Friday, October 12, 2012
There's a lot of debate going on regarding the Health At Every Size (HAES) movement. Most of it seems to focus on the idea that HAES is just a way of giving fat people permission to stay fat, or that it encourages people to get fat by not shaming them for not being perfect.
Setting aside the absurdity of thinking that HAES makes people get fat on purpose, let me explain *my* understanding of what it means. I'm not the expert, and other people may have differing views of it, but here's what I take from it.
First of all, the success of long-term weight loss is pretty miniscule: 90-95% of people who lose weight regain it within 5 years. Programs like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig are *required* to put that "Results not typical" disclaimer on their ads because, hey, the success stories they are touting are NOT the usual outcome of the program.
Now, no one WANTS to regain the weight they fought to lose. Kirstie Alley had the additional incentive of a million-dollar salary, and she still couldn't keep the weight off. So assuming that Joe and Jane Average regain their weight only because they are lazy and gluttonous is pretty naive and arrogant. The shame and pain of being overweight would be enough to keep people thin, if it was the least be effective.
But research has shown that weight is not the predictive factor for health. Fitness is. Yes, obese and unfit people have a much higher mortality rate than normal weight, fit people. But for obese, fit people? That mortality rate drops down to almost the same as normal weight, fit people. And it's half the mortality rate of normal weight but unfit people. The link to the study is at the end of this entry, but this graph really illustrates the differences:
So instead of trying to sell us on all being thin, a goal that eludes most the people who attempt it, HAES emphasized being FIT, a goal that is within the grasp of many more people, and that will actually improve their health.
Most of the time, overweight people are sold on exercise and fitness as part of the whole "get thin" package: "You should work out and eat healthy food AND THEN you'll get thin!" Fitness is treated as a means to reach the Holy Grail of a size 4 dress, instead of something that is an inherent good in and of itself. HAES is about unlinking fitness from thinness and emphasizing overall health, rather than an elusive goal weight.
Why is this important? Because most people won't succeed at getting thin, but CAN succeed at getting healthy. And if people only associate exercise and fitness with "the time that I'm on a diet" then they don't learn to think of it as something good on its own, only as something that they have to suffer through when they are in the dieting phase of their lives.
Furthermore, HAES is about saying that it's okay, and safe, and *fun* to work out even when you don't look like a magazine cover. It's about providing a supportive environment where people can work on their fitness without feeling embarrassed or pressured into conforming with someone else's ideal of beauty. It's about encouraging people to get moving and enjoy the body they have, without some hidden agenda that judges them if they don't lose weight.
Do people practicing HAES lose weight? Some of them do. Some of them don't. I have, over the last year, and I will probably lose more. But if the Weight Fairy came to me and said that I wasn't going to lose another ounce, I would keep on living like I'm living because this is about my health and how good I feel. It takes disconnecting fitness from the "...and then you'll lose weight!" message in order to make it something that discouraged, unfit people can learn to practice and enjoy.
And that, to me, is what HAES is all about.
Sunday, September 30, 2012
I've had a pretty successful year, and I am pleased with my progress. But Friday and yesterday were the kinds of days that fill me with frustration. If it wasn't nailed down or actively running away, I was eating it.
I'm not sure what set off this raving hunger, but it was definitely a bad couple days. Now I'm all jazzed up on sugar and will have a couple rough days getting it worked back out of my system.
But I made myself do the two things I most didn't want to do: record it all in my food journal, and get on the scale. When I do that, I feel like I still have some control over my life and my decisions, and that I'm being accountable.
Today? There will be ice cream. Very special, limited edition ice cream. But I will be biking 30 miles to get it, so I'm okay with that!
EDIT: Oops, no ice cream trip after all. DD is not feeling well enough to ride, and I don't want to go out there alone. Ah well, next weekend.
Friday, September 28, 2012
I fell off my bike yesterday.
Actually, I sort of tipped over on my bike. Rather like Artie Johnson and his tricycle back in the Laugh-In days. I had to come to a stop when a car stopped in front of me, and I was trying to gear down with the last bit of speed I had available, and then my weight was on the wrong foot and I started tipping that way and there was no way for me to get my foot off the pedal to stop myself.
I banged my elbow pretty hard, and as it was the thing hurting the most it wasn't until later that I realized I'd also smacked my knee and scraped and bruised the inside of my thigh. I was mildly shaken up, but able to get back on my bike and have a good ride. Today I am a bit stiff and sore in my back and neck, in addition to being bruised and scraped, but it's really not that bad.
And in a way, it was strangely liberating. No one likes to take a fall on a bike, but I have been experiencing a phobia of it that was out of proportion. I was absolutely certain that a fall on my bike would equate badly breaking myself in such a way that I would not recover quickly. I certainly am not looking forward to any kind of repeat performance, but I am gratified to learn that I'm at least a little sturdier than I feared.
Tonight is a 40+ mile ride. I am going to be a little creaky when I first get on that bike, but I am going to enjoy it.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Today is my first SparkVersary. In some ways it seems like a long time coming, in others I can hardly believe a year has passed.
A year ago I was teetering on the brink of 300 pounds and horrified with myself. I suffered a lot of back pain, and though I could still walk a mile, I often paid for it severely the rest of the day.
Moreover, I wasn't walking that mile. I wasn't doing much of anything except stuffing my face and feeling sorry for myself.
Last month, I biked 81 miles in one day. I regularly bike commute 20 miles a day. Walking the three miles roundtrip into our downtown is something I do without even thinking about it. My next goal is to participate in triathlons.
I've lost 73 pounds, and I've done it on my own terms. I don't deprive myself of anything, I just make sound decisions about what I'm going to eat. When I make stroganoff or paprikash, I use full-fat sour cream--but I don't "taste" my way through one serving, sit down and eat another serving for dinner, and then "nibble" another serving's worth of leftovers throughout the evening.
It wasn't quality food that was making me gain weight. It was the simple quantity of it that I was shoveling into my mouth.
It used to be that when I was stressed I would eat a tub of frosting. Now I take a bath and read a book.
And if I really have a craving for frosting? Well, I can have it. But I can have it without guilt, because I account for it in my daily calorie count. And because I've given myself permission to have it, it doesn't get all wrapped up in guilt and self-recrimination. Which means I can have--and enjoy--a spoonful without telling myself I'm a failure and eating the whole tub despite the fact that it's making me sick and miserable.
My relationship with food is healthier. And I am healthier.
I still have a way to go. But even if I never lost another pound, I love living like I'm living now. And I love the support I get here on Spark People.
Monday, September 17, 2012
It appears that I didn't do permanent damage to myself, and the ankle is quite walkable. Still tender at certain angles, and a little swollen, but it bears my weight fine and I'm not really limping anymore.
I will be very cautious when I walk down that street from now on, let me tell you!
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