Ooooo, I’m so excited about THIS article from the Forbes.com site She Negotiates! In this piece, author Brooke Axtell talks about why shame doesn’t make us thinner OR healthier, and she rounds up an amazing group of experts including Dr. Michelle Segar and Dr. Linda Bacon. And I’m resonating so deeply with what is said here that I’m ringing like a big old bell! The article starts out asking a simple question:
The U.S. Diet and Weight Loss Industry produced over 60 billion dollars in revenue last year. With all the available information and products, why do many intelligent women continue to diet and exercise without achieving lasting results?
Good question! Why do we keep banging our head on this same wall over and over again? Why do we keep doing the same things we’ve always done before and expect different results. Why are we behaving in a way that could be defined as insane?
The article goes on interview Dr. Michelle Segar. And while I don’t intimately know her work and can’t comment on her personal feelings about weight loss, I couldn’t find much to fault in her interview here. Basically, her research indicates that if you start trying to change your health and wellness from a point of self-hatred you are doomed to fail before you even start. The article goes on to state:
Many of the behaviors that improve health, such as getting more sleep and making better eating choices, also lead to experiences, such as reduced stress, that contribute to happier lives. It is the positive experience that we crave and it is far easier to measure on a daily basis. Although many claim that their health is a priority, the truth is that we are far more motivated by wanting to feel good than to improve our health.
Yes, yes and YES! In my experience with all of the folks that I work with, it’s the immediate pleasure of having fun, of building relationships with classmates, it’s the better sleep and higher confidence and improved sex life that comes with exercise that keeps them exercising. You can create charts. You can pull out your calipers and scales. You can give the “deathfat” speech all you want. You can even give them a “gold star” for being “good”. But what keeps exercisers coming back for more is having a good time and feeling good both during and after exercise. Period.
This is such an important idea. So often people ask me why I call myself The Fat Chick. They ask why I can’t just skip over the issue of being “curvy” and tell people to have fun while they are losing weight. They ask why I can’t just “suggest” that they could or should lose weight. But I can’t. Because telling people to have fun while they are on the way to being worthy, while they are in the process of becoming okay just doesn’t work. I have to tell them that they are okay now. I have to let them know that they are worthy even if they never achieve the BMI or number on the scale they are seeking. I have to let them know that we will experience joy right from the beginning of our work together, not after some magic number or arbitrary goal is achieved. As the article states:
Ultimately, it matters why we exercise and eat healthy foods. This is important not only to sustain our efforts of authentic self-care, but also to resist the toxic messages of a 60 billion dollar industry that depends on women feeling ashamed of their bodies.
Amen, sister. Amen. So I’ll keep calling myself The Fat Chick, and I’ll keep focusing on feeling good and having fun. I will refuse to fuel the industry built on shame that keeps us down and holds us back. I’ll keep working with people of many different ages, weights and abilities. I’ll call myself and all of my students worthy on the first day and the last day and every day in between. To put it simply, that’s what works in the short term, the long term and the whole term.
Thanks for listening.
The Fat Chick