Monday, 31 January 2011

The Difference a Year Makes

Trigger warning: Contains discussing of body hatred and past dieting. Proceed with caution.

I've spent a lot of time in the last few weeks pondering just how far I've come in a year. It is slightly difficult to believe right now that this time last year I was in hate middle of one of the worst periods of self hatred in my life. I hated everything about myself. I was researching diet and exercise tactics to find the best methods of losing weight. I was researching weight loss surgery and reading blogs by survivors about how the horrible side effects were worth it. I was seriously considering the mutilation of my digestive tract just to drop a few dress sizes.

My self esteem was shot, my self image was about as negative as it could get. I have no doubts now that I was depressed. I remember one evening last December/January that I spent sobbing my eyes out because I felt I was so disgusting. And then on the First of February last year I started what was the first official diet of my life. It was a thoroughly miserable period of my life.

And was all that misery worth it? Was the diet worth the deprivation and the torment and the near constant hunger? Was it worth the guilt that came from slipping up? Was it worth the increased hatred of myself because I couldn't use a skipping rope for five measly minutes a day? I have to say that it's a resounding no.

There was never much to show for the six weeks or so I was actively dieting. If I lost weight at all it was minimal; I think I more experienced a rearrangement of where my fat lived. To be honest I never expected that much. I never bought into the Fantasy of Being Thin (FoBT). Actually being thin is a goal that is so far out of my reach as to be nigh on impossible. Even the aim of my diet wasn't to be "thin", merely to be "less fat". And I guess that fueled the self hatred; that I was so far out of the "normal" (BMI) range that I had to settle for just being less fat.

Well you know what screw that. Last January was one of the most miserable periods of my life, which is saying something considering the effort other people have put into making my life miserable in the past.

I am so grateful to Sam for introducing me to Big Fat Deal. It was the starting point for my journey into Fat Acceptance. And not just into Fat Acceptance, but in to Everything Acceptance. It has lead me to the fight for equality, the fight against bigotry in all it's forms. It literally changed my life.

This year, this January, I am writing from a very different perspective. In some ways I am a very different person to the one who started this blog a year ago. Instead of hating myself for being fat, I am in the process of learning to love the body I inhabit, and the fantastic things it is capable of. I subscribe to the radical notion that a persons body is their own to do with what they please, including fat people, including me. To borrow a phrase from Dances With Fat; I am the boss of my own underpants. I believe that no one has the right to comment on another persons body, or bully them into changing it. I believe that each and every person has the right to live how they chose, and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

I also believe in the principles of Health At Every Size (HAES) and have chosen these as a guiding principle for my life. But I also believe that Health is not a moral imperative. If someone chooses not to be healthy then that is their decision; they are the boss of their own underpants. I believe that the constant pressure we all face to strive for health is problematic and possibly misplaced. The pressure to strive for health is attempting to force all human beings into a narrow band of acceptability and ignoring the natural diversity that exists in nature.

Given the massive changes I have undergone in my beliefs, my body image and my self esteem this year, something struck me as slightly odd. In some respects I am trying to make some changes to my life that are similar to the changes I tried to make when dieting. I'm increasing the amount of exercise I do and making changes to my diet in order to make it healthier.

The big difference is that this time I'm doing it from a position of self love and respect. I'm doing more exercise because I know moving my body is good for me; I want to treat my body as well as possible and this include exercise. I'm trying to find ways of moving my body that are fun and pleasurable, not only because this means I'm more likely to do it, but because having fun and enjoying myself helps me love myself and my body more. I'm doing more exercise because it makes me feel good, because I can see and feel the difference in myself.

My new attitude towards myself is even more evident in the changes I'm making to the food I eat. Instead of taking things out of my diet, I'm adding things in. Instead of restricting, I'm increasing. Adding new things in naturally reduces the amount of some other things I eat but reduction is not the ultimate goal. I'm trying new things and eating food I enjoy. And it feels a hundred times better than restricting my food intake through a calorie controlled diet.

I honestly believe that a person cannot make positive lasting changes to their life from a position of self hate. I believe that positive change can only come from a position of self love. Today I am taking steps to enact positive changes; I’m not trying to change my body, I’m trying to change what it can do. And you know what? I am much happier for it.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Look, a blog post!

So far in 2011 I’m not really keeping up with my plan to blog at least once a fortnight, but I’m blaming that on exams.

There have been lots o things I’ve wanted to talk about but none of them have been worth a blog post in their own right. Also I thin of these things primarily as I’m falling asleep or just waking up, so by the time I get to a computer I’ve completely forgotten what I wanted to say. Today, however, I have three things I want to talk about.

The first things I want to talk about is this article from Scientific American asking it’s to be possible to be both obese and healthy. The article isn’t bad, considering its from a fairly mainstream science magazine. It put the out the message that a lot of people in the Fatosphere already knew; that it is possible to be fat and healthy. For me the article falls down a lot in what it doesn’t say. The article says the following;

obese individuals are less likely to survive a trauma as compared to normal weight individuals despite similar injuries, due to longer transport times due to their higher body weight, and difficulty assessing and treating the injuries. Further, they are less likely to see their physicians regularly, which may be in part why cancer is generally diagnosed in obese individuals at later stages.

but doesn’t even attempt to examine WHY these things are the case. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence in the Fatosphere that indicates that some of these problems are at least partially caused by the discrimination fat people face from the medical profession. That’s why Ragen Chastain of danceswithfat wrote this ebook on coping with visits to the doctor. There are a few studies that have been done on this as well.

Even though the article starts well it ends quite badly, in my opinion. Even though it is possible to be obese and metabolically healthy the author of this article still thinks fat people should lose weight. Still, I think that we need more articles like this in mainstream science publications. Maybe then we’ll start to get our message across to the general population; that fat people are people too.

Speaking of fat people being people; fat women are still women. And I would say the vast majority of us need to wear bras on a regularly, if not daily, basis. Marriane Kirby over at therotund ranted about the lack of plus size bras recently. My particular rant is about the lack of supportive sports bras for women in larger sizes.

A lot of retailers I’ve looked at very rarely cater to the larger sizes, in either cup size or band size. And those that do don’t cater to my particular needs. See I have a barrel chest. My ribcage is just built that way. So I require bras with a band size 40 or higher. But the retailers seems to have decided, in their infinite wisdom, that if you’re a 40 band size, you must have a cup size of at least an F cup. Well I’m here to confirm with the existence of women who have large chests but smaller breasts.

It’s extremely frustrating that I can’t find proper sportswear in my size. Not only is this problematic for my goal of being more active this year, but I could seriously injure myself if I do vigorous exercise without proper support. Yes I am fat, no I’m not looking to change that, but I would still like sportswear that is suitable for me to do exercise in. My money spends just as well as a thin person’s money does. My breasts are just as worthy of protection as a thin persons.

To end on a slightly lighter note; my hula hoop arrived today. I’d been toying with the idea of taking up hooping for some while, but had been hesitant because I’m already learning poi, staff, devil stick, diabolo and ball juggling. But hooping well and truly fits into my goal o being more active, do I went for it. My hoop is big and beautiful (like me) but boy is it hard work. Actually keeping the hoop going is much harder than I anticipated. Guess I should have spent my childhood learning to hoop instead of beating up boys. But anyway, I intend to hoop at least once a week, which is going to be great cardio.

And even though I find it difficult, hooping is fun, which in the end is what matters to me.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

New Years ReVolution and Goals for 2011

Generally speaking I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. People don’t stick to them very well, and I’m worse than average at keeping my resolutions. I decided that this year I would buck the trend slightly. Only instead of a resolution that will barely make it to February, I want t set myself some goals for this year. I have a range of things I want to achieve, from the small things to the fairly big things. I want to set goals that I know I can achieve; things that I have control over and I don’t have to rely on other people for.

In addition to the goals I want to set for the year, I came cross the New Year’s ReVolution campaign. The papers today have been full of statistics saying that weight loss is the top resolution for the New Year, and the women’s mags are stuffed full of adverts for weight loss products. Instead I am joining the campaign to put out body positive messages and let people know there is an alternative to hating your body.

My goals for this year are all well within the remit for HAES and body positivity. This time last year I hadn’t heard of HAES and was definitely not in a body positive mindset. I’m looking forward to what 2011 holds for me as I continue on this journey of self love.

So without further ado, here are my goals for 2011;

Learn to juggling three ball cascade

Learn at least three new tricks for each of poi, staff, devil stick and diabolo.

Be more active in everything I do; physically, in my activism, in the things I enjoy.
            I will achieve this by;
                        - Continuing to practice juggling once a week.
                        - Going for a walk once a week, lasting at least half an hour.
- Finding a way of moving my body that I enjoy and can do once or twice a week.
- Blogging at least once every fortnight.
- Standing up for my fat accepting, body positive, HAES beliefs whenever I have the chance.
- Talking about body positivity in all my internet places. And with my friends offline too.
- Continuing to read up on awesome recipes, then making them.
- Working hard at my final semester at uni.

Drink more tea.

Read more books for pleasure rather than work.
- I want to have read the size positive books I currently have by the end of February.
- Read three more size positive books by the end of the year.
- Read four of the fiction books I have sitting on my shelf.

Continue to add things into my diet.
                        - By having a green smoothie once a week (at least).
- Introduce more veggies into my dieting by eating meatless meals once a week.
- Add more wholegrains and none wheat carbs into my diet. Starting with using up the pearl barley and millet seeds I already have.
- Baking biscuits and making my own sweets more often.
Looking after myself better, especially my feet. I have a whole plan for this.

Trying new things whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Forgive myself if I miss any of these goals. This might actually by the most important goal.

Participate in the 2011 New Year ReVolution by doing all of the above.

With a bit of luck, some hard work and a lot of fun, this time next year I should be posting about how I’m met and exceeded these goals. I hope you will all join me for the ride.