Saturday, December 12, 2009

Morality of my Fat Acceptance

I have been painfully introspective the past few weeks. I think that my quest for self awareness may have taken on a life of its own. In my looking within, I think I have been overlooking some obvious things going on around me that are very important in my Fat Acceptance Journey.

If you have read through my blog, or seen the type of comments I leave on other blogs, (with the exception of Shapely prose who moderate my comments for some reason unknown to me) you will see that my journey through Fat Acceptance has been an emotional one, with little spotlights here and there about my health.

One of the things that happened for me when I started blogging, is that I fond myself involved in community. This is a good thing. The good emotions I experienced as I jumped in feet first were cathartic. As many of us can understand, having been rejected, admonished, stigmatized, and discriminated against from almost any community I was involved with throughout my life, having people smile at me, acknowledge the validity of my thoughts, encourage me, seemed like a nirvana manifested.

I was lucky enough to meet an hang out with Marylyn Wann at the ASDAH convention who invited me to join her list-serve and has been very generous with her comments and support there. Linda Bacon was kind enough to comment on a blog post I did from a very frightened place, others in the community who would respond to my postings were also very kind. As I was learning about the lay of the land of the fat-o-sphere, making new friends, and working through the sppedbumps and potholes with my family, I became encouraged that I could actually figure out a way to a happy life and let go of the self hatred and shame that was at the core or my psyche.

So now I am more aware of the politics of the movement, I have a better understanding of (not complete) privilege, I understand what set point theory is, and I have dabbled in improving my nutrition and my movement.

So here is where I go into the "good fatty/bad fatty" introspection. But before that, there is another aspect that has captured my attention lately about this wonderful community.

And it is a wonderful community. It is not perfect. But I find for the most part, it is filled with well intentioned, principled folks with whom I have a lot in common.

Here is the rub. Being in the community had become more important to me than actually moving forward with what this community promotes around my nutrition and movement. I haven't found (and I have been looking) for a voice or a segment of the community that says just eat whatever you want and only move if you are motivated to, otherwise just stay at home, motionless and eat anything you want to. You are accepted Ivan! We accept you. It is not your fault. You are not responsible. The nasty fat hating world has wronged you and now your "Peeps" in the fat o sphere will let you know that everything you are doing (actually everything I am not doing) is okay.

Well, is it? I am not feeling good about the type of stuff I eat, the amount of stuff I eat, or the way I eat it. I am ashamed of my lack of movement. I do not want to talk about this or write about this.

I was feeling good about the walking I was doing, and that I have added a few vegetables to my food, I was taking some time to check in with what my body was hungry for, etc. One of my mantra's was as long as I am moving in the right direction, I am good. Another mantra was; I am working on my health because my mental health is a big part of it, so coming to terms with all the stuff that Fat Hatred, Stigma, etc etc did to me is working on my health.

However, lately, my attention has been on what I am eating and how much movement I am getting. I would not want to post what I eat and the amount of movement I get ( basically enough to get my to and from the bathroom and to and from the kitchen) Some of the lack of movement is legitimate pain from my big medical drama 2.5 years ago, and some of it is just plain slothfulness. The food is a story in and of itself.

Yet, I am hesitant to reach out for help with my food or my movement because an alarm goes off in my head saying I am not accepting myself, if I look at my food like a problem that needs to be fixed. It is too important that I accept myself. fail fail fail….

Yet I have to be honest and say that my food is not healthy. I cannot deny it. Which is what it seems to me I have been doing.

This laziness manifests itself in the low quality of the food I eat, (fast foodish, processed, sugary, cake and cookieish eating) and in the very limited amount of movement I get. Part of it is that the pain meds I take from the "medical drama" take away my mental sharpness and I sleep a lot. I can get some movement in when I take them though. So I am doing this juggling act between, pain meds, sleep, wanting to be able to read and pay attention, wanting to get more movement, and the idiot box that doesn't demand anything from me other that sitting in front of it and looking in its direction.

I am not depressed, although I did consider that. I am just tired. And a voice in my head is also telling me I am just lazy and don't want to work that hard.

Ya know, if there was some research out there that was endorsed by the likes of Wann and Bacon, that said and individual like me, in circumstances like mine, has as his best bet at a happy life is to just accept that very little movement and eating large quantities of food and spending most of your day watching tv.

I know in my heart of hearts that this is not okay.

I am still a card carrying member of FA. I definitely understand that trying to loose weight is a loosing proposition for someone like me. I am just feeling a little suffocated from all the moral judgement I am buying into about what by most standards could be considered Sloth.

I can play my medical condition card here. My blog details all the medical trauma and drama that has been part of my life. I am disabled from the last episode. Yet, there is room for more movement, I think, if I push myself through the pain so I don't have to take more pain meds. There is room for healthier choices about what I eat, about how much I eat.

I just do not want to go back to a life a shame, self hatred, and walking around my life apologizing for taking up two seats everywhere I go.

I want to feel good about the decisions I make around nutrition and movement while taking into account that the meds are a hurdle to the movement, and all the delicious goodies I like to keep stocked in the house are a hurdle to better nutrition.

I am very interested in hearing what folks have to say about this.




  1. Thank you for having the courage and dedication to truth to post this.

    It's possible that part of what you're up against is that the simple carbs are knocking you out. This can look like depression, but it's a physcial problem, not an emotional problem. If you can't cut back on them at this point, can you just eat them after you've eaten lower glycemic food?

  2. Ivan,

    What has worked for me when I am depressed (I know you say you are not, but your symptoms are indicators for ME PERSONALLY that I am DEPRESSED, but I'm not saying that's the case with you) is to choose one tiny eensy weensy "positive" change that I can consistently implement in my routine. It's important to start small, so that you don't "fail" and get defeated. When I am able to make a tiny change, the "postive" momentum builds.

  3. Hi Ivan,

    I'm definitely in the eat what you want, move as little as you want camp. "Morality," "sloth," "laziness" are not concepts I accept anymore when it comes to food and exercise.

    I am 46 years old, and only got fat as an adult, but I've never had particularly good eating or exercising habits. Basically, I think I have a fairly low energy level either genetically or through lifelong habit formation. I have tried to change that again and again, and always seem to "fall off the wagon" eventually. Now I try to get some exercise in a few times a week and usually fail.

    In terms of diet, I have again gone through chunks of time when I ate lots of vegetables, but again, I've always felt fallen off the wagon. Maybe I have a stronger predisposition to addiction than some people -- smoking, drinking, the wrong kind of men, sugar. Plus, preparing vegetables is a pain in the ass. I have low energy levels and don't want to spend an hour cooking when I can spend two minutes microwaving or pouring a bowl of cereal.

    And I'm finally okay with all this. I accept that these are things that I cannot change through self-guilt. Low energy is part and parcel of my TrabbsBoyness. It contributes to my easygoing nature. It keeps me calm in an emergency. It frees me to spend more time thinking.

    I will quite possible die younger than people who eat a healthy diet and exercise. And that's okay with me. I would rather spend the years I have doing the things that are important to me -- kicking ass at my career, raising my amazing kids, traveling, talking with friends, having wild, blubbery sex with my husband -- than making myself miserable trying to be somebody else just for an extra chunk of days.

    It's that old "slide in sideways" philosophy -- the goal is not to go to our graves as late as possible with a perfectly preserved corpse; it's to slide in sideways, beer in one hand, chocolate in the other yelling "Woo hoo, What a ride!"

    I don't give advice, since I believe adults can make their own decisions. But if you are looking for research on whether the best bet for some people is to accept that they are happier living an unhealthy life than trying to change themselves enough to make a healthy life possible, I offer myself as a study of one.

  4. Hi Ivan ~

    I would like to say to you that as you love yourself and accept yourself, you may choose to make different choices for yourself. Being self-accepting and self-loving does not mean that you have to stay the exact same as you are in this moment. You can change some of your eating habits and moving habits without changing one bit of your own self-appreciation and support. Changing a behavior does not mean that you don't love yourself as you are.

    We are all continually growing and evolving. Wherever you are in this moment is okay. Wherever you will be tomorrow ... or next year ... is okay. You not only can change -- you will change! We all change every day. You don't have to cling to your idea of who you are in order to love, accept and support yourself. You can allow yourself to create your life however you wish.

    I think that the point you are trying to capture may be that you will love, honor, accept and respect yourself no matter what choices you make around food and movement. You don't need to feel shame for what you choose to eat or how little/much you choose to move. You don't have to make excuses. You are free to do as you please -- and to feel good about yourself as a human being no matter what you choose.

    It sounds to me like you might want to make choices for yourself that seem healthier to you. You also don't have to feel ashamed of that! You are not betraying your fat self by choosing to eat more veggies (or whatever your version of healthier is) -- nor by choosing to add more movement into your life. You can choose to take better care of your fat body in whatever ways appeal to you. If you could see beyond weight -- and just choose the behaviors that make you feel good in your own body -- then I think you'll find peace with all of this stuff.

    One great book I read when I was first starting out on this path years ago was Making Peace With Food by Susan Kano. You might like to check it out. But, don't be afraid to eat healthier. You aren't betraying the fat community or your fat self. Same with fun movement. Keep dancing! Enjoy your body! And if you want to keep eating what you're eating and moving not very much -- that's okay too -- it doesn't change your value as a person. It's up to you how you want to feel and how you want to treat your body. Ultimately, Ivan, it's your life.

    All the best ~ Kathy

  5. Although I am a proponent of HAES, I am also concious of the incredibly judgemental attitudes about "right living" that it plays to in our society. This is good in trying to bring a message that people can be healthy without weightloss, but it can be bad if the message becomes being healthy in a way that is either not achievable or doesn't match your own internal piece about health.

    I, too, wish that I would exercise more, but right now I'm working just on eating food that doesn't make me sick (and because I have celiac disease, some food makes me sick). But I don't think that I would necessarily have changed my eating unless I had to.

    But, and here's the sticker, I do not believe that people should be discriminated against because of their size...regardless of how they got that way. It's part of what drives me crazy about the arguments that try to justify fatness to the rest of the world. I'm fat, but that doesn't make me or you a bad or immoral person.

    But what I am reading in your post speaks to a part of you that does want to make changes, and that acknowledges your pain as one barrier to that. So maybe working on a non-pill based pain management program might be something to consider look into - a wonderful book to read is Full Catastrophe Living...but I'm sure there are other techniques out there. Trying to make changes in the face of a problem like pain is really's okay to give yourself some permission to not beat yourself up about that.


  6. Hello Ivan, I too respect your journey, as have other commenters. Here are some things I have learned that may help. wherever you are on the road is a perfectly excellent place to be. That goes for your body size, level of self-care and self-appreciation. You are perfectly fine just the way you are. It does not negate your current position if you are moving forward toward another position. So when your "kid" side comes forward and rebells , that is part of the process. When your "parent" side comes forward and pumps up the volume on your enjoyment of veggies and movement, that is part of the process.

    I encourage you to appreciate and accept all the sides of yourself as valuable and worth having their needs met. When you do problem solving within your own head, makeing peace with all your conflicting needs, life gets better.

    Your miraculous body deserves the care INDEPENDENT OF SIZE!!

    Take care,
    Kelly Bliss

  7. Hmm, reading the other comments here I'm feeling a little like the devil sitting on your left shoulder ("Come to the Dark Side. We have cookies!"). I guess the main thing is that you are so much more than your health habits. Whether or not you find a way to eat more fiber or raise your heart rate does not change your value as a human being. Many years of therapy has taught me that insecurity, guilt, superego, your family's voice in your head (depends on the therapist) makes you put all your energy into things you don't like about yourself. To me, the key to happiness was learning to refocus my energy on what I DO like. Maybe the bad things will improve and maybe not, but at least they're not crowding out the more important parts of life.

    A lot of the people in the FA movement are generally happy about things except the whole diet and exercise thing. If that's the main thing that makes you unhappy, then getting help if you can possibly afford it may be the best thing. If it's yet another burden in life, maybe the most important thing is finding what makes you happy, and worrying about health later.

    However you handle it, you're still a great person.

  8. Ivan--

    First, I applaud your honesty. I believe that there are many components to your story that will resonate with others in the community, even fire-breathing HAES types, including me.

    Second, only you can and should judge yourself. Nobody but you has to walk in your moccasins. Whether it be Size Acceptance or Fat Acceptance or HAES, nobody is going to measure you on a scale of "correctness." We're a pretty accepting bunch!

    Third, you have to seek peace with yourself (and your higher power, if you have the belief). Your options and abilities are different than every other human being on earth--life is about making the most of what you have been given, not about measuring up to other peoples' standards--even in your newly-found communities.

    (You may encounter a few judgmental types, and for that I am sorry, and apologize. Among the many "isms" out there, "ableism" is common. In our communities, you might see it in the form of the argument that "your weight doesn't matter, as long as you exercise religiously and eat healthily, don't smoke or engage in unprotected sex, and observe posted speed limits in your car...etc." I am trying to be funny, but you get the point.)

    So, in seeking peace and serenity, don't be too hard on yourself, or beat yourself up because you don't feel you are totally living up to HAES principles. Just do the best you can, to balance your temptations against your goals. I will always respect you for that. I already do.

    Bill Fabrey

  9. FWIW, I think people are allowed to have other priorities besides Living Healthy in the middle-class, abled sense of the term. Besides, even as a card-carrying vegetable eater and transportation walker, I think the effect of eating on health (short of having so little to eat or so little variety that true nutritional deficiency like beri-beri or kwashiorkor takes place) is extremely overrated AND highly variable from one person to another. What about all these 95-year-olds who say they love Twinkies and hate exercise?

    Check out Barry Glassner's book The Gospel of Food sometime if you haven't yet. One study he cites in the book is a real eye-opener; it suggests that people don't get as much nutritional benefit out of foods they dislike as they get out of foods they like.

    Andee (Meowser)

  10. Ivan,

    Let me start off by saying I accept you. Being fat is not your fault because it’s not a choice. And I'm not going to judge you for deciding to find happiness in your life, no matter what form that happiness take.

    One of the primary goals of the Fat Acceptance movement is to battle a stereotype. And sometimes I feel like that goal creates an atmosphere of shame around behavior that reinforces the stereotype.

    I’m also a disabled fattie and, as such, I will never be the picture of a perfect fattie. I can’t exercise in the same amount or with the same regularity as my healthy peers. Expecting that of myself is unreasonable.

    From what I read in your post, it seems like your trying to accept and balance two parts of yourself. The disabled part and the fat part.

    While I’ve always been okay with the fat part of myself, I very much relate with coming to terms with the disabled part of myself. It’s an arduous process but well worth the effort.

    For my own purposes, I live by the theory "if you don't use it, it stops working " AND "any movement counts." If you don’t walk at all, you won’t be able to walk. But a little bit of walking can make a big difference.

    It also seems kinda like you still have some voices in your head recommending food restriction.

    I’m a big proponent of intuitive eating. That means, when it comes to food, letting go of the shoulds and trust your body. When I crave a salad, I eat a salad. The rest of the time I don’t worry about it too much.

    Ultimately, you have to decide what’s right for you. So my advice is to take what you need, what rings true to you, from my words, and discard the rest.

    Elizebeth Turnquist

  11. The question is not whether you should judge yourself--or if anyone else should. It's that shame and judgementalism are poor incentives for making changes you want to make. They never work. Making positive (SMALL) changes is a good thing. And small is good because so many people sabotage themselves by making changes they will never be able to hold onto. Who is going to work out every day and eat tofu and sprouts all the time? Pick a change or two that you would like to see and see achieving it not as a moral issue, or a scale number issue, but a way towards feeling better, like saving money is a good thing, rather than something that makes you a "good person."

  12. All the other commenters have made all the points I would make. They're all very good points and I hope you take them to heart.

    However, what I most want to say is...

    We love you, and you deserve that love.

  13. Hi Ivan,

    I'm sorry you're going through such a difficult patch, but it really does look as if you're working through it in a constructive way. Before addressing any of the issues you bring up I just wanted to say something about your call to the Pearlsong Conversation in August--aside from thank you, thank you, thank you! Having arranged some fat acceptance events, you must have seen how rare and valuable each person's participation is!

    You made a comment about how little fat positive fiction there is for kids.

    First of all we really do live in a web, and your pulling that thread caused several reactions, including Charlie Lovett deciding to write a fat friendly Young Adult novel!

    But on a personal note I was telling my friend that IvanNYC had called in to the Pearlsong conversation and had brought up the subject of fat friendly children's literature. I said I wondered if perhaps you were a teacher. I learn from your blog that you are not professionally employed as an educator.

    But I stand by my initial impression. I think you are a teacher! Sharing your honest journey in learning how to live a body positive life and deal with fat, disability, movement and food issues teaches everyone who reads it.

    I totally agree with some other commenters that the "baby steps" method of trying small positive changes can be unexpectedly powerful. I also feel that you're entitled to a period of--for want of a better word--mourning, we could also call it healing, emotionally as well as physically, after the tremendous trauma you have survived.

    I also agree with you that being fat, and clearly strong, mentally as well as physically, has brought you back from the edge of death. After going through that you are entitled to some time watching mindless TV (which, like food, can sometimes soothe an exhausted person) and gradually finding out what your body wants.

    We truly underestimate the great power and wisdom our bodies have.

    I've learned to listen to and honor my own body's feedback over many years, but several of those years involved in detoxing from body hatred that had crept into my brain and learning a whole raft of ideas and strategies that made me comfortable and didn't trigger self-loathing. For example, for me sometimes mindless eating can be a kind of non-pharmaceutical antidepressant. Sometimes I need fried chicken and chocolate cake for breakfast. It may not be available, but if it was, I'd eat it, maybe feel a little queasy, maybe not. Sometimes by the time I get hold of that food (whatever it may be), I don't want it anymore. I now put it in the freezer rather than throwing it out the way I would have during my diet-crazed years. (Because I then thought of these things as "Evil" Food that might sneak out of the kitchen and strangle me in my sleep.)

    However, I have a friend with Crohn's Disease who wrestles with the reality that for her even one piece of fried chicken, let alone a slice of cake, she could wind up in the emergency room. So she plans ahead and her version of that would be boiled chicken breast (no skin because it literally nauseates her) and nonfat yogurt with chocolate powder and splenda (she probably wouldn't have it for breakfast, but I might, that sounds pretty good too actually--LOL!)

    I wanted to say something about the splintered nature of Fat Acceptance community, but I've gone on too long already.

    Hang in there and keep teaching as you learn--
    take care,

    Lynne Murray

  14. Hello Ivan!

    You've already gotten such beautiful responses, but I must joy the fray as well.

    Your transparency about where you are, right now, in the spot that you're in, is beautiful. You are living in the question of who you are and what you want from life, and that is a beautiful and important place to be.

    I think your introspection has landed you in a very interesting place of clarity. You want to eat a little better and move a little more, but in a way that works for you. And you want to have more compassion for yourself and your circumstances.

    And, through your blog and your connection with NAAFA and ASDAH and the fatosphere etc you have landed yourself among people who can help you with just that.

    Can I just tell you that figuring out how to eat a little better and move a little more, without support, can be kind of hard? It's not always easy when "healthy eating" is always conflated with weight loss.

    Let me know if you'd like to do some work with me. It would be my pleasure. There's no reason to go it alone.


  15. Hi Ivan,

    A few things.

    First, I love your honesty, as everyone else commenting here has. It's a true gift to us all. I think you give voice beautifully to a lot of things that probably many people feel or think, but don't allow themselves to really think or talk about, but that are important.

    Second, I hear you about feeling divided between whether exercise and eating nutritiously are about size acceptance or not. I was just thinking about that when out for a walk before reading your post. It is so easy for me to start walking, then start thinking, "This might help me lose weight if I keep doing this!" Such thoughts are so seductive, and it's very hard to stop thinking that way. That sort of thinking can turn exercise into war against one's body and self. When I walk, I try to remember that this is for health, and for pleasure. Only! :)

    In my opinion, Dr. Pamela Carlton, formerly of Stanford's Lucille Packard Children's Hospital eating disorder's department, says it best: the purpose of exercise is to feel good. That's it! I would also add that it's to have fun.

    Third, in order for physical activity to be fun, it often needs to be physically easy (unless for a person who has gotten to the point of enjoying the physical challenge), and not a big pressure, either. I decided awhile back to set a goal that I would try to walk for just 2 minutes per day, in walking shoes, and not count walking that involves doing anything else (in order to gradually build up the time I devote solely to recreation daily. It gets easier to build in activity time into one's schedule *gradually.* I've found for myself that the key is to not include other activities in that time. Yes, there is health value in walking to the mail box, or walking around the grocery store. But as I learned from a physical therapist, there are important benefits in setting aside time just for physical activity/exercise/recreation independent of other activities, so that the body can be fully listened to, and the exercise time and activity can be adjusted and/or increased independent of other activities of daily living.

    I have an acquaintance who blurs "exercise" with other activities, then wonders why she is either so often tired and lethargic, or, conversely, very active and then in pain from overdoing it. The answer is that she is not giving her body it's own physical activity time just for gradually building up her strength and agility. She either does almost nothing most days except walk to the mailbox, but on other days, hikes across Golden Gate Park dragging a card table to a political activity, and wonders why she is sore and exhausted from "getting exercise". She concludes from this that she just can't exercise without pain and fatigue.

    However, if she put on her sneakers and just went for a 1-2 minute walk outside each day, gradually she might feel like walking a little further some days, because she is giving her body a chance to build up, and the time is devoted solely to her body and physical activity, rather than to trying to accomplish something else while being physically active.

    More in next post...

  16. Hi Ivan,


    Fourth, I have learned (the hard way!) to always under-do it. If I think I can walk 1/4 mile, I just walk 1/8. If I think I can swim 10 laps, I swim 5. If I think I can walk 2 minutes, I walk 1 minute. That way, it stays easy, fun, and eventually, my body will be able to do more, even if I'm consistently underdoing it, because at least I'm getting in a little activity daily, or often. So then I might then be able to walk 1 full mile, but will just walk 1/2 mile! It isn't necessary to push one's limits in order to build up, and it stays fun and safe that way, to move regularly, but always underdo it.

    Fifth, it helps me to think of movement for recreation, rather than for exercise. I try to find toys that involve gentle movement. Tossing a pocket rocket is fun, even just passing it with a friend while the two of us are sitting in the living room a few feet from each other. It's an egg-sized rubber football with tail fins that make it easy to throw, available at sporting goods stores. Or tossing a tennis ball. Other toys include playing with one of those paddles that has a little rubber ball attached. Or juggling, then picking up the items that fall to the floor with one of those clasping, long-handled reaching tools. Another fun one is playing jacks on the kitchen table. These are all about recreation and having fun. Our culture is so obsessed with fitness and weight loss that we have taken the fun and play out of movement. We've turned recreation into exercise: work! A chore! Toys and play help restore that sense of fun. So does going for a walk just for fun: to see some nice scenery - a creek, a park, an arboretum, an amusement park, or to people-watch from a cafe table or park bench. The exercise becomes secondary: it's for the fun. The recreation feels physically good, too, if it's easy and enjoyable.

    Sixth, I read years ago that fatigue can be a symptom of a lack of exercise. This is true even of chronic fatigue. People with that condition have been found to increase their energy level over time just by starting with a short walk - even 15 seconds - daily, then gradually building up to a minute/day or so. So I decided that every time I felt tired, I would go for a tiny (~2 minute) walk, to increase my energy, which, paradoxically, it did: again, if I don't over-do it, but under-do what I think I can do. This can become a fun habit, and it is amazing how fatigue begins to lift.

  17. Ivan,

    I always enjoy reading your words. They help me decipher my own struggle with FA, my body, and the world we live in.

    You said, "Yet, I am hesitant to reach out for help with my food or my movement because an alarm goes off in my head that I am not accepting myself, if I look at my food as a problem that needs to be fixed. It is too important that I accept myself."

    Are you your food? If your food is 'bad', does that mean you are 'bad'? Are you correlating your food intake (quality/quantity) with being fat? ("If I didn't eat 'bad' food, I wouldn't be 'bad'.) Or are you looking at your food intake (quality/quantity) as a one to one relationship (without the spectre of size attached to it)? ("I can eat 'bad' things and still be a 'good' person.")

    In the past several years, I have made some very major changes to the quality and quantity of food that I eat. I had done so, at first, in hopes that it would lead to weight loss. It has not. What it *has* led to is an inner self-confidence that I am eating well - better than most everyone I come in contact with (thin, average, and large). There are *still* times when I look at the cart behind me in the check-out aisle of the grocery store and think, "Wow, someone is eating really healthy," and several seconds later, I realize it's *me*. That's *my* cart.

    When people close to me see the lengths that I go to in order to eat better (I've heard several times, "You are so disciplined!!"), I find that they begin to consider the fuel they put into /their/ bodies. They also learn that a person who doesn't drink soda, who eats perhaps 1 bag of potato chips per year, who has eliminated sweet foods completely, can still be super morbidly obese. I have changed the way I eat for the better, but I am still a two-seater in airplane lingo.

    I'm not sure where I'm going with all of this. I guess I want to say that if you change your eating habits, don't expect to lose your fatness. Can you accept yourself if you eat well but stay obese (as I do)? Can you accept yourself if the only 'benefit' of healthy eating is the lessening strain on your pancreas, the clearing of plaque in your arteries, and the boost to your immune system from the vitamin boost of fresh veggies? (I ask, too, because this is a question I personally struggle with.) It takes a couple of weeks, but you can expect to feel better with the goodness that a sweet-free, vegi-ful meal can give you. (Also, when I stopped buying soda and sweets, I found I had a little extra pocket change (but not much, because I was purchasing veggies and other ingredients in lieu of cake-and-ice cream for dinner).)

    Also, about the fatigue -- I find when I try to lose weight (drop my caloric intake + exercize), I become HORRIBLY fatigued. I can easily sleep 12+ hours/day and still *need* more sleep. I've had dieticians tell me fatigue during weight loss is normal, that it is the body trying to conserve energy that it's losing, but that the fatigue will go away eventually. It never really does for me.

    Please keep posting. I really like reading your thought process.


  18. Do what feels right to you- that's your business
    : ))

  19. Hi Ivan,

    I'm new to the fat acceptance idea, but what I take away from the FA philosphy is that it is important to honour yourself.

    It is possible to want to start exercise more and still love and honour yourself. And I've recently started to realize that it is possible to exercise *less* than optimal, and still love an honour yourself.

    The important component is joy. Some people in this world live an ascetic life and deprive themselves to a point I do not consider physically healthy. But they feel that the spiritual reward they receive is worth the sacrifice. If somebody indulges themself, but is living a life truly filled with joy, then doesn't it fall under a similar category? The human body is not a machine. It's important to listen to our spirit to discern what it is we truly want in life. The answer will be different for everybody.

    I might be interpreting this wrong, but it sounds as if you actually do want to make a change in your life, but when you do, you start to worry that you're not accepting yourself enough.

    If the whole acceptance/change issue is too much "baggage" maybe change things up a little bit, and try to bring some other change into your life. It does seem as if you are looking for something to be different from they way things are right now. Try to infuse your life with joy in other ways, and perhaps that will bring you to a state of mind where the self acceptance issue doesn't feel like such a big thing to tackle. So if physical activity is difficult due to your medical issues, try something like going to see a play with friends once a month, or volunteering with the Big Brothers program. If your illness prevents you from going out much, try doing something new from home. Borrow tapes from the library to learn a completely foreign language.

  20. oops, I had some technical trouble with my comment, so it went through incomplete.

    I was going to add that the reason I suggest those other activities is to get into the habit of doing things for the joy of it, rather than because it's a chore. And rather than doinng things that are "good" for you, where "good" means some kind of moral judgements, you can do things that are good for you, as in they make you feel good on the inside.

    When I exercise, I do it as an act of reverence. The existence of my body is a miracle. My heart, my lungs, my kidneys, my pancreas, and countless organs and systems in my body do so much every single day, just to keep me going. Physical activity is good for all those parts of me and so I enjoy exercise as a way of showing gratitude for my body.

    It is the same with cooking and food. I try to take sensual joy in each thing I eat, whether it's cheetos or a whole grain sandwich with organic tomatoes and cheese. Each thing I eat is a gift to my body. And I try to take that same joy in cooking. Sometimes I cook more "fluff" food (lots butter and/or refined sugar). When I do, I enjoy it. Sometimes I cook more nutrient rich foods with vegetables, grains, and lentils. And that is an interesting, fun proccess, where I'm always learning new things.

  21. You're on my blogroll now. This post clinched it, as much of it is what I've been saying.


  22. I didn't read all the comments but I did get as far down as Trabbs', and I really relate to his point about liking himself the way he is. I think of myself as a "slow" person, and historically I've felt anxiety over thinking it must be bad to be that way because society doesn't value it, but the truth is that I love being this way. It feels good and right to me, and I just have to keep reminding myself that the important thing is how *I* feel about me and my life.

    As to the bad eating/laziness issue, a turning point for me was when I chose to reject the notion that how one eats and moves is a moral issue and look at it purely from the standpoint of how it affects me, i.e. whether it makes me feel good or not. It's become clear to me that when I feel pressured by someone else's definition of morality, I resist. It's a well-known psychological phenomenon. Coincidentally, I was just reading at Fatshionista something that is perfectly relevant here: "You resist the imposition of rules and restrictions because they’re coming from a source external to you, and not from your own feelings about what is best for you." When I stopped giving power to those external beliefs about morality, I no longer felt compelled to assert my right to defy them. I hope that makes sense.

    I started to approach each thing solely on its own merits. So, in front of me is a box of doughnuts. I am allowed to make the choice to eat the whole thing if I want, and there is nothing for me to feel guilty about it if I do. It is just a box of doughnuts, and it is just my body. So thinking about it that way frees me to consider what I really feel about it and what I really want. And I realize that in fact that box of doughnuts doesn't really taste that good after the first one or so, and to be honest it makes me feel kind of sick. (At this point, after about a year of being all like, "hey, I get to eat all the doughnuts I want, phblpt!" I rarely find myself ever wanting one.)

    Another psychological phenomenon, related, is that of becoming grasping when there is a constant threat to feeling content and taken care of. Abundance, true abundance (i.e. not guilt-inducing,) makes that grasping feeling go away.

    Emotional freedom from other's expectations has resulted in me naturally (will power has nothing to do with it) gravitating toward choices that make me happy (not in some distant utopian future, but *now*,) and sometimes those just happen to be what the body tyrants consider "healthy". Guess what? I haven't lost any weight and doubt that I ever will (which thanks to FA I am okay with.) But I do feel much better, both emotionally and physically. In other words, I WIN.