Podcast: Diet culture, yoga and self-empowerment gurus


DU + DanaBrene Brown, Geneen Roth, Glennon Doyle, Oprah — women who want to empower us, all of them. That’s the message we’ve gotten, certainly, and many of us have felt the empowering effects of these women’s words on our lives.

But some of them haven’t gotten the message lately that worrying about weight loss or going on restrictive diets aren’t exactly empowering — or effective for that matter.

So when our friend Dana Sturtevant, MS, RD from Portland, OR’s Be Nourished sent a  wonderful video rant to their Body Trust Network members about this very topic (among others), we knew we had to get her on the podcast and talk more about this and, like, everything else. Yoga, self-empowerment gurus  promoting diet culture, social justice, true self-care, and how Dana found her way into the HAES® way of practicing are all here.

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Tired of chasing your weight?

Let’s face it. Diets suck, and they don’t even work. If your weight has gone down and then up, up, up, and you’re not sure of what to do next, take my FREE 3-day mini course to take your first steps to getting free of the weight-loss-diet treadmill. Go here now to start.

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My online program, Dare to Eat, which teaches intuitive eating skills, is open for enrollment from now till the end of December at a special price. Check out the details.

 

*Results Not Typical

RESULTS NOT TYPICAL
They should make this disclaimer a little bigger, don’t you think?

Have you ever wondered about that little fine-print disclaimer you see on literally every ad for a diet or weight loss program? “*Results not typical.”

I remember seeing that when I first became interested in, then joined, Weight Watchers. They would put it at the bottom of all those enticing before-and-after photos that I would later become so addicted to. At the time, I didn’t really understand that that meant: *Results not typical.

I thought maybe it meant that some people would lose varying degrees of weight but it was impossible to know how much weight someone would lose. It never occurred to me that it might mean that some people would not lose very much weight at all, or that most people would gain most of their weight back (or more) within a few years.

No, I absolutely did not think it meant that.

And because I lost the weight I wanted to, I conveniently forgot that little disclaimer and went around thinking, “If I can do it, anyone can!” And that’s what the diet companies really want you to think, and why they show those before-and-after photos as proof* of their effectiveness.

Why do weight loss companies have to display that little fine-print disclaimer on all their ads? Because more than 30 years ago, the FTC figured out that their diet shit doesn’t work for most people. But rather than stopping the sales of snake oil (which, admittedly, might be difficult to do), they forced the snake oil companies to put this little disclaimer on all their ads selling their outrageously ineffective products.

Sigh.

But at least they did that, and they keep trying to crack down. They could do a better job, like demand much more rigorous, long-term evidence that any diet product or service works long-term for more than a tiny fraction of people. If they did that, we’d never see another diet company ad again.

So when you see *Results not typical anywhere, just remember what it really means. It means someone wants to sell you some high protein/low fat/low carb/low taste snake oil that most likely won’t make you thin in the long run simply because it’s not the typical result.

*This is not good proof

Tired of chasing weight loss?

Let’s face it. Diets suck, and they don’t even work. If your weight has gone down and then up, up, up, and you’re not sure of what to do next, take my FREE 3-day mini course to take your first steps to getting free of the weight-loss-diet treadmill. Go here now to start.

If you’re contemplating another diet for the upcoming new year, go here first!

The Weight Loss Industry Loves Your Shame

Tiffany Haug
Tiffany giving her awesome talk to a curious audience.

I keep trying to write a blog post about how I ended up going to the Obesity Help National Conference to watch my new friend Tiffany Haug’s presentation on sugar addiction (and how that’s not really a thing)…

And I can’t get it to come out right, because it was such a strange experience of many mixed emotions.

So here’s the raw stuff:

It was weird being there. I thought it would be mostly doctors and other health professionals trying to figure out how to make people lose weight. That seemed bad enough.

I didn’t know that, instead, it would be a lot of lay people – non-health professionals who just wanted information on how to lose weight forever, and especially a lot of higher weight people who were interested in bariatric surgery information (because this was, at its essence, a bariatric surgery conference. Many of the sponsors were bariatric surgery companies).

And it was such a strange experience to be there, because most of the time, both in person and online, I am with people who don’t talk about weight loss, who have rejected dieting as a way of life, or who have never dieted and never will diet. I hear the other voices at a distance, and can tune them out easily.

But that world is a bubble.

When I stepped out of my bubble and into the belly of the beast, as Tiffany so adroitly termed it, I saw how I and all the other attendees were viewed as prey. Prey for the protein drink and air-food sellers, prey for weight loss surgery companies. There was a palpable sadness in the air, like everyone there looking for the latest news in sustainable weight loss knew that, in fact, no such thing exists for most people. But they were going to keep tyring anyway.

It was reminiscent of my years in Weight Watchers meetings, all filled with hope and despair in equal measure.

I wanted to reach out to every person there and say, “You’re fine just the way you are. You don’t need these companies. They only want to profit from the shame they hope you never lose. Let’s run away from this place now.

But they weren’t there to hear me say that, and I wasn’t there to “save” everyone (something I have to remind myself of regularly). Most of these people would probably be shocked and horrified of my blithe use of the word “fat” as a non-judgmental body size descriptor. Fat, in this space, was something bad…something to be cured, no matter what the cost.

Instead I listened to Tiffany’s excellent talk, very excited to hear a HAES dietitian present anti-diet ideas to this group that were probably quite novel for them. One person even thanked her for not giving the usual food-fear talk.

This is how seeds get planted – one stealth anti-diet talk at a time. I left with more hope than despair for the future.

PS – Thank you to Tiffany for getting me a complimentary ticket to her talk – I could not, in good conscience, have paid any money to this diet industry debacle. (and she didn’t get paid by them, either)

Screw the diet industry. Take my Free 3 Day Course: Kick Diet-Mind to the Curb instead!

Sayonara, The Biggest Loser

DU + TBLLast year, Aaron and I did a podcast on how much we hated the terrible, exploitative show The Biggest Loser. Some data had just come out about how participants metabolisms had all but flat-lined and stayed that way for years after their time on the show. For us, it was no surprise, but it was good to finally see some data supporting what we already knew (and what data from other studies also showed).

Imagine, then, how delighted we were when we heard that The Biggest Loser would NOT be returning this year for another round of fat-people abuse. We REALLY needed to celebrate this – and who better to celebrate with than a former contestant of the show?

Kai Hibbard was a season 3 contestant who came in second that year. Since then, she’s become an outspoken critic of the show and its tactics, a proponent for body positivity, and an all ’round riots-not-diets kind of sHero. When we contacted her to see if she’d like to come on our podcast and toast the end of this shit-show of shame, she was all in.

What followed was an honest exposé of her time on the show, how she developed extremely disordered eating during and after the show, her eventual recovery and transformation into a body positive warrior. Yes, there is lots and lots of swearing, too.

And while we have no doubt this is not truly the end of the exploitation of fat people for the profit of network TV, we think it was a nice little nail in the coffin. We need to celebrate every win against diet culture.

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Find Kai at her website or on Facebook

PCOS and Weight

DU + JulieI’m amazed to say that before a few years ago, I had never heard of the condition Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS for short). A friend in college had first mentioned that she thought she may have it, but couldn’t get a firm diagnosis.

Since then, I’ve met many more women who have PCOS – so many, in fact, that I have a hard time believing the statistic that 1 in 10 women have it. If I had to guess, it’s more than that – but the typically poor attention and research around many complex women’s medical conditions will probably hinder proper diagnosis and of course, appropriate treatment.

PCOS causes hormonal imbalances, can hinder fertility, may be related to unexplained weight gain, and is related to insulin resistance and diabetes. One of the common treatments suggested has been weight loss – and you know how a HAES® dietitian feels about that. Weight loss in absence of any medical condition is already difficult to achieve and nearly impossible to maintain. PCOS makes it even harder. And as we know, it is in all likelihood a temporary solution at best, with the most likely result being even more weight gained in the long run.

That’s why I’m so glad my wonderful colleague and fellow podcaster, registered dietitian Julie Duffy Dillon, is an expert in the area of PCOS. She’s on top of all the latest research. So, of course, I reached out and said, “Julie! Make sweet, beautiful podcast magic with us on this incredibly complex condition!” and happily she said yes without hesitation.

If you or someone you know struggles with PCOS and related weight gain or insulin resistance, I think you’ll find this episode of Dietitians Unplugged incredibly enlightening and reassuring. There are things you can do for your health and your fertility, but luckily, one of them isn’t suffering under the tyranny of yet another weight loss regimen.

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Check out Julie’s excellent podcast, Love, Food and her free PCOS Roadmap. She also has a PCOS and Food Peace Support Group on Facebook.

 

Take my Free 3 Day Course: Kick Diet-Mind to the Curb!

Isabel Foxen Duke Teaches us How to Stop Fighting Food

Isabel and DUOne of my big heroes in the anti-diet world is Isabel Foxen Duke. She is a bad-ass who doesn’t mince words when it comes to explaining why diet culture is bullshit, eating isn’t the addiction, and why emotional eating might be saving your ass. So when we got to meet over the phone a while back, of course I leaped at the chance to invite her on our podcast.

In this awesome episode of Dietitians Unplugged, Isabel, Aaron and I talk about all stuff anti-diet, intuitive eating, Health at Every Size and yes, even sex (don’t worry, the episode is still by and large PG!).

More About Isabel

Isabel Foxen Duke is the Creator of Stop Fighting Food—a free video training program for women who want to “stop feeling crazy around food.” After years of trying to overcome emotional eating, binge-eating and chronic weight-cycling through traditional and alternative approaches, Isabel discovered some radical new ways to get women over their “food issues” once and for all—not just by shifting the mindsets of individuals, but by challenging the dominant diet culture as a whole.

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Learn more about Isabel’s free Stop Fighting Food video series now!

Take my Free 3 Day Course

Sign up now for the 2017 Fat Activism Conference!

The 2017 Fat Activism Conference is happening live online October 6-8, with recordings and transcripts available after! Click here to find out more.

 

 

Exercise For Everyone with Ragen Chastain

Ragen and DUI like to move my body, but sometimes I get sick of the same ol’ same ol’ when it comes to the exercise I’m doing. So lately I’ve been experimenting with trying some new ways to move.

I decided to try the dance studio down the street.  I signed up for a Zumba class. Long story short, it was a less than ideal experience. Despite being promoted as good for beginners, the steps were far too advanced, the instructor wasn’t cueing the steps or pointing out the direction ahead of time, and I ended up frustrated and lost. Then I looked around the class and noticed that there were only two people who could be even remotely considered fat – me and another woman. I started wondering how exercise spaces could be made more welcoming to more people – people of different sizes, abilities, and skill. And people who don’t want to think about their bodies as something to shrink or re-shape. People who want to exercise just because it’s fun to move your body.

When I told my podcast partner, Aaron Flores, about it, he had the brilliant idea of asking Ragen Chastain, speaker, writer, dancer, marathoner, fat activist and author of one of my favorite blogs Dances with Fat, about how exercise could be so much more inclusive of more people. She agreed, and we had a great conversation all about what needs to change in the world of exercise to be more inclusive and available to all people. Enjoy!

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4 Things That Happen When You Ditch Dieting

I did a guest blog post for non-diet dietitian Taylor Wolfram over at her site Whole Green Wellness! Check it out:

Say goodbye to dietsI spend a lot of time talking about how I quit dieting and why (hello – life of misery). I discuss how we know now that dieting does not actually produce long-term weight loss for most people, and how diets are a part of an oppressive culture that doesn’t encourage us to live fully expressed lives in which we can feel good not just about our bodies, but our total selves.

But today I’m going to talk about what it’s like to take those first few steps away from dieting and diet culture…. Continue here to keep reading

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“But I don’t like myself at this weight…”

I’ve been hearing this a lot in my Facebook group lately, and it’s not a sentiment I’m unfamiliar with, having passed through it myself on my Health at Every Size® journey to normal eating.

For some people, giving up dieting is easy. Dieters are “falling off the wagon” half the time anyway – this is just like falling off and just staying off. Dream come true, right? Never diet again!

But then the reality of why you dieted in the first place comes crashing through. “I’m still fat!” or “I’ll get fat again!” is a stark realization that breaks the reverie of your no-diet bliss. And if you’ve been living with the fantasy of getting thin, or maybe even the reality of being thin, through dieting, then you’re facing some serious shattered dreams.

So yes, body acceptance is a HUGE part of diet and ED recovery. But where to start?

I think the first thing anyone should know is that you did not learn to hate your body, or fat, in a vacuum. We live in a patriarchy that enforces beauty ideals as a way to keep women busy and unable to achieve real economic and political power. Think I’m kidding? Have you seen the stats on wage disparity and representation in government for women? You may have been very busy dieting and chasing after the false currency of beauty and not noticed, so I’m telling you now: many people benefit when women keep hating their bodies. The diet and beauty industries are great examples of this.

I understand that just knowing that isn’t enough, so I recommend immersing yourself in some of the fabulous work of the many fat activists out there. I’ll take you through my own personal body acceptance journey as an example of how to do this.

The first blog I stumbled across was Ragen Chastain’s fabulous Dances with Fat blog. I read it obsessively for months. I began to see the societal fat phobia that had shaped my life and caused me to keep dieting even when I was unhappy with my body as a thin person. I’ve met Ragen several times and she is just as awesome in person as she seems on her blog. (Plus she’s the guest of our latest podcast episode which you simply MUST hear!)

I also happened to find the book Fat? So!  by long-time fat activist Marilyn Wann. Marilyn is one of my early heroes and this book really set me straight about how I could start to feel good about my body no matter what size it ended up at. I also met Marilyn and I loved her. It’s some kind of amazing thing to get to meet your fat activist heroes and find out that they are truly good and cool people.

Along the way I tumbled down the fabulous rabbit hole of fat fashion blogs. I was like, “This is a thing? Fat fashion is a thing?!” I’m sad to say I’d never seen fat women proudly wearing beautiful fashion in such an unapologetic way. And the hilarious thing is, I thought the first fatshion blog I found was the only one! Turns out, no. There were many, and even more now than a few years ago (hell yeah body positivity!). There was something so incredibly liberating about seeing so many fat bodies portrayed so positively. A big first step for me, before I could totally accept my own fatness, was normalizing the fat bodies of others. Fashion was a great medium to help me do this because I like looking at pretty clothing. It wasn’t too long before I bought GabiFresh’s famous fatkini (yep, I own that exact one, although since then I’ve realized I find one-pieces much more comfortable) . Suffice it to say, fat fashion blogs were integral in my own body acceptance journey. My favorites are listed at the bottom of this post, although the list is by no means exhaustive, so do some of your own research too.

From here I found other fat activist and body love gurus Jes Baker and Virgie Tovar. Get Jes’s book Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls and Virgie’s anthology Hot and Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion. Follow their blogs and listen to the podcasts they guest on. They are the very embodiment of fat women living full and fully satisfying lives.

One of the reasons you’ve probably felt your own fat body isn’t fabulous is that we’re surrounded by media images of only one kind of body: thin. Here’s how to fix that: flood your social media feed with fat positive posts, pages and groups. They’re actually pretty easy to find. Most fat fashion bloggers have their own Facebook pages, so start there.

Finally, check out the work of Vivienne McMaster of Be Your Own Beloved. She has e-books and programs that will get you to explore self-compassion through self-portraiture. I took her course last year and it was not only fun but also instrumental in stomping out my inner critic.

And then, once you’ve immersed yourself in positive images of fat bodies, and you’re starting to see how your fat body is also awesome, realize this:

You are so much more than a body.

It’s important to come to peace with this body you’re in, but feeling pretty isn’t required. Physical beauty, however it’s defined by the society you’re in, isn’t important to the actual living of your life. You may think it is, and others may try to reinforce this, but in fact, it’s bullshit.

Your value as a human is more than your ability to fit into made-up societal beauty standards that were created to control us. We don’t need beauty standards and you are not an ornament for others to admire.

You are a person with a life to live, dreams to fulfill, gifts to give.

Fat Fashion Blogs:

Gabifresh
GarnerStyle
Le Blog de Big Beauty
The Curvy Fashionista
Curvy Girl Chic
Life and Style of Jessica Kane
MamaFierce
Nadia Aboulhosn
Nicolette Mason
And one for the dudes: Chubstr

Last Call: Registration for Dare to Eat closes tonight!

Dare to EAT Logo with Text HALF sizeMy 5 week online program, Dare to Eat…As much as you want, without guilt, in total freedom starts this Monday, July 19th.

Come and learn how to develop a peaceful relationship to food once and for all.

Registration closes tonight at midnight Pacific time. Click here for program details and to sign up.

Dietitians Unplugged Talk Getting Older with Michelle Vina-Baltsas

DU + Michelle VBI have grey hair. Not a lot. Just some right now. There will in all likelihood be more down the road. This aging thing doesn’t go in reverse, Benjamin Button style.

When I was younger, I always thought I’d dye my hair. My grandmother did, until she was very old and couldn’t make it to the hairdresser anymore. My mother did too, until she got sick enough to no longer think about the dreaded roots (amazingly, only the last couple months of her life; and I think she still probably thought about her roots).

I thought there was no other option than to dye your hair because grey hair was simply to ghastly to be allowed to run unchecked on one’s head. If one’s head belonged to a female, at least.

Until one day I figured out there wasn’t just one option, which was to “hide” grey and pretend like it just wasn’t happening. If I no longer believed in societal beauty ideals, there were suddenly multiple options! I could let my hair get grey. I could shave it off. I could dye it not to hide it, but to bring attention to it, in unicorn pink-blue-purple! I could do whatever the fuck I wanted with it. That’s at least four more options right there.

I chose going grey, mostly because I’m lazy, but also because, as it came in, I kind of liked it. I liked it a lot, actually, once I decided that I’d see it as 1. simply another hair color that I was going to get to experience without having to do a lick of work 2. a way to buck patriarchal beauty rules that weren’t providing me with any real power, and 2. a symbol that I wasn’t afraid to get older  — that in fact, I was going to own the hell out of getting older.

It hasn’t always been easy. As I dropped quickly and dramatically out of thin-and-acceptably-young-and-cute and deep into pudgy-grey-and-middle-aged, I noticed how people changed in reaction to me. Because I slipped out of the realm of fuckability in many people’s men’s eyes, it’s gotten harder to have my opinion heard around them. This would be a much bigger problem if I worked in a male-dominated profession, which thankfully I don’t anymore (frankly it was already hard enough to have my opinion heard by male co-workers and managers at any age); but not everyone has this luxury.

Anyway, I’ve thought about this stuff a lot as I’ve witnessed myself going from young-hot-mess (20s) to confused-but-getting-there (30s) to mature-and-on-a-mission (40s at the moment). I like me now better than me then. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still suffer the indignities of aging in a society that is distinctly anti-aging for women.

That’s why we got my friend and fellow middle-ager Michelle Vina-Baltsas on the line to chat with the Dietitians Unplugged. Aging affects our body image in a profound way, and it needs some processing. I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as we enjoyed having it.

Show notes: we referenced this awesome article a few times.

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Enrollment is now open for Dare to Eat!

Dare to EAT Logo with TextReady to move ahead in your non-diet path to food freedom? My program, Dare to Eat, might be just the thing you need to get you to that blissful place of food peace. Program starts Monday, June 19thCheck out the details here.