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Fat Bias Starts Young: That's Fatertainment

Friday, April 06, 2012

An article in today's Toronto Star presents new research indicating that children aged 2-6 are already biased against fat children and assume that they are "mean".

This weight prejudice is apparently linked to the "fatertainment" trend which presents fat children and adults as unintelligent, unpopular and lazy.

Maybe little kids pick up this attitude from their parents. Because apparently people who watch reality shows like Biggest Loser become more prejudiced against fat people after they watch the show than they were beforehand.

It's OK to be prejudiced against the obese because it's something they could deal with by exerting a little willpower. Right? We all know how easy weight loss and weight-loss maintenance really are!!

Not surprising that overweight kids and adults are much more likely to experience depression, anxiety and low self-esteem.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FROSTIERACES 4/12/2012 4:34PM

    I very rarely watch television and while the hype was huge about the Biggest Loser..I got very discourage to follow it after I saw the terrible struggles people had with regaining their weight back. Unfortunately people are so incredibly judgemental and with that comes being prejudice and lack of empathy for others. I think kids are kids but then, as the twists and turns in the roads come their way...so do these unfortunate articles, tv shows...etc...which are all part of forming their own views and opinions of others.

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NOLAZYBUTT110 4/12/2012 1:42PM

    just like any prejudice, its learned! From the top... ( The President) and parents and on downward! Being prejudice against anyone whose fat, or a Jew or somthing different than we are is always from an adult or an older person . we learn t from our elders! Whatever it is, whether its what is seen as good or evil! We learn it! But Thank G*d we are all Created in his image and his likeness.

I think we all need to learn not tolerance but love for everyone whose different , even for gays and those who have different beliefs and cultures! I think G*d made many different peoples colors, races, beliefs etc, because life would be so boring if we all looked and were made from one cookie cutter pattern! Love being a Ginger snap. How about you?

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CRYSTALJEM 4/11/2012 9:46AM

    Discrimination of all sorts starts very young, one of the reasons it's so hard to eliminate as we get older, and why it's important to set the stage properly from day 1. I see it so often and I find it heart wrenching whether it's about obesity, gender identity, preferences or anything else. My in laws family is obese from their 8 yr old all the way up. I try to teach my kids compassion and understanding while also teaching them early to make the choice not to follow that path themselves.

One of my fav quotes is.

The challenge is to be yourself in a world that is trying to make you like everyone else.

If fixing problems only took making the decision to change we'd all make our goals with the greatest of ease. The reality is just a little more complex than that.

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TRYINGHARD1948 4/7/2012 6:38AM

    Interesting, in Australia that would mean the minority judging the majority.

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PHEBESS 4/7/2012 12:26AM

    That is SO sad!!!!

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DDOORN 4/6/2012 10:50PM

    I always knew there was something "wrong" with the Biggest Loser show above and beyond the totally unrealistic perception that they create that *anyone* can "do this"...one only needs a zillion dollars to hire a personal coach, chef, workout facilities, camera crews, etc...! But yes, why WOULDN'T it create more bias toward the obese when it portrays the "solution" as something within our control. Never mind the long-range studies on how the contestants fare years down the road...!

Have never watched the show beyond a snippet or two.


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MEADSBAY 4/6/2012 9:38PM

    Very very sad.
I wonder if this will change as more and more people, including children, join the ranks of the obese.

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FREELADY 4/6/2012 7:32PM

    Distressing. And sad. One more good reason for us to keep the TV off!

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CARRAND 4/6/2012 7:29PM

    Very interesting article. Thanks for sharing.

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_LINDA 4/6/2012 5:58PM

    Wow! An eye-opener! What chance do adults have if they are starting discrimination that young?? Thanks for sharing!
Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

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Living Longer

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

The Ontario government has come up with a life expectancy quiz that helps figure out the effects of lifestyle on longevity. Here it is:


Basically, we are told that there are five behaviour risks that shorten life: smoking, poor diet, excess alcohol, inactivity and stress. And that if each of us was in the healthiest category for each of these high risk behaviours, we'd add 7.5 years of life expectancy!

Even if we just changed our most detrimental health risk behaviour, life expectancy would increase by up to 3.7 years.

Interesting!! In Ontario, we have socialized medicine. So bad health behaviours affect medical costs for everyone.

I'm thinking maybe some financial incentives would help: tax rebate if you have a healthy BMI, for example??

I'm gonna live to be 90!! Think I'll still be wearing my high heeled black leather over-the-knee boots and black leather pencil skirt, size 6?? Ummmm, maybe not!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FROSTIERACES 4/12/2012 4:38PM

    hahaha at ID_VANDAL's comment! Ditto! I used to think I'd live forever but with both of my parents dying at 60 and 62..it's not looking good! I'm a fighter tho like you Ellen and I'm going to keep saying I'm going to live to be 90! - Heck ...98 even!

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NOLAZYBUTT110 4/12/2012 1:51PM

    yes it would be nice if the government would give us an incentive, to lose weight, but I think it would also be detrimental if we allow our government to make such choices for us by them. we would end up like the Jews in Russia! Soon forgotten! susana

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ID_VANDAL 4/6/2012 10:26AM

    I'm not going to do that test since it would tell me I'm already dead!!

I agree with the life indicators you mentioned (stress, smoking, diet, alcohol, and inactivity). We all need to step it up since the cost do get passed on to everyone!.

Make sure you post a picture of you in that outfit when you hit 90!!



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DONNACFIT 4/5/2012 11:54PM

    Cool..I'm going to live to 93,,,woohoo...unless a cow runs me down in the meantime, haha...

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TRYINGHARD1948 4/5/2012 6:59AM

    Well I am ageing gracefully and those high knee boots went, well, only a few years ago. BUT I still love them.

Comment edited on: 4/5/2012 7:00:06 AM

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DSHONEYC 4/4/2012 5:29PM

    Heard something interesting about women, obesity and the BMI. Said BMI is an archaic measurement (over 100 yrs old) and not an accurate guide to a healthy weight.

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VALERIEMAHA 4/4/2012 1:14PM

    Thanks. Interesting!

When I put 5 hrs. of exercise along with everything else, it came out 90 yo (ugh). When I changed that to 3 hrs. of exercise, it STILL came out 90 yo, and both times the "largest modifiable risk factor" was diet...? I indicated 14-21 fruits and veggies. The calculation seems a bit off to me. In any case, I have NO interest whatsover in living to be 90.

Guess I'm gonna' have to change my ways...start smokin' and boozin' and stop exercising altogether! The only down side to that is that I would like my remaining years to be pleasant!

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DDOORN 4/4/2012 12:39PM

    86 for me...not sure what the example postal code is, but used that since I'm in the USA. Our lifestyle choices certainly weigh-in their costs / benefits...!


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NANCY- 4/4/2012 11:15AM

    I had to find a postal code to input. I'm gonna live to be 86. But that will change, Thanks for sharing this with us.

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DMILLE40 4/4/2012 10:33AM


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CARRAND 4/4/2012 9:54AM

    That was fun. It says my life expectancy is 93. My Dad is 97. I can do 93 or better.

I don't drink much fruit juice, either. I think you got more points for whole fruits and vegetables. I seldom eat white potatoes any more, although I eat sweet potatoes a couple times a week.

I cheated on the exercise. I normally do 3-1/2 hours of yoga, 2 hours of weight lifting and at least an hour of walking every week. I'm not doing that right now, but only because of my recent abdominal surgery, so I used my previous exercise hours.

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PHEBESS 4/4/2012 8:52AM

    Wow, it lists my life expectancy as 91 yrs old - not sure I want to live that long! (I think 89 is good.)

And I scored low on fruits and vegs - because I don't drink fruit juice! I eat WHOLE FRUIT, but they didn't ask about that, they asked about fruits and vegs, then carrots, then juice. I skip juice, it isn't as beneficial as fruit. (And I also rarely eat potatoes - I only like scalloped potatoes, and fries, and chips - none of which are healthful!)

Ah well, I guess I'll just keep doing what I'm doing!

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PHEBESS 4/4/2012 8:45AM

    Yeah, I think after a certain age you want lower heels, LOL! Because you want to keep on moving, but not fall over. (Which is why I wear flat sandals now!!!)

I plan to travel until I'm in my late 70s - then I can settle down and relax in one place. Maybe, the southern coast of Spain. Malta? Ecuador?

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KALIGIRL 4/4/2012 8:11AM

    Love the idea!
My 60 revolutions around the sun put me in great shape for some cash...
Here's to a long, happy, healthy life "AWAKE! ALIVE! AWARE! and Appreciative of ALL that IS".


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Fat at Work Survey: How's it Working for Us?

Saturday, March 31, 2012

There's tons of research out there -- just google -- indicating that men have a huge advantage in the workplace if they are tall. Presidents of countries, leaders in law and medicine and business and finance: it clearly can't be coincidence that so many of these guys are tall. And we can all carry ourselves proud, stand tall, as tall as possible. Women can even wear heels!. But everyone understands that you can't actually make yourself taller through your own choice or your will power. So there doesn't seem to be a problem with overt workplace discrimination against shorter people.

What about fat people? There's also lots of research in both the US and Canada on "fat discrimination" in the workplace. I sometimes think it's the last kind of in-your-face discrimination still right out there.

Of course it's absolutely not politically correct to discriminate against people on the grounds of gender, sexual orientation, race, national origin. And it shouldn't be. Those kinds of discrimination may still occur but just about nobody finds any of it acceptable. People -- lots of them -- speak right up. Or shun those who are mean to minorities. There's been real social progress, and not before it was time. In part because we know that none of these qualities is a choice.

But there hasn'be been nearly as much progress towards acceptance if you're fat. Discrimination in the workplace against fat people still seems to be (pardon this bad pun, please) pretty widespread!

That's because if you're fat it's your fault, says Steve Siebold. And much as I'm a "fatloser" fan (fatloser.com is Steve Siebold's terrific free online mental toughness program on weight loss) I do think that his "it's your fault" message is pretty harsh. And not helpful.

To make it even worse, in the popular perception "fat" attract a big cluster of other negative associations. If you're fat, you're lazy, lacking self-respect, lacking self discipline, slow-moving . . . and a whole lotta other non-flattering adjectives.

And in the popular perception, remember, fat is your choice. So if a fat person is choosing to be fat, that would make it OK to treat a fat person with something less than respect. In the workplace as well as socially.

Well, I don't think so. Fat discrimination based upon "fault" is contrary to all of the research about how hard it really is to lose weight , and how hard it really is to maintain weight loss, and how multifaceted the causes of weight gain are. Yet justification of fat discrimination is one great big fat presumption which still seems to be alive and well out there. The result? People can be mean to fat people with impunity. All of that "person of size" and "fat acceptance" stuff to the contrary, fat doesn't seem to be working well at work.

Fat doesn't work to advance careers in business and the professions. And it doesn't help much in more personal relationships either.

A fat politician? It used to be OK -- think Winston Churchill. But: not any more. They're all running for office --literally and figuratively. All the time. Those of you familiar with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's very public battle to lose weight will be well aware of what a target he is for excessive and bloated disdain and contempt -- well beyond any legitimate or reasoned criticism of his municipal policies.

A fat CEO? Think thirties movies: fat business guys with cigars also used to be OK -- but now not so much. Corpulent and corporate don't mix. We're a lean and mean economy, needing nimble and quick role models. Steve Jobs was not a fat guy. Not at all.

A fat doctor? Nooooooooo. Bad enough being a fat nurse, even a fat ward clerk (yup, that would have been me for about three years while a young student). Fat in a hospital setting: sure it's there, just like everywhere else in society. But fat is not healthy. So fat is not acceptable anywhere in health care . . . not at all.

A fat lawyer? I was. Not a good look. Lawyers are supposed to be rational, logical, applying the law and precedent, controlled. Fat means out of control. Fat is not helpful in the courtroom. Even if you're hiding under the robes we Canadian lawyers do get to wear here!

A fat teacher? As a role model for children, given the international obesity crisis? I was a slim and fit college teacher . . . . and then fatter . . . and then less fat again. My weight fluctuation really had an effect on young adults' respect for me. I'm betting (based in part on what my own kids said about fat teachers in public school and high school) that being a fat teacher at those grade levels is even tougher. Huge huge pressure to be hip and happening.

A fat waitress? I've waited tables . . . and the tips are way better (weigh better) when you're looking good. In part because then you're perceived to be really hustling with the burger and fries and Coke ("Yeah, I'll have the extra large, thanks. What kinda pie ya got for dessert??").

Fat in retail? Where it's all about looking good in the clothes that are for sale? Ummmm. Tough one. I can't recall I've very often seen a heavy clerk in a high-end or high-fashion clothing store: and I'm betting that's not a coincidence either.

A fat parent? The most important job most of us will ever have. There are lots of fat mothers and fathers: it's an occupational hazard. No sleep, cleaning the scraps off our kids' plates, unable to schedule time for the gym or any time for ourselves. The fat mother is not the one featured in all the stories about the hot young "yummy mummy" thing, though. Uh uh.

I've been a fat mother and yeah, I wanted to stop sending the message that fat was OK to my own kids. They watched me struggle with various diets, peeling it off and putting it back on. They didn't believe me when I said over a decade ago that I was done being fat. But that time I did take it off for good. My kids did see my final battle and they do see the ongoing effort it takes for me to sustain weight loss. I'm thinking that they respected it. I'm sure DH did -- and does -- and that he appreciates it too. "Fat discrimination" at home? Didn't feel that myself, but I'm absolutely sure (in the context of divorce law) that many fat parents/husbands/wives do.

Is any of this fair? Absolutely not, of course not. It's offensive at so many different levels, it's hard to know where to begin.

But is it reality? It seems to be.

So: how do we deal with it?

I'm increasingly fascinated by this whole phenomenon of "fat at work" and I've been thinking about it lots. So I'd love to hear about your experiences being fat and maybe becoming less fat, in the various jobs all of us do.

If you're interested in sharing your experiences here, you could just cut and paste the section of this blog between the emoticons and answer whatever questions interest you. . . . and of course add any other comments that you like.

Lots of us are wrassling with these issues and I'm pretty sure we would love to collaborate on our responses and strategies!!

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What do you do to earn a living?

Have you experienced discrimination related to size at work?

Did you speak up and confront it?

Or did it just make you miserable? Miserable enough to leave the job?

Do your co-workers help you with your weight loss efforts? Or sabotage you? Deliberately? Or just without thinking?

What could co-workers do to support you in your weight loss?

When you lost weight, did you get new thinner-person "creds" not really related to any change in your actual workplace performance?

And does that make you feel like an impostor?

Or help sustain your motivation to keep the weight off?

And what about fat discrimination in the really important workplace: as parent? As spouse?

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ID_VANDAL 4/2/2012 2:41PM

    You certainly hit a nerve with that blog! Very well written.

Yes I do think Steve's words - if you are fat it's your fault is pretty strong but I think he's right - at least in my case. I was always the athlete in my family and my mother would always mention how much I needed to eat to maintain my energy and when the athlete went to work and couldn't play all the time he wasn't smart enough to cut back his eating so being fat is my fault.

I think I have been discriminated against because the management of my former company were all pretty tall guys (shortest about 5"10" or so) but all in very good shape. I can't prove anything but other managers (all thin and men) were promoted to Director levels but not me. Of course I could never prove anything but my former boss and a strong supporter of mine tried to make the case for me many times but she was overweight and managment really didn't like her so she had a double shot of bad news.

Anyway a very good blog. I'll have to come back and read the other comments.



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SALSIFY 4/2/2012 6:08AM

    Thanks for the blog.

I've just returned to work about 60 pounds lighter than I was when I previously was working. I've had really positive reactions from people & I can't help wondering, in the back of my mind, whether they are more positive now as I'm a more normal weight. Or it could be that I feel more confident than I did before.. Who knows?

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TRAVELGRRL 4/1/2012 12:01PM

    Obviously you and your husband are tall so it is amusing that you've concluded that short men are not "overtly" discriminated against in the workplace! Isn't the fact that so many CEOs are tall an indication of overt discrimination? What? Only tall men have brains enough to run a company????

My husband is 5'6" and has spent his whole life being discounted by other men. We met in the workplace (both teachers in a men's prison) so I can tell you that he had to prove himself over and over and over to the administration, the corrections officers, and the prisoners themselves. It was a highly macho environment and in the heirarchy of maledom short men were deemed weak, unintelligent, and easily manipulated. (None of which is true for DH).

Why is he short? In 1958 when he was 12 his parents separated and his mother couldn't afford to feed 4 children so they subsisted on white rice and canned tomatoes...this was when my husband was in his growing years, ages 12-16 so he never obtained the height of his older brother (already through puberty) or his younger brother (not yet started). This was also before welfare and food stamps became ubiquitious. When he turned 16 he started working and was able to buy food for the himself and the family.

Does this sound like someone who deserved to be treated as less than a man because he's shorter than average?

My daughter is quite overweight but she has PCOS which makes it very hard to lose weight, even when she eats healthily. She also has been unable to get pregnant, which is another heartbreaking result of the syndrome. I DO believe it is much more difficult for her to get a job not only because of the economic downturn but also because of people's preconceived notions and prejudice. It is a terrible shame because she is highly intelligent, a hard worker, and loyal beyond belief.

I feel Steve Seibold's pronouncements are harsh because no one can know someone else's backstory when simply making a snap judgment based solely on their physical appearance.

Comment edited on: 4/1/2012 12:02:50 PM

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CRYSTALJEM 4/1/2012 9:33AM

    Excellent as always. I worked with a lady who was very obese. She was the anomaly when it came to weight though. She dressed to the nines, carried herself tall and erect, and commanded respect with her skills and knowledge. She also wasn't "jiggley" overweight. Somehow it always managed to look "firm".

I would concur with you overall though. We unfortunately judge books by their covers, we place labels on people without any really good reason. I try to teach my kids the drawbacks of that, at the same time I teach them to "play the game" too. If you want something, it doesn't hurt to look the part. Talk about a double message. Thanks for bringing that to my attention. May have to adjust my approach on that!

Have a great day and thanks as always for your thought provoking blogs. Have a great day, CJ

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NANCY- 4/1/2012 8:47AM

    I agree with you that Steve Siebold's "it's your fault" message is pretty harsh. But it was helpful for me. It empowered me to see that my choices can make a difference. Sure I'm been feeling sorry for myself as to what I had been lead to believe were good choices. "Frosted Flakes are Great!" I was naive and trusting, My fault? Not really... but choosing to stay with old habits when I now know better is.

Unfortunately discrimination is out there, I know a few that have been respected because of their work. Rare, yes. But it does happen.

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ONEKIDSMOM 4/1/2012 7:47AM

    Thanks for giving me the nudge over here from my own blog about the fatloser program that I'm going through (another nudge from you). I'll bite on your questions.

What do you do to earn a living? I lead a small team of application programmers, part of a much larger organization.

Have you experienced discrimination related to size at work?
No. Even when I was 225 pounds, I was getting promoted and given credit and awards faster than those around me. I felt at that time that my weight was an advantage, as I was a young woman, fresh out of college, and my weight "said" to my co-workers and managers that I didn't get hired because I "looked good"... I had a brain.

Did you speak up and confront it? n/a

Or did it just make you miserable? Miserable enough to leave the job? again, n/a

Do your co-workers help you with your weight loss efforts? Or sabotage you? Deliberately? Or just without thinking?

Once I decided to lose, I have been in several different work places during the weight loss. Some have been supportive. Some have been saboteurs. Most I'm sure without thinking. But a few I am also sure rooting for failure to justify their own, I guess.

What could co-workers do to support you in your weight loss? Bringing healthier options to "food days" helps a lot... and they ARE working at it where I work now. Health has become a big deal for most of us as we age.

When you lost weight, did you get new thinner-person "creds" not really related to any change in your actual workplace performance?

I don't think so... the change in how people treat me hasn't been from the bosses, so much as from the peers. And the change is NOT just about my appearance, it's about me standing up for what I need to keep me healthy. When looked at properly, weight loss is part of health care. There are laws about people with disabilities, and making accomodation... one of those accomodations has to be supporting that someone goes for walks on her breaks instead of chowing down on a sugary snack. The folks respect my need to take those walks.

But more than that, the fact that I respect MYSELF and my health more leads to others respecting that strength in me. And THAT is the difference in the workplace.

And does that make you feel like an impostor? Absolutely not. It makes me feel empowered.

Or help sustain your motivation to keep the weight off? Yes... not to keep the weight off so much as to remain strong and healthy, for as long as I can, taking care of the one and only body I've been issued for this life.

And what about fat discrimination in the really important workplace: as parent? As spouse?

This one is a long and complicated story and I'm not going to go into it in detail here. But yes, my husband treated me differently fat versus fit. And I think my struggles led my son to some of the decisions he's made in life to ensure that he stays fit.

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TRYINGHARD1948 4/1/2012 3:13AM

    This is a very thought provoking blog. I do think there is a distinction between discrimination against fat people and other kinds of discrimination. and that is, there is a level of personal control over one's weight. I know some are born into families where a high calorie diet makes it more difficult to lose weight but in the end the only person who controls your weight is yourself. It is a challenge to overcome the habits of a lifetime and especially since food and drink are the means of celebration (need I tell you the chocolate sales for this time of year) and often as a gift.

For myself, I was a teacher and at almost six foot could carry a fair whack of weight and probably made an even more imposing sight to any Year 12 who thought the test their mettle against me, although I was a really nice teacher.

As a parent my daughter watched my war with weight and for many years of her life she was Anorexic so it had huge detrimental effects on her. I hasten to add she is now a very slim and healthy mother of two but while there may be morbid obesity there is also morbid thinness and it is very rarely discussed.

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_LINDA 4/1/2012 1:09AM

    Not applicable to me. In my early years, up to my 20's, I was normal weight, so my factory and confectionery jobs were standard. When I joined the bridge club, I was overweight. But those people are not ones to comment on that. There are only three morbidly obese people at our club and everyone else is mostly normal weight except some males with big bellies. They did notice when I lost my weight and then gave me lots of compliments etc. But I don't think it made a difference what I was, they always showed me respect and consideration, perhaps because they were all educated, white collar workers and retirees.
I agree mostly with if you are fat it really is your fault. Even Indygirl admits she just sat there eating whatever she wanted, not caring. You can't get to 460 lbs without stuffing your face full of high carb, high fat fare. We are what we choose to eat. I may have had a healthy vegetarian diet, but eating all the salty snacks to my heart's desire and all the cheese I wanted did pack on the weight. We can thank society for the easy availability of these foods and the huge portions. But the bottom line is, we make the choice to consume it, no one forces it down our throats. I think people do need the wake up call to get real. I still can't get over sometimes how small a normal portion really is. Huge portions have surrounded me all my life. Can you imagine, I used to eat a whole package of Mac & Cheese at one sitting?? Discipline and self control is needed or you would never be able to get past the desire to eat all your favorite comfort foods..
Discrimination in any form for any reason is just wrong. But women still have to be thin while their spouses can have the big belly and no one would comment. Why? Men still get the most highly paid, respected positions and are still the head of many businesses even if most of the employees are women. I see it in the banking business especially. The women are mostly tellers and the men get quickly promoted to the office jobs and manager postions. Its the men that get buildings and streets named after them. Women rarely get those achievements. So men have a lot of leeway how they can look.. It would be nice someday if things were evened out..

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DDOORN 3/31/2012 11:13PM

    We've got a pretty supportive, relatively healthy workplace. I think I kinda jazzed up the place when I arrived in '06, freshly "discharged" from working in the state psych hospital for 23 years. I was working on my health and folks took notice and followed suit. Some whizzed right by me down the scale! Nowadays I notice if anyone brings "contraband" goodies to work to "share" it tends to sit around an awfully long time with few takers and sometimes ends up in the trash...lol!

There are folks around who continue to struggle, but we do a great job, I believe, of being supportive and not to allow their difficulties to diminish our opinion of their work and worth as a person.


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DSHONEYC 3/31/2012 8:42PM

    Never have felt discriminated against, even when I worked in a male-dominated industry. But I know it is out there...

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DBCLARINET 3/31/2012 5:53PM

    Interesting blog. I'm torn about the fat acceptance movement, myself. I appreciated things like Dove's advertising campaigns that use women of various sizes, saying that all sizes are beautiful, but I'm pretty sure the insides of those voluptuous bodies are anything but beautiful! Full of inflammation, pre-diabetes, excess fat around the organs... It's not healthy.

I think back in the day, a fat politician like Winston Churchill was acceptable because food was not as abundant. If you were plump, you were doing well for yourself! Now food is so abundant and cheap (if you could even call most of it food, as opposed to processed stomach-filler) that I think we're experiencing a cultural backlash.

I can't speak much for this particular survey since I've never been heavy. I can say that I fought very hard against any kind of fat discrimination toward my husband, and yet it was there because the 40 pounds he gained in our early years of dating and marriage were a physical reflection of what was going on inside his head. He was depressed, unmotivated, and, well, pretty much everything you listed as a stigma. His job situation had him down, and instead of keeping his head up, he took a few years to wallow in self-pity.

He lost the weight when I was at boot camp. I don't know what motivated him to do it, but whatever clicked in his head resulted in weight loss, more help around the house, the determination to pick up his trumpet and keep practicing after two rejections from the Navy, and a wife who is a lot happier with her relationship.

He hasn't been in any one place long enough for his weight loss to have had any effect on his work environment. Everybody just thinks he's naturally skinny.

Of course, I am just going to say that I work for the United States Navy. You better believe fat discrimination runs rampant!

I'm trying very hard not to come across as cold and harsh, but I do see fat people differently than I see short people. Short people can't do anything about being short. My husband can't do anything about the fact that his lack of facial hair makes him look like he's 22, and he DOES get treated funky because of that -- yelled at in the schools he substitute teaches in because what is he doing out of class? Oh wait, he's a TEACHER?!?!

I would never consciously discriminate against someone because they're fat. But there are studies that suggest women who wear makeup are considered better workers as opposed to women who wear none because it's a sign that they're detail-oriented and blah, blah, blah. Wear too much, though, and then it swings the other way, signaling that the woman is self-obsessed. I think the same thought process carries over to heavy people. If you don't care enough to take proper care of yourself...

Those are my two cents, based on my limited observation and experience in the workplace. Sorry I couldn't contribute to your survey!

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PHEBESS 3/31/2012 3:34PM

    Hmmm, very thought-provoking blog! I'll just add my thoughts in response to your questions.

What do you do to earn a living? Art teacher (grades 7 & 8 - yes, the dreaded middle years)

Have you experienced discrimination related to size at work? Not that I've noticed - but I live and work in an area where curvy and voluptuous and even heavy is not only the norm but the preferred size and shape. Really - when I first started working here (in the Virgin Islands) I was hit on by men all the time - they like chubby and curvy women. It's a cultural thing.

Did you speak up and confront it? Not applicable

Or did it just make you miserable? Miserable enough to leave the job? NA

Do your co-workers help you with your weight loss efforts? Or sabotage you? Deliberately? Or just without thinking? NA

What could co-workers do to support you in your weight loss? Several of us decided to get more fit and toned - so we hired a fitness instructor and had afterschool fitness time. Later, we had the woman PE teacher lead a class.

When you lost weight, did you get new thinner-person "creds" not really related to any change in your actual workplace performance? No

And does that make you feel like an impostor? No

Or help sustain your motivation to keep the weight off? My interest/motivation is sustaining my weight loss, and working to lose more, is totally internal - not related to my workplace at all. (My principal actually has said he doesn't like skinny women, though I'm far from skinny!)

And what about fat discrimination in the really important workplace: as parent? As spouse? NA to parent - and my husband would like me to still have a curvy figure - he things a size 10 or 12 is about perfect. (My goal is size 10)

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Diet Food

Sunday, March 25, 2012

We don't use the word "diet" here at Spark People much. Not a word I like much either. But I do use it, myself. And I've recently blogged on the topic.

For me it's always going to be necessary to diet. Permanently.

And it's going to be necessary to tolerate -- even savour -- being hungry. Every day. Human beings are meant to experience hunger. Thin people do experience hunger. Because hunger signals that I'm ready for my next meal. And hunger signals that I will enjoy that meal even more.

However, in that context, I've been thinking about commercial "diet food". The whole focus of diet food and diet cooking is on eliminating hunger. It's a billion dollar industry. And hunger cannot be eliminated if weight is to be lost and cannot be eliminated if weight loss is to be maintained. It's a delusion.

Those 100 calorie pouches, the special cookies that are calorie reduced, the baked instead of fried chips. I don't buy that stuff. In my experience when I did, I just ate more of the calorie reduced foods until I'd had six reduced-calorie cookies instead of two regular cookies, amounting to the same number of calories, or maybe more. Self-delusion. Although (never wishing to be boringly consistent about anything) I do use sugar substitute moderately, Splenda being my favourite.

And I've been thinking about diet recipes too. There is a big focus here at Spark People and in a million cookbooks and magazine articles on lower-calorie versions of favourite foods with the promise that they are "just as good" or even better, more flavourful. The calorie reduced cheesecakes made with low fat cream cheese and sour cream, the fudge brownies with applesauce instead of butter, the ovenbaked "fried chicken". And yup, I've contributed a few of those recipes too. None of them do taste quite as good as the original. Because they don't appeal to all of the senses -- the mouthfeel of fat, the crispiness of fat, the crunchy sound of caramelized sugar, the smell of butter-soaked popcorn. So maybe if I had a slightly bigger portion of the cheesecake it'd be good? No? Delusion again. I've had to come to the conclusion that cheesecake is not for me. Fried chicken is not for me either.

With the way I'm eating now, increasingly I don't use recipes. As for the requests for my "soup recipes": I would love to help and I'm flattered to be asked but I don't really have any. My soup is comprised from whatever's in the cupboard and the freezer and those veggies in the fridge that need to be used up from last week's salads.

But what I'm learning is that out-and-out "diet foods" -- commercial product, or my own "makeover" versions -- are seldom satisfying. Although I 'm not totally consistent, primarily and increasingly I'm finding that my omelettes and oatmeal and soups and my salads (staples of my diet) are tending to be "real food". By which I mean, not commercially calorie-reduced or revamped versions of higher fat originals.

Real oatmeal, old fashioned type: not the prefab pouches. Of course there aren't any calorie reduced radishes or tomatoes or bell peppers or arugula. All those raspberries and blueberries and apples are by definition "full calorie". I do often choose lower fat or fat free dairy products (yogourt, feta, milk) but I'll eat full fat old cheddar and full fat butter rather than processed cheese slices or ersatz margarines. I will eat full fat cashews or nut butters and avocado and salmon: all good fats. Provided I have them in controlled quantities. Very controlled. And not every day.

I can't have some of these real foods in sufficient quantities such that I'm not going to feel hungry. I do feel hungry. Every day.

Hunger is not an emergency. And no amount of "diet food" will prevent me from feeling hungry anyhow, if I am going to sustain my calorie range. And maintain my weight.

No amount of exercise will permit me to eat whatever I want either.

I am going to be hungry. I am going to savour my hunger, savour my meals. Real meals. Because real food is more satisfying to me.

Gotta grow up and accept this. No whining. No regrets.

Less is more.

Don't misunderstand: I'm not "lecturing" on this topic, not at all.

This is a new core belief I have deliberately adopted, and I'm repeating it here primarily for my own benefit. Repeating it until I believe it, act upon it and realize the results.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NAVYMOM133 3/28/2012 2:14PM

    Excellent blog!! I couldn't agree with you more!! Here's to putting single-ingredient foods together and making a true meal!

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TRAVELGRRL 3/27/2012 7:20PM

    Believe it or not, I do not feel hunger every day.

Is it true that your stomach shrinks with time? That's the only reason I can think of that I am NOT hungry every day!

I agree with you on the diet foods -- most are worthless.

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CRYSTALJEM 3/27/2012 12:15PM

    Real food, what a concept. I agree, I've tried the "diet" foods and treats and have shared basically the same experience as you. I've found the best for me is to eat the "real" (original recipes/treats) stuff in moderation and then stick much more to the "whole" (fresh) stuff in quantity. When I don't keep that balance, my pants tell the story....

My scale hasn't been budging much, just wobbling back and forth, but I'm feeling better, I'm looking better and I'm firmer. I think I'm going to post a picture on my wall in the bathroom of a scale with the number I realistically want it to read of use that for my motivation (repeating it until I believe it) However, as long as I believe and feel that I'm moving in the right direction, I'm not going to focus heavily on the number.

Great blog as always. Have a blast of a day. Hope its spring like where you are. CJ

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KALIGIRL 3/27/2012 11:33AM

    "Repeating it until I believe it, act upon it and realize the results."
Can't do better than that!
Namaste my friend.

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TRYINGHARD1948 3/27/2012 4:54AM

    Vegetables, a little meat, sweetness when we work hard for it, sounds like the stuff that brought us to where we are. I owe my Mum a huge thank you for her knowledge of food.

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NANCY- 3/26/2012 10:29AM

    Real Food!
Commercially chemically processed "diet food"
I can understand folks wanting the recipe for your soups, cooking real food is so different than opening a box or a bag. Right now I am learning how to cook real food for my family which requires using recipes before I can tweak stuff to our liking. Then like you I will not really have a recipe.
WTG for knowing what you must do for you!

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DDOORN 3/26/2012 10:07AM

    I'm with you on this topic...no 100 calorie packs for me as well. No egg-white only stuff or rubber fake cheese either! Real food please! :-)


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_LINDA 3/26/2012 2:10AM

    I so absolutley agree with this. I could never tolerate anything but real cheese. Most of what I eat is unprocessed. I do not use salt, sweeteners of any kind and only use pepper, garlic and chilli pepper seeds for spices. Real foods rule!!

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FREELADY 3/25/2012 10:51PM

    What a great blog. You said so many important things here . . . and expressed it so well! Thanks for putting these valuable perspective down so we can get a real solid handle on it!!

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FREELADY 3/25/2012 10:51PM

    What a great blog. You said so many important things here . . . and expressed it so well! Thanks for putting these valuable perspective down so we can get a real solid handle on it!!

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MEADSBAY 3/25/2012 10:26PM

    I'm 100% on your team!
Real food in smaller amounts for me, too.

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DBCLARINET 3/25/2012 9:22PM

    Another blog full of wisdom and refreshing tough-love!

I remember a long time ago, when I was young and had a raging high metabolism and didn't understand a thing about "diets," wondering why people would want to eat nasty SnackWell's when they could just eat a little less of the real stuff. Then I got older, went to college, started gaining weight, and started understanding the whole thing.

Fortunately, I grew up in a household where my dad baked chicken with the skin on and real butter was kept in a box on the counter. Yeah, we did the processed grains, instant oatmeal, quick cereals, and whatnot, but I don't remember piles upon piles of "diet food" hanging around the house.

I've been a lot happier since going to as unprocessed a diet as possible. I just feel so completely satisfied by my meals, and I'm discovering how hunger is the best spice. Food tastes so much better when I'm actually hungry for it.

So thanks again for another awesome post! I'm still inspired to keep it real!

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MOBYCARP 3/25/2012 8:40PM

    I thought I was the only person on the site who was totally unattracted to the multiplicity of fancy recipes. I do better figuring out how to prepare real food for one.

It's been a gradual process. I'm not using much butter any more; I might not use any for a couple of weeks. And after a half year, I finally weaned myself off the toaster pastries (generic Pop-Tarts). But I couldn't do it all at once. And most of those Spark recipes would require me to dive into lots of aspects of real food that are unfamiliar, all at once, to prepare one dish. No, thank you.

In the process, I've found some things that work for hunger control; but they bear no resemblance whatsoever to reduced-calorie recipes for the high-calorie stuff. They look more like, change what I eat to something different, and be sure to get enough water, bulk, and protein in.

And yeah, sometimes I just have to live with a bit of hunger till it's time to eat again. But that doesn't happen every day.

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CARRAND 3/25/2012 5:18PM

    I totally agree. I avoid low fat, or fat free processed foods. If I want sour cream, that's what I have. I just don't have it very often. Low fat dairy products can contain things like modified food starch, which I can't eat because I'm gluten intolerant. I always read the labels, or buy food like fresh fruits and vegetables that don't need labels. I avoid things like blueberry breakfast bars, even if they're gluten free. Real oatmeal with fresh blueberries - now that is good food. Natural oatmeal is gluten free if it is processed in a gluten free environment. The little packaged instant oatmeals usually aren't gluten free, and honestly, the real stuff doesn't take that long to cook. I think a lot of "diet" food isn't really food at all.

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DONNACFIT 3/25/2012 2:33PM

    Hi thanks for another great blog..love your blogs..

it made me think of something I read someplace that your body craves good nutrition..so if you're getting your calories from not "real" foods..your body is still craving the nutritional needs of a balanced diet..feed it the fruit, veggies, proteins, grains and fats..and we are satisfied...who knew the body was so smart!!

Like that study that if you eat only junk food to required calorie limit you lose weight but it didn't say at what cost and if you were hungry or not...

Food for thought emoticon

Your soup ideas always inspire me and I make soup..and almost everything, like you..with whats around and might taste good together. This week in my challenge team we are measuring everything....good to do once in awhile to see how close the eye balling has been :)

Have a great Sunday :)

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PHEBESS 3/25/2012 2:12PM

    Amen to REAL food! I too would rather eat less of the real stuff than eat "diet" food full of plastic and petroleum by-products - bleah!!!

My lunch was oatmeal (old fashioned) to which I added raisins and almonds (just 18 almonds) - yum!!!

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ONEKIDSMOM 3/25/2012 1:49PM

    Like this blog, a lot. I believe in "real food", in moderate portions. Although I do purchase food from Jenny Craig or Healthy Choice or the WW Smart Ones... because I live alone and don't want to eat the same thing all the time, and they are appropriately portion sized for one with my calorie range... I avoid the snacky 100 calorie packs. Got the same problem with them as you do.

The foods I use to supplement: real foods, real veggies and fruits. Skim milk.

I like the dictionary definition of diet, myself: "what you eat". As in "the diet of the koala bear consists of eucalyptus leaves".

Spark on! Eat less. Savor and enjoy it more. emoticon

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Soup: Asian to Cajun!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Slurped up my last bowlful of a stellar peanut butter chicken last night: it had lots of Asian vegetables (water chestnut, snow peas . . . ) and buckwheat noodles, and big chunks of garlic and ginger. Plus Thai green curry paste. Loved it!

This week's soup will be Cajun black bean and sweet potato with celery, shredded carrot , green pepper and brown rice. It smells very very spicy! And it's colourful -- chock full o' vitamins.

Good thing too: the miserable cold I've been fighting off has wrestled me to the ground (sniffles, streaming eyes, generally achy/breaky), and my taste buds will be requiring powerful flavour if I'm to taste anything at all.

Now I'm heading off to sit in a steaming hot tub. Exercise will have to wait a bit . . . and I'm not worrying about that too much, I always do return to the gym. And weight loss maintenance for me is at least 80% control of nutrition.

It was a busy week, and lots awaits me on my desk: but I'll get through it. No need to work this weekend. I'm lying low.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NOLAZYBUTT110 4/12/2012 2:03PM

    You should try Greek chicken soup with lemon and cayenne pepper in it. It gets rid of colds and flu any time! Its my old standby when I get sick or even deal with allergies.... try it you will love it. We love all kinds of soup, but have not tried that one you had yet! Maybe you can share the recipe? We (me and Hubby) have soup at least once a week. see my recipes. susana

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NANCY- 3/25/2012 10:31AM

    Soup is a great way to soothe what ails you. Hope you feel better soon.

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CRYSTAL_MOM 3/24/2012 7:54PM

    Ok, you get me drooling, but where are the recipes? I love asian and cajun. Now, I am in want with no recipe to fill the need.
Hope you are feeling better. I am just starting to get over the sinus thing and cough that I have been battling.

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TRYINGHARD1948 3/24/2012 7:35PM

    Sounds delicious Ellen, hope you feel better soon.

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CANNIE50 3/24/2012 6:40PM

    I am glad to hear you are extending yourself some T.L.C. while you fight off a nasty cold. Good thinking because you will certainly feel better faster by giving yourself what you need to bounce back. emoticon

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PHEBESS 3/24/2012 6:31PM

    You need to write a soup cookbook - they always sound delicious!!!!!

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_LINDA 3/24/2012 3:38PM

    Wow!! Those two soups sound fabulous!! Sorry you are battling a cold :(( Its good you are taking care of yourself and not working or working out. Just pamper yourself and get better soon!

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FREELADY 3/24/2012 1:57PM

    You always give me such great cooking ideas. Both those soups sound fabulous.

Glad you're taking gentle care of yourself. It's good for me to listen to you having confidence in yourself that you're on a steady path. I'm working on that trait! Thanks!

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DONNACFIT 3/24/2012 11:06AM

    Hi..love your soup blogs..today's the day for me to make soup too..just not sure which kind it will be...

Take care of yurself..too much puddle splashing??

Get well soon...the work will always wait emoticon

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