Friday, November 20, 2009


I have been thinking a lot about my own Fat Acceptance and my own health. I have written a lot here about my journey from the self hatred endorsed by everyone around me to a gentle, accepting stance that is promoted by the Fat Acceptance concept. Yet, there does not seen to be one fat acceptance movement but many. The variety of opinions and schools of thought is a bit overwhelming. I would prefer that there was one central organization overseeing the movement and declaring what is correct and what is taboo.

As you all know, that is not the case. I have to figure out what Fat Acceptance means to me. I have to find peace with all the aspects of food, body image, stigma, prejudice, feminism, virility, health, exercise... I could go on and on.

I know that I have never ever been able to reign in my eating for any length of time, The only long term experience I had was eating pound and pounds of meat and little else for three years. The moment I started eating complex carbs, I gained all my weight back and more.

I like the way not berating myself for what I eat feels. Yet, I do experience many uncomfortable realities being the weight I am. I am working with my doctors to mitigate them, however, from where I stand, it is clear that losing weight would help almost all of them. I do not even pursue this option, because at this point, I do believe that any weight I would lose would be back on plus more in short order.

I have had a few nights now of waking up gasping for air, even with my CPAP breathing machine. I am going to call my doctor and talk about this, yet I know the best solution will be to lose weight. I also believe that trying to lose weight is a waste of time for me. I have a lifetime of evidence towards that.

Everyone I talk to about this (if I talk to anyone about this) would say something different to me about this because there is no one authority or agreed on Fat Acceptance Movement.

If there was one FA authority, I could go there and figure out what the FA appropriate next steps for the apnea should be.

I am still not sure what to so next. I cannot discuss this with my family, because their heads explode when I tell them that losing weight is not an option for me. I have a sweet therapist that does her best to understand FA but not sure where that is going. I have a few friends in FA, but I do not want to burden them.

I'll go over to the Fat Studies list and ask the brains over there about treatment options for the sleep apnea. They always have good info and are very kind to me.

I wonder, a lot, if walking the Fat Acceptance path is the right one for me. I believe it is. It is just that I am not sure which one of the many versions of the Fat Acceptance movement is going to wind up being mine. I know I like the community and the suspension of the self hatred, yet I still find myself wondering if subscribing to what I understand is set point theory, and not trying to lose weight is the right thing for me. Again, there is no one "right" course of action. The different opinions within the Fat Acceptance Community confuse me instead of help me figure out what is right for me.

I am still learning and investigating the movement. Heck, I still am only half way through Linda Bacon's book.

I am just a little scared and shell shocked about waking up gasping for breath. It's very scary.

Okay that's all for now.

below is an unrelated thread about the trauma kids are exposed to via Fat stigma... I was going to post it separately and decided to just put it at the end. They are the blog exchanges from another blog, but I wanted in here on my blog.

I commented

I am aware of my fatness as well.
One thing I find fascinating though is that I was aware of my fatness back when I was a teen as well – and was certainly made aware of it by teachers, doctors, members of my peer group, etc. Yet, looking at old photos of myself, I wasn’t anything like as fat as I thought I was – indeed I find it difficult even recognizing the person in the picture.

someone responded to my comment
Maybe – just maybe – if people weren’t so obsessed with labeling people as “fat”, “obese” etc. we’d have a lot more people around who are both happier and healthier. Regardless of their body type.

I responded:

i have said this exact thing as I develop my foundation in the FA movement. I am 43 years old 390. When I look at photos of myself I see a cute kid that has a few extra pounds. As a child I was taught that I was inappropriately fat and teased as XX described. forget school, and kids, just from my parents alone, who took my fat as their failure, I was bribed, weight watchered, diet doctored, fat camped, punished and have one particular painful memory of my father dragging a 11 year old me out of bed at 6am to force me to do jumping jacks and because my effort wasn’t enthusiastic enough, he viciously called me a fat horse, walked away and didn’t speak to me for 2 days.
Today I wonder, (and hope for todays fat kids) that if I was nurtured to be the best, healthiest, me I could be as a boy if I would weigh less than I do today.
Even if it would not have made a difference in my body, I sure would have loved to take a pass on the three decades of self hate and sense of unworthiness that was my inner life until I found the FA/HAES community.

Someone replied -- I’m so sorry these things happened to you, and even sorrier that your experiences are not unusual.

I responded....

“and even sorrier that your experiences are not unusual” 
sniper, when i first got here i was like, wow these FA activist are an angry bunch, but now I feel compelled to contribute & to do what I can to help bring on the change that will make experiences like these unusual. I know I am still a zygote in the FA world, but this is the world I am moving to… it beats the crap out of the world I grew up in.

Awww, crap,

Someone replied,

Ivan, I’m sorry. I’ll tell you, FA is good for me now – but more importantly, I don’t want to participate in a world that continues to do that sort of harm to kids.

I responded

• ivan
Posted November 20, 2009 at 8:55 am | Permalink
“I don’t want to participate in a world that continues to do that sort of harm to kids.” 
XXXXX, I think that although painful, participation in the world that does this sort of harm to kids in necessary if I am going to effect any change in that world.
It is difficult to consider participating (let alone moving around easily) in that world as a 390 lb man, however, if I believe that our culture’s hatred of fat people is wrong, I need to stand up against it even if it hurts my knees to stand up for a long time.


  1. Ivan,

    I have heard that there are very promising breathing and tongue exercises that help with sleep apnea.

    I also believe that any kind of yoga/meditation practice that focuses on the breath could be benificial for you.

    As far as FA and "losing weight" (or not) is concerned:

    HAES is all about pursuing healthy nutrition. This may/may not translate into weight loss. I've found, in my own life, there is sometimes a conflict between what I feel like eating PSYCHOLOGICALLY and what makes me feel good PHYSICALLY. Developing more insight into that helps me make better choices (not better morally, just better for me in a global sense).

    Best of luck to you with your health.

  2. Ivan,

    I agree with Ruth (above) and I personally try to balance self-acceptance, eating and exercise. A few weeks ago, you posted some thoughts about your health problems and losing weight. I feel that you are trying to reconcile your belief in FA and HAES with your body's needs.

    At the risk of being taken down in flames, I will tell you that I, too, believe in those things, but I am eating to lose weight. I guess my belief only goes up to a certain point. I have some health issues and two years ago, I decided to change my eating habits and exercise more. I lost 50 lbs very slowly and I'm slowly losing about 1 pound a month. Not hating my body, not severely restricting my food intake (in fact, I feel satisfied after each meal), not hoping to lose in order to fit any media stereotype. I wanted to be able to do a load of laundry, walk to the mailbox, without sweating profusely.

    My goal was, and is, to get to size 18 (still fat) and maintain. I think this is achievable, despite the gloom and doom FA statistics. I eat cake (sometimes) ice cream (sometimes) bacon (sometimes) - you get the idea.

    I'm telling you this as an example of how an individual (me) lives with FA and is losing weight. I don't talk about what I'm eating or not eating, and I don't allow people around me to talk diet-ese either. I don't see anything wrong with wanting to be healthier.

    ie...I have very fine hair so I get good flattering haircuts, I look great in blue, so I wear it a lot, I am a "fat-storer" metabolically speaking, so I eat mindfully of that.

    You are very introspective; I hope you find your path. Do whatever you have to do to live your life. Believe that you deserve to try (and fail) and try again all strategies toward better health.

  3. Ruth, thanks for the suggestions. I too believe that getting clearer on why I am choosing to eat what I do is a good thing. As I move deeper into this stuff, I find myself checking in on my desires, cravings, hunger etc, to get clearer on my motives... without judgement, and without restricting or depriving myself of any food. It is a process of self discovery

    Karen, thanks for taking a risk in talking about eating to loose weight, It doesn't really feel safe to do that on the Fat-O-sphere, yet I wonder if there is a place for that kind of thinking. From where I stand right now, I think (have a hunch) keeping to focus on my health, getting clearer on the why's of my hunger is going to help me get to a place where I am more comfortable in my body. I am very hesitant to declare that I want to lose weight, mainly because that has never, ever, ever, lead to success for me. I will admit, though, your train of thought about getting to a size 18 for the reasons you stated doesn't seem like blasphemy, however, like you said you are taking a risk of being taken down in flames with diet talk...

    If as I get clearer on my bodies hunger and cravings etc, I do believe that I will probably lose some weight. I just do not see myself making that a goal right now, for many reasons, some of which are my history of nothing but failure and also my desire to be "in line" with the FA party line... all of these beliefs are under review at all times like you said I am an introspective guy... wouldn't it be nice if introspection burned calories?

  4. Hey Ivan,
    I so admire you for publicly working through this stuff. Your journey is an inspiration. Here's some unsolicited advice that may help you. In the HAES and FA movements, where many of us are educated enough to know that attacking fat isn't helpful and that health issues related to weight are exaggerated and blown out of proportion, it can be a little scary when we start thinking about whether fat is contributing to a health problem and if so, what to do about it. But here's my take. I don't think its helpful to spend much time thinking about whether weight loss would be helpful, because pursuing it just seems to get people into trouble - on many levels, including psychological and physical. So even if it were helpful for people who have sleep apnea to be thinner, I still don't think the benefits outweigh the risks of pursuing weight loss. I just want to support you in doing all the stuff you know to do around supporting your emotional well-being and healthy lifestlye habits. You may not lose weight, but that stuff is still really valuable for coping with your illness - and doesn't carry the risks associated with pursuing weight loss. (Note that I'm not oppposed to weight loss, it's the pursuit of weight loss that I find problematic. Some people - the minority - do find its a side effect of other changes.)
    Wishing you all the best - and the confidence to keep up the great stuff you're doing...
    Linda Bacon

  5. Linda, thanks so much for taking the time to comment. My gut, heart, and head all agree that pursuing losing weight (for me) is too risky. I think as my food evolves while I look at my cravings, hunger and all the other stuff that you and others speak to, I probably will lose some weight. However, I truly believe that I am cut from the stone where intentional attempts at weight loss are going to hurt me, not help me. Again thanks for your kindness and comment.

  6. Ivan,
    You're very welcome. Thank you for understanding and accepting me.

    Introspection is good for the health of the mind, so keep going.

  7. I am totally cool with just one person dictating exactly how Fat Acceptance should be.

    As long as that person is me. :P

    I think this whole accepting your self thing, and trying to figure out not only what you believe, but how it works for you takes time. At the end of the day it's your body, your health, your decision.


  8. I'm really glad that there are a lot of different ways of seeing Fat Acceptance. Part of Fat Acceptance (all branches will agree ;) ) is about size diversity. Diversity is beneficial and empowering. I think the same goes for the variety of ways that the movement operates. When there's one central authority dictating it easily loses touch with what's happening on the ground. That's not to dismiss the importance of guidance and structure, but just to note that our own diversity as a movement will empower us to welcome more and varied members to our ranks based on appealing to more people for the nuances our differences suggest.

    But I don't think that's why you were writing what you were. I think you are concerned with your health and the ways that the potential result of one course of action might conflict with what's happening overall in the movement. That said, I must agree with Linda's comments. Though weight loss itself might prove beneficial for the time that it lasts and in regards to specific issues, the long term result - as you said you were aware of - is likely that you will regain that weight and when you do, the ramifications of that (both psychologically and physically as Linda points out) will have potentially greater effects than your current situation.

    That's just my thought on the matter and at the end of the day, Bianca's right - you have to figure out what you think is best for you, Ivan.

    As an aside, and in reference to the dual nature of the post related to what kids experience, I had the opportunity to speak with another middle school class today on Size Diversity.

  9. Hey Ivan,

    I just wanted to applaud your openness and willingness to tackle this question. I think you got a lot of great comments.

    I wanted to echo what Linda said and let you know that I think you're on the right track. Keep connecting to the sense of self love that you're developing. The more you love yourself, the easier it is to hear your intuitive sense of what you need, on everything from food to exercise to emotional boundaries. You are definitely on that path right now, so let it keep evolving.

    Also, regarding the sleep apnea, it might be worth it to chat with your sleep doctor. Maybe there's a different mask or the cpap could be retitrated? I know it's a pain in the ass, but it might be worth it.

    Sending you love!


    P.S. If that hellfire "diet coach" who was on after me on the radio today set this off, banish that chick from your mind. If L-glutamine and grapefruit were the key to healthy weight loss, I would be writing to you while sitting on my pile of money at the L-glutamine factory. :)

  10. Ivan

    I applaude you for expressing how you feel, and noticing the many faces of FA.

    If we think about the HAES philosophy, it is a great place to start. Eating good things for your body, and doing some kind of movement (like playing your drum!). Those things seem to automatically put you in a better mood, reduce stress, and provide a sense of well being that hopefully will allow you to cope with the usual stress, and the not so usual stress.

    Think about how you feel and what you want to do for you. Take weight loss out of the picture for you right now.

    RE: Sleep apnea. I am with Golda....get it checked. I also know that NYU has a Sleep Disorders Center, and might be worth consideration.

    Sometimes I think FA is kinda like college-- you get out of it what you put in, as well as you can take out what you want.

    Let your heart guide you...

    Sending a big fat hug,

  11. As another member of the CPAP club:

    I need more pressure when I have a cold or sinus issues. Since I have allergies and asthma, this happens a LOT. I use an auto-adjusting CPAP so that *IT* can adapt to my current breathing for me. (It's certainly more awake when I'm asleep than I am ;)