Health At Every Size “whether you’re 100lbs or 500lbs”

The LA Times ran a couple articles on Health At Every Size this weekend.

One bit that from the second article gave me a smile:

“You can’t know just based on a person’s size whether that person has good or poor health habits,” says Linda Bacon, a professor of nutrition at City College of San Francisco and author of “Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight” (Ben- Bella 2008). “Some people are heavy and unhealthy, and some are heavy and health- y.”

So instead, folks behind the Health at Every Size program, which Bacon and many others are researching and promoting, advocate intuitive eating — that is, teaching people to tune in to their hunger signals.

By doing so, they say, people are more likely to eat when they’re hungry, not because it’s lunch time, and to stop when they’re satisfied not stuffed. These advocates also encourage people of every size to embrace physical activities that feel good and that they enjoy. “The advice applies whether you’re 100 pounds or 500 pounds,” Bacon says.

Now, not everyone wants to do these things.  Not everyone has the money/time/ability to do these things.  But it’s nice to see the LA Times print that it’s not about the weight.   They’re not only acknowledging that HAES exists, but that HAES isn’t just for the people who “aren’t really fat”.

This is also something I love from the FAQ at Shapely Prose:

Q. OK, I’m mostly with you. It’s not nice to hate fat people, BMI is flawed, it’s possible to be fat and healthy — but come on, isn’t there a limit? I mean, when it comes to really fat people, isn’t it our duty to remind them of the health risks and encourage them to lose weight?
A. No.

Because, you know what?  Being really fat doesn’t make diets any more effective in the long-term.

I know people want to believe otherwise.  Yes, it might just may be possible that if you became fatter due to a life change that made you really sedentary, starting to exercise might cause lasting weight loss.   Returning to a normal routine after recovering from breaking a leg, for example, might result in a return to your pre-broken-leg size.  But then again, it might not.

I also thought it nice that the LA Times article followed the obligatory health professional quote asserting that “It’s dangerous to go down the path that it’s OK to be obese”  — because of course the only reason anyone’s obese is because they are so ignorant they think it’s OK to be obese — with a quote from the same health professional that

Weight-loss interventions are so ineffective […] I agree that if you’re obese and doing what you can to reduce or manage other risk factors, that’s an important goal.

It’s like the writer actually asked the health professional whether she could recommend a weight loss method that, you know, works or something.   And she couldn’t.  Because there isn’t one.

16 thoughts on “Health At Every Size “whether you’re 100lbs or 500lbs”

  1. Hooray LA Times! I’ve read some really infuriatingly dense obesity-panic articles lately, and this is a breath of fresh air. And no infuriating comments section! Even better!

  2. Living in Los Angeles triggered a lot of my body image issues – I’m glad to see that the LA Times is at least attempting to provide some good information on health and weight.

  3. “These advocates also encourage people of every size to embrace physical activities that feel good and that they enjoy.” Like what???? I have yet to find a physical activity that doesn’t feel like. Other than nooky. Which doesn’t count. I hate intentional exercise and I can’t imagine feeling otherwise and i am a generally cheerful and upbeat person, but when these articles feel compelled to include exercise in a healthy lifestyle i just.get.stabby.
    Sorry to rant.

    • That’s cool. I specifically added the “not everyone wants to do these things” because yeah, there are people who don’t want to or can’t eat intuitively or be physically active, and I don’t want people to feel they have to be “perfectly HAES” to be here.

      And I do think nooky can count … depends on how you’re doing it tho ;)

    • Heh… I just read a book that specifically recommended “vigorous sex” as one of the best exercises for people with depression. Something about releasing all sorts of good brain chemicals.

    • You’re singing my tune Serenity. But I can tell you, a lot of people don’t accept that bringing any physical activity under the egis of ‘exercise’ drains it almost instantly of any pleasure whatsoever.

      The only answer I’ve come up with is similar to freeing yourself from all the eating dogma that robs it of spontaneity and pleasure.

      What I did was started to reconnect movement to my desire to move. So, when I started, if I felt like moving, if possible, I would get up and move, as long as the feeling lasted, and in the way that I felt to move.

      If that meant, two steps and then sit down, good! I didn’t give a damn.

      Eventually I began to really recover a sense of physicality to the extent I have now. I still have a way to go, but I haven’t ‘invented’/ discovered, the next stage; if you think of it, let me know!

  4. I’ve never commented on your blog before, but I have read every post you’ve written to date!

    I had a question for you: Do you think it is humanly possible to maintain a weight of 500 pounds, while keeping cholesterol and blood pressure under control?

    Your article mentioned doing the physical activities you enjoy to stay active, but coming from a person that weighs(ed) that much, I could not perform ANY physical activities I enjoyed.

    That weight is unmaintainable, and unbearable. I have to believe HAES movement has its limitations. I couldn’t see someone at the weight I was at(500) maintaining a healthy active lifestyle. They’re knees would be destroyed in 5 years at that weight.

    • Do you think it is humanly possible to maintain a weight of 500 pounds, while keeping cholesterol and blood pressure under control?

      Is it possible? I don’t know. Maybe, especially if one is tall (I’m only 5’8″ — tall for a woman, but plenty of men are taller). There’s certainly a large range of variation among humans.

      Your article mentioned doing the physical activities you enjoy to stay active, but coming from a person that weighs(ed) that much, I could not perform ANY physical activities I enjoyed.

      Well — if you’ve read all my posts, you probably know that I injured my knee (and/or the muscles in my leg) a few years ago and was very worried that I would not be able to walk without pain again — or at all. I rebuilt after that, but the problem came back when I lapsed into less activity.

      So yes, I’ve been in a situation where walking, sitting, standing — it all caused pain. I’ve also rebuilt from that with exercise — exercise that wasn’t always pleasurable but was fruitful. Now I can go for a mile-long walk that not only isn’t painful but is enjoyable. Weights were always satisfying, and so was yoga, but the walking? Not always.

      Note I’m at the same weight where I could only walk stairs with one leg because the other knee would fail. It’s not my weight that’s changed. It’s my muscles. ;)

  5. Thanks for posting these articles.

    I live in the greater LA area (used to live in LA) and get so tired of always being “preached” at to be thin.

  6. I know there are 50 minutes left to go on this Thursday…but where is your “Thankful Thursday” post?? I always check it before I go to bed…puts me in a grateful mood before slumber. Maybe you were watching the documentary on Bill Gates that just ended, as we were???

    Nevertheless…..I’m grateful for you and your blog….and hope you had a wonderful week. :)

  7. Pingback: Thankful Thursday « Living ~400lbs

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