How Fat Acceptance Doesn’t Have to Glorify Obesity and Shame Fitness

This is an article from NF Chief Wordsmith Taylor Share.

Before we jump into this hugely controversial subject, I wanted to lay out some facts. And also put on my Kevlar armor:

There aren’t many things that matter on this scale. That’s why it is especially crappy when nearly every article, debate, YouTube video, or reddit thread on this subject is the same: people talking past one another instead of working with each other.

I believe there is a perspective most people on both sides can embrace, without betraying the values that originally had them at each other’s throats.

Bear with me while I dig in to this. We’re going to put the nerd in Nerd Fitness.

We should all EMBRACE fat acceptance, with one huge caveat

Acceptance

“Acceptance” is a loaded word. Today I’m going to suggest an incredibly specific, nuanced definition of body acceptance. To get there though, I first need to talk about traffic:

Imagine you are leaving work to go to a friend’s birthday dinner. You swing by and pick up your friend, hop in your car, and head to the party. It starts in twenty minutes, but you hit some traffic. You check Google Maps and it shows an updated travel time: FORTY MINUTES!

We all know what happens from here. You begin to stress. You look at other lanes, trying to calculate the best Frogger-like strategy to get you there sooner. You start looking for alternate routes. Maybe you start texting to apologize, or just get angry and tensions rise in the car.

This is where many eastern philosophies would say suffering begins. The cause? Your attachment to a twenty-minute arrival time. The more you cling on to your twenty-minute arrival time (as you madly check your maps app), the more you get stressed. You’re attached to twenty minutes, but it ain’t happenin’. Life just dealt you forty minutes.

So what’s the alternative?

Non-judgmental acceptance. Truly accept your situation before you decide how to act.

As mindfulness would teach, the sooner we accept the reality (that we’ll be in the car for 40 minutes), the better we can deal with the situation:

Imagine the same scenario (a 40-minute car ride), but you got in you car knowing it would take that long. You let your friend having the dinner know when you would arrive, you picked out a killer playlist, and you thought up some fun conversation topics to catch up with your buddy along the way (you can’t WAIT to ask him about that big fight he had with Becky. Dammit Becky!)

In both cases, what’s REALLY changed? You’re still in the car with your friend, a smart phone, and TIME to connect with your friend who is sitting right next to you. In one case you are miserable and stressing together. In the other case you are catching up and consider the extra time a blessing. Even if there is no “glass half-full” perspective, it doesn’t do you any good to be stressed AND be late. In fact, it could make things worse!

Now, let’s put this into body image terms:

I’m too fat. I’m too skinny. I’m not sure what’s wrong with me; I’m just ugly. I’m a lazy piece of crap. I hate my [body part]. Gross. I wish my [body part] looked like that. Eh, I’m okay I guess. I need to work out more. I have no self-control. What’s the point? I’m just made this way; it’s not my fault. I’m doing the best I can – I can’t do anything else. It’s THEIR fault. Stop blaming me. You don’t know what it’s like. It’s easy for you. 

Before we even have a chance to take a non-judgmental assessment of our situation, we jump to judgment. It’s the way our brains work. We look at ourselves, and anyone else, and judgment shows up, uninvited. The problem is, when we couple emotional judgment with our assessment of our body, we lie to ourselves. We tell ourselves we’re ugly, or that we’re perfect, when neither is true. We tell ourselves we don’t need to lose weight, when our doctor tells us we are headed for an early grave. Or conversely, we become obsessed with body image and fail to recognize that we actually ARE healthy. This isn’t just for people with body image problems. These automatic thoughts affect us ALL.

Worse, even if our emotional assessment of our bodies is close to reality, the emotions themselves get in the way of actually moving in the direction we want! If you feel like crap every time you look in the mirror, you aren’t exactly going to have the motivation to follow through for 6 weeks to establish that new healthy eating or exercise habit. After all, life sucks – you suck, remember?

Stress and judgment ultimately prevent us from fixing the things that caused those negative emotions in the first place.

When our brains define a situation as negative in a snap judgment (late, ugly, gross), it can be hard to break free from that framing. We hear “late” and “fat,” and it can be hard not to immediately flood our brain with all of the wrong thoughts.

That’s where “fat acceptance 2.0” comes in.

Fat Acceptance 2.0

tape measure

When we talk about fat acceptance, let’s be honest: it’s a LOADED phrase. We discussed this topic previously and it had over 350 comments.

But it doesn’t have to be loaded or controversial unless you let it.

When you’re stuck in traffic you need to first “accept” the reality of the situation you’re in. The reality is that it will take 40 minutes to get there. Most of us hear this and start framing the situation immediately in negative terms. We hear the word late and it’s as if we had an injection of stress into our blood:

We’re going to be late. We’re going to miss ____. We’re going to waste all this time sitting around here.

But it doesn’t have to be that way:

  • Negative Judgment: We are going to be 40 minutes late.
  • Positive judgment: We have 40 minutes of extra time together.
  • Neutral, non-judgment: We will arrive in 40 minutes.

Let’s look at this in terms of our own bodies:

  • I’m ____ over/underweight. I’m ugly.
  • I’m ____ over/underweight. I’m beautiful.
  • I weigh ___. My body fat percentage is ____. My other health indicators are ____.

Just by picking one or the other, we have ALREADY secretly decided how we’re going to feel and what we’re going to do about it. But we didn’t really make the choice; our unconscious framing of the situation made it for us.

Being angry or stressed out about our bodies can be a direct impediment to moving in the most useful direction. When we let our self-judgment interfere, we defend that self-judgment at all costs.

In other words, we make irrational decisions and statements:

  • “Real women have curves! That woman is a twig. I’m big and beautiful.”
  • “Good thing I’m not fat like that person; gross. They should do something about it.”
  • “That dude spends too much time in the gym. What a meathead! I’m glad I’m not full of myself like he is.”

The definition of fat/body acceptance I want to see adopted by both sides of this debate starts here: accepting our bodies for what they are: just facts. No extra negativity or overly loud positivity, no knee-jerk reaction to declare how our body shape is superior to other body shapes.

Just quiet, realistic, objective acceptance.

We need to learn to accept our bodies because there is nothing else to do. Once we do this, we can decide, just like in traffic, what the most useful way to respond is. We need to separate these two processes: the labeling and the decision-making. We must separate them because if we don’t, we risk being dragged down by the power of words.

This allows us to make a smart choice, without relying on a reactive one to negative emotions (crash dieting), or a defense mechanism (doing nothing or defending your body type by bringing down others).

This is the incredibly simple concept of accepting reality without judgment, without caveats, without footnotes, without ifs, ands, or buts.

If you weigh 300 lbs, you weigh 300 lbs. Can you think about this fact without becoming instantly stressed, upset, or down on yourself? It’s simple in concept, but far from easy.

If you roll for stats before you begin a RPG, you don’t spend much time stressing about your awful roll or gloating about your 1337 roll (okay, maybe a little time). Rather, you likely accept your roll, and start strategizing. This is what I have to work with. These are my strengths. These are my weaknesses. How can I win given the hand I’m holding RIGHT NOW? In other words, you quickly accept your situation and apply non-judgmental acceptance.

THIS is what makes the game enjoyable – not pouting all game because you only rolled a 4 in Intelligence and you’re a wizard, but rather quietly accepting your hand and playing to the best of your ability.

Do any of these sound familiar? 

  • This doesn’t apply to me because I have kids, and have no time to work out.
  • I’m overweight, but it’s not my fault. I have ____  in my life right now.
  • I’m super skinny, but I just can’t gain weight. I’ve tried, and my body doesn’t work that way.
  • I have two jobs and go to school (or other busy life) – I’m in a unique situation.
  • I have a special _____ injury/medical issue, so this isn’t really relevant for me.

It’s easy to come up with a justification to buck personal responsibility and avoid facing the truth: Only YOU can change YOU. These justifications are often the biggest hurdles to actually making the change we need to make.

The Empire

candy Empire

If you are overweight, buckling down and accepting your “stats” might seem like a Herculean task. That’s because it is – you’re fighting against the Empire after all. Embedded in society and our words are things just make this process of acceptance far more difficult than it should be.

From sensationalized, sexualized (photoshopped) body images thrown at us in TV shows, commercials, and movies, to a food industry promoting overblown portion sizes and food designed at the perfect “bliss point” to make you overeat, the Empire is not to be underestimated.

All of this has been designed to drag you over to the Dark Side.

We desperately need a logical playbook to help to overcome these mental barriers. Consider this a plea to the body acceptance movements and fitness industry alike: stop shaming, stop getting defensive, accept your starting point, and help each other live happier, healthier lives.

The Empire’s influence is real and pervasive, and if we aren’t careful, we’ll end up working against ourselves. We’ll be infighting about what shape looks the best, instead of uniting forces against the people trying to manipulate us all.

We need a body acceptance movement that helps us find strategies to shed negative connotations without replacing them with a belief that glorifies unhealthy lifestyles. We need a fitness industry that doesn’t shame men and woman for their starting point, and accepts a “look” beyond a single idealized version.

We don’t care what you look like. We don’t care where you came from, only where you’re going. In fact, it’s a RULE of the Rebellion!

Stop fat shaming. And stop justifying obesity.

Accept friend

When we’re attached to our bodies and can’t accept the reality of our situation, we become defensive. The natural reaction is to say [the way my body is better than the way your body is].

This comes in two major forms:

  • The way my body is (overweight) is better than the way your body is (skinny, fit, or anything else).  See “real women have curves.”
  • The way my body is (not “fat”) is better than the way your body is (anything else). See “strong is the new skinny.”

In the past year, these conflicts have been at an all time high. From the drama of Fat People Hate on Reddit, to ranting on YouTube, fat shaming needs to stop. It’s not cool, it’s not trendy – it’s just wrong. Unless you can prove the science wrong, which says fat shaming actually leads to weight gain, stop pretending you are enacting tough love. You’re not. You’re just being defensive of social norms and your own body image, using the lie of empathy as a smoke screen for cruelty.

But, just like fat shaming is harmful (psychologically AND by extension, for people’s physical health), the movement of glorifying obesity also helps to send people to an early grave.

Obesity is unhealthy. Yes, it’s true the story isn’t as simple as that for EVERYONE (metabolic health being an interesting point). Yes, non-obese people can have metabolic issues and think they’re healthy because they’re small (they’re wrong!).

But we know that being significantly overweight increases the chance that you will end this journey too soon. It’s easy to close our eyes and shout in a comments section “Here’s a link that says however I am right now is healthy.” But we can’t ignore the science. Hell, 95% of parents think their overweight children look “just right.” We can’t afford to let self-judgment (and defensiveness) stand in our way of being healthy and happy.

Just like it is irresponsible and cruel to shame others for being fat (because it hurts people), it is also irresponsible and cruel to promote a lifestyle which encourages or normalizes unhealthy behavior (because it hurts people). In fact, from this perspective these two mindsets are more similar than they are different: They’re both defensive mindsets which ultimately end up hurting people who really just want to be healthy and happy.

Like glorifying smoking in the 60s, we cannot afford to ignore evidence on EITHER side. This is a public health crisis, and we need to be honest with ourselves or millions will continue to suffer and die at an early age.

It’s possible to walk this middle line. In fact, one of my favorite thinkers on this topic, the incredibly articulate boogie2988, an awesome YouTuber and gamer, is a great example:

(Note: We don’t want Boogie, or any of you, to feel this way about yourselves, EVER. See non-judgmental acceptance above)

Both sides of this debate should be in this together. We need to face the Empire as a united front, as two sides in the SAME rebellion… not at each other’s throats, letting the Empire get away with everything!

I propose we start at non-judgmental acceptance. Before we start giving advice to others, or getting down at ourselves, let us try to consider the facts without the emotions of self-judgment, embarrassment, disgust, annoyance, frustration, and anger.

But this is such an important topic, and I want to hear from you:

What’s your experience with fat shaming and/or fat acceptance?

How do you think we can get out of this mess?

I think most of us, deep down, just want everyone to be happy and healthy. How do we make sure we’re working together?

-Taylor

###

photo source: Candy: Thomas Hawk, Shame: Rob Chandanais

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  • http://www.trilliesucksatstuff.com/ trillie

    If all you eat are 10 fries you may not get fat, but you’re not going to be very healthy either. Plus, now you’re going to bed hungry and miserable.

  • http://www.trilliesucksatstuff.com/ trillie

    Wow, congratulations on your amazing progress!

  • http://www.trilliesucksatstuff.com/ trillie

    “I’m more likely to take care of something I love.” => THIS!

  • http://www.trilliesucksatstuff.com/ trillie

    I can’t decide if I’m right to feel jealous of that! Either way, what you describe is so far removed from the relationship I have with my body that I’m fascinated, to say the least! 🙂

  • Chrs

    Plus size models are an interesting example. Yes, they coincide with the public health crisis of obesity, but the models labeled “plus sized” are not obese or even necessarily overweight. A woman who weighs even 140 lbs–which at my height, is in the middle of the normal range–if she were a model, would be considered plus sized.

  • aarswft

    That is why I tried to make it clear in my comment that when I was listing those examples they werent absolute, I was only referring to specific cases within those examples. Most plus sized models aren’t obese, but the ones that are, and use the “plus sized model” as an excuse are the ones I am referring to. For example.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3293450/Size-22-model-Tess-Holliday-slams-hypocritical-fashion-stars-paid-pose-plus-size-brands-refuse-use-label.html

  • Jose

    The only person you have to justify y

  • Raluca42

    I’m sorry that you had such a negative reaction to this article. I hope that some of the comments have diffused the situation a bit and you were able to at least take home a few positive points from this. I am overweight as well, and I didn’t find anything offensive about this article. The truth is I am NOT comfortable being overweight, and I do NOT want to get comfortable here. I know that I can do better, and I know that I still have a long way to go, but I will be damned if I will settle into this uncomfortable place and stop reaching for my goals. I don’t accept my fat. I’m fully supportive of people who do, and I could use a bit more self-love, but to be honest I don’t want to love my fat because I want it to GO AWAY.

    The point is that we make time for those things that are priorities in our lives. It’s weird to think of it that way sometimes, but it’s true. If your priority is to sit at home and watch TV (not you specifically, just an example), then that is the priority (even if you’re not consciously aware of that). But if your priority is to get FIT, then your 5-7 hours that are free will be dedicated to that. It’s really that simple. I have been through phases of going to the gym 4 days a week and lifting weights, and I would not go out or do anything else until my workout was done. And if I had a day where my schedule was a bit different and I couldn’t work out at my normal time, then I would wake up early and get my workout in. I’m currently in a more unhealthy phase, but I am ready to get back to a routine that is conducive to reaching my goals, and I want to make gym time and meal prepping a PRIORITY, so that’s where my free time will be going. I am also doing my Masters right now, and I work (almost) full time hours, so believe me, I get it. We can accomplish absolutely anything we set our minds to though, I fully believe that. ANYTHING. Just have to go for it 🙂 Let me know if you want to buddy up and think of strategies together (I could use a push too!)

    (Gosh, I hope my views don’t offend anyone. Really not my intention. Just my personal thoughts. Everyone is awesome!)

  • Cindy Kranzle

    I was a fat woman and acceptance was the most challenging thing for me. When I did accept the fact that I need to loose weight I broke down and cried in the dressing room of a department store. The great news is when I truly accepted it I decided to make a change and I NEVER looked back. I lost 80 lbs, it was a slow process and it took about a year and a half. Great post and great topic!

  • Brian Pankau

    Nicely put!

  • http://mohammedissablog.wordpress.com/ mohammed issa

    well, the primals sure aren’t fat.even with the abundance of resource, a human body won’t get fat, if its active. activity is whats missing in this generation.

    the human body is a deterministic system, feed it the same input it will produce the same output.
    feed it risk, feed it danger, feed it stimuli, see thats what makes a primal body a primal body.

  • Aaron Stauffer

    My main take-away from Boogie: Making me hate myself just makes me hate myself and hating myself doesn’t drive me to become a better person. His friend “Matt” had good intentions but did not know how to express them in a healthy and helpful manner. As a result, all he did was cause pain. Kudos on this article; people need to be educated on removing the emotions from these topics so a productive conversation can exist.

  • jonward85

    Well written. I truly enjoyed this article. Thank you so much for writing it.

  • ally7288

    This post was very well written. And you are absolutely right…as a nation, we are becoming more and more unhealthy. In more ways than just obesity. Diabetes is at an all time high. Childhood obesity is also something that is talked about more than it ever has been. I have friends that are all shapes and sizes. But to glorify obesity….I’m not sure that would make us gain anything as a nation. Glorifying something that is dangerous and harmful is not going to help anyone in the long run. If someone is happy and healthy with their lifestyle choices, no matter the size, then that is ok. But to glorify something if it has been created with unhealthy choices…I’m not sure that is going to create a sense of understanding or progress for that matter.

  • JR

    I’ve been small (140) and I’ve been large (190). I actually prefer being somewhere in the middle – I feel healthier and appreciate my reflection more when I roll with my naturally stocky build. A little extra fat is a physical and mental positive for me, and so it probably is for others as well, and there’s almost certainly a biological reason for that.

    MarksDailyApple included the following link in his recent “Weekend Link Love” section, so I’m not just cherry-picking here. It supports the idea that while carrying a LOT of extra weight is obviously detrimental, for many reasons, being a LITTLE ‘overweight’ actually seems to be protective of a person’s health. Check it out:

    http://qz.com/550527/obesity-paradox-scientists-now-think-that-being-overweight-is-sometimes-good-for-your-health/

    My best guess, as a layman, is that a little excess body fat sends chemical signals to our brain that we are consistently living in a time of plenty, with no need to worry about famine, and the extremely ‘primal’ nature of that signal lends itself to human thriving and overall well-being.

  • J

    How is this possibly a “really sad thing to read today?” This is the problem and you’re just making it clear, the excuses people make. Excuses on excuses on excuses.

    I’m not gonna touch so much on the fat shaming/acceptance end of this because I think the article did a really good job on that, and it was about time someone brought the topic up whole heartedly and fully expressed.

    I am however, gonna voice something I hope gets more attention to create an article in the future perhaps; these issues of “im too broke to eat right” or “I just don’t have time.” Bullshit, and I’m proof of it.

    I’ve been broke, I’m half black (not in ANY way am I making this a race thing, but since you brought up socioeconomic issues, im sure you’ve read or heard or at least have an idea about what “socioeconomic” means for colored folks in the USA), and I live In a place where some of the POOREST areas exist. Ever taken a walk through northeast DC? There’s no such thing as “organic markets” on that side. Just liquor stores and police on every other block. However, there’s still gas stations with water and some sort of fruit, some off brand supermarket with basic vegetables, and somewhere to buy meat. Unless you rid the excuses, notice the word -excuses-, of eating convenient, which I understand how hard that is, poor places will still vouch to giving their families McDonald’s “because it’s cheaper to feed”. I know the system, it’s expensive as hell to try to live on a completely grass fed and organic diet over here, but you can still by fruit by the lb and non-organic vegetables for not much more than a fast food meal, even in poor areas. It may not be the best produce, but it’s a way better choice than the dollar meal burger. Also, you do not need an expensive gym membership, or a gym at all to exercise. If I’ve gotten anything out of the whole idea of this website, it’s to make BETTER choices. You have to make the time to do that, run outside, do resistance training, or food shopping, which again, means getting rid of the convenience and/or time excuse. I’ve had to work FULL TIME between 3 jobs to not struggle, I went to community college, and I’ve still found ways to cook meals for the work week, exercise, lose weight and have my overall health back. I’m tired of the “people don’t have time” excuse, that’s the worst argument you can make if you look at how people use their time once they are off work or on the weekends. I work 7 days a week – 7. If you only have 5-7 hours of “free time” a week, given your example and don’t want to make the sacrifice to better yourself, that in itself is STILL an excuse and that’s your fault. You can’t tell me I’m wrong because I’ve lived through that, working tirelessly. Based on my “genetics”, im not supposed to be out of the 200s because everyone in my family wasn’t. Based on “genetics”, I should have or be close to diabetes because everyone in my line of my dad’s side of the family was a diabetic. Hard work and a no-more-excuses attitude is what made me healthy, and nowhere near diabetes. I used to be 310 lbs and am 140. I am just the example of what it means to halt the excuses at the root, “time” being the most detrimental excuse of them all.

    Genetics, time, and economic class mean almost nothing with a WANT or WILL to change. They are merely just roadblocks. Just because somethings harder, doesn’t make it impossible. If I had stuck with those arguments, I may of still been 310 lbs with no time to make better decisions, or lose weight, because I had 3 jobs.

  • J

    My reply was to Charlie Stark, not transer. My bad

  • Pop

    My God, thank you ^

  • J

    How is this possibly a “really sad thing to read today?” This is the problem and you’re just making it clear, the excuses people make. Excuses on excuses on excuses.

    I’m not gonna touch so much on the fat shaming/acceptance end of this because I think the article did a really good job on that, and it was about time someone brought the topic up whole heartedly and fully expressed.

    I am however, gonna voice something I hope gets more attention to create an article in the future perhaps; these issues of “im too broke to eat right” or “I just don’t have time.” Bullshit, and I’m proof of it.

    I’ve been broke, I’m half black (not in ANY way am I making this a race thing, but since you brought up socioeconomic issues, im sure you’ve read or heard or at least have an idea about what “socioeconomic” means for colored folks in the USA), and I live In a place where some of the POOREST areas exist. Ever taken a walk through northeast DC? There’s no such thing as “organic markets” on that side. Just liquor stores and police on every other block. However, there’s still gas stations with water and some sort of fruit, some off brand supermarket with basic vegetables, and somewhere to buy meat. Unless you rid the excuses, notice the word -excuses-, of eating convenient, which I understand how hard that is, poor places will still vouch to giving their families McDonald’s “because it’s cheaper to feed”. I know the system, it’s expensive as hell to try to live on a completely grass fed and organic diet over here, but you can still by fruit by the lb and non-organic vegetables for not much more than a fast food meal, even in poor areas. It may not be the best produce, but it’s a way better choice than the dollar meal burger. Also, you do not need an expensive gym membership, or a gym at all to exercise. If I’ve gotten anything out of the whole idea of this website, it’s to make BETTER choices. You have to make the time to do that, run outside, do resistance training, or food shopping, which again, means getting rid of the convenience and/or time excuse. I’ve had to work FULL TIME between 3 jobs to not struggle, I went to community college, and I’ve still found ways to cook meals for the work week, exercise, lose weight and have my overall health back. I’m tired of the “people don’t have time” excuse, that’s the worst argument you can make if you look at how people use their time once they are off work or on the weekends. I work 7 days a week – 7. If you only have 5-7 hours of “free time” a week, given your example and don’t want to make the sacrifice to better yourself, that in itself is STILL an excuse and that’s your fault. You can’t tell me I’m wrong because I’ve lived through that, working tirelessly. Based on my “genetics”, im not supposed to be out of the 200s because everyone in my family wasn’t. Based on “genetics”, I should have or be close to diabetes because everyone in my line of my dad’s side of the family was a diabetic. Hard work and a no-more-excuses attitude is what made me healthy, and nowhere near diabetes. I used to be 310 lbs and am 140. I am just the example of what it means to halt the excuses at the root, “time” being the most detrimental excuse of them all.

    Genetics, time, and economic class mean almost nothing with a WANT or WILL to change. They are merely just roadblocks. Just because somethings harder, doesn’t make it impossible. If I had stuck with those arguments, I may of still been 310 lbs with no time to make better decisions, or lose weight, because I had 3 jobs.

  • J

    Have you noticed that you look at everything that can’t be done rather than really listening and looking at what can be done?

    So many solutions have been offered through the post and through comments and you’ve negated every one of them.

    Excuses will always be there to comfort you but most often, get you nowhere.

  • CloudaneUK

    Just seen this now. Brilliant article… finally someone gets it!

    “Stop shaming, stop getting defensive, accept your starting point, and help each other live happier, healthier lives.”

    1000 times THIS.
    The way things currently stand on the internet (not just fat acceptance but just about any subject), this quote should be watermarked on every comment box. It’s time we stopped screeching at each other, name calling and threatening one another, and built some middle ground over that giant chasm that sits between us. We’re all human. There’s absolutely no call for shaming people for their weight, nor in calling people bigots or -phobics for calmly and non-judgmentally sharing the health facts. We can be so much better than this.

  • CloudaneUK

    Yeah this seems fair, and I agree that quality of life can actually be more important. Ironically that used to be my justification for eating junk and drinking too much – “there’s no point in living a long time if I’m just going to spend my life miserable from abstaining from all the things I like”. I think the turning point for me was realising that I was just shifting misery to other things, like when my friends would say “let’s go climb one of those mountains on our doorstep!” and I’d be like “I remember how nice those views are but it’s just too much like hard work…” all while shortening my life in the process.

    And you know, I just ended up liking nicer things. I still like some unhealthy things but it’s all fine in moderation and when planned around and compensated for.

  • CloudaneUK

    Speaking for myself here but we did have the food pyramid in school in some form but it was just kind of “there” in the canteen and maybe one lecture in assembly. It was separate from PE lessons (where you were basically just yelled at and told to run for what to me felt like no reason other than a testosterone fueled teacher asserting authority), Biology (where they explained things like what proteins and carbs are, but I must have nodded off when they explained how they apply to eating habits), and Physics (where you learned about energy expenditure). Maybe what I should’ve done is put the pieces of the jigsaw together – but as a kid that wasn’t really my strength. Maybe what the teachers should’ve done is guide us towards doing that.

    As it stood, my relation to food was just someone telling us “you should eat lots of these things that you don’t like, these are good. You should not each much of these things that you love, they are bad” and with no context of exactly *why* they’re ‘good’ and ‘bad’ (for lack of better words) and what I was doing to my body by getting them out of proportion. So to my rebellious child self, this was just someone imposing authority on what is good and bad, and trying to stop me enjoying the things I love so they could get some kind of sense of superiority out of watching me ‘suffer’. Without learning the reasons it’s pretty much like a faith/religion and I was never into those. You can probably imagine what I chose to do with their “food pyramid” lectures!

  • CloudaneUK

    Pretty well put. The religious have been grappling with this dilemma since time began (though obviously there you’re talking about firm beliefs rather than proven facts): whether to intervene and tell someone they’re going to Hell if they don’t stop all this sinning, or to mind one’s own business and not turn them against you and your religion.

    Generally speaking I think people would rather not be lectured or have your thoughts on what they should be doing shoved down their throats (especially, admittedly, if say they’re LGBT and it’s an unproven religious belief the other person’s shoving), but something like health or hygiene can be done tactfully. In fact a big part in me sorting myself out was my parents showing loving concern and gently suggesting that I try something and giving me something to try. (This is always something I like – I’m not a manager but I know many managers are the same – “don’t just bring me a problem, bring me a solution or a suggestion or *something* constructive to go with it”). Tact is key, I think. And if the person you’re trying to help is not interested, then you’ve done your part and should probably not pester them.

    (Obviously, in terms of NF, no one is shoving anything anywhere. People opt in to the emails :))

  • katpants5

    I’ve never commented, and wasn’t going to, but I had to say this really helped me turn a corner. According to my BMI, I am obese (a few days ago I was severly obese, but apparently the few lbs I’ve lost this week have nudged me down). I know, I know, BMI isn’t always a reliable indicator. But realistically, I can lose 50-80lbs and be healthy. That is my ultimate goal. To be strong and healthy and feel great about myself.
    Because I am larger than most of my peers, I NEVER feel comfortable in my own skin. And so the whole fat acceptance movement has always confused me. The way you wrote this made so much more sense. I know I need to change, but there is nothing wrong with accepting myself as I am right now. It’s logical, I cannot actually do a single thing to instantly change my weight, appearance, or way I feel about myself. But I can start making choices that will lead to change. I eat out every. single. day. Seriously, I was in a bad habit of leaving work for lunch, going to Wendy’s, driving someplace quiet, and watching Netflix on my phone for the next 20-40 minutes. I don’t know why I started doing this, but it’s been going on for awhile and it is so embarrassing. I’m proud to say that I haven’t done that for the last 3 days. That may sound quite pathetic to a lot of people but I am so excited. I feel better. I’ve lost 5lbs in the last 3 days! (No I don’t expect to continue at that pace lol) I don’t feel guilty at the end of the day for wasting another day on bad food and TV. And I’m saving a boatload of money (fast food is REALLY expensive in Canada!).
    So thank you so much for writing this the way you did. I really needed to hear it.

  • Ellis Tackett

    Fat shaming is everywhere. (Google Image)
    EX:
    https://www.google.com/search?q=fat+shaming&biw=1366&bih=644&tbm=isch&imgil=u95r4LFqt7DX5M%253A%253B-gO47KEWkwRx_M%253Bhttp%25253A%25252F%25252Fwww.businessinsider.com%25252Fvirtual-fat-shaming-2013-11&source=iu&pf=m&fir=u95r4LFqt7DX5M%253A%252C-gO47KEWkwRx_M%252C_&usg=__SCus4na6XqoEpbJuwHQTiw1M8zk%3D&ved=0ahUKEwi9xPf-u6_JAhVLWz4KHZ83DiwQyjcIJw&ei=GbRXVv3TLcu2-QGf77jgAg#imgrc=u95r4LFqt7DX5M%3A&usg=__SCus4na6XqoEpbJuwHQTiw1M8zk%3D

    We all have seen and dealt with the issue. Fat acceptance is an excellent first step. How are we supposed to better ourselves if we have already beat ourselves up with a negative attitude. In my opinion, no one is going to be successful at a task that you take a negative attitude at from the start. In some instances, will you compete the task? Yes, but when it comes to health what inner success can you have even with outer success?

    Another great point made about how most people are arguing opposite sides of the problem instead of working together for the solution. Lets work together for the good fight instead of working against the issue.

  • Just me

    One of these things (skinny shaming) is not like the other (fat shaming). They are not equivalent. We fat people are ostracized everywhere–here in this post, at work, out and about in public, at the hospital ffs. When that starts happening to thin people, get back at me.

    Fat acceptance is NOT a loaded thing (haha, nice er, fat joke there, I guess?). Its the only thing that gave me my self esteem. I have fat acceptance to thank for my confidence. And self love.

    Oh gawd, and that terrible word, obese. Stop calling me that. I’m a human being, not a medicalized form moving through space. I don’t call thin people anorexic–don’t call me obese. Call me fat, if you must describe my body at all. The only way to know a person’s level of health is by running objective tests. There’s a lot of bs floating around about how fat people are less healthy–its bogus. Why does health matter anyways? Whose health? And by whose standards? Is someone with cancer considered unhealthy and therefore worth less than someone who doesn’t have cancer? What about a person who uses a chair and other devices to move about and cannot exercise? Are they worth less? There is no superiority in exercise, or health, or whatever other arbitrary standards. People are people and should be valued as such, whether they exercise or not. It doesn’t matter.

    I would love to find a fat positive weight lifting/exercising blog, but there doesn’t seem to be any. Probably because people who exercise put value judgments on fat with regards to exercising. I’m always going to be fat—thats not a bad thing. Its a good thing. Oh noes, I’m glorifying “obesity”! Why? Because I can, because I’m the ONLY person who will tell me that I’m loveable and worth something the way I am. Why shouldn’t I feel good now? Why should I ” do something”? For who? For you? Why? And why do you care? Your body is your body, do what you want with it. And I’ll take my happy fat behind elsewhere in my search to find a positive place where I can find inspiration to be me, no shaming and motivation to get me moving for my own personal benefit. Exercising is a life elective, something I’m choosing to do now. It doesn’t make me special. I want to find a place without this be (telling me that I’m doing self acceptance wrong). The search continues.

  • Just me

    Thank you for posting what you have x1000. This article upset me–im trying to find fat positive exercising sites and I’m coming up empty. Its very disappointing. There’s so much fat hatred tied up in the exercise movement.

  • HK4Seven

    Nerd Fitness, you sort of lost me on this one, and that makes me incredibly sad. I’ve been a member of the Academy since it started. I’ve been reading Nerd Fitness for YEARS. I pre-ordered the book upon reading the very first email. But this article has left a bad taste in my mouth and I’ve found it hard to read anything I’ve received from you guys in the month that has passed.

    Why?

    Because my size and any other health issues are between me and my doctor. And if I want to look good and get at least a little fashion inspiration as to how to do that on my “journey” as you call it, where else am I supposed to go for that but websites that “encourage” obesity? (PLEASE.) Trust me, no overweight person feels good about it, we just want to feel better about ourselves in the process of getting to where we do feel good mentally and physically.

    I didn’t find this article helpful. I feel excluded from Nerd Fitness because the underlying implication is that there is something wrong with me that has to be fixed before I can get strong and that is bullshit. Stick to what I need to do at the gym. Stick to how I can move my body to feel good. Stick with food ideas that are delicious and satisfying. You aren’t my (or even “a”) doctor, so stay out of the conditions and genetics of my body that aren’t directly tied to body composition and I’ll try to trust anything else I read from you guys, deal?

  • http://www.streets-success.com/ streets succes

    Great idea, and for more information you can vist this website http://www.streets-success.com/2015/12/6-steps-to-get-rid-of-belly-fat.html

  • Anita Hamilton

    In my experience, neutrality in anything is a two-sided coin. On one side it makes me feel that something will change when it’s meant too, not a moment before, not a moment after. On the other is complacency and stagnation wrapped up in a pretty package called “justification.”
    Either way, when I hit rock bottom and am emotionally drained/hollow, 1 of 2 things happen.

    1. I take the path of least resistance, which allows my apartment and appearance to become a sloven mess. *No one is allowed to come into my home at this time and I’ve actually directed friends to the nearest gas station up the road to use the restroom after dropping me off.

    2. Very rarely, I start cleaning a corner, and then stop and go to sleep.
    These are simple personal facts that may or may not apply to you.
    However, what does cause a positive change is what I’ve labeled my “Limitless Spark – Burn it all down… but then saner voice prevailed”
    It’s like I snap out of my sleep walking through life, look around see my situation for what it is, and resist the urge to burn it all down. Just like in the movie, I begin cleaning and don’t stop until it’s done, completely zoned, in the moment, but with a blank mind like a automaton.

    I then do the same with every other aspect of my life. Pets get their shots; hair, make-up and wardrobe are impeccable for work; and I’m functioning on all cylinders.

    But here’s the thing, without that “Limitless – Burn It All Down” spark of anger and rage, I’m unable to achieve that blissful focused neutrality.

    What I find causes the flip side of neutrality to encroach is simple. My inability to find people who are on a similar phase of life as me irl. I’ve been going at it alone for a very long time now and that’s just not ok anymore. I need to be a part of something more and improve that something more with my existence, if that makes any sense.

    … wow, sorry for the rant toward the end, completely got derailed in the moment x.x Anywho~ Hope the gist of the meaning wasn’t lost in all that inner rambling! o.o

  • Anita Hamilton

    I agree that we feed our loneliness and boredom. I also believe that NF addresses those core problems, loneliness and boredom, so that the next steps, healthy eating and exercise to do things with other ppl (no more loneliness) that are Exciting (no more boredom) is possible =)

  • http://foodcanfixit.com Allen R. Robison

    Having been fat for many years I can relate to the whole fat shaming bit. On the other hand, when I did lose the weight (after 2 heart attacks and developing type 2) it was partly the memory of those negative comments that helped me stay on track. I called it my “fat rage”. When I see someone that is really struggling with their weight, I want so much to offer my help. I’ve been there (and back) and could help but I’m afraid they’ll think I’m saying, “I can’t accept you as you are. Let me fix you.” I just wait till they ask for my help. I really believe that most people want to do the right thing and “love thy neighbor”, but they are confused about how to approach. Sometimes when people are just trying to say “you would be healthier if you weighed less”, it is perceived as “ugh..you really do weight too much”. It is complicated.

  • lemonade59

    I love seeing the different perspectives that a person can hold about themselves. It’s so difficult to see the other sides of the die sometimes, but it’s a concept that could change our perspective on the world entirely. I think I could use this type of perspective management as a new post for my blog on the similarities between running a business and bodybuilding. I’m hoping to find motivation from people like you, that are taking long standing issues with our society and changing our view about them. Be on the look out for this topic at businessbodybuilding.wordpress.com

  • badu

    False equivalence is pathetic really. You may wish fat people were promoting ‘obesity’, when they’ve spent years on diets. See Oprah for a represenation of how every fat person has felt for much of their life.

    The promotion of ‘obesity’ comes from sticking people with a system that doesn’t work, whilst pretending its the only possible way-it isn’t.

    I think its funny that you seem to imply people don’t know fat shaming helps decrease health. That was the whole point of it! Anyone who truly needs fat people to be
    slim needs to ACCEPT more actual science is needed to figure out how to
    do it efficiently. Or else accept the reality of failure. In the meantime, fat people should do whatever the hell they want without any pompous nagging. Slim people are always promoting ill health. It’s unbelievable to see them all po-faced about that.

  • https://somuchyoga.com/ SoMuchYoga

    You nailed it! This piece of article is well written. You made the readers accept themselves without judgment. On the other hand, you also let them improve themselves!

  • Random Joe

    I think there is some bias there, you being ‘a heavier person’ obviously will be more inclined to cherry pick studies to suit your objective. There are numerous studies done showing that extremely low calorie diets significs6nlty increase your life span, logically, the converse effect would apply to people overweight. But regardless of how life threatening you believe you need to be to suffer from a significant risk of mortality, we know that being overweight and having a higher hip-to-waist ratio puts you at highesr risks of ‘diseases of the wealthy’ like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholestrol etc., even you yourself admitted to having personal experience with sleep apnea, joint pain and everyday activities.

    Perhaps focusing on mortality rates is looking at things the wrong way, instead we should focus on quality of life and what we can get out of it. I am not saying it is impossible for a heavy person to enjoy life, but a fat person proned to joint pain isn’t going to have the same opportunities to enjoy life compared to a healthy weight individual who isn’t.

  • Samply

    How did this editorial get through my search filters?

    The problem is in this” everyone is always a victim present”, equality disregarding ability. Obese people demand to be models, then the the opposition have to fight just as hard back to keep things balanced.

  • James Mariani

    I don’t think people fat shame in order to “persuade” the other to lose weight. they could just be grossed out and consider the obese person disgusting and abnormal. why they react this way is another matter.

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  • ManWithAnOpinion

    A few stupid fat people glorifying in their blubber doesn’t create a controversy. It just exposes them as the idiots they are.

  • Greg

    My thoughts are this: I was fat as a child and lost weight in my early twenties through hard work. Weight loss is a personal decision, but the global implications of celebrating or justifying forms of obesity is far more destructive than fat shaming. The reasoning being that the celebration of “curves” or “BBW” encourages engaging in an completely unhealthy lifestyle (there’s more songs that high-five fats girls than there are talking smack about them). Calling someone overweight is sometimes needed.