“But you’re promoting an unhealthy lifestyle!”

Okay, so this blog entry is dedicated to the haters. Okay, maybe not haters, but ill informed, ill motivated “do gooders”. This post is for the people who are out to save us from our fatness, save us from ourselves.

There are few things in this life that are considered both a medical condition and everybody else’s business. Rarely do you see people run up to a smoker, who is a complete stranger, yelling about cancer and about how disgusting they are as a human being for smoking. Or how about running up to thin people eating McDonald’s and other processed foods yelling at them about their diet/lifestyle. People would be livid if we displayed this kind of behavior. Yet, somehow, it is perfectly acceptable to do these exact same things to a fat person that you have never met before? So, before I delve into any science or medical reasoning behind HAES, I just want to tell everyone one thing. If it’s not your body….SHUT UP! That might sound really harsh, but here is the deal. I don’t come to your house and slap the high fructose corn syrup snacks that are killing your kids out of their sweet little hands. I don’t come over and cry and yell because your eating meat even though I am a vegetarian. I make choices about my life and you make choice about yours. It is beyond rude to assert your assumptions about health, beauty, and quality of life on someone else. So, don’t do it!

Now, let me hop down off of my soup box and let’s talk science and dollar signs. Here is what we do know about “obesity” (I hate that word, but whatevs, we are talking science here). We know that despite the “war on obesity”, a 58+ BILLION dollar diet industry, and every fad diet that you can possibly imagine, fat people are not disappearing. There has yet to be creation of a pill or diet that magically makes all people the alleged “perfect” thin ideal.  To make things more complicated, we know that the few people who do find weight loss success, only experience it for a limited time. In other words 90+ % of people who lose 20 pounds or more will gain it all back within 5 years. If you jump to the 10year mark, that percentage gets pretty close to 100. So what is the driving force behind our diet culture? The most common response that you will hear is health. So let’s take a look at how weight loss/diet culture is affecting our health.

Let me start with asking, what medical treatment do you know of, besides weight loss, that would be recommended as a cure with a less than 5% long term success rate? Just throwing that out there. But what if I told you that diet culture is not only not the cure, but it’s also a major part of the problem? What if I told you that your weight isn’t actually whats dictating your health? Well recent studies show that this is true. The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center conducted a study that showed that losing and regaining weight lowers the functioning of your immune system. Dr. Tracy L. Bale of Univ. of Pa. conducted a study that showed that dieting changes your brain chemistry and causes your body to crave high fat foods leading to additional weight gain rather than weight loss.  And here is a real kicker, recent studies, one conducted by the Presidents Council on Fitness and Sports and one conducted by the American Dietetic Association, showed that there is strong evidence that “overweight” or “obese” individuals can get healthier by becoming more active, regardless of how much weight they lose or if they lose weight at all.

So, I know I just crammed a lot of information into a short blog space, but what does it all mean? Here is a summary of what recent studies show. There are actually no significant health risks associated with being “overweight” or “obese”. The health risks commonly attributed to size are actually a result of behaviors and eating habits that lead SOME people to be “obese” or “overweight”. So! If you are concerned about your OWN health, then become more active and eat the right things. STOP putting the focus on weight loss. This, my friendly readers, is Health at Every Size (HAES). When you eat healthy and exercise, your body will balance out. Don’t believe me? Seven years ago, I jumped off of the weight lost band wagon and started thinking HAES. In the first year I lost 60 pounds, I have maintained every pound of weight loss for seven years. I now weigh in the ten pound range of 280-290, have an average blood pressure of 117/60, no blood sugar problems, and I never get winded going up stairs. My fat is a part of my health and mental well being.

The point I am trying to make is every body can be beautiful and healthy, any size, any shape, period, end of story. The science backs it up. So don’t assume you know someone’s health on the basis of their body. AND don’t assume it’s any of your business.