It only matters what works for you.

Archive for the ‘media’ Category

Dear young self

If I could go back in time and tell my young self one thing, it would be to not diet, no matter how many people told me “If you just…” and other annoying untruths. Because the science is clear now. While short term a diet can and often does improve some health markers like cholesterol and blood sugar, over the long term what repeat dieting is mostly likely to do is make sure you stay fat.

And if you think about it, really, would dieting be a multi-gazillion dollar industry if it actually worked long term? Of course not. If it worked, you’d do it once, the weight would stay off, and that would be it. They make all that money because you have to keep going back and doing it again longer and harder.

I found this article written by a neuroscientist to have some interesting things to say.

The root of the problem is not willpower but neuroscience. Metabolic suppression is one of several powerful tools that the brain uses to keep the body within a certain weight range, called the set point. The range, which varies from person to person, is determined by genes and life experience. When dieters’ weight drops below it, they not only burn fewer calories but also produce more hunger-inducing hormones and find eating more rewarding.

Evolution designed us around periodic famine. If too many died too quickly, then we’re a failed experiment. So those who had some way to slow their metabolism when necessary are the ones who didn’t starve to death. Fat is important for survival, if you don’t live in a world with a McDonald’s and a Starbucks on every corner. Your basic functions do not believe that a size 2 is more desirable than a size 22, and every time you ‘starve’ (ie Diet) it is more convinced that you need all the help you can get to survive.

On my most serious diet, in my late 20s, I got down to 125 pounds, 30 pounds below my normal weight. I wanted (unwisely) to lose more, but I got stuck. After several months of eating fewer than 800 calories a day and spending an hour at the gym every morning, I hadn’t lost another ounce. When I gave up on losing and switched my goal to maintaining that weight, I started gaining instead.

The author’s own story mirrors mine. There was a joyful time when I quickly and fairly easily (if you consider involuntary vomiting easy) lost 100 lbs in just a few months. I was on a strict low carb diet, and I was being introduced to my soy allergy. Soy is in everything, so every salad with soybean oil dressing, every handful of snack nuts roasted in soy bean oil…a huge list of common every day foods caused me to be violently sick almost every day. It took me quite a while to figure out why. It wasn’t intentional, but I took the weight loss gratefully. But then I got down to a certain point and that was it. Nothing else I did over a several years following ever took me down below that point. No matter how dramatic.

The causal relationship between diets and weight gain can also be tested by studying people with an external motivation to lose weight. Boxers and wrestlers who diet to qualify for their weight classes presumably have no particular genetic predisposition toward obesity. Yet a 2006 study found that elite athletes who competed for Finland in such weight-conscious sports were three times more likely to be obese by age 60 than their peers who competed in other sports.

I find this particularly interesting. Devoted athletes, no genetic predispositions, and yet repeated dieting seems to cause overall weight gain over time.

But our culture’s view of obesity as uniquely deadly is mistaken. Low fitness, smoking, high blood pressure, low income and loneliness are all better predictors of early death than obesity. Exercise is especially important: Data from a 2009 studyshowed that low fitness is responsible for 16 percent to 17 percent of deaths in the United States, while obesity accounts for only 2 percent to 3 percent, once fitness is factored out. Exercise reduces abdominal fat and improves health, even without weight loss. This suggests that overweight people should focus more on exercising than on calorie restriction.

And here’s the real winner. Despite the media telling us what a horrible drain on the system fat people are, the data actually shows that it’s being sedentary and out of shape that is the issue. Sure, those often go together, but our sedentary life style is the real problem.

So if I could go back an talk to my young self, I’d ask her to take another dance class. To ride her bike every day. To ignore how she thought she looked in sweats and go to the gym anyway.

So this January, don’t start another diet. Find something physical that you enjoy, and put your time and attention to that instead.

 

 

 

Drip.

We are having a cool wet spring. It has been 12 days since the last smidgen of sunlight.

I have lost any vestige of ability to be productive unless every possible light is on and the music is up slightly too loud. It’s a real challenge.

I have a friend in San Francisco. She gets a lot of grey weather too. We’re complaining-buddies. SAD buddies. When it’s grey for too long our will to live slowly drips out the bottoms of our feet, a little with each rain drip. Erm, drop. Possibly that’s a little melodramatic. It’s that sort of day. Drama produces it’s own energy.

Full spectrum lights help. If your vitamin D levels are low, certainly fix that immediately. But some people just don’t do as well.

I found this article. I think it’s hilarious.

People with Sad have an unhelpful way of controlling the “happy” brain signalling compound serotonin during winter months, brain scans reveal.

Unhelpful. Yes, a bit.

Lead researcher, Dr Brenda Mc Mahon, said: “We believe that we have found the dial the brain turns when it has to adjust serotonin to the changing seasons.

“The serotonin transporter (SERT) carries serotonin back into the nerve cells where it is not active – so the higher the SERT activity, the lower the activity of serotonin.

“Sunlight keeps this setting naturally low, but when the nights grow longer during the autumn, the SERT levels increase, resulting in diminishing active serotonin levels.

So not only does my body hoard calories, apparently we’re also socking away seratonin for…obviously not rainy days. What are we storing it for I wonder?

Sunshine is due to resume briefly on Sunday. I hope.

 

Things in the media

I was thinking this morning that when I first started this blog I would often post a link to an article or a video that talked about food or health in some way. Then I got in the groove of having things to say myself, or, to be honest, I’d get away from posting for months at a time. Busy, or just limp and not excited enough about anything to write.

As I was thinking this through this morning, I realized I had just seen something that belonged here.

The idea that a woman can be ‘too fat to be raped’ is so wrong I might be frothing at the mouth.

It starts with the idea that rape has anything to do with sex instead of everything to do with power. I promise, ugly people get raped every day.

And then the idea that just being fat negates us as sexual beings.

Nope.

The problems fat people have with sex (aside from fat-phobic jerks) are that of our own self image. An unwillingness to be vulnerable to others when you perceive yourself as less. A fear that your bed partner will find you as unattractive as you find yourself, in your culturally brainwashed mind.

For all I’ve been fat my whole life, I’ve never had trouble finding a sexual partner when I want one. I’ve been turned down, maybe more than someone thin and conventionally attractive, but I’ve had plenty of admirers too. Some smarmy, and plenty of perfectly nice people looking for fun and companionship. And I definitely haven’t had any complaints after the fact, so you can be sure a good time was had by all when things went down.

Our culture is so determined to reduce fat people to non-people, now even the satisfaction of surviving something horrible and coming out the other side strong and sane seems to be something they’d like to deny us.

Meatloaf anyone?

 

Body Currency

Body what?

It’s called Body Currency. The term was invented by the author of this excellent article about Tess Munster. The idea is propaganda of the worst sort.

You do know who Tess Munster is, right? She the beautiful, short, very fat new model that is all over every publication and social media feed, either because she’s beautiful, or because she’s fat. Everyone has something to say about her.

Even me.

You go girl!!!

Back to body currency. To quote the woman who coined the term:

It goes like something this: We are taught as a society that if we achieve the ideal body that we see in traditional media (and not before), we will then obtain love, worthiness, success, and ultimately, happiness. Which is what we all want, right?

Your looks are your worth, and you must invest heavily. If you aren’t perfect, you can’t be happy. Every clothing commercial, shampoo commercial, diet ad, they’ll all tell you. You have to be thin, athletic, thin, beautiful, thin, successful, and thin, and then you can be happy with your life.

Did I mention thin? Because thin is the key.

Somehow thin has become the ultimate standard of health and beauty and it must be every person’s goal to achieve. Which is ridiculous, yet pervasive.

If you have not yet achieved this standard, you must loath yourself, and put all your energy into achieving it. Because everyone can do it, it’s just a matter of effort and focus.

Careful, the sarcasm’s getting a little deep, sorry.

I’m a veteran of many, many diets, and diet website, and diet groups, and I can tell you they are full of people who are fully experiencing the culturally mandated shame and self loathing. They fret about every mouthful of food. Women won’t go to the beach for a day of fun with their children because they don’t want to show off their horrible bodies wearing sleeveless tops and shorts, and don’t even suggest a bathing suit. They are too disgusting. I’ve heard more women than I can count list the number of fun activities they can’t do until they lose weight and feel like they deserve to be seen in public.

The number of people who don’t feel they have a right to live until they reach a culturally mandated standard is tragic.

Multibillion dollar industries are heavily invested in making us feel this way. Every beauty product, every garment, every diet. If we don’t believe them, they lose money.

And along comes Tess. Unashamedly strutting her confident size 22 stuff and having a grand old time, and by the way a lucrative modeling career.

How dare she?

Because she has declined to buy into the thin frenzy, she is somehow undermining the work done by everyone who has. There is a definite feeling of who the hell does she think she is?

If she’s right, then all those people have been ruining their lives for nothing. An entire society worshiping at the altar of a false deity.

That ideology is not going down without a fight. So they spew vitriol of the worst sort at her. The ugliness is truly shocking.

On the plus side, if one woman can get so many people riled up, imagine what could happen if more and more of us gave up the idea that thin is the only thing that mattered and all got back to having a good life lived to the fullest.

Shall we try it?

Enough with the shaming.

I was reading this article about fat stereotypes online the other day and when I got to the part about fat shaming my head nearly exploded so I thought it deserved its own post.

The free dictionary defines shame like this:

shame

(shām)

n.

1. a. A painful emotion caused by the awareness of having done something wrong or foolish: felt shame for cheating on the exam.

b. Respect for propriety or morality: Have you no shame?
c. Psychiatry A pervasive, negative emotional state, usually originating in childhood, marked by chronic self-reproach and a sense of personal failure.
So, we’re talking about being foolish and wrong, a lack of respect for propriety, and instilling chronic self-reproach in people who don’t fit the society size norm.
And some people feel this is a good idea. The argument is always ‘well, if it helps people lose weight’.
It doesn’t. And to be perfectly honest, I don’t think anyone actually thinks that it does. I think that argument is self serving for the many, many people who like to be self righteous and smug suggesting that those who are fat are intentionally doing something bad and consciously making a choice to do something that hurts others.
Which is utterly ridiculous.
I will accept that fat hurts society when the government stops pimping for the grain industry and the diet industry and suggesting that we continue to eat in the way that has caused the population to gain weight every year that it’s been the recommendation, and yet is ‘backed by science’. Also when they come up with a solution that doesn’t involve disconnecting the intestines and that has a better than 5% success rate.
All fat shaming does is make people hate them selves. Feel overwhelming shame that we’re BAD. And it reinforces the idea that we’re somehow doing this to ourselves on purpose.
Of course there are plenty of people who got on the scale January 2 and realized that they’ve gained 10 lbs since Thanksgiving. They all resolved to go to the gym for 8 weeks, eat salads for the first month, and by spring break they’ll all be back to their bikini best.
But none of those people are the ones who get fat-shamed. The ones who get ostracized are those those who need to lose 2 and more sizes and I promise you, the number of those people who are a) unaware of their socially undesirable status and b) who haven’t already tried to do something is zero.
Even worse, our society has made fat shaming completely acceptable and that makes life for fat children hell on earth.

How many ACES in your hand?

I love TED talks. They make it so easy to find out about new research, old research put together in new ways, or ideas that really make you think.

Today’s TED is about a new finding in how your past affects your future.

The basic premise is, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) affect your health over the course of your life.

The experiences they studied were:

  • Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • Physical or emotional neglect
  • Divorce or separation
  • Incarceration
  • Parental substance abuse
  • Parental mental illness
  • Domestic violence

I don’t know about you but the list of people I know who didn’t experience at least one of those is pretty darn short.

They figured out that if you have 4 or more, then your risk for certain kinds of problems goes up a lot. My mind immediately jumped to risky behaviors. Of course people with difficult pasts are more likely to have issues, their experiences with drugs, eating disorders, smoking, and other things cause consequences. The thing is, the risk stays higher even when they control for those behaviors.

I’m sorry to hear she reports that this isn’t being pursued more aggressively, because they can interrupt the process if they do it early enough. It would be great if more people had heard about it.

It isn’t just french fries.

I am really conflicted about this ad:

On the one hand, I am utterly appalled at what passes for healthy eating in this country. Our food supply is a nightmare. Refined, mutated, depleted, it can be difficult to get adequate nutrition. It genuinely astonishes me how many adults don’t know how to cook. Not even anything fancy, but how to make a meal out of basic ingredients. Add in a low-fat bias and we’re pretty much doomed. Teaching kids how to make a healthy meal and how to enjoy one is an important parenting step that isn’t always getting the attention it deserves, for many reasons, some unavoidable like economic inaccessibility of quality ingredients, and sometimes just because.

So yes, teaching our kids about healthy nutrition is really important.

But this PSA? It’s all about fear tactics, and it leaves out so much.

The blame for weight issues is always assumed to be food choices and nothing else. And that tunnel vision makes me so angry!

Sure, many people eat badly. Plenty of them are thin too, and no one feels it necessary to emotionally manipulate them into self loathing.

Wait,what?

That’s right. In my experience (personal and direct from friends) every time a fat person fails at a diet program, they hate themselves. Because ‘everyone’ knows that if you just stick to your diet, you’ll lose weight. So if you don’t lose weight on your diet, it’s a personal failing. The medical profession really compounds this by being condescending and skeptical. Because even though I’m a well educated, intelligent adult, I can’t be trusted to watch my own calorie count. If the diet doesn’t work, I must be lying to myself about what I’m really eating.

I could go on about this for quite a while. I have a lot of hostility on this subject saved up.

But back to that ad.

It shows that poor guy who has been overweight his entire life, and pretty much suggests that he’s fat because his mom fed him fries as a kid. Because it’s the only thing that makes him stop crying.

You know what I’d ask a parent if they said only one food would make their kid stop crying?

“Have you checked in to food allergies?”

The problem with reducing everything to the calories in/calories out model is that there can be a LOT more going on, and it makes life very unpleasant for those who can’t figure out why, and don’t have the time and energy to chase after possibilities. We need society to be a little more open minded about causes and a little less judgmental.

Ok, and feed our kids fewer french fries, that’s true enough.