I'm happy to give you some nutrition and fitness suggestions if you need them — but long story short, eat more fresh and unprocessed foods, read labels and avoid foods with any kind of processed sweetener in them whether it's cane sugar or high fructose corn syrup, increase the amount of fiber you're getting, get some kind of exercise for 30 minutes at least five times a week, and do everything you can to stand up more — even while using your computer — and walk more.Anyway, last week Jen Lancaster offered a rebuttal. She makes a lot of points in this rebuttal, including that we should all learn to love ourselves no matter what our size. Self-acceptance and body-acceptance are two of Jen's main platforms in her writing. She is not shy to admit she is overweight, and even has an entire book devoted to chronicling her weight-loss efforts, Such a Pretty Fat.
So, on the one hand we have the Marie Claire column that suggests that fat is disgusting. On the other hand, we have Jen Lancaster, saying that we should learn to love our bodies no matter what their size.
And the thing is, I don't agree with either of them.
To be sure, the Marie Claire column is an outrage. It's appalling that any major publication would allow an online column with the word "fatties" in the title. The author is disrespectful and condescending. And, as a person recovering from an eating disorder and a person who says she doesn't watch much TV, she should not have been picked to write this article.
Jen Lancaster is often pretty mean and crabby, but she doesn't take cheap shots. Her arguments are often well-reasoned, and she does give her opponent the benefit of the doubt.
But, as I said, I can't get behind Jen's "Let's all love our bodies no matter what the size" movement. As Jen herself discovered in Such a Pretty Fat, you can love your body all you want, but the bottom line is that being overweight is unhealthy. Oh sure, not every single overweight person has health problems, but there is overwhelming evidence that being overweight increases your chances of having a number of unpleasant health conditions.
And the health-related reasons are why I still try to lose weight. I mean, yeah, vanity factors into my desire to be thinner. I fondly recall the days when my general middle region was the exact size of the organs and bones contained within it, and nothing more. The visual of a fat-free midsection is what keeps me going sometimes.
But really, at this point in my life, I am a married Midwestern housewife who sclubs around in jeans and a sweatshirt, and I don't feel the need to be supermodel thin. But I do want to be healthy, and that's why I just can't accept my body in its current state. I'm exhausted and almost unable to keep up with my child because it's essentially like I'm carrying around an extra 50-pound dumbbell with me wherever I go.
Every single person has physical imperfections, some of which are only visible to the person whose body they are on, and these slight physical imperfections are what we need to learn to love about ourselves. If your teeth are crooked or you have a mole you don't like, you should not obsess over that. If you have slightly rounder hips or a not-so-proportioned body, but you are within your ideal weight range, you should learn to accept yourself. But I don't think you should learn to accept your weight if it's a weight that increases your risk of health problems later in life.
For sure, losing weight is a battle, and it's nowhere near as cut-and-dry as Little Miss Condescending from Marie Claire suggests it is. And I don't think that watching fat people on TV is really going to encourage obesity. No matter what, using the term "fatties" is unacceptable, and it's appalling that the editors of a major publication would allow such an article to be published.
As is the case with most issues, everybody's attitudes/behaviors toward weight fall on a continuum. As is also often the case, neither extreme on the continuum is healthy. On the one end you have the Marie Claire columnist, who has battled an eating disorder and has an absolute disgust for even the slightest hint of overweightness. On the other end of the continuum, you have Jen Lancaster, who thinks you should love yourself no matter what your size. (Let me say that, as I have mentioned, Jen is aware of the health issues associated with being overweight. But in this particular blog post rebutting against the Marie Claire column, she does in fact espouse the attitude that you should love yourself no matter what your size.) And I think the middle ground on this continuum is really the right answer. Don't obsess over every physical imperfection, don't strive to be perfect, but don't accept an unhealthy weight either.
Now, getting to a healthy weight is by no means easy. Indeed, after battling depression, it has been the biggest struggle of my life. I'd like to write more about this struggle in a future post, because I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about it. But for now, I leave you with the following take-aways:
1. Using the term "fatty" is never appropriate.
2. Don't accept any unhealthy physical condition or behavior that you can reasonably change and control.
3. As I said, learning to change that physical condition or behavior is by no means easy.
And those are my thoughts for today.