Yes, but …

I want to say something about an argument that I have seen opponents of the Fat Acceptance movement use quite a few times by now, which goes approximately like this:

In order to gain weight, you have to consume more energy than you expend. If you gain weight suddenly although neither your eating habits nor the amount of exercise that you get have changed (for example due to a medical condition or a drug), it therefore follows that your body has either started to expend less energy than before or it has learned to extract more energy from food than it used to. Technically you should be able to stay the same weight by adjusting your habits to these new conditions, but OMGWTF people are stupid and listen to their hunger signals instead (which we assume to be misleading because they’ve been warped by the disease/medication).

Now, in theory that makes sense. Really, it does. The problem is that a lot of people have actually been in that situation, and their experiences cannot be ignored as they provide us with additional information. Remember that theories, as a general rule, need to be put into practice and tested in real life to see if they hold true.

From what I’ve gathered (and yes, I’m basing this on anecdotal evidence, as I am not aware of any research dealing with that particular scenario), what tends to happen is that you either restrict your food intake further and further to no avail, or that you do manage to control your weight – while suffering consequences that are not only unbearable, but cannot be healthy, either.

I’m not talking about missing your former lifestyle or being irritable due to a sudden lack of comfort food. I’m talking about actual adverse side-effects. Burning stomach pain. Fatigue. Dizzy spells. Inability to concentrate. Being cold all the time. Dry skin. Does that sound familiar yet? Yes, it is possible to experience symptoms of starvation without losing weight. How? Why? I wouldn’t know. Since nobody appears to be interested in funding research of that kind, we will just have to accept that we don’t know the answer yet.

Perhaps those drugs and diseases simply cause you to need more energy. Would that be so horrible? Considering that I have taken meds which gave me symptoms of mania, full-body rashes and indigestion, I can’t help but think that it’s one of the most harmless side-effects I have ever heard of.

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Let’s return to the topic of FAT!

Okay, I just realised something. At first I thought the best way to advance Fat Acceptance was to make it known that fat does not equal bad health. Then I changed my mind and decided that since a person’s health is nobody’s business, we shouldn’t focus on that. How about “sustainable weight loss is impossible for nearly everyone” as a mantra? No, that only leads to accusations that we’re all defeatists who have “given up” (yes, even those of us who are thin … somehow).

Perhaps we should spend more time promoting the fact that weight loss is dangerous? Which is, after all, the truth. I know from experience that no matter how often you tell people that anything is none of their business, chances are they won’t listen. But if you tell them that you’re not going to follow their advice (or “advice”) because it is very dangerous? Obviously they can choose not to believe you, as with everything … I do think that this kind of discussion would be less emotionally challenging though.

Which is not to say that I’m giving up on bodily autonomy, of course. I’m just saying I may have found an alternative for those situations where facts are needed. Hey, I need to arm myself …

P.S. I do reply to my comments, but it usually takes me a while!

Odd Similarities

I’ve noticed lately that whenever I think about parenting, Health At Every Size or politics and economy, I will eventually end up recognising a thought from one of the other topics. I thought it was funny at first because they didn’t seem to have much in common, but the more I think about it, the more I realise that trying to be in tune with my body and the way I’m raising my child (as well as how I was raised) are exactly where my political orientation comes from.

The underlying principle behind my opinions on all of them is No Restriction & No Pressure. I believe that placing any additional restrictions on your child aside from the ones that are necessary to keep them safe will do more harm than good, and that pressure is the wrong way to motivate someone (surely you can see how this applies to HAES as well). I’m always a little worried that people must think I’m too young to know anything about that, but hey – I spent many years of my life being a child myself while my mom worked in daycare. I have not only learned from what she did right and wrong raising me, I also watched her raise three other children when I was already a teenager and I started to read her parenting magazines as soon as I could read, never mind that we talked about her work sometimes. Excuse me for thinking I have gathered some knowledge by now.

What it comes down to is that children are no more than little humans. Most of the things that we know about them will also apply to everyone else. HAES is, in a way, adults learning how to parent themselves … to explore their natural states of being instead of forcing themselves to become someone they aren’t. That’s how I believe we should treat our children, too.

How does all of this tie in with politics and economy now? It is quite simple, really: To have a state equals restriction and to have a market equals pressure. I am firmly convinced that both are useless and dangerous. Sure, there’s not going to be an alternative anytime soon unless the entire world population changes its collective mind very suddenly, but I’m not the kind of person who gives up on things just because they seem unrealistic for now. As long as I can’t change the world, I’ll stick to parenting and body acceptance.

… and blogging.

I Caught Teh Fatz!

Dear Fat Acceptance Movement,

I hereby inform you that I am no longer a mere Thin Ally. From now on you can consider me to be, for all intents and purposes, Officially Fat. What does “official” mean, you may ask, since we all know that BMI = bullshit (and I don’t even own a scale)? Well, I went clothes shopping a while ago and discovered that I could suddenly extend my search to include the plus-size department.

There you have it, fat is contageous after all. šŸ˜‰

Jokes aside, I suspect that either my meds are at fault or it’s the fact that I’ve been feeling good enough to actually eat on a regular basis for a few weeks now. Both are good things and so far the weight gain hasn’t had any negative effects on my life, either, so it doesn’t really bother me. However, I would be lying if I said it didn’t bother me at all.

I feel like anything I have to say about food and weight doesn’t matter anymore. I don’t even look all that different than before and yet I suddenly expect people to look at me and think, “Oh, she’s just making excuses.” It is ridiculous. I am reminded of volcanista’s guest post at Shapely Prose:

It makes me angry (at the world, not FJ) that because Iā€™m not one of those fat fat fatties, I can bring some cred to this whole FA thing: look, a skinny girl who cares about fat people!! hey, what was this post about, again? Yeah, I have automatic credibility on the subject of fat prejudice, despite never having experienced it firsthand, while actual fat people are just wrong/deluded/lying. THAT makes sense.

That “automatic credibility” was just taken from me. Awesome. Just because I’m a little bit healthier than before.

Money …

A short and very simple thought has been going through my head for weeks, and no matter how hard I tried, I haven’t been able to transform it into anything bigger. So here it is, without any further exploration …

Many of the problems that sick and especially fat people face today have a single common cause: Somewhere, at some point, somebody who already had a significant amount of money wanted more money and was willing to make other people suffer for it. That’s it.

I know I’m going to sound like a total hippy now, but I believe that we need a lot more love and compassion in this world. We need more people like Sandy Szwarc, who’s been providing us with free information for so long, just because she felt that someone had to do it.

I don’t have a solution. In fact I don’t even have so much as a hint of an idea and it’s making me a little nervous.

On Giving Up

You know how people always say that accepting your body as it is equals giving up, slacking off, letting yourself go etc.? Well, let me tell you a story.

When I was eight or nine years old, I wanted to learn how to play the guitar and started to take lessons. However, those lessons were boring and I suspected that I would not be taught anything interesting until several months later, so I stopped going and occasionally practised by myself until I forgot about it. After a long time I eventually took up playing again, searched the internet for chords and tried to teach myself for a while. Then I suddenly wanted an electric guitar. To make a long story short, I somehow managed to acquire one and took lessons again, but in the end I decided that apparently the guitar was just not the right instrument for me.

Drumming seemed to be my thing instead. I tried it, loved it, got a drumset for Christmas, continued to use it on a regular basis, and I know I would still be doing it now if my living conditions weren’t preventing me from it.

Would you say I’m lazy because I gave up trying to turn myself into a guitarist? No? Then why do you think fat people are lazy if they give up trying to turn themselves into thin people?

It’s exactly the same concept. You may think that accepting one’s body is easier than learning how to drum because you don’t have to actively do anything, but any FA blogger would tell you that it is in fact much harder. For most people, accepting their bodies is by no means a piece of cake. Deciding to work on that instead of trying another diet can require lots of will power and courage. FA is not an excuse for laziness.

Good News and Exasperation

First, the good news: I’ve been officially diagnosed! With the very thing I had already suspected, at that. I’m not happy that I’ll have to live with fibromyalgia for the rest of my life, but it’s great to finally know what’s wrong. Also, I can work on getting better now – which is not to say that I hadn’t already attempted to do that before, but I kept getting worse instead for some reason.

Since my new medication makes me very tired and kills my ability to articulate myself sometimes, I just want to say this one thing:

Sometimes I wish there was a way to make all of humanity permanently thin at once (or at least over the course of no more than a few years), so that we could finally observe whether disease rates would really drop as dramatically as people seem to think these days – or not. My personal guess is that nothing, or nearly nothing would change, and that formerly fat people would still have the same risks as before … but I’m tired of all this guesswork. I … excuse me, articulation. Ahem.