Thoughts about “Health At Every Size”

OK, bought and read the book I mentioned in my post of yesterday. It’s so nice to have a Nook Color that boots a non-Bowdlerized version of Android: the secret is having a CyanogenMod boot microSD. Considering that a refurbished Nook Color is down to $99 now, if you can find one, it’s a great solution. This is how I got to read an Amazon Kindle book on a Nook! If you have a Nook and you use their version of Android you can’t install a Kindle app. And unfortunately this book is only available electronically as Kindle format.

Enough of the techno-geeky digression. In my travels I got a chance to read Health At Every Size and while most of it I agree with, I have to say that I really do think that attempting to lose weight is a good idea. I simply feel better at a lower weight. I am still fat, and I will probably never be slim by either Body Mass Index standards or the standards that the media feeds us. But as I lose weight…ever so slowly…I feel healthier and more energetic.

This said, it is very important to “get real” about one’s body and one’s body size. Again, it is quite likely that I will never be anywhere near my ideal weight, and that I will never look like an athlete or a model. But I can be healthy under my skin. I can be at peace with how I look. I can be intrinsically motivated to continue my workouts instead of extrinsically motivated; I can continue to increase my activity, continue to challenge myself and my idea of what I can accomplish. I am continuing to surprise myself.

It is also very important to heal one’s relationship with food, eat real food, and break oneself of the bad habits that diet culture makes us develop. I rejected the dieting culture because of the disordered relationship that relatives around me had with food. This is why I don’t do “conventional wisdom” kind of things like keeping a food diary. I did some “macro” hacks to my food intake: I no longer eat red meat, I stay away from processed carbs as much as possible, and I have cut my added sugar intake way down. However, there is one very useful tip I picked up from my friend Stu: you stay on your program 80% of the time, but you have 20% leeway for “sometimes” foods that most people call “bad” foods.

The science this book is based on is fascinating. It gathers together the whys and hows for our national metabolic nightmare. It looks at evolutionary factors, the rise of Big Food and Big Food Marketing, the engineered nature of fast food, and the diet industrial complex which works completely at odds with the natural self-regulating nature of appetite and satiety. Babies have a natural instinct for self-nourishment, one that is rapidly wiped out by early childhood. Can people re-teach themselves how to follow internal cues  instead of being adrift on an ocean of emotional need, marketing messages, and cultural norms that often clash?

Most importantly, the book bears an important message for all of us, no matter what our size. Weight is not a moral issue, body size is not a moral issue, it is an accident of ones internal programming and genetic makeup, often exacerbated by dieting culture and socio-economic factors. If a person can go from being overweight or obese to a “normal” weight, it is a remarkable achievement because the odds and biology are very much against you. This goes double for women, who are programmed to hold onto weight not just for the sake of personal survival but the survival of the next generation of humanity. Our culture of demeaning and shaming people for their size is cruel and hurtful and breeds mental and spiritual illness. It can also, as documented in the book, breed physical illness as well. Acceptance is a powerful thing. Compassion is a powerful thing. Seeing the person instead of their size can bring us towards a better world.

You can find out more about the book here: http://www.haesbook.com/

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One thought on “Thoughts about “Health At Every Size”

  1. What a great review of this book. I have looked at other reviews and not wanted to read it but now I feel like it will be a good read after all. You get so many bad information in your head this day in age. Thanks again!!!

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