Will I ever love my body again?

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Photo courtesy of RepresentationMatters.me

“I used to love my thinner body, even though I hated dieting. Will I ever love my body again?”

This is an occasionally-heard refrain heard from some of the brave souls who have chosen to give up the pursuit of weight control through dieting and have instead opted for the unknown of what their bodies will do in response to a more peaceful relationship with food.

To review, there are three possible outcomes of giving up dieting:

  1. You may lose weight.
  2. You may gain weight.
  3. Your weight may stay the same.

For anyone experiencing any of these outcomes (even weight loss), the work of body acceptance is necessary to help clear the path to a more peaceful relationship with eating. This is the work of body image healing.

I love the goal of body neutrality as a result of the body image healing work that we do. Body neutrality, to me, means you don’t have to feel in love with your body or how it looks, but you don’t loathe it either. You’re able to see your body as an instrument, not an ornament, and get on with your life and all the things you want to experience in it.

But sometimes we wonder if we will ever get to a place of loving how our bodies look. For some, body neutrality doesn’t feel like enough, and they remember a time when they were maintaining a lower body weight, getting societal accolades, and enjoying the way their bodies looked to the world.

Rarely do we seem to question why we need to love how our bodies look. Would we have this same desire to love our appearance if there weren’t such strong cultural messages about beauty standards? Would this need exist if we were stranded alone on a deserted island like Tom Hanks in the movie Castaway? I strongly believe the answer is no.

That’s why we need to talk about self-objectification, which is experiencing one’s body not from the inside, but from the outside, looking in. It arises from an unfair system in which women are judged more for how they look and not for what they do (one of the many unpleasant side effects of patriarchy).

We are presented with a relentless barrage of media images of women and messages around what constitutes the “right” look (and from the mere absence of other types of images, we can easily infer what constitutes the “wrong” look). It’s so easy to constantly compare ourselves to these images and develop that outside-in-gaze that becomes more dominant than the experience of being in our bodies.

I think it’s lovely to be able to look in the mirror and say, “Yep, good outfit” or “Awesome style I’ve got going today.” That’s a world away from, “I love how my body is mirroring unrealistic cultural beauty standards by being as small as it can today!” The first two statements are about objects on your body; the latter statement is about your body as an object.

For me, opting for body neutrality and appreciation of its usefulness was a far saner goal than needing to love how I looked on a physical level, because I no longer wanted to be a mere object to be admired.

I don’t actually think we need to love how our bodies look to live a richer life. We do need to understand why that desire exists, though.

Here are two great blog posts about self-objectification from one of my favorite anti-diet, pro-body sites, Beauty Redefined:
Selfies and Self-Objectification
Running from Self-Objectification

I hope you go straight down the rabbit hole of this site because they have so many wise things to say on the subject of self-objectification!

Need help managing your diabetes, pre-diabetes, or insulin resistance?

HAES Care for Diabetes is back! Two tracks are available, starting on September 11 and September 13. Rebecca Scritchfield, HAES dietitian and author of the book Body Kindness, and I will be providing sound and compassionate non-diet, non-restrictive, non-weight-focused advice and support for managing your blood sugars. Click on the image below for all the details about this 4 week virtual counseling group and how to register!

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Thank you to Lindley Ashline at RepresentationMatters.me for her free stock photo images!

Summer Podcast Round Up 2: From Our Loud Inner Critics to Sugar Addiction

Dietitians Unplugged Episode 37 – Aaron and Glenys Tackle Their Inner Critics

Cover2We all have an inner critic. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t. It’s the voice that’s try to keep us safe by avoiding unnecessary risk.

So, yes, sometimes that little voice can be really helpful in keeping us safe…but sometimes it can hold us back by sending damaging and unhelpful thoughts.

In this Dietitians Unplugged podcast episode, Aaron and I talked about our own inner critics, how they manifest, and how we deal with them. This is a truly unplugged (and sometimes unhinged!) discussion that  we’re sure you’ll enjoy and hopefully will give you a few more tools for your self-care toolbox.

Episode 37 – Aaron and Glenys Tackle Their Inner Critics

Dietitians Unplugged Episode 38 – ED Treatment for Marginalized People with Gloria Lucas

DU + GloriaIn this fabulous episode, Aaron and I were thrilled to welcome to the podcast Gloria Lucas, founder of Nalgona Positivity Pride (NPP). I got to see Gloria speak a few years ago at the 2016 BEDA conference on the role of colonialism in historical trauma and we’ve been excited to have her on ever since then.

Gloria shared her story of how and why she came to found NPP, which helps to provide eating disorder resources to marginalized people.  She also talked about how eating disorder communities must learn to do better to include people of color into the discussion and make treatment more available and inclusive of marginalized people.

Episode 38 – ED Treatment for Marginalized People with Gloria Lucas

Links:

Nalgona Positivity Pride

Nalgona Positivity Pride Etsy Store

 

Dietitians Unplugged Episode 39 – Is Sugar Addiction a Real Thing? with Tiffany Haug

DU + TiffanyEver wonder if you’re addicted to sugar? Or some other kind of food? Aaron and I talked to Tiffany Haug, MS, RD, EDOC, who broke down the science of addiction for us, and explains why your diet history makes all the difference in how you approach highly palatable foods. Tiffany also talked about the problem with how food addiction is studied and the problems with the Yale Food Addiction Scale.

Episode 39 – Is Sugar Addiction a Real Thing? with Tiffany Haug

 

 

Summer Podcast Round Up 1: From Self-Care to Body Love

Dietitians Unplugged Podcast Episode 34: Healthism vs. Self-Care with Lucy Aphramor

DU + Lucy

I’ve been a little remiss in the last few months about updating this blog with our latest Dietitians Unplugged podcast episodes. I have been crazy busy this past year – in reality, too busy, because I was trying to do way too much.

It took it’s toll. I had to find ways to triage everything in my life. That meant I had to pick between writing, which I really enjoy, and doing the podcast, which I really love too. It even meant I had to let go of things like updating this blog with the podcast, which pricked at me frequently but also was just something I didn’t have room for.

I termed this self-care. No one can do everything all the time. Some things have to go by the wayside. Until something gave way in my schedule (which it finally did) I decided to only do the very most important things in my life — that was spending time with my partner, going to my job, caring for my clients, podcasting and resting.

The topic of self-care makes a great introduction to this podcast we did back in February about the necessity of self-care, and how “healthlism” — the belief that health is our sole responsibility, and even obligation, and is not affected by our economic status, race, environment, sex, etc. — isn’t really making us healthy in any meaningful way.

UK-based radical dietitian Lucy Aphramor guided us through this topic with her usual eloquence (no surprise that she’s also a poet).  As a radical dietitian, she focuses on the deep roots of what causes judgement, war and shame.

Episdoe 34 – Healthism vs. Self-Care with Lucy Aphramor


Dietitians Unplugged Episode 35 – Metaphors & Storytelling in healing Eating Disorders with Dr. Anita Johnston

DU + Dr. Anita JEating in the Light of the Moon by Dr. Anita Johnson, eating disorder psychologist and storyteller, is one of the seminal works on eating disorders and one of the books that people tell me first helped them in their recovery from EDs and diet culture. We were so thrilled to have Dr. Johnson on our show and talk about how story-telling can be integral to our healing.

In addition to authoring this amazing book, Dr. Johnson is co-creator of the Light of the Moon Cafe, a series of online interactive courses and women’s support circles, and Soul Hunger workshops. She is currently the Clinical Director of Ai Pono Hawaii eating disorder programs with out-patient programs on Oahu and the Big Island of Hawaii, and an ocean-front residential program on Maui.

She also gifted our listeners with this handy guide to help discover the meaning behind your food cravings or phobias.

Dietitians Unplugged Episode 35 – Metaphors & Storytelling in healing Eating Disorders with Dr. Anita Johnston


Dietitians Unplugged Episode Episode 36 – You are More than Your Body with Summer Innanen

DU + summerOne of my absolute favorite people in the body positive, anti-diet world is Summer Innanen. She has a genuine, no BS way about her that I just can’t resist. And it’s not just because we’re both Canadian, I swear!

Summer is a professionally trained coach specializing in body image, self-worth, and confidence. She helps women all over the world through her private and group coaching to break out of the diet culture cage and cultivate their inner, rampant untameability so they can wear, say and do what they want. She is the best-selling author of Body Image Remix, creator of the You, On Fire online program, and host of Fearless Rebelle Radio, a podcast dedicated to anti-dieting, body positivity, and feminism.

Listen now:

Episode 36 – You are More than Your Body with Summer Innanen

 

HAES Care for Diabetes is starting again soon!

Rebecca Scritchfield and I are running our virtual groups again focusing on non-diet, non-weight-focused care for diabetes and other related metabolic conditions. Two tracks available starting September 11 and 13. Group size is limited so sign up soon!

Go to HAES Care for Diabetes to find out if this is for you!

 

Dieting is NOT Self-care

DIETING ISNOTSELF-CAREOne thing that gets my angry inner goat going like nothing else is the constant insistence out there in the world that dieting to lose weight is the equivalent of “eating healthy” or “becoming healthy.”

As a former dieter, and someone who treats long-term chronic dieters and weight-cyclers in my private practice, I can tell you that while this might start out as the intention, it almost never ends that way.

And while some people who do make positive changes in their eating habits may experience some weight loss, there is little evidence that eating “healthier” will absolutely lead to significant long-term weight loss for the majority of people, or turn large people into small people. This is why people tend to resort to diets that involve calorie deprivation to achieve weight loss.

I want to point out, however, that while a nutritionally-dense diet may not lead to weight loss, it can certainly help to improve your health (but is not the whole picture of “health”) and is worth pursuing if that is what you want to do.

But let’s be honest: most diets are not about getting healthier. They are about losing weight, which we are told will automatically make us healthier. Unfortunately, this is not always true.

When I “successfully” dieted for 16 years, at my thinnest and most restrictive point, I ate few fruits and vegetables (“waste of calories”), ignored my hunger for so long I wanted to cry at times, then secretly binged when I couldn’t take it anymore, and ate a mostly monotonous diet of “safe” foods. During this time, I developed crippling back pain from over-exercising and osteoarthritis in my feet, likely hastened by the complete lack of calcium in my diet for so long (though also likely genetically determined). I fought a psychological war with the scale daily that usually resulted in defeat for me, no matter what the number said.

This was not pursuit of health in any way. These are the things I needed to do to maintain weight loss, because simply eating healthfully didn’t.

I was thin, but I was not healthy either physically (witness my body breaking down, and feeling weak, tired, and hungry most of the time) or psychologically (thinking about 24 hours a day about food in a very disordered way, feeling constantly dissatisfied with my body despite its thinness).

I am not an isolated case; many of my clients arrive in my practice with some version of the same story. Their diets may have started as an attempt to eat “healthy” (albeit focused completely on weight as the main measure of health) but they ended up in a never-ending cycle of restriction and binge-eating, feelings of shame around their bodies and failure to follow a diet, and often higher weights than they started at. They are also very confused about how to eat in a way that actually supports health and well-being without feeling deprived (which is why they have come to me).

Let me tell you this: it isn’t that hard to have a balanced, nutritionally adequate diet when you feel relaxed around food. Behavior change can be challenging, but it is much less so when you see body shame for what it is and leave fatphobia behind. That is why dieting isn’t really about health – because diets involve intense shame around your current body and a desire to make it something it isn’t.

When changes feel really hard or unsustainable (and sometimes make you want to cry), consider that you might actually be on a diet. If your diet changes are supposed to produce a tangible change in the appearance of your body, then you are on a diet.

And if you’re worried about health, know that a non-diet approach actually will support making positive changes for health.

In the meantime: This article is a great example of how diseases like diabetes are more likely related to nutritionally inadequate diets than higher weights. It makes so much sense when we look at how long-term yo-yo dieting may be linked to development of diabetes as well as weight gain. Again, “successful” deprivation does not equal health!

Looking for help with Diabetes?

Check out our group series, HAES Care for Diabetes. We will be running this intermittently throughout the year. Stay tuned for new dates soon!

Need help with your relationship to eating?

I have an online course that only takes minutes a day to get all the best tools in my non-diet toolbox to help you get more relaxed around food. Check out Dare to Eat.

HAES Care for Diabetes

imageSomething I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is diabetes.

I’m getting older and I have a family risk, and taking care of myself in the best possible way (where “best” sometimes means “good enough”) is something I’m always working on.

And of course, I don’t diet anymore and never will again. So the standard “lose weight to lower your risk” advice just isn’t going to fly with me (sorry, Doc!). I eat as healthfully as I can (knowing I get to determine what that means for me) and move joyfully, but those things don’t make me thinner, just like they don’t make most people thinner which is why people end up going on whackadoodle diets. But I do know that they can help to make me healthier, and hopefully decrease my risk for diabetes.

My Grandmother was diagnosed later in life and ended up living quite a long time despite some seriously flawed self-care over the years, in part due to becoming my Grandfather’s full-time caregiver after a stroke. She had been a life-long dieter who ended up at a much higher weight by the time she was in her 60s. She really did eat like a bird from what I could see, which doesn’t actually surprise me given what I know about how dieting affects metabolism. (Fun fact: this would drive my Mother crazy when she would cook a massive Christmas dinner once a year and Gram would then pick deliberately at it and leave most of it on her plate. Ah, families) All this backstory to say, she had diabetes and she still managed to have a life. I think it’s important to remember that a diagnosis of diabetes does not mean the end of one’s life.

At one of my day jobs, I have done a lot of diabetes education. Not once did I recommend weight loss. Why? Because we know that route, even if it did help with blood sugar control, is temporary at best and usually results in massive disinhibition with food later on which is definitely not good for blood sugar control.

Yet there persists this idea that while Health at Every Size (HAES) and intuitive eating are fine for the perfectly healthy person, it’s simply not doable for those with medical conditions.

I disagree, and so does much of the science. People who have a good relationship to food have been shown to be healthier physically, socially and psychologically. Once a good relationship to food and eating has been established, from there it’s easy to work to improve diet quality (if that’s what’s needed) or add in joyful movement and compassionate self-care.

Back when I ran my Facebook group, time and again, people would post about how they were struggling to manage their diabetes diagnosis or risk (or other metabolic-type condition) without it feeling like they were going on a diet.

I’ll admit, there is an art to this. Nobody knows this better than a HAES RD.

That’s why my friend and mentor Rebecca Scritchfield, author of the non-diet self-care book Body Kindness, and I came up with something we think is much needed in the HAES world. We’ve developed a new VIRTUAL support and education group called HAES Care for Diabetes Concerns.

This 4-week group (done via video conference) is open to anyone with a diabetes diagnosis or risk, or any other metabolic-type condition (hypertension, high cholesterol) and members will get direct support from the two of us.

Group size is intentionally small so that people get the attention they need. We have a few spots left in both tracks (Mondays 9 am and Thursdays 5:30 pm Pacific Time) so we hope you’ll join us.

Check out all the details here: HAES Care for Diabetes Concerns.

Don’t struggle alone! Help is just a click away.

Podcast: Dressing the Plus Size Dude at Chubstr

DU + BruceWhen I first began my body acceptance journey back in 2010, I started out looking at fat fashion blogs. One of those blogs I found was Chubstr.com. Since then, founder Bruce Sturgell has turned Chubstr into a comprehensive lifestyle site and invaluable resource for large men. Because fat guys should have great clothing too!

In this episode of Dietitians Uplugged, we chat with Bruce about why he founded Chubstr, two things everyone should do when they’re starting to figure out their own style, and some of the best places to find big men’s clothing right now.

Listen now:

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iTunes
Stitcher

Do you struggle with PCOS and your weight…but don’t want to diet ever again?

If you’ve been given the standard advice when it comes to Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome — which has traditionally been to lose weight — but never want to diet again and aren’t sure the best way to eat for your health and fertility, I have exciting news for you. My friend, registered dietitian Julie Duffy Dillon, has created a course that is 100% diet-free to help those suffering with PCOS, called Your Step-By-Step Guide to PCOS and Food Peace. Registration is open until January 31, so check it out now!
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13 Dietitians on Why They Don’t Promote Weight Loss

scale - no signLast month BuzzFeed asked me to contribute to an article called, 13 Experts Explain Why Diets Don’t Work And What To Do Instead and I was all, “Well, okay, yeah, I guess…” Who am I kidding? I nearly climbed through the internet to Sally Tamarkin’s desk to say HELL YES I’LL CONTRIBUTE!

Anyhoo, it’s the new year and I thought this was a great affirmation of why I don’t promote diets and a focus on weight loss. And neither do all the other cool RDs quoted in the article, many of whom I am proud to know personally. They are all doing amazing work, fighting the status quo of the harmful weight loss paradigm.

I hope you’re starting out the new year with resolutions to treat yourself with kindness and compassion, and prioritizing self-care. I wish you a year of relaxed eating and peace with your body.

Quit dieting but still not sure how to eat normally?

My online program, Dare to Eat, can help.

Plus-Size Dating

DU + Krista NilesLet’s face it: finding love is not easy, and it can feel even harder – maybe even impossible – when you’re dating while plus-size in a fat-phobic world.

That’s why Aaron and I asked psychotherapist and dating expert Krista Niles to talk with us about the challenges of plus-size dating in this episode of Dietitians Unplugged. Krista gave us the goods on everything: dating profile photos, body image issues, dealing with fat fetishists, weight stigma and fat acceptance stats in dating, first dates, the differences in straight and queer dating, and where and how to get help if you’re struggling in the online dating world. If you’re single and looking, we think this will soon become one of your favorite episodes!

Listen:

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iTunes
Stitcher

Show notes:

Krista Niles Oakland Therapy

The Plus-Size Dating Starter Course

Curvy Cupid Course

 Body Image Programs and Blogs recommended by Krista

Virgie Tovar: Babecamp

Vivienne McMaster: Be Your Own Beloved

Summer Innanen: You on Fire and Body Image Remix

Victoria Welsby: Bam Pow Life

 Help with Eating

Dare to Eat Online Program with Glenys 

Isabel Foxen Duke: Stop Fighting Food  

 Fat Positive Conferences

The Curvy Con

The Curvy Fashionista Style Expo

Ready to make a change in the way you relate to food and your body?

My online course is available now. Check it out.

From Eating Disorder to Intuitive Eating

DU + RobynOne of the best things about having a podcast is that it’s a great excuse to hang out with your friends and also get to learn from them. That’s why Aaron and I were excited to have our dear friend, registered dietitian and eating disorder expert Robyn Goldberg, on the show recently to talk about  progression people take in their recovery from eating disorder to intuitive eating.

Robyn talked about learning to connect with body signals, finding satisfaction with food, the challenges of being in a larger body with an ED, the resistance of health care practitioners to Health at Every Size® and more in this informative episode. 

If you are in eating disorder recovery, or know someone who is, we think you’ll find this episode invaluable.

Listen now:

Libsyn
iTunes
Stitcher 

Get help with eating now!

Last call for my online course at a very low price — the discount ends this Sunday, December 31 and class starts January 8! Get all the details to see if this is what you have been looking for.
Dare to Eat…as much as you want, without guilt, in total freedom.

Dare to EAT Logo with Text HALF size

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.

Listen here:

Libsyn
iTunes
Stitcher

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.

Enrollment open!

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.