Monday, January 11, 2010

I am not my Brother's keeper

The fat acceptance and health at every size movement has positively affected my life. I have let go of the "dream" of being thin. I have met a bunch of wonderful people who generously welcomed me to this community and helped me understand this new paradigm about weight and health. I have had cathartic changes in the way I conceive of my worthiness which used to be smothered my my concepts around weight and fatness.

With the exception of my birth mother and one of my brothers, I have discovered that discussing my experience with fat acceptance is futile because they are so steeped in the cultural fear and hatred of fat.

My Mother still gets concerned when I order a big portion of food and makes a comment or two. When I address her comments with whatever feels right for me at the time, she listens and honors my boundaries. I know she doesn't quite understand what this FA stuff is, but she does make an effort.

My youngest brother is a prince. He reads my blog, does his own research, asks questions in the spirit of wanting to understand. My brother doesn't expect me to change. He wants me to be happy. He is concerned about the risks to my health, but he gets it. I love him so much. His empathy and his love and warmth are invaluable.

I live in New York City. He lives with his family in Hartford, CT. I don't get to see him, his wife, and my two delicious nephews as often as I'd like to. This past Sunday I went up to Hartford for a visit. As we ate lunch he told me about his New Years Resolution to do something about his weight and health. He said that as the year came to an end and he was weighing more than 200 pounds, it was time to do something about it.

He actually said that he is starving himself. His wife quickly corrected him and said that he wasn't. However, as I listened to him explain what he is doing I discovered that was exactly what he is doing. In an instant I knew how things were going to turn out. He may keep this effort up for some time. He may only last a few more days. The point is that the organism that is my brother will eventually win in my brothers battle with his set point. He told me about cutting out all cookies and sugar snacks and that he is stopping eating just before he is feeling full. He told me he struggles in the evening with hunger, but in the morning when he wakes, the hunger as passed. He said he lost 5 pounds in the first week, He was happy to report about using his treadmill in the morning and how great that feels.

I started to talk to him about the set point stuff. I wanted to ask him to look back over his history and acknowledge that every start he has made towards fitness has ended with defeat. I wanted to point out to him that breaking the 200 pound mark is indicative of the progressive effects of yo-yoing. I wanted to suggest to him that he make his entire focus about his fitness and let his weight find the place that is belongs. I want him to understand how much harder he is making it for himself by deliberately staying in a state of hunger. I hoped that he could see that forcing his body to lose weight will marshall all his biological systems to get him to put the weight back on. I want him to see how much higher his chances for success are if he keeps his focus on the fitness and eats when he feels hungry and stops eating when he feels satisfied. To hell with the scale.

But I had to consider that my brother doesn't have any expectations of me changing my behavior. He supports me in my pursuit of happiness. When he asks questions, they are in the spirit of getting a clear understanding of what I am thinking. So I decided to let it be. My brother will find what is best for him.

My brother is a great guy. He is a wonderful husband and father. His boys, (my nephews) are too delicious for words. He is also the person on earth that knows me better that anyone. So if he wants to diet and exercise himself to smaller waist, then that is his right. While his up and down weight cycling is undeniable, he is doing just fine. He feels great (both physically and mentally) when he is in the rhythm of working out. Yes, he eventually feels bad when he stops, but he handles it.

I can't know what is best for my brother. I do suspect that a modification to his approach here that is more in sync with HAES, has a better chance of lasting longer. I also know that I am not his keeper.

I want nothing but happiness for him, which is the same thing that he wants for me. Thanks to this movement I now know that my happiness is not contingent on what I weigh.