Tag Archives: vitamin D

What Happens When We “Let Ourselves Go”…

TheFatChick

After I tell people that I support Health At Every Size (R) and after I explain what Health At Every Size is, people often share with me their fear that if they ever stopped strictly policing their body size, their food intake and their calories burned, they will grow “big as a house” and they will “never stop eating”.  Now this fear is natural.  We’ve been conditioned to believe that we are just one chocolate chip cookie away from total body apocalypse and that only constant, fierce and consistent vigilance will keep us from serious medical harm.  There’s a $60 billion dollar diet industry as well as an unbelievably huge system of bariatric surgery and drugs and research grants and public health initiatives to support the notion that if we take our eyes off the thin body prize for even a moment, all hell will break loose.

Except, in my experience, it kind of doesn’t.

Some recent research coming out of Australia, seems to support the notion that Health At Every Size and Size Acceptance does NOT generally lead to giving up on health altogether.  “The Role of the Fatosphere in Fat Adults’ Responses to Obesity Stigma: A Model of Empowerment Without a Focus on Weight Loss” details interviews with 44 bloggers in the “Fatosphere”.  The subjects of these interviews often talked about moving from a reactive response to stigma (attempting weight loss to conform to societal norms) towards a proactive approach to stigma (recognizing stigma, reframing fat, and focus on self-acceptance).  These bloggers described significant improvements in well being as a result of being associated with the size acceptance community and taking a direct approach to dealing with shame and stigma.

Granted, we’re only talking about 44 bloggers here.  This is hardly a representative sample of fat people all over the world. But it does seem to map to my experience.  For a short time after I declared all foods legal and nothing off limits I ate a LOT of cookies and chips and pizza.  But after not very long, the bloom was off the rose.  I found I really didn’t want another candy bar.  I wanted broccoli.  I wanted chicken.  I wanted whole wheat bread and peanut butter.  I wanted real food.  Once the “forbidden” label was removed from foods, I found I could often take them or leave them.  I could eat one cookie.  I could eat 3 potato chips.  Because you know what?  I knew I could have them again whenever I wanted them.

Once I removed the notion of punishment from my physical activities and started focusing on finding exercise that was fun, I started enjoying my workouts a whole lot more.  Rather than dragging myself up onto the treadmill and burning an arbitrary number of calories, I called the dog and we went outside for walkies.  I got my heart pumping.  I bumped up my Vitamin D levels.  And I HAD FUN.  When I accepted that I no longer had to do exercise that I hated, I found myself free to focus on fitness that I loved.  I learned to look forward to workouts again.

Clearly I’m citing anecdotal evidence here.  But there is plenty of other research by amazing people like Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor that explains what happens when people lose their obsession with weight loss and start focusing on the Health At Every Size approach to wellness.  What happens is that folks get happier and generally healthier all without the nasty side effects of disordered eating, weight cycling and depression so common to the traditional diet-based approach.

So after I tell people about Health At Every Size and after people tell me that they can’t support HAES because they would lose all control and would wind up desperately unhappy and unhealthy, I still have an ace up my sleeve.

I share the overwhelming evidence that the HAES (R) approach typically leaves people at a weight that is natural for them with a body that is healthier and with a mind that is happier than ever before.

Seems like a safe bet to me.

Love,

The Fat Chick

 

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Daylight Savings Time: Here Comes the Sun

Today is the second day of daylight savings time here in Southern California and since I’m typically an early riser, I’m enjoying the little extra jolt of sunshine in my day.  I love the sunshine  and since I live in So Cal, I get access to way more of it than most.

Many of us have come to fear sunshine because of it’s association with an increased risk for skin cancer.  But if you manage your exposure, you can enjoy the health benefits of sunshine without a lot of risk.  Some researchers recommend daily sun exposure for about half the time it would normally take you to get a sunburn.  Others recommend that you spend 15 minutes in the sun each day without sunblock or sunglasses (the sun’s rays come through they eyes to stimulate the pituitary gland and helps control hormone production in other glands).  A good way to get this 15 minutes is to combine it with little bits of exercise throughout the day like parking your car a little further from your destination, going for 10 minute walk breaks throughout the day or walking a few blocks to a lunch destination.

There are lots and lots of health benefits to sunshine.  Here are just a few:

Promotes Better Sleep: Daily access to sunshine helps to regulate your circadian cycles.  This makes it easier for you to fall and stay asleep.

Reduces Cancer Risk: The Vitamin D you get from sunshine has been shown to reduce risks of colon, breast, prostate and rectal cancers.  And higher Vitamin D levels in the bloodstream seem to increase your likelihood of surviving a cancer diagnosis.

Lowers Cholesterol Levels: Cholesterol that lies under the skin is turned into Vitamin D3 which both increases the level of this important vitamin in your body and can significantly lower cholesterol levels.

Strengthens Immune System: Sun exposure increases production of red and white blood cells which tends to strengthen the immune system.  Studies also show that Vitamin D may help activate T-cells which are the body’s first line of defense against pathogens.

Reduces Risks of Osteoporosis: Sunshine is one of the most potent sources of Vitamin D.  Higher levels of Vitamin D have been shown to help increase absorption of calcium from the intestines and increase bone density in post-menopausal women.

Reduces Risk of Type 2 Diabetes:  Increased levels of Vitamin D in the system also appear to be associated with lower incidence of type 2 Diabetes.  Although it is not clear which sources of Vitamin D are most beneficial in reducing Diabetes risk, there is a link that bears further investigation.

Improves Mood: We’ve all heard of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), but beyond that, sun has the power to make us feel better, make us less depressed and may even help us to think more clearly.

There are many other potential benefits to sunshine from increasing optimism, to improving milk production in lactating women to a link to lower risk of stroke, neuro-degenerative diseases, allergies, multiple sclerosis, hypertension and psoriasis.

So my dear friends, get on out there and feel the sun on your face–at least for a little while.  But don’t stay out there too long.  As I often say, you don’t need to feel the burn to get the benefit.

Love,

The Fat Chick