Okay, here goes. A disjointed (ooh, good ‘j’ word–I’ve been playing Words with Friends lately,) unprofessional review of a very interesting book.
Health at Every Size was written by Linda Bacon, who started out with a masters degree in psychotherapy, and then went back to school to get her doctorate in physiology with a focus on nutrition and weight regulation. She struggled for years with her own weight. “Bacon’s pain and obsession about her weight fueled her determination to understand everything about weight regulation.”
The main point she tries to make in this book is that most people are not going to lose weight. Period. And if they do lose weight, in all probability they will regain that weight. She spends a lot of time going over extensive research that shows this is true. (that’s the part I skimmed.) And she points to many studies that show that being overweight is not necessarily detrimental to your health. (also skimmed.) I think she’s trying to say that if you accept your weight and stop judging yourself for it, it is easier to move forward and make changes that are truly healthy IN SPITE OF your weight.
“Self-love may be the most revolutionary act you can engage in. A person who is content in his or her body–fat or thin–disempowers the industries that prey on us and helps rewrite cultural mores.”
She doesn’t promote “Health at Any and All Food.” That’s kind of what I thought the “Health at Every Size” movement was about. Not at all. She actually promotes eating very healthy whole foods. And makes a statement that sounds vaguely familiar. “Enjoy a variety of real food, primarily plants.” Similar to Michael Pollan’s famous saying, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Who came first?
This was probably the most outstanding and interesting passage in the book:
Then recognize that you have a choice. You can choose your own standard of beauty, one that is realistic and respectful, or you can choose society’s hurtful standards. Just remember: You only have one body and despite how well you live your life, it may never change. Can you afford to hate yourself for the rest of your life?
Bring this new thinking to how you view your body. Experts call this vision kinesthesia, which simply means how you sense and feel about your body. Kinesthesia is a product of your imagination, much more influenced by your self-esteem than by others’ perception of you. Only you have the power to alter it.
This might be what happened to me when I made that New Year’s Day list:
Most of all I want to live a balanced healthful life. WITHOUT ANGST.
I want to be
I want to be all of these things. I want them to be balanced in my life. I even wrote “If being a little heavier is part of this, so be it.”
Something changed that day. Well, lets be real. This whole thing has been a process. A LONG DRAWN-OUT PROCESS. I started changing the way I think and the way I viewed myself. I would no longer be embarrassed that I was ‘too fat’ to go to the gym, and put it off for a week or two until I ‘got the pounds off.’ I went to the gym as a proud overweight woman who wanted to continue to grow stronger. I looked at myself in the mirror and liked what I saw. Not compared to anyone else, either fatter or thinner. I just was pleased with me. Now don’t get me wrong. That is in no way a 24 hour a day feeling. In fact, last night I had to ask myself, so why DO you continue to weigh yourself? Well the truth is, many times, mostly in the evening when I am sitting, I ‘feel’ very fat. So I weigh myself to reassure myself that nothing has really changed.
And it has not. I weigh almost exactly the same every time I get on the scale. For the last few weeks I’ve taken a break from writing down everything I eat, and have not counted the calories either. This does not mean that I have thrown out everything I have learned along the way. Far from it. Even my most recent foray into eating more protein has come into play. I still am choosing good foods, balanced meals, basically no processed foods (except the most excellent cake at the missions weekend banquet :)) ) I am not engaging in angst over meals out, or wanting a treat now and again. I am, however, still battling that feeling of ‘being bad’ even when I have only THOUGHT about eating something too rich. So I’m a work in progress. Still. sigh.
Towards the end of the book she makes this statement:
“Failed attempts at losing weight make people feel like failures, and even those who succeed feel a never-ending pressure to retain that success that will always limit their ability to feel comfortable around food and in their bodies.”
This is what I was feeling a wee bit. Like a ‘successful maintainer’ who was actually always failing. I am thinking of changing the byline of my blog to something like ‘thoughts on a whole and healthy life.’ That would be more in line with what I write about anyway. Since I really have nothing left to say about weight LOSS.
One more thought. For some of us, who are attempting to maintain a weight lower that what our body wants, or perhaps we have mucked with our internal body mechanism by gaining and maintaining extreme amounts of weight, I do believe that if we don’t continue to ‘try’ to lose weight, or at least remain ‘vigilant’ in maintaining our weight, there is the distinct probability that we will regain weight.
This book was quite scientific, especially the first half, where she uses EXTENSIVE research to try to prove her point (that you can be overweight and healthy.) But it was much more balanced in its approach to life and food and exercise than I expected. I have written before that I am scared by some of the HAES advocates. They seem so angry. I think my life experience is much much different than many persons. I was ‘morbidly obese’ for many years, but for the most part I was loved, and treated with respect, and had a very full and fulfilling life. For some people that is not their experience, and thus, their anger and frustration. Overall, this book had a lot to offer. (plus it was very cheap to download on my kindle.) I wish so much that people would learn to be content with their bodies and just eat healthy foods and move around a bit.