Posts Tagged ‘eating disorders’

So I saw this article on facebook, posted by the girls gone strong facebook page, and one reason I love following them! I love that they a promoting fitness and weight lifting for women but from a perspective that is more cognizant of the health messages around it.

This article is by Jen Sinkler about the “no excuses” photos of women with kids and 6-pack abs.

That’s the thing about both Pell and Kang: Both wholeheartedly appear to believe they are spreading positive messages. And I applaud them for demonstrating a commitment to their fitness in spite of busy lives. But the ripple effect of the many photos they post of their ripped abs—or, more to the point, their challenging, abrasive “no excuses” captions—is not as clear.

An increasing number of teen girls are steering clear of high school sports because Facebook and Instagram are making them feel body conscious, according to a 2014 study out of Flinders University in Australia. “A lot of the girls who were interviewed actually spend a fair bit of time on ‘fitspo’ [fitness inspiration] pages,” said Claire Drummond, Ph.D., associate professor of social health sciences, in a post about the study on the Flinders site. “The problem is a lot of these pages contain images of fitness models with six packs and skinny bodies that are completely unattainable to everyday young women.”

. . .

Our bodies are our own business, and truly empowering messages revolve around what we can learn to do with them rather than how we can shift and starve and shape them to look a certain way. If Kang and Pell want to truly motivate others, they would be better off dropping unwittingly combative, shame-inducing comparisons. When it comes to real inspiration, “Come with me” always trumps “Look at me.”

This has also reminded of a few other articles I read awhile back, and meant to blog about but didn’t get around to, about “fitspo”.

There have been a number of articles written asking the question “Is fitspo just as dangerous as thinspo?” (TW for… well, thinspo)

And, well, I feel like we should be asking why “fitness” is modeling terminology after something associated so strongly with eating disorders? Who thought that was a good message for promoting health?

And this article (5 reasons “fitspo” is bad for your health) states that “fitspo” started gaining popularity right around the time sites like instragram started banning thinspo/thinsporation. For many, “fitspo” is “thinspo” but hidden behind the guise of health to make it seem more ok.

It also brings to mind though the recent blog post from the blog Fit and Feminist: A Coach is Not a Therapist. One thing she talks about is seeing women who seem to be struggling with mental health issues including eating disorders recommended diets or hiring fitness coaches. There are people who turn to “fitness” and “fitspo” to support an eating disorder, and what is the fitness community doing, or should be doing, to help support real health (which means not supporting eating disorders, body dysmorphia, and the idea that happiness means a certain body size)?

I gotta say, I don’t know the answer. It brings to mind some photos I’ve seen on a fitness website that I said nothing about because I don’t want to say something negative about someone’s body and I don’t know how to express this concern without it coming across that way- but I have seen women post photos of their stomachs where every rib is visible and pushing out against their skin, and they comment how they just need to lose a few more pounds to get their abs to really pop.

I know the mantra- “abs are made in the kitchen”. (And my “excuse” for not having visible abs is primarily that I don’t want visible abs!) But come on! When I can see all your ribs that clearly, if your abs are not as defined as you think they should be, the problem is definitely not too much body fat.

And maybe one way to combat is to take over “fitspo” with messages that are actually healthy though? I don’t know.

I do know that I see people use “fitsporation” and “fitspo” for things that do not fall into the “thinspo with abs” category. There was another article on everydayfeminism  about the good, the bad, and they ugly of “fitspo”.

The term is out there. It exists. And people, including young girls, are following these hashtags. So maybe one of the best things would be trying to drown out the negative ways it’s used with images and sayings that actually promote fitness from a healthy perspective, and have a well-rounded focus on health that acknowledges that being healthy means more than just being fit and active, physical health includes so much more than that, and health overall includes our physical and mental health.

As a side not though, I came across a little unintentional body love in an ad that popped up on that women’s health article.

No thanks I already have a bikini bodyThis ad popped up offering me a 21-Day Bikini Body Plan. I am not interested, and I notice that the no thanks button is not simply “not thanks” or “not interested” but says “no thanks, I already have a bikini body”. And my first thought was actually “really, that’s the only reason you think I could not be interested?” And then I thought of this:

So I clicked “No thanks, I already have a bikini body” because- yup! 😛

I have stated previously here that I am not interested in advice on how to lose weight, or comments on how I should lose weight. It’s my body, what I should do regarding it is for me to say. If I want someone else’s opinion or advice on my body, I am capable of asking.

For some reason this is very hard for some folks though. Some folks cannot get past the idea that fat need to be told they are fat and need to lose weight by complete strangers.

So I thought I would take a moment to talk about why unsolicited weight loss advice is rude.

And I’m going to use a conversation I had online as an example here,and walk through the problems with this. Remember I mentioned in my last post how I commented online that despite gaining weight, my clothing is fitting loser and I want to get new clothing, when I can come up with funds for it, that is smaller and thus fits me better

Well, as I mentioned someone replied this with:

“You’re trying to lose weight correct? Then why are you gaining weight?”

I replied to him:

“I’m not trying to lose weight.”

Like I said yesterday, this should have been the end of any discussion of weight loss. You mistakenly thought I was trying to lose weight (well that wasn’t actually the case here, as we will see), and I clarified I’m not. The end.

But that of course was not the end.

He replied again with:

“Why not?”

Ok, so we have already started to cross into problematic territory here. Someone just told you they are not trying to lose weight. Why would you feel this stranger owes you an explanation about that? Fat people do not need to offer explanations to strangers for why we are not trying to lose weight (for those of us who aren’t). Women do not owe every stranger they encounter an explanation for why their body looks any particular way.

I respond with:

“because I’m not interested in trying to lose weight. why do my goals matter [to] you?” (typing on my phone, I accidentally a word)

Ok, great. End of that, right? … right? We have established that I am not trying to lose weight, that I am not interested in trying to lose weight. But of course, I think we all know that was not the end of it.

He responds:

“They don’t. But you are 5’0 and I believe according to your blog you are over 200lbs. So you are already quite a bit overweight, I’m just wondering why you would want to continue gaining weight. And if you are gaining weight, why would you buy tighter clothing? You may eventually fit into the clothes you currently have.”

I’m “overweight”? WHAT!?! WHY HAS NO ONE TOLD ME THIS BEFORE!?! I mean, it surely makes total sense to think that I, as someone who has a blog with “fat” right up there in the title, who wrote a blog post on my weight, which included pointing out that my weight and height puts my BMI quite squarely in what is considered “morbidly obese”, need a total stranger on the internet to inform me that I am “quite a bit overweight”. Obviously I had simply never noticed I was fat, and no one else in the world had ever thought to let me in on that secret. Clearly.

And then the question of why I would want to buy smaller clothing if the clothing I currently have it too big on me. Why would I want to own and wear clothing that actually fits my body.

But if a number on a scale went up some, then obviously I need bigger clothes even if my clothing is too big on me, right? Why let something like my body size/shape determine what size clothing I wear instead of a number on a scale.

I want clothes that fit my body as it is because I like my body, and I want to wear clothing that makes me look and feel good. I love my curves- now that my sweaters and other clothes are too big, they hang wide around my curves making me look more boxy. I don’t like that. I want clothing that shows off one of my favorite attributes of myself. Having clothing that shows my curves makes me feel better and more confident. So duh, I want clothing that actually fits me. And weirdly enough, what fits is better judged by my body and how clothes fall on it, than what number pops up on my scale.

Ok, so what I said was:

“I didn’t say I want to gain weight, but I’m not horribly bothered by it either. Since one of my primary goals is getting stronger, gaining muscle (which has weight) is not really a bad thing to me.

I want to buy smaller clothing because it would fit me better, and as a result look better on me. (And if you’d read, you’d notice that while I gained weight, I did not go up in inches or clothing sizes- my clothes are not getting any tighter, if anything they feel looser even if my tape measure says that shouldn’t be.) Why should I wear clothing that is too big for me based on a number on a scale, rather than what actually fits my body?

Also if you read my blog I’m pretty clear in there about my feelings regarding trying to lose weight, so I’m not sure why you would even be asking that. In fact from the post you are talking about: ‘if I lose weight as I continue working out that’s good with me, and if I don’t I’m ok with that too’ I’m fine if I lose weight, fine if I don’t, and even fine with gaining so long as my clothing isn’t getting tighter, and it’s not. The only problem I have with my weight is it means I have more weight to lift on body weight exercises- but that just means I need to be stronger!”

So to be clear, initially when he asked about me wanting to lose weight, he wasn’t actually misinformed thinking I wanted to lose weight- he’s already read posts here on this blog where I very clearly stated that I am not trying to lose weight. I also clearly stated in those posts that I was not interested in weight loss advice. I also in the the thread with him stated I was not interested in losing weight.

And yet:

“You are somewhat of a beginner to weight training right? Gaining strength while losing weight should not be an issue. In my first year I was able to lose 100lbs while going from deadlifting 185lbs to 500lbs. As for your muscle gain, if you told me you have gained 1lb or maybe even up to 2lbs (much more likely for men then women to gain 2lbs of muscle) over the course of a month, then perhaps you can call it muscle, but nothing more. As for measurements, If you went from 200 – 205 there is a very good chance you wouldn’t be able to measure the difference, I can fluctuate 10lbs or more and not notice a thing.

I have read a few of your posts, and I have read some of your comments, you seem to champion the thought of acceptance no matter what, and if that’s what you want to do, then fine. I remember thinking how happy and confident I was when I was overweight. But I look back at it and remember how my back would get sore if I had to stand for any length of time, or how my feet would ache because of the excess weight. Now that I have lost the weight I don’t have those issues, I can run without pain, walk around or stand for hours with no issues. I see you have some of these issues, have you thought perhaps your weight is the cause? To me it doesn’t really matter whether you gain weight or lose weight, gain strength or lose strength. It doesn’t affect me at all. I only inquire out of curiosity.”

Weight loss advice! Look, I just told you I am not trying to lose weight and I don’t want to try to lose weight. I did not say I want to lose weight but think it conflicts with my other goals. I said I don’t want to try to lose weight. So I do not need to be told that I could still try to lose weight while also trying to gain muscle.

This is rude. I have stated already multiple times prior to this I am not interested in weight loss advice, giving it after that is rude. It’s like me stating repeatedly that I’m not interested in converting to your religion and you continue to tell me about converting.

And of course we also have the condescending “you may think you are happy, but you really aren’t, you just don’t know you are unhappy because you would have to be thing to know better”. And what a convenient argument! Set it up so that I cannot possibly claim to know myself better than this stranger because we’ve established that only the opinions of thin people count. Even when the opinion is on the fat persons own body, their opinion still doesn’t count.

And we also have the assumptions that my weight is causing me pain and severely limiting my activities despite the fact that there is no reason for this stranger to think that I have back pain when standing, or that I have difficulty standing or walking long periods.

I have, on the site this conversation took place on spoken about having foot pain when running, which I believe is plantar fasciitis.

My response to him:

“You’ve read my blog post about my weight which means you already read this:

‘I am not interested in any weight loss advice . . .[I am] not interested in unsolicited weight lose advice so if you were thinking of giving some just move along.’

I also just told you in this thread that I am not interested in trying to lose weight. So why are you giving me unsolicited advice on how I can lose weight?

You’re experiences are your own, they are not mine. Don’t assume that just because you felt one way at a particular weight I must feel that way at my weight. I can stand just fine, I do not get back pain from standing, I can easily stand and/or walk for long periods without those things causing pain.

My feet have started to hurt when running, and maybe my weight is a factor- I’m still not interested in trying to lose weight. I do also know that already stretching has made a huge difference and alleviated a lot of the pain.

I’ve explained many reasons why I’m not trying to lose weight in my blog, if you’ve read it already you know them, if not feel free to go back and read through it. Though really, I don’t owe you an explanation for why I don’t want to try to lose weight. My body, my decision.

I’d also like to note that I didn’t say anything about how much weight I’ve gained or over what kind of time period, so I’m not sure how you feel at all qualified to determine what amount of that weight gain was muscle, water weight, or fat”

Even if my weight is a factor in the plantar fasciitis- still my body, still my choice, and my choice alone, on if I want to try to lose weight.

I have my reasons for not wanting to try to lose weight. I’ve talked about them here. I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to lose weight- not trying to lose weight is a much newer thing for me. Newer than weight lifting even. And since I stopped actively trying to lose weight, I am happier. I am finding it easier to stick with my fitness goals because a number going up on the scale doesn’t mean “I am doing all this hard work and seeing no results!” Actually, no- I’m seeing lots of results, just not weight loss. I’m doing all this work and as a result I am seeing the weight I lift continuously increasing, I am seeing my body in a more positive way, I am feeling stronger a result, and in terms of changes to my body I am seeing more muscle on my legs and arms. Not defining my success by the number on a scale has been hugely beneficial to me. I also am not interested in trying to lose weight because as a person whose struggled with an eating disorder, though in recovery I find things like counting calories to still be a little triggering. I also have found that since I gave up dieting, I eat better! I eat better when I focus on eating nutrient dense foods, and eating what makes me feel good, and trying to think of food of fuel for my activities.

Also, fun fact- I’ve discovered I eat “junk food” less when it’s not off limits! I love Ben & Jerry’s icecream! And I always hear people joke about how ridiculous it is that a pint is 4 serving, when everyone knows a pint is 1 serving. The funny thing is, when it’s not off limits to me, and I feel free to eat Ben & Jerry’s icecream everyday if I want to, I don’t sit down an eat a pint of it. When I eat icecream I eat 1 serving based on the serving size, or less. Usually less. Most of the time I eat a few bites, maybe a half a serving, and I feel satisfied with that and put it away. And a big part of that is not feeling like I broke my diet. Because when I felt like I broke my diet by eating ice cream it was more likely to trigger the idea that I might as well eat the whole thing then because I already ruined my diet that day anyways. And I would get back on track tomorrow. And then tomorrow icecream would be off limits. So I need to eat it now while I can! But when I stopped trying to lose weight, stopped counting calories, and stopped making any food “off limits” in my head, I stopped thinking and eating like that. Because now, if I eat a few bites of icecream, and tomorrow I want more icecream- I eat more icecream! And while foods are never off limits to me, focusing on how they make me feel, leads me to not wanting to eat certain foods. Actually just the other day I decided it had been ages since I ate some captain crunch and I really wanted some. So I bought captain crunch cereal and ate some. … And I felt so sick after! And I’m not craving captain crunch anymore. It’s not off limits because I’m on a diet. I don’t not eat it because I’m not “supposed” to eat it. I don’t eat it because I don’t want to because it doesn’t make me feel well.

This is working for me! It may not be working at causing me to lose weight, but that’s ok, because I don’t care if I lose weight anymore. It is working for me though in all other respects, which I find more valuable than weight loss. I’ve also successfully lost bits of weight before too, btw. And I’ve lost weight before by starving myself, by not eating well, by not eating to fuel my activities, and I’ve lost weight will feeling miserable and hating myself. I see much more success in eating well and feeling good, and being happy with myself, than I do in a making a number on the scale shrink.

So those are a few of the reasons I don’t want to try to lose weight. A few of the reasons that I didn’t actually owe anyone. Because it’s still my body and I don’t owe strangers and explanation for what I do with it.

So back to this dude, because we aren’t at the end yet:

“I should have known better than to talk about anything somewhat related to fitness on this site. You said you are gaining weight, you assume it is muscle because you have not gained inches anywhere. I just told you if it’s more than 2lbs a month it’s most likely not muscle. I gave you a hypothetical number of 200-205, key word is hypothetical, and it was only regarding the fact that you probably wouldn’t see much of a difference with a measuring tape. You said you have a goal of gaining strength, I told you that you can gain strength while losing weight, and I gave some personal experiences. I did not say that they are 100% transferable to you. In your running comments it is clear your weight is causing you issues. You just refuse to accept it. And your “do not give unsolicited advice” tells everybody that you do not care about anybodies thoughts if they do not agree with yours, but yet you pretend to be open minded. If you want to stay overweight then go ahead, continue pretending you are happy, continue pretending that it does not affect your life or health in any way. I wish you the best of luck in whatever your goals may be.”

Yeah- he should have known better than to talk to me about weight loss (not fitness- weight loss. The conversation was not about fitness). And actually, he did know. He knew prior to any of these comments that I did not want weight loss advice. He still asked me about losing weight. I then told him again, I wasn’t interested. Despite this he continued with advice he knew was unwanted. So let’s be clear about that- he knew it was unwanted from his very first comment. And now he’s mad it wasn’t well received. He’s mad someone would not be appreciative of his comments about what they should do with their body after being told repeatedly they did not want his comments on what they should do with their body?

And as for me not being open to his opinion- let’s also be very clear here in remembering this was not a discussion of opinions on a particular general topic- it was opinions on my body. MY body. And when it comes to my body, no one gets a say in it except me. I am trying to be very clear that I do not care about anybody’s thoughts on what I should do with my body except my own. And despite me being very clear about that, he insists on telling me what he thinks I should do with my body, despite me repeatedly stating such commentary was unwanted.

There is lots of information available on weight loss, if I wanted to try to lose weight I could seek it out. And as someone who has spent most of my life trying to lose weight (something he would also already, too,  know reading my blog), I know a lot of it, and I certainly know how to go about seeking it out if I wanted to. In fact, on the site this conversation happened on, there are groups specifically on the topic of weight loss! And yet,my comment was not posted in a weight loss group. Similarly, had I wanted this guys advice specifically, since he seems to think he possesses special knowledge of weight loss no one else has, I could have and would have asked him for that advice if I wanted it.

And let’s keep that in mind too, in terms of his actions. He is on a site with weight loss groups where he could have spent this time offering his advice, he is on a site where there are a lot of people who are trying to lose weight, and he could have spent the time he did commenting to me, offering his advice to any of those people. But no. Instead, on a site with weight loss groups, and lots of people trying to lose weight, he specifically choose to target someone who had been clear about not wanting to try to lose weight, and ignore all of her comments stating weight loss advice to her was not wanted, and decided that was that person he should focus his energies on giving weight loss advice and commentary on her body to.

I don’t know about you- but none of that sounds well meaning to me. What he actually doing is actively disregarding my wishes. But it’s all done as well-meaning advice, to seem nice. But there is nothing well meaning or nice this. There is nothing well meaning or nice about actively regarding people’s express wishes and requests on this matter.

This applies not only to his comments there, but any suggestions of weight loss here or on other FA blogs. With so many places online dedicated to talking about weight loss, and so many people out there asking for advice on how to lose weight- consider what it actually says about someone that they would skip over all those places and head somewhere with a specific focus on fat acceptance, and choose that as the place to offer advice on weight loss.

Trigger Warning for talk about Eating Disorders

One of my biggest pet peeves in diet spaces (which I don’t go out of my way to be a part of, but there is sadly a lot of overlap with fitness spaces) is the use of the term “binge” to mean just breaking one’s diet… or “lifestyle change”.

No.

A binge is not sitting down with a bag of chips and then realizing you ate the whole thing (as I saw one person define it online), it’s not mindless eating, it’s not eating a whole pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream because it’s sooo good, it’s not eating food because you like it and it tastes good and it’s not even synonymous with emotional eating.

Binging is uncontrollably eating a massive amount of food in one sitting, typically done in private with efforts made to hide this activity and behavior from others, it often involves eating past being full and past the point of being painfully full, and is accompanied by feelings of guilt and shame regarding what you ate. And no, not that slight guilt because you ate more than you know you should when you are supposed to be dieting, but a strong feeling of guilt, shame, self-hatred, and lack of control. Binging typically involves using food to cover up and try to drown out negative emotions.

People who actually engage in binge eating may eat literally everything in their fridge in one sitting. Many who engage in binging do not restrict the binge to food that tastes good- tasting good is not the point of the binge. Even when people do binge on sweet foods- it’s not eating that whole package of oreos, it looks more like eating that whole package of oreos, two pints of icecream, a whole cheesecake, and several bags of candy all in one sitting until you are physically ill from how much you ate.

Binging is not eating too much at a restaurant with friends because you got caught up in enjoying your food and a social situation and forgot you were supposed to be dieting and not allowed that much food. Binging is driving alone all over town to different drive-thrus or carryouts, ordering a relatively normal amount of food from each place (to cover up and hide how much you are really eating from the people you interact with at the restaurants) and then eating all those meals in one sitting.

Binging eating is not mindless eating, it’s not just emotional eating, it’s not just eating “too much”, it is disordered eating. 

If you are are binge eating, you have an eating disorder, and you should seek help from a mental health professional because eating disorders are a mental health issue. I’m not saying this as a judgement, or to put someone down, because there is actually nothing to be ashamed of in having an eating disorder or any other mental health issueI say this because you deserve to understand that this is a disorder, and because you deserve real help recovering from it.

Binging may happen alone as a part of a binge eating disorder or it may be followed by purging activities or other compensatory behaviors such as starving oneself or excessive exercising  as a part of bulimia or an eating disorder “not otherwise specified” (specified in the DSM. NOS is used for people who display disordered eating but are not an exact fit for any of the specifically mentioned and named eating disorders in the DSM.)

If you are not binging in a disordered eating sense, then you are not actually biging and you need to stop using the terminology of eating disorders to characterize non disordered eating. When people using the terminology of disordered eating to describe non disordered eating it minimizes actual eating disorders, it encourages people to think these behaviors are not disordered behaviors, and it means people may not seek out the help they really need for an eating disorder. Using the term “binge” when talking about breaking a diet suggests that actual eating disorders that cause binge eating need to be fixed through self-control and diets instead of treated through mental health care, which again, leads to people not getting the help they really need.