What Works For You, Will Not Necessarily Work For Me

Posted: August 11, 2014 in Fat Acceptance
Tags: , ,

There seems to be this common misconception that fat acceptance (FA) folks deny that there is any connection between food, exercise, and weight. So they think they prove FA and HAES (Health At Every Size) folks wrong by pointing out how they increased how much they ate and gained weight, or worse try to use the example of people who are starved to death and ask why, for example, there were no fat survivors of concentration camps (a real example I have seen numerous times). No one is saying that starving a person will not lead to weight loss much of the time. Though, it’s entirely possible, and has happened, that folks die because of starvation before they become very thin- you don’t see them among survivors because they died. Arguing against dieting doesn’t mean saying that starvation doesn’t cause weight loss, we are saying that starvation isn’t an ideal we aspire to.

Most of the time, making a drastic change to you diet or exercise will also create a change in your weight. Were this falls apart is when people start assuming that what these things look like from person to person are the same. That if you have two people, same gender, same height, same activity level, if they eat the same thing they will weigh the same. But it doesn’t work like that. Eating exactly the same those two people can still have drastically different body sizes and shapes from each other. If you drastically increase the amount the both eat (by the same amount) they will probably both gain weight- though they may not gain the same each. This is what is meant by saying that you can’t look at a person and know what they eat or how much they exercise.

I don’t want to link her, because I love the stuff she blogs about and actually is pretty awesome about body image issues and I don’t want this taken as if I am saying anything negative about her, but it reminds me of something a fitness blogger I like posted. She posted photos of herself from when she started her fitness journey, and talked about how she was overweight and unhappy with her body. She was certainly larger than she is now, but she was actually still thin and no where near plus sizing in her before photos. And she talked about how she drank pop, and ate candy and fast food and at one time couldn’t imagine going a day without fast food before she cleaned up her diet. Meanwhile I don’t understand how anyone can eat fast food everyday. (I mean, I know a lot of people who do! But personally I just can’t stomach the idea of eating that much fast food. Everyone has different tastes.)

And here is where I see the problem. She cut back on “junk” food in her diet and started working out more and lost weight. I could probably cut back on what I eat and work out more and lose weight. But the problem is assuming that if I ate like her before, my before would be the same. When in reality, I’m already not eating fast food, candy, and pop frequently and I am working out and I’m way larger than her before. Which also means I can’t eat like her after and get her after results

Another example, I remember once years ago a girl talking about how she used to be overweight but started walking 30 minutes a day and now she is thin, and thus this proved that all fat people could be thin by simply walking 30 minutes a day. I believe this was actually when I was in undergrad, when I was walking about 3 hours or more a day, everyday, simply because walking was my primary means of transportation at the time, and still fat.

The truth is, some people will be fat because they eat large quantities of fast food, and don’t get any exercise, and they may later lose weight by changing their diet and adding in exercise- I’m not saying that doesn’t, or can’t happen. But because it’s true for one fat person doesn’t mean that is the case for all fat people. All fat people do not have that person’s same diet, an all fat people will not see the same weight loss results as that person by eating healthy foods and exercising. So while some weight loss advocates will came at it from personal experience- they were overweight and didn’t work out then started adding 30 minutes of walking a day and got to a “normal” BMI, that doesn’t mean that this would have the same results for anyone else.

So when I tell you that you can’t look at me and know from how I look what I eat or how much I exercise, I don’t mean that if you switch up your current diet to one of stuffing your face with cake all day everyday you won’t gain weight, I’m saying that what a >40 BMI looks like for you in terms of food consumption and exercise is not likely what my food consumption and exercise look like.

  1. Thank you for this. I’m a graduate student who studies stress and stigma. It’s interesting how people who are anti-FA say that we deny the connection between food, exercise and weight – I’ve never met anyone in FA who does that – yet those same people who accuse us of being science deniers will ignore the plethora of studies stating that shaming and stigma increases stress, and stress harms the body, therefore fat stigma and fat shaming harms people not only psychologically, but physically. What I hear sometimes when I hear people defending fat shaming is “it’s okay if we hurt you, but you have no right to do anything to yourself that we don’t approve of.”

  2. ebay313 says:

    Yeah, science (and health) are clearly not the basis of their bias.

  3. lozette says:

    I really love your posts!

  4. […] been turning over in my head how stubborn my body is! Gingerzingi’s post about her boss and Fit, Fat and Feminist’s post “What Works For You, Will Not Necessarily Work For Me&#8221…(links!) relate how people in their lives make the assumption that because their small lifestyle […]

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