Monday, November 26, 2012

Fat Poz Zone

Howdy folks,

Just a friendly reminder that this is a fat-positive zone. Or - if you can't quite manage that - at the very least, a weight-neutral zone. No discussion of intentional weight loss is welcome here, even if "you're just concerned about my health." That's called Concern Trolling (1) and it's not welcome here.

But how can you support me, if you can't tell me to lose weight, or share your inspiring story of how you lost half your body weight and have kept it off for 10 years and will sleep better at night knowing you've done everything you can to avoid the cancer that killed your mother? Read on, friend... read on.

A) Encourage me in my efforts at adopting weight-neutral, HAES(r)-based strategies for managing and improving my health and encourage me in those BEHAVIORS rather than in some perceived or "should" weight-loss goal.
  • Studies abound which show that the positive health outcomes commonly attributed to weight loss will be achieved regardless of weight loss, if the healthy behaviors (movement, nutritious eating, etc) are adopted. (2)
  • Studies also show that when weight loss is the motivating factor to exercise/eat healthfully, motivation tapers and the behaviors are abandoned when weight loss is not achieved or plateaus. On the other hand, when "feeling better" is the goal, incremental improvements provide positive reinforcement on an ongoing basis. 
B)  Even if it seems like weight loss might be the only way to improve how I feel, or if you cannot bring yourself to believe that my weight is not a causal factor in how I feel, resist the urge to suggest weight loss. Long-term, sustainable weight loss is just not possible for the vast majority of people.(3)
  • The reality that doctors and diet programs fail to acknowledge is that somewhere around 95% of weight-loss diets fail. So by having weight loss as a goal, I'm very likely to be setting myself up for failure. 
  • Still believe that I should be striving to be part of that 5%? Fine. Keep it to yourself, and see Point 1 -- you can encourage all the healthy behaviors you think I should be doing, and you are welcome to think to yourself that they'll lead to weight loss if that helps you support me. (Though hopefully you'll go out and read the research for yourself so you can continue to support me even when I don't "succeed" at becoming thin.) 
C)  For me personally, the suggestion that I need to lose weight is particularly harmful due to my medical history.
  • If you really care about me, you will resist the urge to suggest weight loss for the simple and very personal reason that I have a history of eating disorder and the suggestion of weight loss from people I care about is very likely to bring on a relapse. I am tired of throwing up, depression, anxiety, etc. Seriously tired.

(1) On Concern Trolls:

(2) On positive health outcomes independent of weight loss:

(3) On long-term, sustainable weight loss being highly unlikely for the vast majority of people:

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