Sunday, 21 November 2010

Staying in an FA mindset

I was tempted to apologise for not updating this blog in a long while, but it's my blog and at the end of the day, my decision if I post regularly or not. I've not had the energy or inclination for blogging of late, especially blogging of a Fat Acceptance nature. Any energy I've had leftover from work and other things has largely gone into just staying in a Fat Accepting frame of mind.

When term started again in September, I started a module on nutrition. I'd picked it because I find nutrition interesting, it's an extremely important subject and handy knowledge to be armed with as a fat person. While the subject is no less interesting than I'd hoped, the lectures themselves seem to be stealing all my Sanity Watchers Points.

The lecture course focusses quite heavily on the subject obesity, not just in lectures dedicated to the study or nutrition and obesity, but the ZOMGBESITY! Epidemic gets referenced in almost all other lectures. Wherever there is even the tiniest chance of it being relevant. The information we're given is overwhelmingly biased in favour of the party line; i.e. that if you're fat it's your fault for eating junk and being lazy and you ave to fix it with a diet aka eating less and exercise more. The role of genetics is being downplayed, socio-economic factors are completely ignored. The fact that diets don't work is also never mentioned, the side effects of Alli seriously downplayed and we're never once asked to critically think about why so many of the weight loss drugs have had to be pulled from the market.

Add in to that a thin white male lecturer who practically sweats privilege making jokes about eating 50 Mars Bars a day and I become so angry that I feel sick. And it doesn't help that 250 people laughed at is stupid jokes, because haha, aren't fat people stupid for eating Mars Bars all day and aren't we thin people superior to them in every way?

And our Science Library has literally no books that look at obesity science from even a remotely FA/HAES viewpoint. Our Arts library has plenty, looking at fat from a historical/political/sociological/feminist point of view. But the science library does not, and neither does the medical library. Our campus libraries don’t have even a single copy of Paul Campos’ Obesity Myth.
Staying in a body positive frame of mind has been one hell of a challenge. And the extra frustration is that in exams we’re supposed to mention things from extra reading. Well being in the fatosphere and reading all these Fat positive HAES books is definitely extra reading, but I have to be careful what I put in my exam because it disagrees with everything they’ve said in the lectures. And I have no doubt that there will be a question on obesity because it took up about 20% of the lecture time we have. Which, notably is way more than we’ve spent on undernutrition and eating disorders like anorexia.
The only real light in this particular tunnel comes from a recently published report on the fact that diets don’t work. This paper has been published in time for me to use it in my exam as extra reading, and provides a potential gateway to talking about Health at Every Size. Talking about the failure of diets and offering HAES as an alternative is part of my way of fighting my corner. I’ve felt pretty powerless on this subject over the term, but the exam might just offer the opportunity I need to express my opinions in a way that is supportable by science.
I hope I am brave enough to take the opportunity if it arises. It’s going to be a difficult task to strike a balance between trying to get a good grade and being true to myself. But I hope I can do it.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Thin People Are...

The counterpart to yesterday's post. Because sometimes it's easy to forget that we're fighting for ALL bodies to be considered acceptable. We're fighting for all bodies to be a person's private property, and beyond uninvited public commentary. We're fighting for EVERYONE to have the body autonomy the rightful deserve.

I could keep doing these until I run out of body type. Substitute any words you like in here, we ALL deserve to be treated like people.

Thin People are…

Thin people are blonde. Thin people are brunettes. Thin people are redheads. Thin people have hair 
colours that are bright and come out of bottles.

Thin people have blue eyes. Thin people have brown eyes. Thin people have green eyes. Thin people have eyes of different colours.

Thin people are tall. Thin people are short. Thin people come in heights somewhere and everywhere in between.

Thin people are doctors. Thin people are nurses. Thin people are teachers. Thin people are builders. 

Thin people are factory workers. Thin people are binmen and women. Thin people are police officers. 

Thin people are sex workers.

Thin people are academic. Thin people are practical. Thin people get good grades at school. Thin people get bad grades at school.

Thin people are healthy. Thin people are unhealthy. Thin people are anywhere in between, because health is a spectrum not a black and white issue.

Thin people get married. Thin people have kids. Thin people are in relationships, with men and women and people somewhere in between. Thin people are single and unhappy. Thin people are single and quite happy. Thin people are in relationships and don’t want marriage or kids. Thin people are in relationships and struggle to have children.

Thin people are in relationships and are happy. Thin people are in relationships and are unhappy. Thin people are in relationships with other thin people. Thin people are in relationships with people who are not thin people. Thin people are in relationships of all kinds, both romantic and non-romantic.

Thin people are heterosexual. Thin people are homosexual. Thin people are attracted to both men and women. Thin people are attracted to more than one person at a time. Thin people aren’t attracted to people sexually at all.

Thin people read books. Thin people write stories. Thin people paint and draw pictures. Thin people dance. Thin people play football. Thin people dance. Thin people play video games. Thin people play D&D. Thin people play sports. Thin people swim. Thin people go skydiving.

Thin people are scared of heights. Thin people are afraid of spiders. Thin people are afraid of clowns. 

Thin people are fearless.

Thin people eat chocolate. Thin people eat lasagne. Thin people eat salad. Thin people eat what they 
damned well please.

Thin people are vegetarians. Thin people are vegan. Thin people are committed carnivores. Thin people eat both vegetables and animal products.

Thin people are Christian. Thin people are Muslim. Thin people are Jewish. Thin people are pagan. Thin people are agnostic. Fatties are atheist. Fatties fall under any number of spiritual and religious umbrellas.

Thin people drive cars. Thin people take the bus. Thin people cycle. Thin people use segways. Thin people ride motorcycles.

Thin people go out on the town. Thin people go to bed early.

Thin people dress in wild and outrageous outfits. Thin people dress for comfort. Thin people dress modestly. Thin people wear dresses. Thin people wear trousers. Thin people wear t shirts with band logos on. Thin people wear jeans, including skinny jeans.

Thin people are a whole load of other things too.

Thin people can be whatever they want to be.

Thin people can do whatever they want to do.

Thin people come in all shapes and sizes.

Thin people are people too, and I think it’s time everybody started treating us that way.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Fatties Are...

I apologise for neglecting this blog slightly. In the last few weeks I've discovered tumblr, which is fun, fast and addictive. It's kind of like blogging had a secret love child with twitter. Also I was hovering at 42 posts on this blog, which everyone even slightly geeky knows is the best number ever.

Anyway, here is a post I wrote a few weeks ago.


Fatties are…
Fatties are blonde. Ftties are brunettes. Fatties are redheads. Fatties have hair colours that are bright and come out of bottles.

Fatties have blue eyes. Fatties have brown eyes. Fatties have green eyes. Fatties have eyes of different colours.

Fatties are tall. Fatties are short. Fatties come in heights somewhere and everywhere in between.

Fatties are doctors. Fatties are nurses. Fatties are teachers. Fatties are builders. Fatties are factory workers. 

Fatties are binmen and women. Fatties are police officers. Fatties are sex workers.

Fatties are academic. Fatties are practical. Fatties get good grades at school. Fatties get bad grades at school.

Fatties are healthy. Fatties are unhealthy. Fatties are anywhere in between, because health is a spectrum not 
a black and white issue.

Fatties get married. Fatties have kids. Fatties are in relationships, with men and women and people somewhere in between. Fatties are single and unhappy. Fatties are single and quite happy. Fatties are in relationships and don’t want marriage or kids. Fatties are in relationships and struggle to have children.

Fatties are in relationships and are happy. Fatties are in relationships and are unhappy. Fatties are in relationships with other fatties. Fatties are in relationships with people who are not fatties. Fatties are in relationships of all kinds, both romantic and non-romantic.

Fatties are heterosexual. Fatties are homosexual. Fatties are attracted to both men and women. Fatties are attracted to more than one person at a time. Fatties aren’t attracted to people sexually at all.

Fatties read books. Fatties write stories. Fatties paint and draw pictures. Fatties dance. Fatties play football. Fatties dance. Fatties play video games. Fatties play D&D. Fatties play sports. Fatties swim. Fatties go skydiving.

Fatties are scared of heights. Fatties are afraid of spiders. Fatties are afraid of clowns. Fatties are fearless.

Fatties eat chocolate. Fatties eat lasagne. Fatties eat salad. Fatties eat what they damned well please.

Fatties are vegetarians. Fatties are vegan. Fatties are committed carnivores. Fatties eat both vegetables and animal products.

Fatties are Christian. Fatties are Muslim. Fatties are Jewish. Fatties are pagan. Fatties are agnostic. Fatties are atheist. Fatties fall under any number of spiritual and religious umbrellas.

Fatties drive cars. Fatties take the bus. Fatties cycle. Fatties use segways. Fatties ride motorcycles.

Fatties go out on the town. Fatties go to bed early.

Fatties dress in wild and outrageous outfits. Fatties dress for comfort. Fatties dress modestly. Fatties wear dresses. Fatties wear trousers. Fatties wear t shirts with band logos on. Fatties wear jeans, including skinny jeans.

Fatties are a whole load of other things too.

Fatties can be whatever they want to be.

Fatties can do whatever they want to do.

Fatties come in all shapes and sizes.

Fatties are people too, and I think it’s time everybody started treating us that way.

(Sorry for the focus on relationships in the early section. In my experience, trying to get into a relationship is one of the more common reasons for losing weight, and a major cause of families trying to get fate people to lose weight. It's not necessarily that I believe romantic relationships are more important than the other things mentioned.)

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Poi: My New Obsession

Today I’d like to talk to you for a while about my newest hobby obsession. Those of you who follow me on twitter will be more than aware that I’ve been talking about poi quite a lot recently. Not the food, but something quite different.
Poi, according to the resources I’ve been using, is the Maori word for ball. The art certainly comes to use from the Maori tradition, where poi is the object itself, the accompanying dance or the music. Modern poi often involves swinging about fire or glowsticks rather than the traditional Maori style fluffy poi.
I got into poi in a rather roundabout manner. A friend of a friend put some pictures on Facebook of him doing poi, and my brain sort of went “I must know how to do that”. After watching a large number of youtube videos, and reading lots and lots of articles on how to make and practice poi, I made my own pair of sock poi. I’ve been through several designs and am finally happy with my homemade ones. Though I have purchased myself a set of these, and am eagerly awaiting delivery.
Poi is a performance art, a flow art, a skill toy and a dance. It has been combined with various martial arts and other performance arts to create a number of different styles. Poi can help improve co-ordination, balance and overall physical ability. For me, it is primarily a pleasurable way to move my body.
I know that not everyone in the fatosphere subscribes to the Health at Every Size principals (and there’s no reason why they should). But for me, the most important part of HAES is the idea that we should be moving out bodies in pleasurable ways. Not exercising in ways that we find pleasurable, just moving our bodies in pleasurable ways.
Now, I like this for a number of reasons. One, it helps dispel the myth that calorie burning exercise (i.e. good exercise) is only done during dedicated sessions using specialised equipment or doing a recognised sport. Vacuuming the house is exercise. Walking to work is exercise. Cooking dinner is exercise. Lugging heavy things around because you’re moving house (or helping move house) is exercise. Sex is exercise. Any number of things are exercise but are often seen to not count under conventional ideas of exercise. It also helps people move away from measuring the value of exercise by number of calories burnt. Had fun doing that thing you do to move about? Job done!
Another reason I like the idea of pleasurable movement of body is because it is the least ableist model of exercise I have come across. Exercise will always have ableism running through it, because there will always be people who aren’t able to exercise. And isn’t it funny that my word processor doesn’t recognise the words ableist and ableism? But the HAES model of exercise encourages people to work within their limits instead of challenging them.
For me poi is the perfect pleasurable way to move my body. It allows me to explore the way my body can move, and has already surprised me. I can move my body in ways I never would have thought possible. It is allowing me to use muscles and tendons that are under- or un-used in the rest of my life. It is a beautiful art and a way for me to express myself physically. It is a challenge, but I have found that I can progress quickly enough that it never becomes a chore. I am always striving for the next move, the next challenge. I am looking far ahead and thinking “I wish I could do that”.
Because of poi I am going to bed at night and I am tired, and as a result I am sleeping much better. Because of poi I am filled with a passion and commitment for something physical for the first time in nearly four years. Because of poi I am finding joy in movement again, and that has resulted in my finding joy in other things as well.
Last night I took my poi with me to St John, and spent the evening teaching some simple moves to my badgers. At the beginning of the evening they asked me what the point of poi was. I told them of the history, of the physical benefits and that most importantly of all it was fun. They didn’t believe me that it was exercise. We spent two hours playing with poi; two hours in which some of the Badgers showed a greater ability than I did. And I know that at least two of them will be taking it up at home. At the end of the night, when we were all tired out, I asked them if they believed me now if it was good exercise. They said yes.
Poi is not for everyone. I know that. But if you are reading this and you are a highly creative, expressive person who is looking for a new skill, a new way of moving or a new exercise, I urge you to give poi a try. Check out and see if you can find the magic; see if you can catch the bug like I did. Because if poi is for you, then it might just change your life.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

FA Progress and Dealing with Weight loss Compliments

I’ve been a fledgling member of the Fat Accepting community since April. April 14th was when I announced it on my blog, which means it has now been 4 months since I ditched the diet and started trying to love my body better.
On the whole I can’t believe it’s only been four months. It feels like so much longer. I feel like fat acceptance was a journey I started on long ago; except for when I’ve been at my lowest points, I feel like I’ve been fat accepting most of my life without knowing what label to apply to the way I felt. It feels like I have been part of this community forever, whereas I never really felt part of the dieting community. Even when I was dieting. And to tell the truth, I have been incredibly happy in those four months.
Hear that, fat shamers? I’ve not been miserable, I’ve not been lonely. My fat has not stopped me doing anything. It has not held me back in anyway, and it has not gotten me down. Probably for the first time in my life I have not felt bad about my body, not in the last four months. Even when I had hiccup days (and everyone has those) my hatred of my body never became fully formed. I recognised that there were other reasons I was hating my body, and either waited for them to pass or did something about them. Nothing I have felt in the last four months matches the utter despair and self hatred I felt back in January that prompted me to start that blog.
The reason that I have become Fat Accepting so easily? I believe it is all down to the community of people I have around me. The people in my everyday life that I can talk to about my body, and fat without them spouting diet rhetoric at me. The people I talk to online and offline that share my views, or views that are complementary to mine. The people who write the blogs that I read every day, that remind me that I’m not along. These blogs remind me that there is a vast army of people from all around the world that think the same things about fat I do. Every single thing I do in my day reiterates and reconfirms my decision to walk the path of fat acceptance.
In four months I have armed myself with scientific knowledge, with cultural knowledge and with greater self esteem. But one of the things I’ve not yet managed to do is learn how to deal with diet compliments. It’s happened a few times since I’ve been fat accepting, and each time has involved lots of mumbling and fumbling and not saying anything that could be recognised as words.
Today Big Fat Deal is letting the commenters offer advice on how to deal with this situation. I quite like the idea of employing the “really, I hadn’t noticed” method. To say that this society is obsessed with weight loss may well be an understatement, and not keeping track of weight is unthinkable in some peoples’ minds. That kind of statement might be the jolt they need to realise that weight is not something that should rule one’s life.
On the other hand, I quite like the advice to take the conversation away from weight and move it towards how you feel. Recently I’ve been feeling pretty good, though I’ve not been doing anything that could be identified as dedicated exercise. I’ve just been living and moving and enjoying myself doing the things I’m doing. Might be worth try this approach just to see how people respond to me feeling great completely independently of punishing myself with the way I eat and exercise.
I could always go the same route as one commenter and exclaim “Holy crap I hope not”. But I guess I’ll approach it like I approach everything else; as it comes. It’s helpful to have a bit of inspiration though.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

If only Fat People Knew they were Fat, they'd Do Something to Stop it.

Today I find myself mildly irked by this article over at the Telegraph urging us to "tell people they are fat". As if fat people don’t already know they’re fat.

GPs and other health professionals should tell people they are fat rather than obese, a health minister said today.

While I agree with a number of other people in the fatosphere that the word fat is preferable to the word obese, in this case they’re doing it for all the wrong reasons. The fatosphere prefers the word fat because is de-medicalises fat bodies, and does something to pervert fat people as being seen as “the other”. Instead of being “the obese” we become fat people. And at least then we are people.

But no, this particular health minister thinks we should be calling people fat to motivate them to lose weight.

Stressing she was speaking in a personal capacity, she told the BBC: ''If I look in the mirror and think I am obese I think I am less worried than if I think I am fat.''

Now I’m all for the use of the word fat to replace to word obese, but if that’s supposed to motivate me to get thin then they are very much barking up the wrong tree. I’m far enough into my fat acceptance that most of the time the word fat doesn’t bother me. It’s simply a descriptor. Other times it becomes a source of pride.

This minister wants to make out that fat bodies are still wrong and should be changed, made more normal. I’m all for using the word fat, but please let’s use it for the right reasons.

Contrary to what this woman seems to think, people who are actually fat know they are fat. All this “guideline” or whatever it is she seems to be issuing is going to achieve is increasing the anxiety levels of people classified “overweight” or “obese” by the BMI but don’t look it. In other words this is designed to punish people who are otherwise normal but are classified as “other” by a piece of faulty statistics.

Admittedly what this woman has said is on a personal level. What worried me is that people with these kinds of opinions are in our government, and potentially have the power to turn their personal opinions and prejudices into law.

This is definitely one to keep an eye on.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Reality Check

While on my daily rounds of the Fatosphere, I stumbled upon this post over at Round Shape.

The language we use to describe ourselves, especially when it comes to weight and age is very leading. We say "I am xxlbs" and "I am xx years old". It's almost as if there's a silent "currently" between the word am and the number we give. As if we can change whatever number to something more acceptable. Because people are always striving to weight less, look thinner, look and act younger. I swear that many people would actually become younger if it were physically possible.

So, in the style April D does in her post, I'm going to give myself a reality check. This is the real me. The real physical me. The whole, undiluted truth. This is me:

I have lived 21 years.

I wear a size 20-24.

My butt, my hips and my tummy are all large parts of my body.

I have a chicken pox scar on my forehead.

I have a scar on my lip from where I was punched.

I have cellulite on my hips.

I have stretch marks on my tummy and thighs.

I have permanent black heads on my nose.

I still get spots, and not just on my face.

I have crappy mousy brown hair, when I'm not dyeing it silly colours.

I have four tattoos, on various parts of my body.

I have seven piercings in my ears.

I have stretched piercings in my earlobes.

I look just how I'm meant to look; just how I want to look.

I am alive and I am happy.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

It IS Possible to be Fat and Happy

Reading around the fatosphere, particularly in blog archives, I’ve found a frankly infuriating response to fat acceptance by fat haters. In particular fat haters and shamers seem to attack the idea that a person can be fat and happy. Even when a person states that they are fat and happy with it, they get shot down. These people tell them they can’t be telling the truth, they must be wrong about how they feel. As if fat people need more casers of being told they are wrong, that they’re lying, that they really can’t know how they feel, that they much be wrong because their statement just doesn’t make sense.

Now, I’m not quite ready to make the claim that I’m fat and happy. I’m fat and okay. I’m fat and doing not bad considering. I’m fat and while I still have issues and problems none of them are related to my weight or me being fat. I guess the short hand for that might be fat and happy. At the very least I understand how it is possible to be fat and happy.

So this is to you, fat haters and shamers. This is to everyone who believes you have to be thin to be happy. This is to everyone who ahs ever accused a fat person of lying, especially if you’ve accused someone of lying about being fat and happy. This is exactly how a person can be fat and happy.

It is possible to be fat and happy when you have a boyfriend (or girlfriend/other half/partner/whatever) who loves you for who you are and not your dress size. It is possible to be fat and happy when someone loves your body, exactly how it is. It is possible to be fat and happy when they actively love the curves your fat gives you, and would actually be a little disappointed if weight loss resulted in curve loss.

It is possible to be fat and happy when you have a group of friends who honestly don’t give a shit about social norms. It’s easy to be fat and happy when you have a group of friends who think you’re awesome as it. It’s easy when you have a largely supportive family, and a mother who came to the same conclusions as Fat Acceptance years before you did.

It’s easy to be fat and happy when you refuse to read women’s magazines.

It’s easy when you refuse to conform to any ideal whatsoever.

In short, it’s easy to be fat and happy if you’re determined to be so. And it’s easy when you know how.

And no, I’m sure as hell not lying, and I bloody well know how I feel, thank you very much.

Monday, 21 June 2010

A Plateau in FA development

So its been a while since I last posted. Partly its been due to computer and internet issues, but I feel it's also partly because I feel I've come to a plateau in my FA development. I haven't any new books to read, and I feel comfortable with the place I'm at right now. Over the summer I think I will turn the attention to general fat and FA issues that affect me, rather than my FA development. Keep an eye out for the next post.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Quick Updates

Quite a lot has happened since I last posted, so I just wanted to do a quick update.

  • I finished my exams, so now I'm just waiting for my results. In theory this means I have slightly more time to blog.
  • I finally got my hands on Lessons From the Fatosphere and devoured it in less than four days.
  • I also downloaded a copy of You Count, Calories Don't which I'm currently working my way through. It's not as good as Health At Every Size and I don't agree with everything the author has to say, but it's worth a read anyway.
  • I spent a weekend doing lots of exercise running round after kids at a St John Badger Camp. I felt utterly knackered but had great fun. Oh yeah, and I also pushed a minibus round a field.
  • I got a new tattoo. It say's "No Day But Today" and is on my right inside forearm. It's a message I want to apply to my life and now the tattoo is a constant reminder of how I want to live my life.
  • I've started packing to move out of the house I've been living in for the past two years. This is making me very sad and very nostalgic, but is also good exercise.
  • I've not yet started the cycling every morning thing I wanted to try, but there's time yet. If truth be told I'm still recovering from Badger Camp. And I really need to go to bed before 2am to really get this going.
  • I started a second blog, called the Chuck-It Cook. I plan for this blog to detail my adventures and misadventures on the kitchen, and I consider this a vital step on my path to Fat Acceptance. This blog is saying "I'm a fat woman, I enjoy cooking and eating and there's nothing wrong with that".
I think that's pretty much all for now. Hopefully I'll have another update for you in the next week.

Friday, 28 May 2010

On the Flaws of the Body Mass Index

I’ve been promising an essay on the BMI (Body Mass Index) for a while now. And I tried, I honestly tried. I wanted to write a fully comprehensive essay, with a balanceds argument for and against the BMI and its use. But I just couldn’t. There are too few pros for the system, and far too many cons. It left me wondering why it is used at all, but one of the two things I found in its favour explains exactly why it is used.

It’s easy to use.

It involves no expensive equipment, no complicated formulae, no extensive testing. It gives an immediate piece of quantitative data on how fat a person is, and therein lies its other advantage. It gives a number that can be quoted. Instead of a doctor simply saying you’re (and by you I mean a hypothetical fat person, not you in particular) fat, they can say your BMI is X, which means you are this fat. It also means they can tell you exactly how much weight that a person needs to lose to not be that fat any more.

That’s it. That’s the whole reasoning behind it being used.

Now compare that to ever increasing evidence that the BMI is an utter load of crap.

For starters it doesn’t take into account bone density or muscle mass, meaning that many incredibly fit athletes show up as obese on the scale. The Wikipedia page gives a list of exceptions to the BMI that makes me wonder why it is used at all.

Secondly, it was never meant to diagnose individual people. It was meant to study populations of people, so how the hell is that translatable to use on individual people? How the hell did this become the primary tool for diagnosing overweight and obese individuals?

Add in to this the fact that the cut off points are incredibly arbitrary. I’ve never seen any good reason why you’re suddenly overweight when you’re BMI hits 25. I’ll be happy to read anything anyone can show me that proves otherwise, but I will continue with my argument.

I know that the cut off points between underweight/normal/overweight/obese are arbitrary because in 1998 the USA changed theirs to fall in line with the World Health Organisation. Over night millions of people were suddenly reclassified as overweight without gaining a single pound, and without their health changing one jot. All because a committee of “exerts” saw fit to move the goalposts.

The BMI system is also incredibly biased against people at the higher end of the spectrum. Take a look at the chart on the Wikipedia page. There is a huge chunk of the chart taken up by overweight and obese, but only a tiny sliver taken up by the underweight category. That’s shows a clear bias and just seems plain wrong to me.

Speaking of plain wrong, the BMI is exactly that. The World Health Organisation defines overweight and obesity as such:

Overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health.

That means that the BMI is rubbish. Studies have shown again and again that people in the overweight category have no significant health problems compared to “normal” people. I fact, they seem to cope better with certain diseases that the supposedly healthier normal category.

In addition to this, the BMI categories just don’t fit into reality, not mine at least. Check out this flickr stream, I hope you will find as I did, that the BMI overweight people looked normal to me and the BMI normal people looked too thin. That’s just my personal view, but those photos should definitely make you rethink how the BMI applies to real, flesh and blood people.

There are a whole host of other reasons why the BMI is crap, and it should be scrapped for use in diagnosing “overweight” and “obese” people. If you currently remain unconvinced of just how crap the BMI really is, may I point you to the links below. They cover similar ground to this post, and hopefully a few extra things.

Read the links and the comments over at this post at the Rotund.

This post at the Guardian's Comment is Free also takes down the BMI.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

On The Ridiculousness of the Calorie

I've just had a thought.

Not a stupendous world changing though, but a thought none the less.

I've been thinking about how ridiculous it is that the diet and food industries rely on calories so much. For starters the calorie counts that appear on the front of food packaging is actually kilocalories. Meaning that a food with 100 calories in it actually contains 100,000 calories. Deosn't sound quite so small when pu that way does it?

The second thing that I realised, and the main point of this post, is that the way the energy content of that food is calculated, the method they use to find out that food has 100 calories in it, really shouldn't translate to the energy the human body gets it's energy from that food.

From the scientific knowledge and experience, the way scientists usually find out how much energy something has is by burning it.

I've done a fair bit of calorimetry in my time and the procedure is usually this; you take an amount of the thing you want to find the energy content of. Then you set fire to it, and use the heat from it to heat up an amount of water. The you use a formula to work out how much energy it gave out when you burnt it. Which is actually the amount of energy taken in by the water that was heated up, which is never going to be the exact amount of energy the flame gave out because heat escapes. Even bomb calorimetry, which is basically the above procedure with as much insulation as possible can't really be really perfectly accurate.

so that 100 calorie biscuit? That's how much energy it gave out when it was set on fire.

Can anyone honestly tell me that the energy given out on burning of a food is directly transferable to the energy that my body gets from eating it? I really don't think so. The way the human body gets energy out of food is far more sophisticated than that; it involves digestion, absorption, electron transfers and the making and breaking of chemical bonds. I honestly don't see how that can in any way be equated with burning food.

The body doesn't burn calories the way you burn charcoal for a bbq, it just doesn't work that way.

So my thought for the day: societies reliance on calories as a measure of how much to eat is utterly ridiculous. And I for one will no longer pay attention to them.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Growing Fat Acceptance and Lots of Links

So my involvement and practising of Fat Acceptance is coming on leaps and bounds. I'm about half way through Linda Bacon's Health at Every Size, and so far I agree with almost everything she's said. I am however, exercising caution and trying to stay objective about the materiel in the book. I am very aware that the contents of the book could very easily become a new dogma, even as it strives to take down the dogma of the diet culture. Linda Bacon is a very highly qualified scientist, and her book presents the science that you might not have been allowed to see, and explains the facts as we understand them now. All in all I'm very happy with the book so far, and I recommend that anyone interested in fat acceptance or another perspective on how fat and health are related should try to get hold of a copy.

I still haven't received Lessons from the Fat-O-Sphere, as it's at my parent's house waiting for them to send it down to me, but I am very much looking forward to reading it. After I have finished with these two book I intend to get both Dawn French's and Jo Brand's autobiographies. Never been much of one for autobiographies (Roald Dahl's being the exception) but I think they will prove very interesting reading.

I've also added to the repertoire of fat acceptance and body positive blogs I read, and trying to add more fat and body positive folks on twitter. I think this is the crucial part of my FA, as it is the building of a community of like minded individuals which will really help me finally accept my body as it is. Some of them are very outspoken and brash on the subject, but all of them come across as wonderful people in their blogs.

I have also started listening to the Two Whole Cakes Fatcast, which is definately worth a listen.

I'm also starting to be more vocal on the subject, having had a few discussions on the subject of FA and HAES with some of my friends. In addition to this blog appearing in my facebook and twitter feeds, I'm also starting to comment more on FA related matter on both those social networking sites. While it's not exactly a secret that I'm fat, I'm determined that people, and in particular people I know well are aware that dieting is no longer something that I believe in and that I am on the path towards body acceptance.

I've also made progress on a more personal level. I have relinquished the dichotomy of good food/ bad food, and am learning to spot when I start thinking along those lines. For example I wanted some chips as an afternoons snack, and my brain automatically went into the 'this is bad but I don't care' mode of thinking. I managed to catch myself and correct myself; there is not such thing as 'good' food or 'bad' food, only food (more on this at a later date).

I've also gotten better at recognising when I'm starting to feel hungry and eating then, rather than eating at set times. This has been vastly helped by the fact it is exam season and I have very little in the way of an actual schedule at the moment. I'm less good at recognising the signs that I'm full and stopping eating then, but I'm working on that. There are a few exercises in Health at Every Size that I want to try out, after exams.

This post is my 30th post, and I'm amazed at what I've managed to achieve in that. When I started this blog less than six months ago I was a miserable fat person with next to no bodily self esteem who wanted to blog about a diet to keep on the wagon as it were. Now I'm still fat, but I no longer believe dieting is the answer to higher self esteem and am constantly improving in my body acceptance. I'm no longer miserable, and I'm starting to learn that other people's opinion of my body, whether they consider it attractive or not, will never change the basic fact that it is a fat body.

So while I tackle the rest of my exams with gusto, I will leave you with a bunch of links to check out. Please do read what these people have to say, and if anyone can put me onto a blog written by a fat accepting male, that would be brilliant.

Fat/Body Positive Blogs

Twitter Folks to follow

@fatheffalump @moreofmetolove @52stations @fatshionista @peggyelam @therotund @bigfatdeal @ninjaclutz @mopie

and also @captainraz (which is me!)

Lesley Kinzel from Fatshionista and Marianne Kirby from The Rotund talk about fat, fashion and politics

Friday, 21 May 2010

I'm Feeling Good

I feel great today. I know its still early, but I do feel great. Which is extremely unusual considering I have an exam tomorrow. But I feel really good.

I went to bed at a decent time last night, got a good nights sleep and was up fairly early to wish Sam well in his exam.

I had a great breakfast. I made a smoothie; strawberry, banana, pineapple and mint. OK, so I cheated a little bit cos the strawberry was from a SlimFast shake powder but oh well. When you stop viewing hose things as a weight loss aid and simply something you can use if need be, they're actually quite useful. I frequently turn the shakes into fruit smoothies, and I don't feel guilty at all.

Anyway, my breakfast was damn tasty, and it's left me feeling great. I'm hoping that a good start to the day means the day will continue to be good.

The only bad thing about today is that I really want to go for a bike ride, maybe cycle around the lake, but I can't. Damn exam season meaning I have to spend most of my time indoors revising.

After exams are over, that will be very different. I want to try going for a cycle round the lake every morning after breakfast for a week. Just to see how I feel. If it makes me feel great, then I try to keep it up, if not then I won't bother.

For me this decision is not just about getting the exercise in. If any of you have ever been to the University of Nottingham and been to the lake, you'll know just how beautiful it is. Riding a bike round the lake is beautiful and the pleasure comes almost as much from the scenery as the exercise. I've never been to the lake early morning, and I want to find out what it's like.

The hope is that I'll really enjoy it, and it'll be a really good, enjoyable way to move my body. I want my body to feel great, so I'm trying to put things in it that make me feel good, and I want to start doing some form of regular exercise that makes me feel good too. I honestly don't care if I lose weight or not. Weight and health are not the same thing, and thinner does not mean healthier.

I have a number of things I want to try and do to increase my overall health, but that's a post for another time. Medicinal chemistry and nucleic acids revision is calling me.

Monday, 17 May 2010

How You Can Best Support Me In Good Health

In lieu of an actual proper update from me, because it is exam season and my brainmeats are fried by organic chemistry, I thought I would post this. It's another excerpt from Linda Bacon's Health at Every Size, which I finally got and started to read. So far it's full of things that I feel I should have already known and is possibly better referenced than some of my textbooks.

I've been meaning to post this for a while, and it is something that I am really starting to believe in.


To My Friends and Family:

I understand that you care about me and that you are concerned
about my health and well-being. I’ve learned a lot about issues
related to weight, and I’ve come to believe that I can be healthy and
happy at my current weight. I have also learned, both from personal
experience and studying the physiology of weight regulation, that
dieting and trying to lose weight typically cause more problems than
they solve and are usually unsuccessful, despite strong determination
and willpower.

As a result, I’ve switched my focus to feeling better about the
body I currently have and improving my lifestyle habits for health
and well-being, rather than weight change. I am not giving up—I am
moving on.

I’d like your support. What I need from you is to accept and
appreciate me as I am and to stop commenting on my weight,
weight loss, or the food I eat. Being nagged about what I weigh or
how I eat has never been helpful and has only made me feel worse.
If you are interested, I’d be happy to share what I am learning.
Thanks for your love and concern.

Signature: ____________Captain Raz_________________________

Excerpt from Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth
About Your Weight © 2008 by Linda Bacon.
May be freely distributed, provided that it remains in its entirety
and this copyright message appears. More info at