Engaging my Body.

Hello babes. Up front I want to give y’all a bit of a content warning. I’ll be ruminating on exercise, fatphobia, weightloss and eating disorders. Please care for yourselves and if these are not your jams, please take care. That said, I’m not going to be graphic about things but there’s gonna be some stuff.

First I want to preface this by saying a couple of things. I do not believe with any bit of my being that fat and health are the same thing ever. I don’t believe that thinness or even being a “normal” weight are the end all be all arbiters of health. You cannot tell the state of a persons health in any nuanced way by looking at them. Full stop. I will not argue that ever.

Second, with Adele’s weight loss in the news a lot of folks are in their feelings about it. Listen. A multi grammy award winning artist with an amazing voice losing weight is not the peak of her or anyone elses accomplishments. And if you believe it is, you have work to do. I also want to say that I believe that weight loss done from a place of fatphobia or self hate is not gonna be healthy. Sorry not sorry.

If you’re interested in point number two I encourage you to google around and read some stuff because I don’t really have the spoons to go full Fat 101 here today/

OKAY buckle in.

I have recently been as y’all know engaging with my health and evaluating and changing how I care for my meat sack. I’ve been really focused on getting my nutrition to a better place, I’ve been working hard to feed myself well, and the last bit of this has been me looking for movement I can engage in with joy and not hurt myself.

Being that I have a disordered history with both food and exercise, I’ve had to tread very carefully. One of my huge ED triggers is the allure of control over my body. Results. A huge trigger for me. Unfortunately, I thought I had a better handle on my feelings about it. I do not.

What started as me looking for some things to cobble together for some workouts turned into me planning and plotting ways to control my body. I was able to back off of being so triggered and that masochistic urge to continue enough to observe a few things.

This experience I’m having isn’t unique. I know a lot of people who fall into the same hole. Even super fat accepting, body politic heroes. And what I have come back to is that when we front load weight loss and results and massive fast body changes as the point of fitness, we just get swept up in disordered behaviours and feelings and it is not good for anybody.

This is what happens when we don’t separate ideas about being as health as you can be in the body you have, appearance, weight and what health is or can be. What I mean by that is, if you look at a lot of fitness related content the motivation is often based in creating shame in the consumer and turning it into “motivation”.

The language tends to sway between saying, OH you’re not fixing that flat/fat ass? You’re lazy and not worth X thing etc etc. Then the person seems to be pumping you up, following the shame there is the cheerleading. They look great, they are perky and yelling and telling you, YOU CAN DO IT. A lot of the discourse is framed like so.

If you really loved yourself you’d want the flat stomach/shredded abs/big booty/thigh gap and if you REALLY COMMIT you can have it. And if you don’t get the results, well you did it wrong. You ate too much. You’re too lazy. And frankly it is abusive.

This method of selling/gaining followers is the voice of my ED. I recognized that recently and it set me back a little bit. I realized that regardless of my political leanings, my love of bodies, all bodies, my respect for all bodies, I still have a hard time giving myself the same treatment. I caught myself and have been working through it but fuck y’all.

I think I didn’t see it to begin with because my intentions with my fitness are very specific. I have a lot of chronic pain I’ve had for many years and through many pant sizes. I enjoy moving my body and I’ve been really interested in reconnect to that joy. So I went looking.

It was really hard to even find say back pain relief exercises that weren’t also cuddled up with weight loss as a goal. I don’t want that. I don’t need it and it harms me. It harms a lot of us.

What if we could have something different?

What if I could easily find a workout designed for just loosening up and enjoying my body? What if we could skip the toxic messaging about weight and how we should want our bodies to be?

For me, I really wish more fitness professionals would take a step back to look at how their own language and methods can be harmful.

For me it has been a really difficult few months with this. On one hand I’m wrestling with those ED triggers on multiple levels. One part of me remembers the peak/low of my purging via exercise and the memories of having trouble walking because I’d spent 7-8 hours exercising is fuzzy but remembering the feeling of control and doing something “good” are strong.

I remember tearing an ab muscle and powering through it and the warm congratulations of my instructors.

I don’t want to do that again.

I don’t want to contribute to anyone else doing it on any level.

There will be more of this. I have other stuff to say but for now let’s leave it here.

The health, wellness and fitness industries really rely too heavily on toxic and disordered behaviour and we really need to figure out how to not engage with it.

Shit is hard.

I’m workin on it.

Yo Wellness Web…we got beef.

Hello babes. It is yer problematic fave Auntie and I got beef.

We’re going to be talking about wellness, fatphobia, misleading shit a bunch of people say and how we can do better.

Recently I was doing some research, apparently this whole virus situation has sent me running back to my juices and berries witchy ways. That means I’ve been doing a lot of reading.

Listen wellness people…y’all.

One of the things I’ve been focusing on is stress and anxiety reduction. Those two things are among my highest concerns.

Again, I’m seeing weight loss as the front loaded assumed goal rather than the actual ailments I’m looking to ease. This approach is not only problematic, it is generally misleading and dangerous.

Let’s start with why this is problematic. In the context of researching specific things like herbs and vitamins, especially those that have no connection to weight, you’re screwing up the facts. If you want to know what value adding say a vitamin supplement to your wellness line up could have and what you find is rah rah LOOK lose weight, that isn’t going to give you actual nutritional value.

Also, likely it is going to make you feel like shit. More so if you “should” (we’ll get to that) be doing “something” about your weight but maybe you want energy support or help with your digestion. For instance. I was looking at a multi vitamin and the first half of the list of benefits all had to do with losing weight in a way that was sharply marketed for women.

HEY look it’ll cure your jiggly ass and burn and detox and blablabla. None of those things were true or necessary. It is a multivitamin. Looking through the ingredient list rather than the marketing patter, I could see that it was formulated for women over 40 looking for support in immune health, digestion, fatigue and those wanting to get in more minerals and a higher level of calcium. And interestingly, the dude formula of the same vitamin with a little extra stuff for prostate health, did not mention weight or fat at all.

I’ll drop some resources about why fatphobia is bad below so folks can understand who’ve not learned about the issue.

Now, from my perspective what I don’t need is extra nonsense when it comes to facts about nutrition, herbs etc. There are already so many terrible and untrue things around this doesn’t need to happen. Further, when the marketing for a product with a certain herb or vitamin is focused on frankly untrue weightloss promises, how can we trust the industry to actually have our health and wellbeing in mind?

We know that capitalism ruins everything but in this case, especially in the wellness community it fuels dangerous beliefs and behaviors.

I put a lot of the blame for the rise in the dangers in our community on irresponsible and greedy influencers. If we take to instagram, I would be you my delicious chocolate bar I’m eating, that a lot of those huge influencers so many love to follow, are right now hawking things that are not okay.

Tummy teas are a huge one. Lately I’ve noticed a few companies targeting the Black community promising a flat belly and a big booty. I’ve seen youtuber/instagram influencers use their curated aspirational type of content to sell everything from scientifically questionable diets and supplements to tummy teas so work out programs that are, lets face it not good.

The impact of this can be seen all over. We’re seeing more children with eating disorders, may of us who have an eating disorder history can’t navigate these communities without being triggered and none of this fits into a good view of wellness.

My ideas about wellness include learning to care for ourselves in a holistic and whole way. That also means, putting a critical lens on what we’re being sold, how we’re being sold these things and thinking about ways we can engage with wellness without perpetuating harm. Front loading weight loss, using size or fatness as a morality compass, thoughtless selling of products that can contribute to eating disorders and yoyo dieting need to go.

What do I want? I want to be able to be in the wellness community without the bullshit. I want to be able to engage with wellness in a way that isn’t abusive, greedy or predicated on ONE thing, that thing being my weight.

We’ll talk more about sizeism, fat phobia and body politics later so I’ll leave y’all some links to get started.

Things I’ve written. Items with an * are behind the paywall on Medium but I’m giving you the free to read links. If you are a member of Medium please feel free to share from the page:

On “Inclusive” Sizing, fitness and fatness.*

Post FatAss: Current RageAss*.

Fatness links here in the blog.

Other folks work:

Basic Fat acceptance. 

Ragen Chastain

I See Fat People by Carolyn C. Ross M.D. M.P.H.
Here’s How Fatphobia Is Being Marketed to You – And Why So Many of Us Buy Into It by Kaila Prins.

Fat Acceptance history. 

Great reading list at Wear Your Voice. 

Before I go some extra disclosure. Once upon a time I was a fat blogger. As I’m diving into wellness and new approaches to my own health I’ve decided to dust myself off and get back into talking and writing more about bodies and fatness. I am not currently a fat person. I was now I’m not. I will defer to currently fat people when necessary and if you want to drop any lectures about how terrible fatness is, this is not the blog for you and I won’t approve your comments.

With that. Go forth. Happy reading and I’ll see you later babe.

On Intuitive Eating And why it kinda sucks.

CW: for a few non explicit mentions of eating disorder history below.

So today we’re gonna talk Intuitive Eating and why as the title suggests it kind of sucks. First if you aren’t familiar here is a quickie overview. From an article this sums it up nicely:

Intuitive eating is a philosophy that encourages us to listen to our bodies for hunger and satisfaction cues — to eat when we’re hungry and to stop when we’re full.

For our purposes we’re not gonna argue any of the following because ain’t nobody got time for that ahem:

  • IF U EAT WAT U WANT UR GONNA NEVER STOP EATING.
  • OMG FATASS UR GONNA GET MORE FATASS
  • OMG FATASS UR GONNA DIE….

We not doing that. If you try to comment with that bullshit I will see you out.

For our purposes here, we’re using Intuitive eating as shorthand for doing as the body wants.

OKAY let’s get into it.

I’ve been aware of Intuitive Eating and the associated principles for gosh, 10 years? More? I dunno. Previous to that, I hadn’t heard the term but understood the concept as a part of my life I aspired to make better. At the time, I was just too poor to really get into what I wanted to eat in any substantial way.

Fast forward to now and for the last few years I’ve been looking at how I feel about eating, what I want to eat, how I want to eat. I’m a habitual note taker and journal person, part of how I developed my self-care ideas heavily involved keeping tabs on myself and my body. One of the first things I stopped doing toward this end was I stopped assigning food and food intake moral value.

I have a background of eating disorders and disordered eating. From purging via an exercise addiction to anorexia to some other more murky EDNOS type things. Part of what fueled those EDs was my moral standing and assignments on what and how I ate. Looking back, when I was a vegetarian than vegan, I was deep into what is now called orthorexia.

So in theory, I really love Intuitive Eating. We know that I believe that food is medicine, I believe that food is a beautiful part of culture, of how we interact as a species and frankly I just love food.

My problem is this.

Like most other things related to wellness, there is a depth of privilege you need in order to fully engage. Access to food continues to be a problem in America. Food deserts exist. Beyond that, even when you have access to the food, we also have to look at the cost, how quick things spoil, if we have energy to prep and cook food, food intolerance and allergies, etc.

This is the problem I have with most wellness related things. Folks are so busy being aspirational and trying to secure the bag via being an influencer, we don’t get to have the important discussions about how these things actually function. This is how we get goop and frankly nobody wants it.

In terms of my experience, I have noticed that I tend to crave and want to eat a pretty balanced diet. I love my veggies. I love variety. I love color. I love flavor. I want to eat fish a few times a week and once a week or so red meat. White meat as needed. Where I’m experiencing difficulty is that due to the cost of the REST of my life (rent, staying alive etc) I cannot afford to eat the way I want in a sustainable fashion.

Let’s break it down a little bit also if you’re not really familiar with looking at intersectionality and how it functions in life, this is a great moment to get into it.

We’re gonna go list style.

  1. I deal with a lot of chronic pain and fatigue.
  2. I don’t have the budget weekly or monthly to continuously eat the way I’d like to.
  3. I don’t have the time to shop often due to #1.

Let’s look at #1. The way my body is set up currently, a lot of days I only have energy to get back and forth to work, do a little housework if I’m lucky. I hate it but that is what it is. Emotionally and spiritually I LOVE food prep. I love it. I find meal planning and food prep exciting and calming. However, as it also relates to #s 2 and 3, the combination of these things makes it hard for me to do.

You see that?

That is what we mean by intersectionality, nothing operates in a void and that is missing in wellness culture.

We have to think about how we talk to each other about these things. When people recommend recipes, ways of eating etc to me, especially people who know me personally, I feel terrible when I realize they haven’t or don’t think about what it would take to do. Or put it this way, what happens when you say OH this is the One Twoo way to Health and you don’t think about the person who has a 200$ budget for food for a month.

Or the person who is disabled and can’t stand around cutting up shit for meal prep. Or the person like me who loves intuitive eating, but who cannot engage fully.

Before I go I want to leave y’all with another few thoughts. Think about the ways we talk about things like intuitive eating. If you are all the way the fuck in for it, think about people who can’t be and don’t make moral judgements. Don’t contribute to other folks feeling bad because there are reasons they can’t.

So yeah, while following a very intuitive eating based methodology is my dream, I can’t and it kinda sucks.