I did warn earlier on today that tonight’s post may contain a few swear words – so please don’t read if you are likely to get offended…as I won’t deal well with any arsehole-ish private messages from concerned blog readers today. I am not feeling well today, I have a short fuse, and my reply will probably offend you far more than what is written here…in fact there is no ‘probably’ about it…I guarantee that it will offend you!
Now that I have cleared that up, I would like to talk about something called HAES – ‘Health at Every Size’.
I keep seeing ‘#haes’ on Twitter…and some of the tweets get rather heated. So I decided to have a look for myself and try and form an opinion. It seems to me that there is a group of people promoting healthy living – regardless of your weight – then a group of opposers to the HAES message, and then just a group of dickheads who think that it’s fun to take the piss out of fat people. It’s a rather complex mass of messages to work through, along with reading articles online…and so forming an opinion may take some time. I am still looking into it all to be honest.
The HAES stuff I will get to. The opposers I will get to. The fat-haters…well, they are just a bunch of bullies…I was going to call them c****…but this word seems to offend and I am loathe to offend!
Regardless of your size you deserve respect, you deserve to be able to choose to live your life how you want to live it – as long at it’s not harming anyone else – and you deserve equality. I was also going to add, ‘as long as it’s legal’ but some countries have some pretty fecked up laws, so I will gloss over the legality issues for now!
What I will say though is that I am not someone who is comfortable promoting a ‘big is beautiful’ message. I promote a ‘we are all beautiful’ message. You can be gorgeous whatever your size…but healthy whatever your size? I am not so sure about this bit really.
Another thing I will say is that it is fairly easy to prove or disprove a theory whatever your views. For example, I was chatting with my personal trainer the other day about organic food…he is very much for it and feels passionately that it is better for you – he has ‘proof’ based on studies. I am neither for or against organic food…but a quick Internet search soon produced studies which stated that there are no benefits gained from eating organic food. I will happily eat organic as and where I can…but budget is a big consideration for me.
The same goes for people who have strong feelings regarding the fact that you can be fat and healthy. There is evidence out there that states that you can be fat and healthy. There is also evidence out there that states that you cannot be fat and healthy. I guess you have to make your own decision…but make that decision based on what you really feel…not what you feel that you should say just because you have to shop in plus-sized outlets or because the media bombard us with images of ‘perfect’!
What I do know is that if I go to the doctor with a knee complaint, I will get told to lose weight. I am not stupid…I know that being overweight puts pressure on my joints. However I have been overweight for a while, and a sharp searing pain that comes on overnight might…just might…have been caused by something other than my weight. My weight is a contributor…but is it right to expect me to lose all of my excess weight before giving me some fecking help for my knee problem? I don’t have a knee problem at the moment by the way…I am being hypothetical! I did have a problem with my feet though. When I first started walking on my treadmill at 35st, I was so heavy that I would fracture bones in my feet. Nothing could be done other than resting…I didn’t even bother going to the doctor as I knew what they would say. I still get these problems at 23st 12lbs…and I know what the advice would be even after a shifting over 19.5st!
So for me, my weight has an impact in this instance. How I dream of the day when the doctor asks me if I smoke…’no’…drink…’other than water, no’…and you aren’t overweight either, so that’s my excuses out of the way, let’s get on with the job of treating the illness and not the peripheral shite that might contribute! I actually adore the NHS though…so don’t shoot me down in flames for my parody of what is actually reality for a lot of people!
Right then – I feel that I also need to warn that I might ramble, as you may have gathered by now – as my head feels full of cotton wool today…so apologies if this doesn’t make much sense!
Back to the HAES stuff…in my 20′s I was sailing through life without any problems. I was well over 30st yet had no health issues. My blood pressure was perfect, my cholesterol levels were perfect, my blood sugar levels were perfect, my breathing was great, my mobility was good. So I was fat…and my health wasn’t affected. I would not at all say that I was healthy though. I was not taking care of my body, eating well, or exercising.
Fast forward a few years and I ended up with endometrial hyperplasia with incredibly high levels of cancerous cells. I was diagnosed with PCOS. I was told that I had a serious level of type 2 diabetes. All of these things were attributed to my weight…rightly or wrongly…my personal view is that these issues were directly caused by my weight – but others may disagree.
So I decided to start taking care of myself. Of course I wanted to focus on shifting my weight. I could not sustain being 43st 5.5lbs, which is the weight I reached when not taking care of myself. However, I knew that if I purely focused on losing weight then this wasn’t healthy for my mind, body, or soul. I knew that I had to take an holistic approach. I had to look at my weight, I had to look at nourishing my body, I had to look at changing my mindset, and I had to look at moving. These things – as a package – are an indicator of a healthy person.
You cannot assume that just because someone is a ‘normal’ weight that they are healthy. They could have all sorts of health issues. However, the dickhead fat-haters out there would overlook these people…as they look okay to the untrained eye. They would have a pop at me even now – just short of shifting 20st, working out six times a week, eating healthily, a non-smoker, non-drinker, coming off my medications, a healthy(ish!) mind! I have to say that I know my lifestyle is now far healthier than that of my slender friends. But if you stood us side by side, you would choose them over me if you had to guess who was healthier.
This is why I am initially quite liking what I see of this HAES stuff. They make no assumption about health based on size. ‘HAES – is an approach to health that does not pursue the goal of a particular body weight, but rather concentrates on what health benefits and improvements can practically be achieved for individuals. HAES is not a guarantee, but an approach. It does not assert that everyone is healthy at any size (a popular misconception), but supports the goal of health, for bodies for all sizes. For the typical person, following HAES includes size acceptance, listening to internal body signals and taking care of the body with nutritious varied eating and enjoyable exercise.’
Shifting the focus from pure weight loss to that of living a healthy lifestyle can often mean that weight loss is a side-effect. So you aren’t pursuing weight loss as a goal – as this can be all-consuming and at times we become desperate and resort to measures that aren’t healthy…weight loss pills, milk shakes, drinking nothing but juice…things that aren’t sustainable. What you are pursuing is a life of eating well, moving well, and taking care of the health of your body…learning to listen to it.
I guess my slight criticism of HAES is the fact that they don’t focus on weight. I don’t care what your view is really, but my view is that it is impossible to be healthy at the weight I was. It was impossible for me to be healthy after shifting 10st and reaching 33st 5.5lbs. It is only now – after shifting nearly 20st and 60% of my excess weight – that I am starting to feel that healthy is a word that I will be able to use one day to describe myself!
However, I can see why they don’t focus on weight. If I kept drilling you about your weight – how much you need to lose, what your average loss has been so far, how long it’s taken you, how long it might take you to reach that ideal weight, what did you lose last week, what do you hope to lose next week…it wouldn’t take long for you to absolutely hate the weighing scales…or hate yourself. And when that happens, you stop caring…so your health takes a backseat.
If I asked you to focus on a wide range of things – eating a bit healthier, moving a bit more, taking some time for yourself, focusing on your mindset, listening to your body – and I asked you to do this on a weekly basis with the goal of just feeling good…well, that brings a whole new set of feelings. And if the result of you doing all of this was weight loss…then that’s okay.
There are some out there who talk about a ‘set-point’ – a point at which your body prefers you to weigh. Your weight generally hovers 10% either side of this point. According to believers of the set-point theory, losing 10% of your body weight, and keeping it off for six months to a year, helps your body reset your set-point. Losing large amounts of weight at once creates an internal struggle with hormones spiking to make you hungrier as your body tries to defend its comfortable range. So ‘experts’ recommend losing 10% and then maintaining this new weight for a few months before trying to lose more. Your body will adjust to the new set-point, and you can continue to lose weight.
This is a very brief interpretation of what is a complex and critiqued theory…my psychologist and dietician feel that this set-point theory is often used by very overweight people to justify their lack of progression – especially amongst the bariatric patients they see. My psychologist is very vocal about the fact that he thinks the set-point theory is bullshit – his words not mine! I am a little more open to this theory…but I feel that if a body has a comfortable weight that it would not at all choose 43st 5.5lbs…so I have never used that theory to defend my massive bloody weight! My personal thoughts – without any medical background whatsoever – is that if I were a body, I would try and choose a weight nearer the ‘healthy’ zone on a BMI chart to feel comfortable at…which is what I am aiming for!
I only mention this set-point stuff as there seem to be a number of incredibly obese people out there using this as a justification almost. Whilst I am not one to throw stones given the weight I reached…I just cannot get my head around this set-point stuff being used to defend a life of obesity. It’s a whole other story if you are 5’7 and weigh 11st…in the higher end of the healthy BMI zone…and are struggling to get to 9st something in the lower end of the healthy BMI zone…maybe your body is just comfortable and healthy at 11st. But when you are talking a number of stones overweight…I really struggle for any word other than ‘bollocks’ here…again, I am no medical professional though! There are studies out there proving set-point theory as accurate…but there are methods to deal with it…so I don’t like seeing it used as an excuse.
We come in different shapes and sizes. I remember once reading an article – how accurate it was, I don’t know – that Jodie Kidd, an incredibly tall and slender supermodel, shared the same bust, waist, and hip measurements as Pamela Anderson…a short and curvaceous bombshell!
I love the fact that we come in different shapes and sizes. I am looking forward to seeing what my body shape is once I have shifted some fat. And this is my issue I guess…we DO come in different shapes and sizes…but when our shape is determined by a huge layer of fat then I don’t feel that this is a good thing. I don’t like the ‘big is beautiful’ message…not because I think that the individual isn’t a gorgeous person…but because I do have concerns about health and I have concerns about promoting fat as a good place to be. I will mention how you perceive the word, or define ‘fat’, shortly!
I am interested in seeing what I look like – and what ideal weight that might result in – when I am eating nutritiously and getting adequate physical activity. By the way, this is how HAES define ‘ideal weight’…’the weight you maintain when you are eating nutritiously and getting adequate physical activity.’ So whilst I am eating nutritiously and engaging in physical activity and losing weight, then I guess my body has not yet reached it’s set point. I have shifted 60% of my excess weight yet my body is not fighting to pile it all back on again…because I am eating healthily and working out. What happened to comfortably losing 10% and then having to stay at that weight for a few months…or else your body and its set-point will go crazy?! I know that one exception doesn’t prove the rule however…so I will shut up about excuses – sorry, set-points!
So I am rambling again – and I am taking nothing but paracetamol today either – but my original thoughts when I started typing surrounded being fat and healthy.
First of all I suppose you have to define ‘fat’…if you consider ‘fat’ as being 1st over your ideal weight, then I guess you can be fat and healthy…as I doubt being 1st overweight would have drastic health implications – some will agree with this, some will disagree with this. But if you consider ‘fat’ as being super morbidly obese – and personally I think using the word ‘fat’ for the situation I found myself in is a gross understatement…delusional! – then I cannot see how anybody could possibly argue that you can be fat and healthy.
Secondly, I guess you have to define ‘healthy’. I live a healthy lifestyle now yet I weigh 23st 12lbs. I live a healthy lifestyle but I think it would be a stretch to describe myself as healthy considering the risk factors for me at this weight. And I know there are fat acceptance types out there who hate that fat people get threatened with heart disease, diabetes, various types of cancers…but there is a lot of science to prove that the risk-factor is high…just as there may be science out there to disprove this.
Personally, I want to give my body a fighting chance at living as long a life as possible…a long and healthy life. For me, remaining fat does not give me that fighting chance. For me, my weight and self-worth aren’t linked though…my weight and my health are linked. I like myself now…and I will like myself as I continue to lose weight. I am not saying that fat is bad, or ugly, or horrid. I am just saying that I don’t think it’s healthy. I don’t feel any pressure to lose this weight. I am happy losing it – far happier than I was.
Love yourself whilst losing weight – celebrate your body at every stage of the journey. Don’t hide away in the hopes of living life once you are ‘perfect’ – what the feck does perfect look like anyway?! Enjoy life now…but be realistic. I know without a shadow of a doubt that I feel far healthier now. I can feel my body thanking me for losing weight…as soon as it stops thanking me, I reckon it will be time to call target!
As I said earlier, you deserve respect regardless of your size. Part of my journey has involved me learning to respect myself…and trying to live in a body weighing over 43st was not respectful at all. I had to respect myself before anyone else could.
So although I am a Slimming World fan – a big Slimming World fan if you’ll pardon the pun – I don’t see focusing on losing weight as being a bad thing. I don’t see this ‘diet’ – as the HAES people would call it, along with fat acceptance people – as a diet…for me it feels like healthy eating…which is a recommendation of HAES. I think pretty much most of what I have done has been unknowingly based on HAES philosophy – I eat well, I exercise, I focus on the health of my body and mind…and I am losing weight and loving life. There is nothing wrong with trying to achieve a healthier life. There is something a bit wrong with being so focused on the numbers that you lose all perspective…staying out of a bikini until you look perfect, using negative self-talk to describe yourself, being down on yourself just because you might be fat…this is what I have a problem with.
From what I have read regarding HAES opposers, they seem to have either misunderstood the point of the approach that HAES advocate, or they have underlying tones of hating fat people! There is also some critique of the science and research that HAES use to defend their position…there is a concern that they are fighting the misinformed (fat-haters in some cases) with misinformation which leaves them open to criticism. So if they want to appear as credible, they need to use credible, accurate, information…which makes sense to me.
So my initial summary of HAES is that I think it’s a great thing – I still have more reading to do though! I think that you should aim to lead a healthy lifestyle regardless of your size. I think that you should focus on loving life as it is now – taking care of yourself – and if the result is that you lose weight, then this is a bonus! I just feel that you might not be able to define yourself as healthy at any size…or at least medically healthy at any size. As ever, this is just my opinion though.
As for the fat-haters…I can’t ever imagine myself in a position where I would hate someone based on what they look like. I think this takes a special kind of stupid – I could use a number of words to describe such people…but I think I am going to save them…or let their psychologists deal with them eventually!
Apologies for any rambling…Mr WLB did have a read and said he thinks it’s okay…but he’s used to me and my cold-fuddled mind!
So today has been a quiet and snotty one. I woke up feeling really awful today – but I headed off to Pilates regardless and had a good stretch. It was a good session, but lots of others had ducked out due to feeling ill – wimps! I then headed to the horses. My Welsh Cob was flat out doing his usual job of playing dead. He used to freak out the people on the livery yard we were once at…they used to call him and clap their hands and he wouldn’t move a muscle…until they ran over and got within a couple of feet of him, at which point he would lift his head and look at them as if he couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about! We then headed to the shops and I came home to put my PJs back on and hibernate. I found a fluffy blanket but couldn’t sleep and so I have just been distracting myself, moaning, feeling sorry for myself, and giving Mr WLB grief. I have wanted to eat everything in sight…all I craved was thick granary bread, toasted, with butter and honey…and stew with dumplings…oh and naan bread as I saw an advert for them too! I am not someone that loses their appetite when hungry…I want to eat, and eat, and eat…but I kept on track. I might watch a film tonight if I can stay awake – I am currently going through a sweaty stage with the cold…it was shivers earlier – I bloody hate colds as they always make me behave like a baby!
Breakfast: Two egg rolls with a banana (2 x HEB).
An okay food day today. Nothing was really going to hit the spot. Brekkie was a quick one of egg rolls and a banana. Lunch was some roasted veggies – red onion, peppers, and courgette – with wilted spinach, cherry tomatoes, sardines, and cheese. Dinner was okay too. Mince cooked in the slow cooker with onions, peppers, mushrooms, garlic, stock, herbs, and chilli flakes. I then had some broccoli, carrots, green beans, and cauliflower with a tiny bit of gravy. And my snack was chopped up Nakd bars, cherries, grapes, pineapple, kiwi fruit, and 0% Total Greek yogurt.
Exercise: 60 minutes Pilates.
Thank you for reading,
Weight Loss Bitch xxx