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Is Weight Loss Body Positive?

  1. whynobodybelievesthenumbers says:

    Great post. I’ve been saying the same thing to corporations for years. Some listen. Others, like Schlumberger, do exactly the opposite.

  2. Michelle Yandle says:

    You haven’t pissed me off at all, but I am starting to get frustrated with all the conflicting messages out there that people are hearing. I work with a non-diet approach to health with my clients but more and more people are being led to feel guilt about their actions. The Diet industry has made us feel guilty about not dieting, being overweight and eating certain foods which is shameful. But now people are being made to feel guilty if they do want to go on a diet. Again, I’m not an advocate for dieting but if someone wants to experiment and give it a go, that’s their choice and they should never feel guilty for doing so. Soon enough they will learn for themselves that it doesn’t work, and when we learn these things on our own, it makes it all the more empowering. I know you probably wouldn’t agree but I see it every day, and experienced it myself this act of making people feel guilty no matter what they do.

    • GlenysO says:

      The conflicting messages are from different sources, though. The diet industry tells people to feel guilty about eating so that it can profit off of people’s insecurities. Body positivity is not for profit, not an industry, and I believe we need to be honest with people in the efficacy of weight loss attempts and how dieting is actually potentially harmful from a physiological and emotional standpoint. If, after being informed, people still want to go on a diet, that is really 100% their choice, no guilt required (not sure why they’d feel guilty about that). I don’t believe, however, that dieting is a body positive act, in the same way I don’t believe smoking is a healthful act. If we start to say one thing is the other, then it all loses meaning and we end up getting no further along.

  3. mmapes2 says:

    In answering question 2 you said, “Diet and weight loss culture simply does respect the broad diversity of body weights and sizes that exist.” I think a “not” got left out maybe?

    Thanks for always posting awesome articles!

  4. Leigh says:

    Don’t you think that there might be a way to actively try to lose weight without participating in diet and weight loss culture? I have been thinking about this a lot too. What if one were to do some of the things we do for health, such as get more exercise and eat more vegetables, but with a motivation of weight loss and not just health? What if one didn’t set a “goal weight” but just thought “I’m going to try this new habit and see if it helps me lose weight”? I know it’s a slippery slope so I don’t know if this would work for most people with a history of dieting. I just feel like there must be some sort of reasonable middle ground between typical diet culture and “don’t even try”. I think there is a huge difference between “going on a diet” to lose weight vs. building a habit that you don’t mind and intend to keep for life or as long as you can. But I still wrestle with a lot of questions about this. I appreciate your post!

    • GlenysO says:

      But if it’s about building habits for health, why have a weight loss goal at all? The minute the weight starts to come back (and almost always, it does, unless enormous effort is applied in most cases), the new habit is either chucked (“why bother if it’s not going to keep me thin”) or turned into a new obsession with weight loss maintenance. In fact, you describe exactly how I started out with diets. “This is just to eat better, and hopefully I’ll lose some weight.” It worked. Then my obsession with manipulating my weight grew and grew, eventually to the point that I was spending my entire life keeping my weight down. So, no, I personally don’t feel weight goals are ever useful.

  5. billfabrey says:

    I think that this is the most gifted essay on the topic I have read so far. I do agree with some who feel stigmatized in some size-acceptance quarters for trying yet another diet. It’s their body, and they get to do what they want with it. Yes, I do worry that they will become further oppressed by buying into the diet culture. Yes, I do worry about their health as they weight-cycle once more. Yes, I get peeved if they discuss their current diet within my range of hearing. But I will not sit in judgement of their actions as long as they don’t try to preach the diet gospel to everyone else.

    • GlenysO says:

      Thanks Bill. Yes, I agree. People should feel free to do what they want with their bodies and they owe no one anything. At the same time, movements need meaning in order to change the culture and move forward. I also loved how Virgie’s article really summed up why we need Body Positive places to be free of weight loss talk. We are taking refuge from a world where the norm is diet talk.

  6. Jean says:

    Really love this explanation especially the first point about remaining ambivalent about dieting/weight loss while embarking on the HAES/IE journey.
    Thanks for a wonderfully written piece I can share with my clients, friends, and family.

  7. Tiffany Clark says:

    I am brand new to this school of thought. I’ve been a victim of the weightloss industry for the better part of my 36 yrs on earth. I want to let go of this mentality. I do. It is bondage that I am in. I am very scared of letting go though. Your post scared me some. It made me feel hopeless in a way because your saying essentially that is pretty close to impossible to maintain fat loss. Am I correct? The thing is I am extremely uncomfortable with 100 extra pounds of weight on my frame. My back hurts, my body just hurts. I would like to sustain fat loss in a positive way. I’ve had so many babies and health problems and I just want to be comfortable in my own skin. At this point I can be okay not being “skinny”. I just want to get some of the fat off to be more comfortable. My bones hurt … the fat is heavy (i’ve lifted it up) it is hard to carry around extra fat all day. So. I don’t want to be obsessed with a number on a scale… I am tired of trying plans… but i remember how good and light it felt to carry around less fat and I want that feeling again. In a healthy way.

    • GlenysO says:

      Thanks for commenting! Many people know your pain…they feel uncomfortable in the body they’re in – maybe physically, maybe mentally, or both – and they’ve been on the diet rollercoaster for a long time, which has likely moved their set point up higher than what it would be had they never dieted. The problem is – if, after so many years of dieting, permanent fat loss/weight loss still hasn’t occurred for you, why would it work now? And yes, the studies do confirm that most weight loss is temporary for most people, and in fact diets are likely making people larger in the long-run.

      One thing we do know is that you can improve your physical conditioning with activity or movement, regardless of whether weight is lost. We can build strength, flexibility and stamina through physical conditioning. Many fat people do this, and there are non-diet forums where they discuss exercise without the goal of weight loss (Fit Fatties is an excellent one, they also have a Facebook group). I recommend my friend Bethany’s blog in which she documents her rejection of diet culture and embracing movement that she loves.

      Best of luck!

      • Tiffany Clark says:

        Thanks for your input! at this point I’ve made some progress in my mind. Having bipolar disorder has caused me to not be able to stick to things for very long but i am getting help now and the changes I am making are that I am weight lifting and i am starting to feel better and stronger… i stand taller and move around better. I stopped all diet plans but am just eating the foods I personally deem healthy which are mostly whole foods but am allowing myself whatever i choose whenever i want and i prefer natural food items most often. I hope to maintain this lifestyle and have fatloss… my goal is just to feel better and take care of myself. whatever happens as a side affect happens. after I wrote you here i found this blog post which resonated with me. seemed like a balanced approach. you may or may not agree on her article. it wasn’t negative. it was kind of the best of both worlds so to speak… (link removed for promoting unsubstantiated claims about body changes & exercise)

  8. inohnothing says:

    This is so hard for me–to love myself at any size and not feel like a failure for losing 114 lbs on Weight Watchers almost 13 years ago and gaining 50 lbs back over 3 years about 3 times now. And it was mostly from emotional eating. I really believe WW helped me develop an eating disorder and, from talking to many of my friends, male and female, they are pretty much eating disordered, too. I did binge and emotionally overeat to be at my before weight of 250 lbs, but I consistently gained weight over the years. Yet I struggled with walking up flights of stairs and across campus. I even remember almost starving myself during the day and eating too much at night. Maybe I was always eating disordered; I don’t know anymore. Yet my loved ones said it got much worse when I was on WW, especially when I was fighting to meet their expected goal weight which was 2 lbs lower than my goal weight. I lost 20 extra lbs as my “Screw you” to the WW system, which I gained back after a hip/IT band injury from compulsive exercising. Anyway, this is probably oversharing, but this is a lifelong battle and the real issue probably is more like in the movie Supersize Me and other documentaries–low income neighborhoods get more fastfood restaurants and less good produce in their grocery stores. Only the wealthy can really afford to shop at Whole Foods. Sorry to ramble so much. 🙂

  9. I very much appreciate this post. I have had decades of trouble with body image, food, eating disorders and disordered eating. I wrote a post about it called The Body Positive on my blog because it was a profound change in my thinking when I just came across this term on Jan 1 of this year. I was DREADING the return to my full-time job of over-exercising and restricted eating lifestyle and the self loathing and shame that accompanied any enjoyment of food. OH GOD it is so good to be DONE with that mentality. I have gained quite a bit of weight over the last eight weeks, but, that is to be expected with my metabolism trying to get to a set point. It has been discouraging to rub up against those friends who still think I am the other person — the one obsessed. Anyway, I am free of the prison on my former life. Please keep up your fabulous work. We need you. Trust me.

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