A Health at Every Size approach

Some reflections on this important book which has been helpful to many in my practice and will challenge some of your own assumptions and judgments. Fat isn’t the problem, dieting is.  Learn how to tune into your body’s God given, expert guidance.haes

I have spent too many years of my life believing the lie that my self-worth was intricately tied to my weight.  As a child, I learned as most do in our society, skinny=successful, driven, and beautiful, alternately, fat= lazy, unmotivated, and ugly. These definitions reflect extremes and yet, I think if you are honest with yourself, these messages are everywhere in advertising, in our conversations, in our judgments.  I have a hard time writing the word “fat” as a descriptor of someone’s body as it has become such a derogatory statement.  At some point, insurance companies or the American Medical Association created a scale called BMI, and though somewhat arbitrary, we gave this scale permission to dictate how we feel about ourselves.  The problem with this scale is that it doesn’t take into account muscle mass, previous life history, pregnancies, surgeries, metabolism, etc.  The BMI scale doesn’t take much into account; it doesn’t honor recent struggles or a person’s honest journey towards health and wellness.

This book and the Heath at Every Size approach invites us to think about our own judgments and assumptions towards “fat” and “skinny” people.  What if “fat” was not just used as a derogatory term, but as a descriptive term used for a person with more fat cells in their body.  I imagine thinking about your child describing your legs or your hips as fat almost makes you cringe as we have become accustomed to thinking this is a critical or disparaging description.  If your child were to say, “Mom, these marshmallows are fat like your legs;” would that statement make you gasp and correct your child, thus further entrenching their growing viewpoint that fat is not okay, and describing something as fat is unkind, and derogatory?  Or would you laugh, agree with your child and continue to enjoy the special holiday treats that you are making in the kitchen together, lick the spatula together and try a bar as they are warm and gooey, coming out of the oven?  These moments were meant to be enjoyed without judgments or guilt.

The author of this book Linda Bacon PhD lies out a scientific basis for us beginning to enjoy our bodies: thick, thin, fat, slender, heavy or light.  Healthy habits such as eating well, movement, getting adequate rest and stress management matter, and they are all equally important.  The scale, our BMI and body fat percentage are the least important. Linda’s research shows that the more we worry or catastrophize that our bodies aren’t slim enough or that we aren’t attractive due to our weight is directly proportional to a lower life expectancy, more disease and a lower quality of life.

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