offer me some additional hours. Someone who had been working the web content part-time quit for a full-time job, and I may be able to pick up additional hours and additional pay while being able to do it from home. That'd be sweet. I'll take what I can get while things are flush, because you never know when those kind of opportunities will dry up...

4. A friend asked on her journal, "What does your weight mean to you?' It's something I've been thinking about a fair amount, largely because it's New Year's Resolution time, and there's stuff about getting rid of your belly and finally finding that right diet for you in the media, plus some friends and acquaintances (real life and LJ) are starting new diets of various kinds. This is what I said in response to her question:

"Rationally, my weight is neutral info. It indicates if I'm stressy or if I'm working out a lot. Unexplained weight loss/weight gain *may* indicate an underlying medical condition.

Non-rationally, my weight is an indication of whether I'm doing it "right." If I'm on the low end of my usual weight range, I'm being righteous. If I'm at the top or go over the top of the usual range, I must be doing something "wrong." Years of conditioning are hard to overcome, even when you're a dedicated fat-pozzer."

I've been about in the same weight range since I stopped dieting about 7 years ago. Since leveling off, I would swing up about 3 pounds, then down 5, but I was always somewhere between 201 and 208. Occasionally, like when I was having a rough time with hypo, I'd go above the range, and other times when I was super active, I dropped down to 199 or 200. But I was fairly rock steady 99 percent of the time in that range. Then, last year, I had 7 or 8 pounds creep up on me, above the top of the range. My weight started fluctuating in a higher range, between 212 and 217.

It's been hard to not see that as a "failure" on my part. I wanted to blame it on some underlying health condition, but all my labs are fine and I'm actually feeling pretty good in general. Then, I blamed it on being less active after the cold weather set in, but the initial gain happened in mid 2008 when I was the most active I've ever been in my life.

Instead of deciding I need another weight-loss diet to "fix" the problem, I've finally decided to get back to fat-acceptance/body-positive basics though. No scales for the last 2 months or so. I even turned backward on the scale at the doctor's office and asked not to be told what I weighed. A few of my pants are a little tight, and I plan to pick up one or two new pair on clearance or from a second-hand store. I want to get back into a regular exercise routine, not in hopes of losing weight, but in hopes of managing stress and anxiety and improving my health overall.

I'm pretty clear that losing weight and keeping it off long-term is not the right focus for me (or 98 percent of other humans). So, it's back to the basics of HAES. I want to focus on eating in ways that makes me feel good (from scratch, lots of fruits and veggies) and putting some fun back in my workouts. Not really a resolution, here, just a re-focusing.

sarahmichigan: (Default)

1. Because of our diet and weight loss culture, I think many people drastically UNDERestimate how many calories they need to maintain. There's this idea that the "right" amount of calories for a moderately active adult (not a teenager, and not a senior) woman is around 1,800 and that's not considered a diet. A weight-loss diet, most people think, is restricting to somewhere between 1,200 to 1,600 calories a day (only less if you're really on a drastic diet, and you probably can't get all your vitamins and minerals without supplements on that few calories). From the calculations I've been researching, I could, on my most sendentary days, probably eat 2,100 calories and maintain or even lose weight. On days when I hit the gym for my 55-60 minute workouts, I could probably eat between 2,500-2,800 calories and maintain my current weight. I generally eat less than 1,000 calories by noon, and that includes breakfast, lunch, and a mid-morning snack. No wonder I'm so hungry in the middle of the afternoon and often half-way through my post-job workout. I am thinking of trying to eat more hearty breakfasts and lunches and see how that goes.

2. I read that the working class reaction to food acquisition is to get the most calories you can for your money, while middle/upper class people have a different relationship to food acquisition. There may be a relation between this mentality and super-sizing of fast food, and the tendency of restaurants that cater to the working class to serve big portions, while ritzy restaurants serve smaller portions with better quality ingredients. I definitely think that my brain is wired for "get the most calories you can, and cheaply!" I find myself wanting to take advantage of any offer of free food in the office. Even if I don't eat it right then, I will often squirrel something away in my munchie drawer for later, just in case. That means I don't have to put money in the vending machine later if I'm hungry. Free food! Whee! I've gotten better at doing this only with foods that actually appeal to me. I'm less likely to eat food I don't actually care for just because it's there, unless I'm really famished.

3. In Dale Carnegie's "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living," one technique he mentions is living in "day-tight compartments." Just focus on the day, and let tomorrow take care of itself. This, I think, is good advice. Of course, Buddhists, New Agers, and others who are interested in meditation and "mindfulness" will tell you the ideal is to focus on each second, not just each day, to "Be Here Now." That's good advice, but I think the best thing that works for me is somewhere in between. I need to focus on the next one to five minutes, usually, unless I have a really big block of time set up for something. In the morning, for instance, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by all the stuff I have to do to get ready for work, and I even think further ahead to all the things I have to do at work and then after work. If I can focus on, "OK, what's the immediate next step, or maybe two steps?" then I feel a lot less overwhelmed and anxious. First I need to finish dressing. Then I make my coffee. Then, I feed the cat. Then, I pack my lunch. Then, I eat breakfast. If I live in five-minute-tight compartments, that usually works best for me. I find that once I get into the 'flow' of a task, I can focus on it and not think ahead to worrying about all the things I need to do later that day.

sarahmichigan: (Default)
I posted a couple days back my thoughts on fat acceptance/size acceptance activism and how it is not compatible with the pursuit of weight-loss through dieting.

I do have several folks on my FL who are pursuing weight loss through Weight Watchers or other forms of food restricting, exercise, weight-loss surgery or some combination of those things, and I love those people dearly and love many of their posts, even some of the ones that mention weight loss as a primary goal.Read more... )

There's too much Us vs. Them in the world already, and regardless of whether you're doing Jenny Craig or getting lapband surgery, if you believe that fat people shouldn't be treated like shit and that maybe the whole War on Obesity is a little out of control, we're really on the same side.
sarahmichigan: (Default)

CB: You disagree with the majority of weight experts. They tell us that overweight is one of the leading causes of premature death, for instance from heart attacks, but also from diabetes and other diseases. Why do you disagree?

LB: I disagree because I have looked at the evidence. Reputable studies, published in well-respected, peer-reviewed journals, actually show that people in the "overweight" category live longer than those in the "normal" weight category.

CB: And what makes you sure that you are right and they are wrong?

LB: My experience from having worked closely with many obesity researchers who are more conventionally-minded than me is that they are so strongly mired in their assumptions, that they don't look at the evidence. Those that willingly engage, change their beliefs. The evidence is quite convincing.

x-posted all over the damn place
sarahmichigan: (Default)
Growing children need fat, including sat fat, in their diets. Up to 35 percent of calories from fat is perfectly fine for toddlers and even teenagers. And adult women have a slightly higher need for fat in the diet than men do. Interesting stuff in this age of hysteria over dietary fat:
sarahmichigan: (Default)
I was reading about these guys in a (not very positive) article in a women's health magazine recently:

Boy, way to hit most of my major buttons! Weight loss talk that says all fat people are gluttons! Conservative fundamentalist Christianity! Corporal punishment and/or physical abuse of children!

Ick, ick, ick...

As I've said to a few friends, eating is one of the few "vices" that fundies have left after you take away drugs, drinking, pre-marital sex, dancing, and gambling. Let the poor buggers have their food!
sarahmichigan: (Default)
So, I hate changing doctors because unless I only go to doctor's on the "Fat Friendly Professional" list (great resource, but there aren't that many in this area on that list), I never know what the doctor's ideas about fat and food and dieting are going to be like.

I lucked out with my last doctor (who, maybe unrelatedly, was pudgy herself) who mentioned that I had gained a few pounds since my last visit the year before, but never made a big deal of my weight.

I switched docs, mainly because I didn't care for the clinic I was at before, and I needed a check-up to get refills on my birth control prescription. Other than the fact that my visit started nearly an hour after the time it was scheduled for, things went mostly swimmingly. My blood pressure was 122/80 at the start, but the doc re-took it later in the visit, and it was down to 118/70-something.

Then, in the last 5 minutes, she suggests I cut calories and make it a goal to lose 50 pounds. I had a "Health At Every Size" speech sort of planned out in case this came up, but my heart started pounding, and I wasn't too coherent. I mostly managed to get out that I followed a health at every size philosophy, and didn't care about losing weight. When she tried to tell me that I just needed to "cut a few calories," I told her that yo-yo dieting (and since 90+ percent of diets fail, most dieters are yo-yo dieters, aka "weight cyclers") was bad for your health, and that U of M had done a study that showed that women who weight cycled just a few pounds just a few times in their life had worse heart health than never-dieters. She kept pushing the issue, so I told her, "I will never, ever, ever, ever go on another diet again."

I feel bad that I wasn't more coherent and that I came off a little vehemently. She's not a bad person, just buying into the ubiquitous obesity propaganda out there.

But, come on-- I've been fat my whole life. Does she really think no one has ever suggested a diet before? Does she really think I haven't lost weight before? I tend to get crazy and compulsive about food when I restrict in any way. The last 5 years have been the only time in my life where I had a steady weight (up a few pounds, down a few, but essentially in the same 7 or 8 pound range) since I started dieting at age 11, and I'm not going to fuck that up by trying to reach a size I'm not intended to be.

I think I should follow the advice I've heard before of writing out a letter about my health philosophy and my no-dieting stance and asking for it to be included in my health records each time I change doctors.
sarahmichigan: (Default)
I was thinking earlier today about how some legislators want to go after companies that advertise for bogus weight-loss programs and products who make over-exaggerated or just flatly untrue claims about their effectivenes. I know these people are thinking of untested weight-loss pills in particular, but really, just about every weight-loss company in existence ought to be sued for false advertising, because NONE of them work long-term.

Several months ago, I already posted a link to this study:

A recent review in the Annals of Internal Medicine (2005;142, 1:56-66) evaluated major commercial weight loss programs and found that most supplied no scientifically valid, published evidence that they helped people lose weight or keep it off. The data that is available shows only modest amounts of weight lost, with even less kept off over time.

I've also already linked to a study that showed that Weight Watchers, in particular, has an abysmal "completion" rate, and of those people who actually lost weight, the vast majority gained most of it back within 3 years and spent about $180 per pound lost in the process.

This link breaks down the "results" (or lack thereof) from several major weight-loss companies into a table format***, and it's not pretty.

I understand why people go on weight-loss diets; it's hard to let hope die, there's a lot of cultural pressure to conform to the beauty standard, and people all around you from your relatives to your doctor are telling you you'll ruin your health if you don't try to lose weight.

But it's amazing to me that people will spend so much money over and over again to lose 5 percent of their body weight and then gain it all back (usually plus a few more pounds). What's that about the definition of insanity being doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?

I also really liked this mainstream, non-hysterical article about "Why Diets Don't Work" from "We don't fail diets-- diets fail us."

(*** can anyone reading this figure out why percentage of body weight lost is expressed as positives for some companies and as negatives for others? Or is it indicating that some of these dieters ended up at a higher body weight after 2 years?)
sarahmichigan: (Default)
Though it was posted on a local community, the general topic of whether soda pop machines should be in grade schools and junior highs was interesting and spirited.

I, of course, had to chime in with my two cents about how the so-called obesity epidemic is overstated. Despite that, I'm pretty much in favor of keeping pop machines out of grade schools, as long as the rules don't infringe on parents' rights to send pop with kids in their brown bag lunches.
sarahmichigan: (Default)
This is one special day I can really get behind.

For the history of the day:
sarahmichigan: (Default)
The more I read at Alas, the more I like it!

The full entry has many charts and citations, but in summary:

1) No weight-loss diet has every been scientifically shown to produce substantial long-term weight loss in any but a tiny minority of dieters.

2) Whether or not a weight-loss diet "works," people who go on weight-loss diets are likely to die sooner than those who maintain a steady weight or who slowly gain weight.

3) For fat people (or anyone else) concerned with their health, the best option is probably moderate exercise and eating fruits and veggies, without concern for waistlines. In other words, Health At Every Size (HAES).

4) The model on which most weight-loss diets are based - in which fat people eat like fat people and must learn to eat like non-fat people - is probably a myth.
sarahmichigan: (Default)
Diets do not work long-term. They make you fatter and crazy. You will take the weight off and put it back on again. If commercial weight-loss plans really worked, you'd do them once, lose the weight, and you'd have corrected your "bad habits" for life.

But they don't work that way. They give you an unrealistic standard to live up to so you'll fail and keep pumping more money into the multi-billion dollar Weight-loss Scam industry.

And dieting often leads to disordered eating, compulsive eating, compulsive exercising, compulsive obsession with food and being "good or bad."

If you still think you're going to change your life through dieting, fine. I just don't want to hear about it. If one more person tries to convince me that Weight Watchers is a wonderful way to "modify your lifestyle" and it's not a "fad diet" I will start screaming like a crazy woman. So, please. Just. Don't.
sarahmichigan: (Default)
This Geneen Roth column won't apply to everyone on my list, but it will to many. If you ever eat chocolate/ice cream/chips/comfort food when you're stressed or depressed, likely this will apply to you.

The more I read of Geneen's columns, the more I like her, though I don't agree with her 100 percent. She uses the term "natural weight" a lot and never defines it, and while she's against dieting, she seems to think that anyone who stops eating emotionally will automatically lose weight. I don't think that's necessarily always true.

My personal goal isn't to develop a better relationship with food so that I will lose weight; my goal is to develop a better relationship with food so that it will eventually become a non-issue in my life and I will be even more mentally at peace around food, body image, and related issues. I'm in a much better place than I was even two or three years ago with these issues, but family and holidays tend to re-trigger old patterns and worries.


"Most of us use food for emotional and spiritual sustenance it can't possibly provide. Or we use it to keep ourselves from experiencing the full range of our feelings. But it ends up keeping us from feeling truly alive. What happens if you just let yourself feel sad, or stressed, or angry? You might say that feeling sad will rip you apart, and you can't afford to be ripped apart--you have a job, kids, a life. Or you might say that you learned early on that feeling sad is self-indulgent and that no one likes sad people."


"Emotional eating is not about lack of willpower, and it won't be solved by dieting. While overeating (as well as undereating) can become a life-threatening health concern, the roots of the problem are rarely physical. We eat when we are lonely. We eat when we are sad. We eat when we are bored, angry, grieving, frustrated, frightened. We eat because we don't know that our feelings won't destroy us--and because food is everywhere, as is the message that it will fix whatever's wrong."

Sarah's notes: the example of the woman who has gained ten pounds even though she's happy made me automatically think, "Yeah, sure she's happy about the recent positive changes in her life, but even POSITIVE changes are still stressful! Stress alone can account for her weight gain without having to get into talk of self-sabotage."

While I think that many people, fat AND thin, use food for emotional reasons, I don't buy that all fat people are fat because they're emotionally traumatized or are protecting themselves with a "barrier of fat" as she refers to in another column. That may be true for her and for other fat folks, but not for all.
sarahmichigan: (Default)
I read this "Prevention" column by Geneen Roth when I was on the exercise bike earlier this week at the gym, and I thought at the time that she sounded very anti-diet and pro "demand feeding."


"Sometimes I think that if I could've done one simple thing for myself--eat a hot meal every day, no matter what--I could've begun to teach myself that I was worth that much. I was worth the time it took to prepare and serve myself something hot and nourishing.

Learn from my mistakes. Before you embark on your next last-chance diet, give yourself the gift of believing that you're worth it. Start eating one hot meal a day, no matter what. And this is why..."

Turns out she IS anti-diet and in favor of demand feeding, very much so. She has written several books about how to feed yourself lovingly and mindfully instead of mindlessly bingeing or allowing the Diet Police to tell you the "right" way to eat.

Turns out she has a regular column in "Prevention" and it's available on-line. I'm reading through her archives right now.,5763,s1-21-0-0-308-0,00.html
sarahmichigan: (Default)
Most commercial weight loss plans have no science to back up claims that they can help you lose weight. In the few cases where there are peer-reviewed studies, the results still aren't so great. Drop-out rates are around 50 percent. For the people who do complete the program, they lose about an average of 10-15 pounds at first. Three to five years out, they're lucky to have maintained a total loss of about 6 or 7 pounds. Read more here:

Fat links

Nov. 23rd, 2005 02:15 pm
sarahmichigan: (Default)
I've been accumuting links about size acceptance and fat activism, and here are a few I particularly liked.

Casa Gordita contains a veritable treasure-trove of fat activism links. The page formatting is annoying, but the info is good:

The website "such a pretty face" is an index of more links for fashion, activism, etc. for fat folks:

Learn more about making peace with food and the bathroom scale at "Beyond Dieting" (a commercial site for a therapist who deals in food and body image issues, but there's lots of free information here):

A convincing case study supporting the idea that weight-loss and diet drug companies are exaggerating and/or creating the so-called "obesity crisis":
sarahmichigan: (Default)
Weight Watchers wanted to pay Renee Zellweger to lose enough pounds that she would officially be below the range they officially deem as being healthy:

From the comments:

WW claim they are promoting health. How can they claim this and pay Renee to lose weight?

Renee is 5'5" right? And the heavy weight [for the "Bridget Jones" movie] is 145 or so? She plans to drop back down to 106 lbs, right?

Take a look at WW's height/weight table. Look at the healthy weights for a 5'5" in person. 120 lbs to 144 lbs. Remember: Those are THEIR numbers!

What bothers me about Weight Watchers campaign is this:
Renee is being paid to drop her weight from a level that Weight Watchers themselves lists as just one pound above the healthy maximum for people bewteen 25 and 45 to a weight WW considers to be 14 lbs below the healthy minimum.

WW is paying her to diet down to a weight they officially think is unhealhty!
Is WW trying to send the message: Our numbers are upper bounds? (But we don't quite want to come out and say this... because.. well,...?)

My BMI is 21. Based on my reading this is 1-2 BMI points below the value that correlated with optimum longevity for groups of American women near my age.
Am I supposed to see the WW ads, hear WW is paying her and think: Oh... Renee is intentionally aiming for 17, I should too? BMI of 17!

Ed. to add: I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with having a BMI of 17 (slightly below the "ideal" range), anymore than there's anything inherently wrong with having a BMI of 32 (a few points above the cut-off for being labeled "obese"). But I do think that it's hypocritical of Weight Watchers to encourage someone to lose weight to the point that they are 14 pounds below what WW considers, by *their own policies* to be a healthy weight.

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