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“Good” Fat People?

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Lesley Kinzel just posted an insightful article on the current state of fat activism and body positivism, Falling Out of Fatshion: How I Lost My Appetite for Writing About Fat Politics

She got me with this point:

“always under pressure to also demonstrate that they are ‘good’ fat people, who eat the correct foods, who exercise regularly, and who achieve perfect bloodwork numbers at their annual physical. Fat people who eat at Burger King and have health problems are not afforded the same tolerance, because we prefer our positive representations to stand in opposition to the negative cultural assumptions about fat people — to prove the exception to the rule — rather than spend effort dismantling those negative cultural assumptions altogether.”

I’ve used the very phrase, “I eat right, exercise regularly, and have great bloodwork numbers,” to justify my right to exist in the world. To Lesley’s point, what does this imply about those who don’t eat right, exercise regularly, and have great bloodwork–should they be stigmatized? Point taken.

 

February 16, 2016   No Comments

Running with the Atlanta Track Club

Photo of Angela after running

I ran 6.2 miles today.

Well, technically, I ran 4 miles and walked 2.2 miles, but using the rules of mathematics, since I ran over half the distance, I’m rounding myself up from walking to running.

I’m not exactly the person who’s supposed to run 6.2 miles, or 4 miles, or even 1 mile. I’m a slow, heavy, 40-something woman.

Sometimes, when I doing my slow, steady stride, running so slow that I feel like I’m running backward, I find that my mind still doesn’t quite get what’s happening, and I’ll catch myself thinking, with genuine surprise, “Hey, how are you doing this? You’re running!”

How did I do it?  [Read more →]

June 21, 2013   No Comments

Running While Big – Part 4

Training group for running

You hear horror stories about being a big girl running in public. One of the biggest advocates for plus-size running quit blogging about her experience because of the hatefulness of the “trolls” constantly berating her on the blog. Add to that, she was assaulted (more than once) by passers-by in cars hurling insults, and the occasional beer can, at her as she jogged down the side of the road.

I’ve walked in public pathways for years without any such experiences, so while the thought of being heckled publicly was a little disconcerting, that wasn’t my biggest fear. My real fear was participating in a group. [Read more →]

June 20, 2013   No Comments

Trudie Styler’s Warrior Yoga–Review


Trudie Styler’s Warrior Yoga

Trudie Styler (yoga enthusiast, human rights activist, environmentalist, UNICEF Ambassador, actor, producer and wife of rock star Sting) and James D’Silva (celebrity fitness guru) team up in Trudie Styler’s Warrior Yoga by Gaiam.

Taped at Styler’s eco-friendly Tuscan villa, this practice is filled with powerful poses that focus on strength training and flexibility in a vigorous yoga experience. Though they say it’s for “all yoga levels,” I suggest beginners watch it through a couple of times first, as it’s my opinion that this DVD is more appropriate for intermediate and advanced yogis.

The PROs: Included are two full-length workouts – The Warrior Workout (45 minutes) and The Express Warrior Workout (25 minutes) – great for fitting yoga into your busy day. James D’Silva does a great job of instructing and demonstrating the poses. The scenery is beautiful and the practice is accompanied by songs from Sting’s “Songs from the Labyrinth.” Both options are filled with a fantastic sequence of poses that move and challenge you.  The DVD has lots of extras including meditations, interviews, and other bonuses (it all made me want to check out the whole Trudie Styler set).  Plus, a portion of the proceeds support UNICEF Ecuador Water Project.

The CONs: The only thing I don’t particularly care for in this program is that it goes through the entire program on one side of your body and then goes through the whole thing on the other side. During the 45-minute workout this means pretty much total focus on your left side for more than 20 minutes before switching.  This left me feeling a little unbalanced.  Of course, by the time you finish – it’s all evened up.

Bottom Line: This workout is great for improving flexibility and building strength. It leaves you feeling exhilarated and strong. Definitely “a keeper” for me. (4 out of 5 stars)

The Gear: Look good, feel good is my workout motto. I rocked the Warrior in the Dark Palm lucy Cypress Tank with the Black lucy Vinyasa Power Capri (my fave), and practiced on the Wai Lana Tropical Hibiscus Yoga Mat.

Kristen Leigh is a Certified Yoga Teacher (CYT-240) living, practicing, and teaching in the Metro Atlanta area.  For more information, visit www.SweetEscapeYoga.com.

February 15, 2010   No Comments

My summer of walking

For whatever reason, this summer I’ve been inspired to trade in the treadmill for the hills in my neighborhood. I realized at the beginning of the summer that there were three Starbucks within a 30-minute walk from my house (four if you count the one at Barnes & Noble). With that realization, I combined my love of caffeine with my love of endorphins and started “coffee walks.” Of course, at $2 a pop for iced coffee, I probably should have canceled my gym membership to pay for my dual addiction, but I wanted access to a treadmill in case of inclement weather.

I started the summer with an iPod loaded with podcasts and music, but I retired the headset about half-way through so as to make the time more meditative and mindful. I found that I felt very powerful in my body as I moved from walking to running up and down the hills on the walks. Even though I would return from an hour of walking all red-faced and sweaty, I always felt very good about the physicality of my body by the end of the walk.

I’ll probably keep my gym membership–but at the gym I’m either watching the wall of televisions or working out to music. It has been a pleasant surprise to spend time connecting with nature (as much nature as you have on paved sidewalks) and my own strength. Of course, the caffeine high didn’t hurt.

(And this proves to me something I have long known to be true-my pale legs will not tan, no matter how much sun they see. I long ago embraced the whiteness of it all, but still.)

How has exercise surprised you? I’d like to know.

September 6, 2008   3 Comments

A bug bit you? It’s ’cause you’re fat

My curvy-cool sister had a strange little bump on her arm that was a little infected, so she went to a Walgreen’s Take-Care Clinc around the corner from her house to have it checked out (at the urging of her worry-wart of an older sister).  She’s fine–it’s probably just an infected bug bite.  She didn’t even receive a prescription.

However, as she paid her bill, she noticed noticed a “remark” printed on the invoice: “Recommended that patient lose weight.” She had been asked her weight in the standard medical history portion of the treatment, along with history of family illnesses, medications taken, that sort of thing.  No one mentioned her weight–why should they–she had a bump on her arm.

When she saw the remark, she was furious, and rightly so.  What does her weight have to do with getting a bite on your arm?  And why would a health care practitioner feel compelled to mention her weight on a form, but not to her face?  Is this standard policy for Take-Care Clinics, if your weight is above a certain number, no matter your reason for visiting the clinic, a patient MUST receive a recommendation to lose weight?

Thus, she exclaimed the title of the post: “A bug bit you? It’s ’cause you’re fat!

Ridiculous as it seems, this kind of treatment poses a real health risk to anyone categorized as overweight.  If every time anything is wrong with you, no matter the reason, you’re told to lose weight, you are going to be reluctant to visit the doctor.  Perhaps this is one reason why studies find increased death rates in “obese” people–lack of access to non-discriminatory medical treatment.

Boo to Walgreen’s Take-Care Clinic.  We won’t be going back.

May 6, 2008   4 Comments

International No Diet Day – May 6, 2008

I’ve been so busy that I almost missed it–Tuesday [not Monday, as previously stated] is International No Diet Day. The goal of the day is to encourage “women of all ages to collectively reflect on the importance of diets and on our society’s obsession with thinness.” No Diet Day was established in 1992 by Mary Evans Young, the director of the British anti-diet campaign “Diet Breakers.”

A great way to celebrate No Diet Day is to check out the fascinating blog, NotDieting.com. The blog is one young woman’s social experiment on what it means to NOT diet for a year. Her take of the pressures of body image and eating are insightful and interesting. She is not advocating unhealthly eating, in fact, she is pursuing healthier eating habits by purposely not dieting (and to me that says it all). Here’s a little of her story:

Some of you may be thinking: who is this crazy nut that is not dieting for one year?

Well, this crazy nut is 28 years old and has spent more than half her life on a diet. In fact, this is the first time since I was 12 that I have been NotDieting for any period of time. Since the age of 12 my life can be placed in two categories, dieting and overeating after the diet.

Strangely, I have never been overweight. I remember reading my mom’s Vogue magazines when I was 7 or 8 years old and hoping, praying that one day I would be as beautiful as the models in the picture. I thought they must have perfect lives, filled with happiness and love. My own mom always told me I was beautiful and gave me lots of love, but the glossy pages were too seductive.

I don’t blame the magazines themselves. I’m sure there are plenty of young girls who have glanced through the very same pages I once did without feeling completely inadequate. Aren’t there? Anyway, I often wonder what would happen if I hadn’t been exposed to media that glorifies physical perfection. Well, my skin would be pretty pasty because I’d have to live underground in order for that to happen! Today it is more prevalent then ever and equally dangerous.

I, too, like to live dangerously and I suspect that if you have made it to the bottom of this article, so do you. Let’s blow this diet pop stand together and have a life filled with happiness and love, our way.

And for anyone who is/has been a life-long dieter, her article on eating cereal is priceless.

So, on this International No Diet Day, I wish the hostess of NotDieting.com much success in No Diet Year.

May 5, 2008   5 Comments

Love Your Body Month Tip #17 – Exercise with love

Love Your Body Month Tip #17:

Exercise because you love your body, not because you hate it.

So much of the emphasis around exercise is aimed at what you don’t like about your body–jiggly arms, doughy abs, flabby thighs. Thus, all your emphasis during exercise is focused on hating your body, or parts of it. No wonder people quickly forsake that New Year’s Resolution to be in the gym 5 times a week.

Our bodies need and deserve exercise because exercise makes the body strong and healthy. Approach exercise with the attitude: I walk/run/swim/dance/stretch/lift weights because I love my body and want it to be its best.

Let every footfall on the treadmill, let every crunch come from body love rather than body loathing. It makes a huge difference in how you feel about your body.

February 17, 2008   1 Comment

Love Your Body Month – Tip #10 – Be gentle with yourself

Tip #10 comes from NEDA’s (National Eating Disorder Association) “Twenty Ways to Love Your Body!” If you’re feeling ambitious, check out the entire list; however, for a Sunday, this one is probably plenty :

Eat when you are hungry. Rest when you are tired. Surround yourself with people who remind you of your inner strength and beauty.

Be mindful of your body and and your environment. Feeling physically and emotionally at peace go a long way to making us more comfortable with our bodies.

See you tomorrow for Tip #11.

February 10, 2008   No Comments

Healthy diet more costly

Anyone who has ever tried to improve her diet by eating more whole foods, more organic produce, and the like can testify to the truth of the New York Times article A High Price for Healthy Food (12/05/2007): calorie for calorie, junk foods cost less than fruits and vegetables.

Of course, we all know that fresh produce is more nutrient rich than junk food; however, junk food tends to be more “calorie dense,” to have more calories per gram, than fruits and vegetables. Thus, by comparing diets strictly by calories,

“a 2,000-calorie diet would cost just $3.52 a day if it consisted of junk food, compared with $36.32 a day for a diet of low-energy dense foods.”

So, the more you try to improve the quality of your diet, the more it is going to cost you. What does this mean for those on limited incomes? As the researcher in the article explains:

“If you have $3 to feed yourself, your choices gravitate toward foods which give you the most calories per dollar,’’ said Dr. Drewnowski. “Not only are the empty calories cheaper, but the healthy foods are becoming more and more expensive. Vegetables and fruits are rapidly becoming luxury goods.”

Health as a luxury item–disturbing indeed.

January 16, 2008   3 Comments

Women have to be “perfect” to lose weight?

I just saw Oprah’s latest weight loss show, “The Woman Who Lost 530 Pounds,” (11/28/2007) and I was particularly struck by two statements made by Bob Greene, Oprah’s diet/fitness expert.

Twice, Bob Greene said, “Women have to be perfect” to lose weight. The first time, he made the statement in relation to weight loss without an intense exercise program:

“If a woman is inactive, she has to be perfect with her eating. And who is perfect with their eating?”

The second time he used the expression, Greene was explaining why men seem to lose weight faster and easier than women (this quote is on Oprah.com):

“Bob explains that men tend to lose weight faster than women because of the hormonal advantage in the way testosterone acts on fat. ‘Women almost have to be perfect. A woman has to be active at least five to six days a week,’ he says. ‘Men can get away with three or four times a week and have even better results.'”

In no way was Greene trying to make viewers feel bad; he was trying to highlight how difficult it is to lose weight. However, I found the use of the word “perfect” to be jarring. Often, women torture themselves in an attempt to reach some notion of “perfect,” believing “I’ll be happy when I have… the perfect family, the perfect job, the perfect body, etc.

Later in the program, Greene himself commented on the danger of “I’ll be happy when…” thinking:

“If you start to [think], ‘Oh, I’ll be happy when I’m this weight,’ that’s when problems start because one of two outcomes: You never reach that weight and you’re not happy, or you reach that weight and realize it had nothing to do with your happiness.”

While I’m glad that he saw fit to mention that weight loss is not a cure for unhappiness (happiness must come from inside), I think that the message of the show was most certainly, “Lose weight, gain happy.” And to do so, as a woman,you must be “perfect,” never letting up on diet and exercise. Therefore, if you aren’t able to achieve your “perfect” weight, then it’s probably because you weren’t “perfect” enough to begin with. That’s a crushing pressure to bear.

November 28, 2007   No Comments

Curvy Science: Baby got back… and brains, too

“When a girl walks by with an itty-bitty waist and a round thing in your face…”

…she’s probably pretty smart, or so says a new study just published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.

You’ve got to love this quote, based on a summary of the study:

“Curvy women are not only intelligent, attractive and live longer, they also give birth to intelligent children….” (DNA-India)

Scientists studied 16,000 women to determine if there was a measurable link between waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) (the size of the waist in comparison to the size of the hips) and cognitive ability (IQ) of the women and their children. The study revealed that women with hips larger than their waists (think “pear” shape) had higher IQs than women with small hips or linear shapes. The children of big-hipped women also scored higher on cognitive tests.

The researchers suspect that a prevalence of Omega-3 fatty acid, found in female hips and thighs, contributes to the growth of the fetal brain during pregnancy. Belly fat contains more Omega-6 fatty acid. This difference in composition of fat may also explain why, in women, lower body fat seems to have a protective effect on the heart (see Diabetes.org for more on the subject).

Thus, big booties=big brains=big health.

Waist-to-hip ratio is becoming a new area of interest in the study of weight and health. Studies consistently reveal that WHR is a greater predictor of overall health in women than BMI. (To calculate WHR: divide waist measurement by hip measurement–w/h–a measure of 0.8 or less is considered healthy for women. To read more about WHR vs. BMI check out the article, BMI:Freaking out about nothing, on Reuters.com.)

I am curious to see how this study is going to be covered in the mainstream media. Will this study be used to challenge the ongoing and continuous attack on fat bodies, or will it be minimized? Even worse, will this data be used to beat on curvy bellies? It will be interesting to watch.

But in the meantime, let’s take our big hips and big brains and get out there and take over the world!

November 12, 2007   3 Comments

Curvy Health: Extra weight won’t raise death risk — new study shows

A study appearing in the November 7,2007 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) indicates that being overweight (by as much as 25 pounds) does not raise a person’s risk of dying from heart disease or cancer. Further, in the cases of emphysema, pneumonia, injuries and various infections, extra weight actually increased the rate of survival. (“Extra Weight Said Won’t Raise Death,” Associated Press)

This is not the first time that studies have demonstrated actual health benefits to being overweight. For example, always hidden in the obesity-causes-breast-cancer articles is the fact that, the weight-breast cancer link only appears in post-menopausal women; in pre-menopausal women, being overweight is actually a protection against breast cancer. (See this article in the Chicago Tribune for such an example.) Overweight is also a protection against osteoporosis.

If these studies were treated like the “overweight-kills” stories, then doctor’s should be encouraging young women to gain weight pre-menopausally as a primary means of preventing breast cancer, and the headlines should read “Fat saves lives.” (Though I have to give kudos to the headline for this story on Wired.com–“Chubby Could Be The New Healthy.”)

Keep this in mind when reading “overweight-kills” stories.

For amazing insights into the spin put on medical studies, read:

Rethinking Thin, Gina Kolata

The Obesity Myth, Paul Campos

November 7, 2007   No Comments

Lead in Lipstick–Part III

So, we’ve established in the last two entries that 1)on any given day, in any given place, a tube of lipstick, cheap or expensive, may contain lead and that 2)there’s no way to be entirely certain that your lipstick is lead-free.

So, what to do?

Let’s go back to The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics for a call to action. Their report, A Poison Kiss, contains four suggestions:

  1. 1. Write or call L’Oreal (the worst offender): See the link below for a sample letter and L’Oreal contact information. http://action.safecosmetics.org/action/index.asp?step=2&item=14281
  2. Write a letter to the editor.
  3. Write your congressperson, governor, or state legislature.
  4. Spread the word. Let your friends and family know the truth about the lack of regulation of the cosmetics industry.

There is absolutely no reason for lipstick to contain lead (see the varieties and brands of lipstick that tested lead-free), so let’s demand a change.

October 17, 2007   No Comments

Lead in Lipstick — Part II

A Poisson Kiss

(Read the entry “Lead in Lipstick — Part I” for the intro to the story.)

So, we got the bad news today that our cherished red lipsticks contain lead. So what? What’s the problem?

At least that’s the response from L’Oreal Group, leader of the pack on the lead list (with no shades on the lead-free list). According to the Boston Globe, L’Oreal tells us not to worry:

“Each and every ingredient used in our products has been thoroughly reviewed and tested by our internal safety team made up of toxicologists, clinicians, pharmacists, and physicians,” the statement read. “All the brands of the L’Oreal Group are in full compliance with FDA regulations . . . and the requirements for safety in the more than 130 countries in which our products are sold.”

Sounds like a good answer: L’Oreal is “in full compliance with FDA regulations.” The problem: there are NO FDA regulations regarding the lead content of lipstick. A tube of lipstick could be 100% lead and technically not be in violation of any FDA regulation. (For further details see “A Poison Kiss–The Problem of Lead in Lipsticks,” the report published by The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.)

In healthy adults, low-level lead exposure is not considered harmful; however, lead in the body builds up over time, and in combination with other conditions, is certainly not good. As for children and pregnant women (lead passes through the placenta quite easily), there is no such thing as a safe amount of lead exposure.

The picture at the beginning of this entry (from “A Poision Kiss”) says it all.  If lead on toys is a danger to children, then how much more so is lead in lipstick.  Yet, no lipstick recall is pending.

So, what can we do?

I’ll summarize The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’ call to action in my next entry.

October 13, 2007   No Comments