The turn of the calendar into a New Year occurs again. I admit it; January is my favorite month of the year. Not because it’s a time to renew my resolution and finally get the body I have always wanted. Not because I get to start over once again with this-diet-will-work- this-time resolution. Not because I get to start over and swear to meet all my goals and dreams in one short year.
It’s probably because January is my birthday month! And, well, I like the name January better than the name of any other month. (Maybe this is still because it is my birthday month…)
Either way, I like January and the New Year.
But this New Year I am mad. I am tired. I am frustrated. And it is time to speak out!
All year long, I hear people tell me that losing weight is healthy. My clients tell me, my doctor tells me, my family tells me, my friends tell me, my colleagues tell me, books tell me, magazines tell me, commercials tell me, news articles tell me, and on and on. They think it is fact. But it is not a fact!
This is the accumulated belief system of a culture obsessed with weight and thinness. It is a culture that discriminates against those who are fat. It is a culture that is so biased that you can’t help but grow up believing all the lies you are told about weight and health.
It is a lie that you need to lose weight or be a certain weight to be healthy! I know… your doctor tells you this so it must be true. Right? Wrong. Your doctor gets the same information as you. She gets information from studies that are weight biased. Heck your doctor might even be weight biased herself. Studies show that many are. So just because your doctor tells you to lose weight to be healthy, doesn’t mean it is true.
It is a lie that being fat causes health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, etc! Thin people get these diseases too and many fat people don’t. These are very complex health concerns and many many factors contribute. Boiling it down to weight is biased and unhelpful at best – and can even be harmful.
It is a lie that thin people are healthy and fat people are not! Many thin people are unhealthy and many fat people are not. Think of your thin friend who eats nothing but processed junk food and never exercises but still looks thin. Is she healthy just because she is thin?
What is true is that losing weight and then gaining it back again is unhealthy! And as you probably know, you can’t diet and lose weight and maintain that weight loss. So you are being unhealthy by trying over and over again to diet and lose weight. You would be much healthier if you stopped dieting.
What is true is you can be healthy at any size! It’s true. There is tons of evidence about this… you just need to look for it. The diet industry puts out a lot of money to keep this hidden from you and our cultural bias allows them to get away with it. But the information and proof is out there! See below for help in getting started in finding it.
Of course, this doesn’t even touch the concept of the unhealthiness of your mental and emotional health when it comes to dieting, losing weight, gaining it back again, restricting foods that lead you to bingeing and feeling bad and worse about yourself. Remember that your mental health is at least half of your physical health. For example, stress can cause a number of physical health concerns. Therefore, if your emotional health is intact, you can be physically healthy, no matter what your size. This includes the stress of dieting.
What is true is that exercise is much more an indicator of health than your weight! Many studies show this and it makes sense, doesn’t it. Your body loves to move. It adores exercise and thrives when it gets it (although you can give it too much).
So this year, don’t bother with a New Year’s Resolution to diet and lose weight. Instead, be a part of a Revolution to never diet again, to learn about Health at Every Size, to become a Fat Activist, to ask your doctor why he would prescribe something that fails 95% or more of the time (I am talking about diets here), to challenge your beliefs and society’s beliefs that thin equals healthy. There is already a Revolution, all you need to do is join. Empower yourself! This is a huge step toward working on your own body image and your relationship with food!
I want to help you get started. Below is a list of resources that will help you do your own research into this Revolution of Health at Every Size. Learn about it for yourself. Decide for yourself what you believe. Spend the year learning more and more, delving further and further and you too can break the bonds of the shame and bias and beliefs that tie weight to health.
I used to have this bias too. I was biased against fat people. I thought that it was healthier to be thin. I also used to obsess about food and my body and feel bad about myself when I ate chocolate. But no more! I changed my relationship with food and my body but my weight bias was still intact. Until I found my first book that changed all of that: Fat?So! by Marilyn Wann. I highly recommend it and all the other books and resources on the list below. Pick one and get started right now!
A very special Telesummit will take place beginning the end of January. The panel on this telesummit is amazing and should not be missed! If you only do one thing this year to challenge your beliefs, listen to this free Telesummit!
Fat?So! by Marilyn Wann
Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon
http://www.bodylovewellness.com (fat acceptance coach)
http://www.lindabacon.org/ (author of Health at Every Size)
http://www.haescommunity.org/ (join the Health at Every Size Community)
http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/ (critical examinations about health and weight)
http://fatso.com/ (Marilyn Wann’s website)
The Fat Trap (talks about how our bodies are programmed to gain back lost weight): http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/01/magazine/tara-parker-pope-fat-trap.html?_r=2&ref=health