Fat Acceptance Movement Misses the Bigger Picture

Published November 19, 2012 by Elspeth

I’ve been contemplating a post on this subject for quite a while. Ever since I ran across yet another article pushing the idea of fat acceptance. this post has been dangling in my subconscious, begging me to say something about it  at least one more time before I abandon this virtual space.

I’ve started, stopped, and deleted several posts because the times I dared broach the subject here it  invoked the ire of my female readership.  We women don’t like being told that we need to try and stay in shape. Since however, we are embarking on the American season of eating indiscriminately followed by the resolve to finally get fit after the binge, I’m gonna go there. Karl Denninger has graciously provided the impetus I needed to be bold enough to do it with his post, Go Ahead, Stay Fat. You’re Going to Die:

As I pointed out in my speech at the Ft. Walton Tea Party, if you’re overweight fix that now.

Not tomorrow.

Now.

This is not just about money, it is about survival.  Today we can treat a number of diseases that otherwise would kill, but at enormous cost. Diabetes is one of these diseases.  Metformin, the “original” Type II diabetes medication that has been around for decades is now off patent, but it stops working over time.

Our new “wonderdrugs” are damned expensive and uncontrolled diabetes causes blindness and neural damage in the extremities (among other really bad effects), eventually culminating in the amputation of your feet (if it doesn’t kill you outright first.)

Most Type II diabetics can have their blood sugar control greatly enhanced and in some cases it can be returned to normal levels entirely by returning to a healthy weight especially if you get the crap foods out of your diet at the same time.

Yes, I know that we’re all going to die of something. Yes, I know that there are no guarantees in life, that diseases can strike despite our best efforts. That’s still no excuse to treat our bodies like garbage dumps. It has never been my desire to be unsympathetic to the struggle to maintain a healthy weight. I work very hard to stay healthy and I am no where near what you would call rail thin. I never have been, and with each successive year it takes increased diligence and discipline to keep the weight at bay. It has required even more labor and attention after the birth of our two youngest children in my mid- and late- thirties.

With young children to raise and a husband to attend to, I can’t afford to be unhealthy. I can’t afford to let myself go. I need to have strength, endurance and energy. I need to live on sensible budget as well, which is easier to do when I’m not spending crazy amounts of money on crap food that just makes it harder to stay healthy. The economic tipping point will come in this country and being unhealthy by choice will turn out to be one of the worst decisions we could make. Our families deserve better than what we’re giving them. The dismissal of health concerns was one of the reasons why the fat acceptance article was so irritating to me.

But you know what? I also think it’s important that we do everything in our power to remain attractive and sexually appealing to our husbands if we’re married. I’m not insisting that every woman needs to look like Twiggy. I don’t, and my husband would hate it if I did. I know that because the one time I managed to starve and exercise myself down to someone else’s ideal, he said I looked sick and needed to eat.

Shave about 10 pounds off the woman on the far right in this photo, dip her in caramel colored paint, and you get a pretty good of what I look like. I don’t know if she is as tall as I am (5’9″), but I suspect she might be since she’s clearly a model. Keep in mind that this is my husband’s ideal of feminine beauty. Your husband may prefer something else. Strive for it to the best of your ability. Loving husbands don’t expect unrealistic standards of perfection, but they appreciate effort much in the same way I appreciate my husband’s hard work and provision even though we’re not rich.

I should also add that the same government that claims to be fighting obesity also heavily subsidizes and promotes the kinds of food that make us fat. Ignore them. You need not be a nutritional expert to figure out the best way to eat. The closer the food is to the way God made it, the healthier it is.  The more it’s been processed, the more you should avoid it. A good little book with a common sense approach to eating is Food Rules by Michael Pollan. I read it in one night.

Oh, and once again: ignore these fat acceptance folks. They are not your friends, ladies. I repeat, they are not your friends. Friends don’t encourage friends to dig their own graves with a spoon and fork while turning their husbands off in the process. Be your best, and unless we’re making our best efforts, we don’t know if we are our best.

Our culture’s  inability to find a balanced approach to health and eating is ridiculous. We either insist that every one try and  look like a fitness guru, or flip common sense on its head and say that it doesn’t matter how fat we are.  “If you love me, you’ll love me like this.” That’s nonsense, especially if your husband didn’t find you “like this.”

This is the season of festivities, of eating, baking, and candy and parties. Like everyone else, I will indulge a bit. I won’t indulge nearly as much as I might have in years’ past. I’ve gotten tired of making excuses to be unhealthy because it’s a certain day on the calendar and everyone else is being unhealthy.

So before the holidays get into full swing, resolve now to do right by your temple and exercise moderation in all things.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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37 comments on “Fat Acceptance Movement Misses the Bigger Picture

  • “I also think it’s important that we do everything in our power to remain attractive and sexually appealing to our husbands if we’re married.”

    Indeed! But, surprisingly (or maybe not to you), many women are resistant to this idea. It just seems like common sense to me that one would not allow themselves to become something that their husbands find undesirable.

  • @ Hearth:

    This was a key truth for me. If I was lazy or half-hearted and neglectful when it came to taking care of myself, I needed to own it. I realized it was silly for me to whine and throw in the towel especially during the time when I was ready to get in shape after my last pregnancy.

    Only you know when you’re doing your best, but it’s crazy to claim you’re doing your best when you’re not. We humans can be pathologically mediocre and lazy while telling ourselves that we are working hard, LOL.

  • @ Mary Ellen:

    Thanks for commenting.

    Indeed! But, surprisingly (or maybe not to you), many women are resistant to this idea. It just seems like common sense to me that one would not allow themselves to become something that their husbands find undesirable.

    Many women are intellectually dishonest with themselves. They somehow instinctively know before marriage that it takes a level of attractiveness to get their intended’s attention and commitment. And then somehow, usually after the birth of baby but not always, they suddenly decide that the outer doesn’t matter as much.

    It’s crazy really, but I have found that as human beings we have to make a special effort not to take those close to us for granted. Just because they’re “stuck” with us, doesn’t mean we don’t owe them our best.

    And by the way, thanks to you I’m going to Old Navy of all places to look for a dress, LOL. I don’t associate them with such classic pieces usually.

  • Hey Sister. I disagree with you here, and here’s why:

    1. Fat people have the right to exist in their current bodies. They are image-bearers of God, even if they’re “morbidly obese,” and they shouldn’t have to meet any numerical standard in order for society to treat them that way. If Christians are going to fight for the right of the unborn to live, we need to be willing to do be consistent and love the living, as they are, not waiting until they meet our standards.

    2. Weight is a complex issue, and many studies have shown that it’s not as simple as calories in/calories out. Haven’t we all met rail-thin, even unhealthily-thin women who eat constantly and don’t exercise? I sure have. And most of us have met “overweight” people who eat healthily and exercise (even if we don’t perceive them as overweight — it’s amazing what body type will do to screw up your numbers on the BMI chart).

    3. Telling people to quit being fat doesn’t work. Shaming them, telling them how unhealthy they are, showing them the error of their ways? It doesn’t work. If it did, there would be zero overweight people.

    4. Fat does not = unhealthy any more than thin = healthy, and that’s exactly what the Fat Acceptance movement is trying to get across. FA’s other name is Health At Every Size. In other words, the goal should be health, not a certain weight. For some people, getting to a healthy place is going to involve losing weight; for others it might involve gaining it; for others it might involve neither. But the number on the scale or the BMI index is just that: a number. It’s not necessarily an indicator of health by itself.

    Just to take myself as an example: this past spring, I started running. At one point, I was running four days a week, and doing yoga two days a week. I was eating almost no grain and no sugar. I felt fantastic, had a ton of energy, and was super-impressed with my body for being so tough and awesome. But I hadn’t dropped any noticeable weight — I was still on the line between “overweight” and “obese” on the BMI charts. I’ve lost dramatic amounts of weight before and you know what it took? Obsessing over every morsel I put in my mouth. Exercising, not because God made my body to move and work, but frantically and desperately. Living on egg white omelets and salads with fat-free dressing and feeling hungry, lightheaded, grouchy, and crazy all the time. That is not healthy. People who advocate “just losing weight” and tell fat people to just “fix it now” are implying that the number on the scale or the BMI chart is the most important thing to think about, and it just isn’t. If “fat” is the metric, then “losing fat” means success, rather than “being healthy,” and that’s dangerous. That’s the message of FA/HAES.

    There are “overweight” marathon runners, “overweight” raw vegans, “overweight” people of every imaginable fitness level and eating competence. FA/HAES is all about telling people, especially women, that they are OK, that they are valuable, regardless of their weight, because that knowledge is freeing. It allows women to say, “You know what? I’m going to care for my body whether I lose weight or not. I’m going to choose to nourish my body with good food and movement because it’s good for me, not so that I can meet an external standard.”

    Women are bombarded with the message that they are only as valuable as their dress size is small, as their waist is defined, as their thighs are smooth and hairless and perfectly tanned. They are constantly told that, if they are fat, it means they are lazy, stupid, worthless food addicts who just need to stop being that way so they can join society. While I agree that some of the FA/HAES tactics are sometimes too extreme (and often joined with the other problems of secular PC feminism), I think that, generally, the movement represents a much-needed corrective to that message.

    Sorry for the long comment. I just feel like HAES has been a gift from God for me as a person who spent far too long connecting her dress size with her self-worth. It was a revelation: “I get to exist in this body without feeling like a bad, lazy, unhealthy person for being a size ten instead of a size four? I can exercise and eat healthy food because I enjoy and benefit from those things without becoming an obsessive calorie-counter? WHAT?? AWESOME!!” :D

    Thanks for reading, sister. :)

  • Hey Laura. I don’t know if you clicked on the link where I very purposefully and deliberately showed a very accurate description of my size 12 body. You do know that many if not most people consider that fat, right? Consider that for a moment. I have to run but I hope to respond to you further when I have some more time.

    You think you disagree with me, and while I think we part ways on one particular point, mostly it’s just that you don’t like the way I said what I said. Be back later.

  • I’m just popping in briefly to note that the mythical person who eats lots and never exercises but stays slim is just that, mythical. No matter how much movement you think you are doing (general you, not specific you), it’s probably a lot less than what that skinny person is doing.

    It’s called NEAT, look into it. Before the labor saving devices of the last half of the 20th century and particularly the computer revolution of the last quarter of same century, people’s NEAT was high because of necessity. Just daily living was a lot of movement and regular, steady activity. People with a naturally high level of NEAT struggled to maintain weight at even normal levels.

    Now, with food abundance and no easy way to be active as a regular day to day thing, such natural high NEAT types don’t have to struggle to be at baseline weights, but the majority (everyone else) struggles with accumulating excess fat of anywhere from a few pounds to a few hundred pounds.

    CICO is true, but everyone’s got different calories that fill them with smaller doses. The calories are the same, but our responses vary. This is why macro-excluding diets tend to have their devoted fans.

    Also, fat is unhealthy, even at surprisingly low levels, although it depends on where the fat is as to how little is still unhealthy. You never hear that bit from HAES types. They also don’t appear interested in those high NEAT sorts, who tend towards a struggle to not lose too much weight rather than a struggle with accumulating excess fat tissue. So much for ‘every size’, eh?

  • I have a couple of minutes now LG so I want to take the time to really parse what you said here, especially since you 1) ascribed onto me a bunch of thoughts and attitudes that should hardly be assumed based on the post I wrote, and 2) totally ignored the parts of my post where I said much of what you said. I’ll try to hit all of your bullet points here.

    1. I’m not sure where you got that I don’t think overweight people deserve to exist or that I think they should be mistreated. When I object to the fat acceptance movement, it’s not about whether or not society should be kind or accepting of obese people. It’s about whether or not we should be telling people that it’s okay to be unhealthy and to accept bad habits and bad health in themselves. Of course all human beings bear the image of God. I’m stunned that you think I was calling overweight people subhuman.

    2. Yes, weight is a complex issue. I’m well aware that there are people whose numbers say one thing while their appearance says something else. Being rather amazonian myself, I get the whole body type thing. However, I do agree with Lady that the notion of the rail thin person who doesn’t do much is oversold. I took the time to talk to two very elderly women in my family about this several years ago when I got tired of struggling. They both said that although they didn’t watch what they ate, they were also always moving as were most women of their era. They figured the combination of real food and constant activity is why you didn’t see many obese women in their day. Both women are over 80, still healthy and still with us. The fact that rampant obesity is a new phenomenon should be enough to make us question whether this is something we should just get used to.

    3. My goal isn’t to shame anyone here. Rather, to get us all to stop making excuses for what basically amounts to living unhealthy lifestyles. I’m no doctor, but I can’t think of any reason that any woman can healthfully carry around 200 pounds.

    4. As for HAES: I think there is a limit to how far you can take that, really. If you can run a few miles and do yoga, clearly you are healthy regardless of your size. There’s a reason why I said in the post these words: “Be your best, and unless we’re making our best efforts, we don’t know if we are our best.” I am not referring to people like you who are giving it their best effort to care for their bodies. I thought I made that clear.

    I too lost dramatic amounts of weight by watching every morsel. I gained it back, LOL. However, my recent journey back to a healthy weight has not demanded that I obsess over every morsel. Rather it has required that I simply stop eating certain things altogether except on rare occasions.

    Women are bombarded with the message that they are only as valuable as their dress size is small, as their waist is defined, as their thighs are smooth and hairless and perfectly tanned.

    While I am perfectly tanned, I’m not sure how you got all the rest of this from what I wrote. I can assure you that there are parts of me that aren’t as smooth as they were 20 years ago. After all, I’ve given birth to 5 babies. What’s more,my husband likes my body just fine. He simply finds it more appealing when I take care of it, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

  • I love your posts, and I think you’re right on here and I am going to miss you when you close up shop!

    Keeping in shape does help me to feel better about myself and yes, my husband does love when I’m more fit. He doesn’t say anything one way or another, but a wife can just tell what pleases her husband sometimes! :) Now am I or will I ever be the weight/shape I was before having 3 children? Probably not (being short and delivering a couple big babies stretches the body in weird ways), but I want to stay in as good a shape as possible.

    You’ve tackled a difficult subject in a tactful way!

  • Elspeth, I don’t know where you got the idea that I was putting all those hateful ideas in your mouth, sister! I never, EVER said that YOU were bombarding women with that message, nor would I. I’m confused as to why you’d assume that. With my four main points, I was just stating general principles that lead me to disagree with your conclusions about FA/HAES. Do you disagree that the media is constantly putting out the message that thin, tan, beautiful women are more valuable than fat, pasty, less-attractive ones? I can’t imagine!

    I actually did think the tone of this post was a little… too rough, I guess, and was attempting to address that with my factual disagreement with the quote you included, which I found incredibly unloving as well as pointless, because, as I’ve said, telling people to lose weight doesn’t work, or we’d have no fat people left.

    I’ve always found you to be a fair blog-host, sister, but your initial reply to me seemed pretty dismissive. Any particular reason for that? Were you just thinking I was accusing you of those things? Please know that that was not my intent. Just stating broad principles that put me in alignment with FA/HAES.

  • If I misunderstood your comments, LG, I apologize. I have become rather tired of women rattling off all the reasons why they don’t have to even try to be healthy, and suggest that they do it to be pleasing to their husbands? They rail against it.

    And yes, I did think you were accusing me of those things. It wouldn’t be the first time but that was unfair to you.

    My automatic reaction was to assume your comment was a rebuttal to my post rather than the reasons why you stand with the fat acceptance movement.

    Also, unless you are 3 feet tall, I fail to understand why a fit and healthy size 10 would be a source of angst. Now that I have considered that for a minute, I can see where you needed support and encouragement to feel comfortable in your own skin.

    I hope we’re all good now.

  • I agree with you and appreciate your willingness to take on this topic. I need to lose 10 lbs. and it amazes me that so many people try to discourage me from doing so or think I am judging them by my unwillingness to be overweight. Thanks.

  • Thanks so much, Elspeth, for your honesty here. I was raised with the mindset that it was okay for mothers to carry extra weight and the husbands should be happy with ‘more of me to love.’ I’ve used the excuse that I am a work-at-home, homeschooling mother of three to let myself go far too long. I sincerely appreciate your willingness to speak biblically on this issue. And, yes, our husbands do deserve our best efforts to remain appealing even after multiple pregnancies.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Sorry, my first try didn’t work right.

    Long time lurker here. Yep, I posted in the original thread.

    it’s crazy to claim you’re doing your best when you’re not. We humans can be pathologically mediocre and lazy while telling ourselves that we are working hard

    This. Times 1000.

    A few years back, a friend of ours who – shooting from the hip – would fall in the lower end of the obese category was “complaining” about how she couldn’t really exercise now that they had adopted a toddler. The very next morning, I was jogging on a local trail and was passed – passed – by a fit, attractive woman pushing a double-wide stroller with two kiddos in it.

    Guess which woman I find more attractive. Guess which I have more respect for.

    In economics, they call it “revealed preference”…the fact that there is often a big gap between what we say we want, and what we are really willing to do. Want to see some people doing real, actual hard work? Go to youtube and search on the words “women” and “crossfit”.

    Telling people to quit being fat doesn’t work. Shaming them, telling them how unhealthy they are, showing them the error of their ways? It doesn’t work. If it did, there would be zero overweight people.

    This is the human condition, isn’t it? Nobody likes to be called out on their weaknesses.

    the number on the scale or the BMI index is just that: a number. It’s not necessarily an indicator of health by itself

    This is absolutely true. And attraction-wise, I’m going to say that – as a guy – it’s also not about the number on the scale. Look at the women in the link Terry posted above. Look at the “plus-sized” models in the Lane Bryant catalog. What do these women all have in common? Weight? Size? No. Hourglass shape. That’s the “80″ in the 80/20.

    “losing fat” means success, rather than “being healthy,”

    I think losing fat is a byproduct of being healthy.

    spent far too long connecting her dress size with her self-worth

    I do think these are often related. I also think self-esteem “issues” are often used as smokescreens so people can continue to be lazy while still feeling good about themselves.

    I just re-read Terry’s original thread, and I’m struck by how many time I see the phrase “…make her feel…” or “…make me feel…” in the comments. Nobody MAKES you feel. I think women especially have a hard time owning their feelings. Y’all like to push the responsibility off onto others. Not being personal here, but I call BS on this. Terry is right that If I was lazy or half-hearted and neglectful when it came to taking care of myself, I needed to own it.

    I’ve unfortunately had the pleasure of being in the company of two obese-category women lounging on the beach carrying on and on about a man with a lot of hair on his back…saying things about how horribly unattractive it was, and making snarky comments about him. One even said “if he were my husband I would never let him out of the house”. Complete lack of self-awareness. These women don’t have a self-esteem problem. They have an entitlement one.

  • Elspeth, you speak common sense, and unfortunately, it’s refreshing, simply because it’s so uncommon. This reply you made to Hearth…

    Only you know when you’re doing your best, but it’s crazy to claim you’re doing your best when you’re not. We humans can be pathologically mediocre and lazy while telling ourselves that we are working hard, LOL.

    … was truth, and I appreciate it. I feel I am often seen as holier than thou or the bad guy for failing to not applaud false (or at least bare minimum) effort in those around me when it comes to both physical and financial “health.” It’s easy to see right through motives, but even so, in our culture, we are supposed to pat those on the back for their good intentions, even if no fruit is produced.

    With regards to FA/HAES movement, it seems like a way for people to settle. The whole, “this is me, accept me as I am” mentality grates against me simply because it magnifies that minimal effort. Sure, there are women who ARE healthy at any size, and we shouldn’t strive to adhere to checkout aisle magazines’ standards of what’s healthy/beautiful because they ARE so off the mark. However, with this sort of movement, it seems it gives “permission” to those who give only minimal effort to become healthy to not put out any effort at all. Of course, not all women are like that and some do really give great effort and still struggle, but I speak in generalizations. As well, note that I speak of effort to become healthy and not about effort to lose weight. Like Cleared In Hot said, losing fat will be the by-product of getting healthy.

    In the end, it’s all about what each woman feels led to accomplish with regards to her health and well being. For me, it’s important to take God’s Word and my husband’s preferences into much consideration, as both will direct my effort (which, by the way, I will put out because I still have 15lbs to lose.)

  • If Christians are going to fight for the right of the unborn to live, we need to be willing to do be consistent and love the living, as they are, not waiting until they meet our standards.

    Unbelievable. Shame on you, Laura, for making such an obtuse and revolting comparison. I daresay no man takes women to the clinic for a procedure to have scissors shoved through the fat girl’s brain.

  • I’ve been running around buying Thanksgiving groceries today. It will take conscientiousness not to overdo it, LOL.

    @Karly: Thanks for weighing in, no pun intended. I never quite understood why this is such a hot button topic. After my second pregnancy, I was so fat, LOL. I stayed that way for 2 years and my husband complained once I think, maybe twice. And even then, he wasn’t belligerent about it. If he was significantly less attracted to me, I couldn’t tell. I really couldn’t. After that 2 years, I would annoy him with my lip service to getting fit while putting in no effort to half-hearted attempts at best. I finally got it together 3 years after that pregnancy. And it was hard.

    I said all of that to say that I am not unsympathetic to the struggle to get an stay fit. I am strong and toned right now, but I am not skinny. I don’t subscribe to the notion that every woman has to be a size 4. Not every man wants that either. I’m a tall curvy woman and I happen to find a tall, strapping muscular guy who likes tall, curvy women. People are complex, diverse, and multi-faceted and I would never, ever try to insist that people fit into a one size fits all mold. What’s more, I think the current trend of Hollywood and fashion industry to promote an excessively slight, prepubescent figure as the ideal is largely influenced largely by gay men.

    In other words, I’m not promoting an unrealistic standard of beauty here. I’m promoting the idea that we should eat healthier, be healthier, and stop eating boxed, bagged process crap even if it is labeled “health food.” it is making us fat.

    The fact of the matter is that 50, 60, 100 pounds of adipose is unhealthy, no matter what standard you use. It just is. We should never encourage one another to get comfortable with that. You can encourage someone to health without shaming them.

    Thanks again for *getting it* Karly and enduring my rant.

  • Bottom line:

    Go here and you’ll find 56 Bible verses that discuss the care we are suppose to give to our bodies as God’s temple. No, we are not to worship it. And no, it is not the most important thing. But it is the vehicle that we have been given to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the earth. It is the vehicle we use to be an example to others of what Christ is like. AND it is the vehicle that we use to love our husband’s and create life.

    It is wrong to abuse it with persistent unhealthy habits and lack of activity. It is wrong to pretend that it’s okay to be unhealthy simply because we live in a culture where it is so much easier to be unhealthy than healthy. And yes, our health or lack thereof can often be judged with the naked eye.

    That. is. all.

  • Fat people have the right to exist in their current bodies. They are image-bearers of God, even if they’re “morbidly obese,” and they shouldn’t have to meet any numerical standard in order for society to treat them that way. If Christians are going to fight for the right of the unborn to live, we need to be willing to do be consistent and love the living, as they are, not waiting until they meet our standards

    ORLY? Fat people have the “right”? Since when did any of us really have “rights” over our own bodies? We don’t even own our bodies really. Our bodies were given to us and that means we are stewards over the temples.

    Weight is a complex issue, and many studies have shown that it’s not as simple as calories in/calories out. Haven’t we all met rail-thin, even unhealthily-thin women who eat constantly and don’t exercise? I sure have. And most of us have met “overweight” people who eat healthily and exercise (even if we don’t perceive them as overweight — it’s amazing what body type will do to screw up your numbers on the BMI chart).

    I don’t think Elspeth was saying weight is not a complex issue by any means. I think we’re all aware that weight is a complicated issue, which is often exacerbated by additional health issues due to hormones. As women, most of us are prone to that. It’s besides the point.

    Telling people to quit being fat doesn’t work. Shaming them, telling them how unhealthy they are, showing them the error of their ways? It doesn’t work. If it did, there would be zero overweight people.

    Will using logic and facts to tell them what their cardiovascular risks are and risks for Type II diabetes is? How about how many insurance companies are now refusing to cover a lot of these meds and basically force doctors to prescribe alternatives which may not be as effective? Will knowing you may have to fork over hundreds of dollars in a year for the extra inches on the waistline be a good motivator?

    Fat does not = unhealthy any more than thin = healthy, and that’s exactly what the Fat Acceptance movement is trying to get across. FA’s other name is Health At Every Size. In other words, the goal should be health, not a certain weight

    That is besides the point, again. Size is different than weight as it takes into consideration one’s bone structure and musculature. The FA movement doesn’t care about those things in relation to physique and fitness; their argument is to say that any size is okay. And any size is not, as obesity is harmful to the person and has long-standing insurance ramifications.

    But I hadn’t dropped any noticeable weight — I was still on the line between “overweight” and “obese” on the BMI charts. I’ve lost dramatic amounts of weight before and you know what it took? Obsessing over every morsel I put in my mouth. Exercising, not because God made my body to move and work, but frantically and desperately. Living on egg white omelets and salads with fat-free dressing and feeling hungry, lightheaded, grouchy, and crazy all the time.

    Then the strategy you were using for your body wasn’t working. Elspeth isn’t trying to advocate for a one-size-fits all routine; she’s stressing the importance of caring for your health and to not use the FA movement as an excuse to not be healthy. Trust me, I would also know what I speak of as someone who lost a lot of weight and kept it off. I had to find what worked for my body or else I’d be obsessing over every single morsel I ate. However, if I didn’t watch what I ate then, or watch what I eat now, at some point I would have to obsess because that’s the position I placed myself in.

    It’s really not that difficult. I used to make a lot of excuses myself.

  • I’m trying very hard to lose more weight. It is very hard though, so I get discouraged and console myself with chocolate. This method hasn’t met with a lot of success so far.

  • Elspeth:
    I never quite understood why this is such a hot button topic.

    Not difficult at all when you consider that we have lost our ability (as a society) to separate an objective correction (ie 50 extra pounds can really be detrimental to your health) from a personal attack on one’s core being (you are worthless because you weigh more than you should for your body type).
    We conflate things like this in so many areas of life…at work , “you could make a better effort to be more friendly to clients” becomes “you are a substandard employee and I’m singling you out for harassment”. As a parent, someone offering help when it’s obvious our toddler is tired and fussy becomes “you can’t handle being a mom” etc

    Karly did a good job of articulating what I’ve been thinking. I also appreciate your observation that being significantly overweight (50+ pounds) tends to be not only unattractive, but it that it takes a very real toll on an individual’s health.
    On the chance that we differ somewhere, I’ll offer my own words:

    The fat acceptance movement is a double-edged sword, so to speak.
    On the one hand, it is dead wrong to judge the worth of an individual based on her/his size. In a sense, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, and there is no way to be truly objective about what is physically attractive when men and women alike will think attractive everything from a masculine “athletic” frame to a softly-padded, curvy silhouette. And, it is wrong to make assumptions about whether a practical stranger is making an adequate effort at maintaining her health when I have no way of knowing whether there is an underlying medical condition that interferes with intensive diet and/or exercise programs. Progress can be painfully slow (unnoticeable to the casual onlooker) in such situations, even when a significantly overweight individual is diligent for years.

    On the other hand, “fat acceptance” gives laziness a wide-open back door to those who only want an excuse to continue in self-indulgent behaviors. I do not use the term “unhealthy”, because there is such a ridiculously huge range of what even the supposed “experts” consider to be healthy diet and exercise.

    Laura made a good point with regard to badgering and shaming others into doing the “right” thing. The fact is that people tend to not do anything to change sinful overeating or laziness habits unless we can see them for what they are (destructive) and be offended by them. Saying what is true is necessary. But conviction is the job of the Holy Spirit. Speaking truth in an abrasive or self-righteous manner is very likely to cause the listener to either make changes out of some sense of rejection or focus on the rudeness of the messenger–who inadvertently offers another excuse to focus on something other than their own problem.

    As you mentioned in a previous comment, Christians ought to be offended by symptoms of self-induced poor health because we dishonor the Lord by not making an effort to care for what He’s given us.

    In correcting the error, we need to be especially careful to not simply redirect our idolatrous attention to “fitness”. Regardless of how many pounds lost or how much happier the hubby appears or how many miles we can brag of running, a believer’s motivation needs to be God’s honor through our disciplined behavior or we ultimately fail even when we appear by all worldly standards to be successful.

  • @ Alte: The occasional brownie is good for the soul, LOL.

    @ Heather:

    I agree with you. I hope I struck the appropriate balance because I tried very hard to do that. I just emailed you, by the way. Thought you might appreciate the newest offering over on TC.

  • Brownies for the Soul. We should start a book series.

    I actually am managing to lose weight by simply controlling portions. It’s excruciatingly slow, but it does slowly slough off over time. The biggest weight-loss tip I can give anyone is to use smaller flatware.

  • “And by the way, thanks to you I’m going to Old Navy of all places to look for a dress, LOL. I don’t associate them with such classic pieces usually.”

    Awesome! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

  • Have any of you ladies actually read the book or spent time on the Health at Every Size blog?

    Let me summarize:
    Find some fun way to move your body (dance, softball, swim, walk whatever) and DO IT!
    Eat a variety of healthy foods. quit eating fake food and junk.
    (Ok, we ALL agree on this much)

    Less than 1% of people who loose weight keep it off for 5 years, even if they constantly reduce their calories and increase their exercise.

    Fat people who have never dieted do NOT have health problems (i.e. heart disease) we generally associate with obesity.

    Poor people of all weights do.

    News flash: It’s the poverty that causes the health problems, not the obesity. In fact, poor people also tend to be fatter, but that is a result of their economic situation.

    Diabetes? The newest studies show that blood sugar goes up BEFORE weight. In fact, it appears that the rising blood sugar causes the obesity, not the other way around as previously thought. We need to qute eating sugar and white flour, not starve ourselves.

    Dieting (starving) denies the body nutrients and sets it up for deficiency illnesses.

    God created in us a mechanism that keeps us alive during a famine. Our bodies don’t know the difference between a diet and a famine. This Mechanism causes us to resist weight lose, put it back on if we do loose, and add interest to protect from the next great famine/diet. The more we diet (more and more studies show) the MORE we will ultimately weigh (I am not saying we should gorge ourselves, by any means. I am simply saying it’s unhealthy and counterproductive to starve.)

    To summarize: it is futile and unhealthy to starve yourself. It is healthy to exercise and eat right.

    Now, we certainly should look good for our hubbies. But most men would fins a woman ten pounds heavier but confident and energetic far more attractive than a woman beat down by “failing” at her diet once again. Loosing the weight and keeping it off just isn’t possible for the human being. Dressing nice, exercising, eating right and enjoying life IS!

  • @Bettysue:

    To summarize: it is futile and unhealthy to starve yourself. It is healthy to exercise and eat right.

    I completely agree. I actually agree with a lot of what you said. And, while I haven’t read the HAES book or blog, I can agree with what you said it says about exercise and healthful eating. But, my motivation to do so is based on taking care of the temple God gave me so that I may use it for His glory, to serve my husband and others. (And, please know, I haven’t arrived by any means. I have some work to do, but, with God’s strength, I will continue on.)

    However, I am not sure I believe poor people of all sizes experience more health problems than obese people. Is there evidence you can site to support this?

    Also, I am not sure I understand you when you say:

    In fact, poor people also tend to be fatter, but that is a result of their economic situation.

    Why does one’s economic situation determine whether someone is obese or not?

    Loosing the weight and keeping it off just isn’t possible for the human being.

    I agree with you when you say our bodies don’t know the difference between a starvation diet and a famine, and therefore, we are made to hold onto whatever we have in those cases for survival. However, with a thorough understanding about what our bodies are made for (see Elspeth’s comment above that links to 56 bible verses), along with exercise and healthful eating, I don’t agree that it isn’t possible to arrive at a healthy weight. I believe many people can, and I do believe it’s possible to stay there fairly consistently (within +/- 5-10lbs), barring injury or health issues.

  • Why would I bother exercising if it has no effect on my body composition? HAES tries to argue that exercise and regulating food intake are meaningless, but you should exercise anyhow because, dotdotdot it improves health somehow. Doesn’t change your body in any way, shape or form, but ‘improves health’. Magical-like. This is why I am not a HAES/FA fan.

    The reality, the dirty little secret is that exercise will affect body composition, just not as much as people with a delusional notion of where they ‘should’ be as a result of exercise and moderated food intake would often prefer.

    For most fat people, getting fat means you can’t get back to your slimmest pre-fat weight. But you can most def. lose some fat mass and maintain the loss of that fat mass. The stats on maintenance are misleading and further presented without context to discourage continence with regard to food and exercise.

    The above said, I do support people being more active, but HAES/FA does in fact straight up lie about exercise and its effects. There was a lovely article or blog post, can’t recall which by a FA activist who went to Spain or some other Euro country for summer and had to walk everywhere. IIRC, she also ate less because people pointed and laughed at her fatness (she was 400+ lbs) everywhere she went and it affected her appetite. She lost 100 or so pounds and professed the matter a baffling mystery upon her return to the States. She did not keep up the same level of activity or portion control and needless to say, regained.

    HAES/FA does not support functional fitness. What they support is people asserting they ‘feel healthy’ and doctors being forced to go along with those feewings regardless of the patient’s actual state of health. I support functional fitness, which takes individual circumstances, body type and life habits into account to develop a path towards useful, productive fitness (being able to climb a rope ladder, or not get winded on a stair climb, or being able to carry a baby in a carrier for a mile, etc, vs. the HAES/FA thing of gaming blood tests to prove healthiness), Pity there’s no movement for me.

  • Diabetes? The newest studies show that blood sugar goes up BEFORE weight. In fact, it appears that the rising blood sugar causes the obesity, not the other way around as previously thought. We need to qute eating sugar and white flour, not starve ourselves.

    Yes, processed sugar and grains are not good for anyone and totally unnecessary dietary staples in our country.
    Granted. Blood sugar levels play a role. insulin resistance can contribute to weight gain. Body fat is a symptom of something having gone wrong, not the primary “cause”.

    In this light, we need to look beyond the typical “diet to lose weight” mentality and identify the underlying issue. It may be simple caloric overload, a food allergy, lack of exercise or an organic malfunction of some sort. It would be silly to assume a one size fits all mentality here.

    In fact, poor people also tend to be fatter, but that is a result of their economic situation.

    In westernized countries perhaps. But, there are poor people around the world who offer living proof that this statement is not inherently true. What is more likely the problem in countries like the US is that there is such an excess of relatively cheap junk “food”, and people tend to be either too busy or too lazy to learn to grow or search out affordable whole foods that can be cooked from scratch. Due in part to the insulin factor–and various malabsorption disorders– it is entirely possible to be starving one’s body of nutrients while eating twice the amount of calories needed and becoming ever more obese. This is not meant to be a definitive statement, but one of honest observation and experience.

    To summarize: it is futile and unhealthy to starve yourself. It is healthy to exercise and eat right.

    Regardless of whether anyone here has read the book, I don’t see any comments arguing against the above statement. The difficulty lies in determining what type/amount of foods and exercise each individual needs in order to comprise a “healthy lifestyle”.

  • My husband and I were talking about this a couple of days ago and he reminded me of something. That we had to fill out a health assessment at the beginning of this calendar year. Those who filled it out got a reduction in their monthly health insurance premiums as deducted from their paychecks. Those who didn’t paid a penalty.

    After the assessment (which he and I BOTH had to fill out- the children didn’t) came an email with tips and resources provided by the carrier to improve those areas that appeared to be borderline or risky.

    When I told him that there are some people who believe that it’s impossible to lose weight and keep it off, he laughed and said that we’d better hope that is not the case because just as Denninger is predicted, there will be a price to pay for not managing weight.

    My husband also said that the bottom line here is that people just don’t want to accept the reality that there are some things they just can’t eat if they want to maintain a healthy weight.

    Keep in mind that this is not a man with a preference for waif-like women. I’m not quite sure how my views seem to keep being conflated with the unrealistic standard of beauty. I’m referring to maintaing a healthy body. But yes, I do believe that 60 pounds of fat and good health are mutually exclusive.

  • Loosing the weight and keeping it off just isn’t possible for the human being.

    Well gosh, that explains so much about me. I always knew I was Vulcan!

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