On Spanx, Dillards, and the Fat Acceptance Movement

People are talking these days. About:
1. Body Pride;
2. Sizeism (discrimination based on size); and
2. The fat acceptance movement

Just the other day, Arie announced it’s new campaign featuring size 12 model Barbie Ferreira. And perhaps you’ve come across one mother’s viral post floating on the internet:

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I believe strongly in body pride and self-confidence, no matter what. Everyone should love themselves. But I DO take issue with certain aspects of the fat acceptance movement.

The Dillards Incident

I was overweight as a child. I specifically recall an incident when I was about 10 years old. I went to children’s boutique named Denny’s in central New Jersey, to buy a Spice Girls T-shirt. The clerk came up to me and told me there was nothing in the store for me. I wish I could remember if we ended up buying the shirt.

I won’t forget that moment for as long as I live. Even though I was overweight, I always felt like a cool girl, and I didn’t think anyone at school made fun of me. But in that moment, it was like a grown woman was making fun of me. I wanted to shrivel up and die. I always wondered why the clerk felt the need to come up to me and say anything at all. Was she afraid I’d stretch out and rip all of the clothes?

Girls – young girls – are particularly susceptible to the influence of those around us, including  older women. Human beings are simply designed that way. There are so many influences telling us we are not good enough the way we are – whether its because of body weight, body hair, body features, or just whatever. Tina Fey wrote about it hilariously in Bossypants. These constant little signs of rejection are tragic.

But when it comes to the Dillard’s clerk (or in my case, the Denny’s clerk),  I’m going to go ahead and assume there was no ill-will intended. That’s because I feel comfortable assuming that the clerk at Dillard’s was not the brightest bulb, just as the clerk at Denny’s was not the sharpest pencil. These women are more likely socially inept than anything else. They don’t deserve our contempt, they deserve our empathy.

What’s more is this – the girl pictured above is adorable, and she is in fine shape. She has nothing to be embarrassed of, and nothing to hide. She wasn’t put on this earth to be an artificial construct, she is here to be herself. And if that means wearing Spanx, or if it means not wearing Spanx – then that’s her prerogative.

I personally choose the Spanx for myself, and maybe that’s because I’m a coward.

To her and her mother, I say “right on!”

The Fat Acceptance Movement

All of this is separate and apart from the fat acceptance movement, which I actually do take issue with.

But first, let me clarify two points.

  1. I’m a Libertarian. In every sense.  What I’m about to say here is only my opinion. I don’t claim to be right in any objective sense. It’s just what feels right for me – and I share my view because maybe it will resonate with you. So if you think the fat acceptance movement is the greatest thing to ever happen on earth, then great. But I don’t. I’d still love to break bread with you sometime. Preferably cheesy bread.
  2. What qualifies as fat?  When I say “fat” in reference to the body acceptance movement, I am not referring to people who are pleasantly plump, delightfully chubby, or even moderately obese. I’m talking about people who are well beyond anything that could possibly be considered a good weight.  And I’m not talking here about obesity in terms of BMI. I’m talking about obesity in terms of “you are fucking undeniably fat.”

The Good Aspects of the Fat Acceptance Movement

Fat acceptance advocates bring awareness to important issues such as weight discrimination in almost every single field. And that’s important.

I know for an absolute fact, as someone who has been at both ends of the spectrum, that fat people are treated differently. Very differently. By employers, professionals, doctors, teachers –  everyone. Even slightly overweight people are treated differently than their thin counterparts.

And this is something we should be mindful of. Both out of respect for others, and also to improve ourselves.

My Problems With the Fat Acceptance Movement 

People are not meant to be fat.

Yes, some of us are meant to put on weight easier than others. Some of us are not meant to be thin.  But with the exception of some very rare illnesses, no one is genetically destined to be very obese.

Obesity is a product of a modern lifestyle based on unnatural foods. These foods are marketed at us constantly from a very young age. We think these foods should make us feel full, but they don’t because they are devoid of nutrition. They are often designed to addict us, physically.  These foods are dangerous, and as far as I’m concerned, marketing them to children is criminal.

Obesity is not inevitable. I love that someone who is obese might love themselves, because I never could.  I also love that someone who is obese might feel nothing but pride and a positive self image. But I believe very strongly that obesity is nothing to celebrate. And having a positive self-image in an obese state does not preclude you from having an equally positive self-image in a healthy state.

That said, you should live your life however you want to live it.  But when Fat Acceptance Advocates begin to denounce doctors for blaming everything on their weight, what they forget is this – fat, itself, is an organ which promotes inflammation and injury. Fat changes your hormonal profile. If you are female, fat is very likely to make your period heavier, more difficult, and more irregular. Because of this, you might experience terrible mood swings, and become anemic. These aren’t rare side effects of fat – this is basically destiny.

Staying overweight also has negative effects on brain function, and increases how quickly we age. Waist circumference is a predictor of so many terrible outcomes.

But I don’t even need studies to know that being lighter feels better. I don’t sweat as much. There is less strain on my heart. I am no longer pre-occupied with food (says the girl with the fitness blog).

Now your health is not my business. And your appearance is not my business. But doctors are supposed to be healers. If anything, they don’t do nearly ENOUGH to promote sound nutritional choices, and to remind patients of the importance of maintaining a healthy weight. In fact, there are plenty of THIN people who are filled with dangerous visceral fat. These thin people may be at just as much risk of disease and cognitive decline as their overweight counterparts. And for the most part, doctors are failing them too.

This doesn’t mean overweight people shouldn’t be treated with respect. It doesn’t mean doctors shouldn’t take them seriously. But it does mean that it’s the doctor’s job to keep telling them to lose weight. Because whatever problem they are facing – it is exceedingly likely that its complicated by extra weight. And that might be true for even marginally overweight people. The same goes for thin people with dangerous visceral fat, or with poor blood results. Nutrition is medicine, and it is key.

In Denial 

When I read the literature of from fat acceptance circles, sometimes I am just surprised. Take this article from Every Day Feminism, for example, which suggests that being overweight doesn’t necessary mean you have poor nutrition. The author states that making assumptions based on weight is “oppressive” and suggests it is harmful for overweight people, “..to hear assumptions from dietitians and other healthcare practitioners that because of a physical characteristic, their weight, they must be unhealthy and engaging in poor self-care.”

The problem is simply that yes, being very overweight DOES mean you have poor nutrition.  And you might not even know it. Because nutrition is about more than how many calories and what nutrients go into your body. It’s about the health of your blood, your levels of inflammatory cytokines, your insulin and glucose levels, your gut microbiome and health, your arterial plaque, and your prevalent metabolic states. These factors are inextricably intertwined with your body weight and body fat percentage. This is basic. You can’t wish it away. And it’s not your doctor’s or nutritionist’s job to make you feel good about yourself. It’s their job to provide you with factual information.

There doesn’t have to be a disconnect between loving yourself and wanting to be healthy.

In fact, you don’t even have to be  healthy if you don’t want to be. Maybe you love being a giant fatass, and that’s great. Good health is not a mandate, it’s just a good idea.

But I won’t stand quietly by in the face of delusion. I’ll say my piece, especially since I’ve been there before. Every pound extra takes a toll on you health. It simply does. But that’s nobody’s business but your own.

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Emotional eating and peanut butter banana sammies

This topic hits really close to home. I crave food the most when I am sad, stressed, nervous, made, or anxious. Basically it hits when I “just can’t deal”. For many years, emotional eating derailed me from succeeding on whatever diet plan I was on at the moment (we need to discuss the word diet at some point. I really hate that word. It’s a lifestyle change… once I realized the difference between diet and lifestyle change, my world changed).

Cortisol is a stress hormone that triggers cravings for foods that give immediate pleasure like high fat foods, foods that are salty and sweet. My go to foods were always pasta and breads and if I wasn’t home, man oh man, the most comforting food to me was Wendy’s #6- spicy chicken sandwich. Eating that food gave me such a temporary high. It reduced all my stress and made me feel like everything was ok in the world. But then I would get so mad at myself for eating those bad foods. What a vicious cycle from sadness and stress to anger and around and around we’d go.

Emotions are sometimes hard to control, BUT, we can control how we consume foods. I have my moments of weakness but not as bad as before and I definitely don’t beat myself up over it anymore because guilt is just another negative emotion.

Here are ways I’ve been able to help myself and I hope my experiences can help you too.

 Know yourself. Know what sets you off and be prepared.

Example: Work stressors. Keep healthy, satisfying snacks around. I always make sure to have something laying around like nuts (I love Emerald’s 100 cal packs of Cocoa Roast Almonds), apples, bananas, protein bars, or my recent favorite, banana peanut butter sandwiches (see recipe below).

 Find ways to cope.

Examples:

-Take your lunch break and go for a walk. Get the blood flowing, get some fresh air and relax. Enjoy the world around you.

-Keep a journal; sort out your thoughts, word vomit all over those pages!

-Take a breath! Breathing is a powerful tool that can prompt relaxation. Check this link out for some useful breathing techniques: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART00521/three-breathing-exercises.html

Get a hobby!

– I’ve had an on again off again love affair with Cycling. It’s back on and we are strong as ever and determined to make it work.

-How about art? Coloring? Check out these adult coloring books: http://www.amazon.com/Adult-Coloring-Book-Relieving-Patterns/dp/1941325122

-Watch animal videos on you-tube. I promise, this helps.

Talk to someone

There are a few people in life that can make me feel better- my husband, my parents, and my besties. Thanks guys, I love you!

If you have a moment, let us know what coping techniques you’ve used.

Banana and peanut butter sandwiches to the rescue:

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What you will need:

1 Banana

2 tablespoons peanut butter

Freezer safe Tupperware

Directions:

Cut banana into dime size pieces, you should be able to make 8-10 “sandwiches”

Spread thin layer of PB on a slice and top with another slice of banana

Put your sandwiches inside a freezer safe dish and freeze at least an hour before eating

Enjoy!

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How to get 8 Times More Beta-Carotene from Your Carrots

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cool as a carrot

I love carrots. So obviously I hulked out with rage and excitement when I learned these easy tricks to maximize their nutritional content. This comes from one of my favorite books, “Eating on the Wild Side,” by Jo Robinson.

If you follow these steps, you can increase the nutritional value of your carrots by up to 800%. So do it!

  1. Choose mature carrots over baby carrots.

Baby carrots are not the same as human babies. They come from ugly looking mature carrots, with the outer parts cut off and thrown away. Come to think of it, they are kind of like human babies after all.

But here is why you have a problem. Like many fruits and veggies, the greatest concentration of anti-oxidants and nutrients in carrots can be found in the skin, as well as in the tissues immediately below the skin.

From an evolutionary standpoint, this makes sense. Anti-oxidants are needed in the outermost layers of the plant, so that it can best protect itself from pests and disease. And also from the growing influence of America’s far right.

Opt for regular mature carrots, and you will have access to the healthiest parts of the carrot.

2. Eat fresh rather than frozen carrots.

Unlike some other veggies, carrots lose much of their nutritional value when frozen or thawed. Opt for fresh carrots over frozen.

3. Steam or sauté your carrots rather than boiling them.

When you boil your carrot, some of the water soluble nutrients end up in the cooking water. Avoid this by steaming or sautéing your carrots.

You can also avoid some of this nutritional loss by cooking your carrots whole, and cutting them afterward.

4. Eat your carrots with fat.

A little bit of fat will help you absorb the most beta-carotene from your carrot. That’s because beta-carotene is fat soluble.

This makes me happy, because fat tastes like heaven.  Carrot flavored ice cream anyone?

Happy munching 🙂

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When life gives you lemons…

When life gives you lemons, squeeze em into your morning water!

Let’s explore the benefits of lemon water, shall we?

  • Lemon water helps the process of eliminating waste products from the body easier. Isn’t being backed up in morning traffic bad enough? Don’t back dem bowels up also.
  • Your liver is asking to be saved after last night. I know what Thirsty Thursday is… Lemon aids your liver in releasing toxins.
  • It benefits the skin: helps to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Where my ladies at?
  • Lemons help reduce inflammation. If you are planning to shovel your car out today, try preventing a sore throat by drinking a glass of warm water with lemon. #winterstormjonas
  • If you are a workout enthusiast, lemon water helps restore body salt and helps reduce joint inflammation.
  • Lemons are a good source of Vit C which is vital for a strong, functioning immune system.
  • Lemon contains potassium, potassium aids in brain function. Feed-your-brain!
  • Helps lower blood pressure, fight diabetes, and helps fight against eye problems.

I know some of you are just getting up…put down that cup of coffee and grab yourself some lemon water.

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Have a beautiful day,

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Netflix and Chill

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Snowed in on a Saturday night? Me too.

Here are just a few of my favorite health and weight loss  documentaries for you to to cuddle up with tonight.

Youtube 

1. BBC Horizon “The Truth About Exercise” 

I’ve really admired Dr. Michael Mosley ever since I read his book “The Fast Diet.”  This short doc is so different and fascinating. Even if you’re a fitness fanatic, I promise you will learn a thing or two.

Watch it here.

2. BBC Horizon “Eat Fast and Live Longer”

If you know me, you know I fast regularly. Fascinating doc, again featuring Dr. Mosley. It’s not about weight loss as much as it is about the latest cutting edge science in aging.

Watch it here.

3. BBC Horizon “Why are thin people not fat?”

Ok, last one with Dr. Mosley, I swear! This documentary covers an interesting experiment where a diverse group of ‘naturally thin’ people are made to put on weight in order to help use better understand the mechanics behind weight gain. Love it.

Watch it here.

Netflix

1. Fat Sick and Nearly Dead 

Follow Australian businessman Joe Cross as he embarks on an extended juice fast while traveling across the USA.

You may or may not agree with his method, but either way you’ll hear from a lot of great doctors (like Dr. Joel Fuhrman), and also from other people who use green juices and smoothies as intro to a more balanced lifestyle .

2. Fat Sick and Nearly Dead 2

..the sequel. Follow up with Joe Cross as well as some of the people from the first movie, five years later. Learn how to maintain your weight with a plant based diet.

3. Fed Up

This movie is important. It tracks the struggle of obese and overweight children. It’s sad, it’s infuriating, and it might make you change your ways completely about nutrition and food marketing

What are some of your favorites???

Happy Binging 🙂

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Garlic: You’re Doing it Wrong

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“I smell but I’m good for you.” – Garlic

We all know that garlic is good for you. But did you know that if you prepare garlic improperly, you may be destroying many of its health benefits?

Luckily, the fix is easy. And interesting. Because…..science.

Alliin + Allinase —> Allicin.

Fresh garlic contains a compound called alliin and an enzyme called allinaseThese two work together to produce a magical ingredient called allicin. If you aren’t a complete toolbag you probably want some  allicin in your life.

Allicin has antibacterial, anti fungal, and antiviral properties. Allicin even has antiprotozoal properties! I hear that vampires fear allicin. In nature, allicin protects the plant from a host of pests.

But Here’s the Problem

Unlike your terrifying stalker, allicin isn’t always  just there.  To produce allicin, you must smash together the two precursor ingredients (alliin and allinase). You can do this by chopping or crushing the garlic. Crushing is better.

From an evolutionary standpoint this makes sense. It’s physical distress which causes the anti-pest ingredient to kick into gear.

So when fresh garlic is chopped or crushed, allicin will form.

Heat Destroys Allinase 

Allinase, the enzyme needed to produce allicin, is destroyed by heat.  So if you crush garlic and throw it immediately into a hot pan or oven, you won’t get allicin.

Before you know it, you will be sad, old, and lonely – simply because you didn’t do garlic the right way. No one will be your friend, and no one will invite you to Mahjong.

The Fix

Raw Garlic
If you eat raw garlic, you’re fine. The mechanical action of your mechanical teeth is enough to crush the garlic. And because you are not exposing the allinase to high heat before the allicin has a chance to form, you are not ruining your whole life by preparing garlic the wrong way.

But if you cook your garlic, Behold!
Simply crush or chop your garlic, then let it sit for ten minutes at room temperature before exposing it to heat.

During this time, the allicin will have time to form. Once the ten minutes are up, you can prepare your garlic however you want without destroying the health benefits. Just don’t complain to me about your bad breath because I will pretend I do not know you.

Enjoy 🙂

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Caribbean Jerk Shrimp and Sweet Potato Avocado Mash

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No offense to Paula Deen or my Russian ancestors, but we do not need to use butter in everything! “What do you mash with your potatoes to make them moist and flavorful?”
::insert heavy Russian accent::

 

Say hello to my little friend, Avocado.

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I promise I will get to the recipe in a second but first lets see the difference between avocado and buttah:
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Ingredients for one serving:

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1/2 avocado
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cayenne pepper optional
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1 tbs minced garlic
  • 1 tbs evoo or coconut oil
  • Walkerswood Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
  • Lemon juice for the avocado and shrimp
  • 3 oz shrimp (I used Target’s Market Pantry small shrimp): 60 cal/13g protein

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F
  • Pierce holes around sweet potato and bake for 45-1 hour or until soft or microwave for approx 10 min turning sides once
  • Soak shrimp in cold water for about 15 min
  • Once shrimp have defrosted place in ziploc bag and mix with jerk seasoning. Cook on pan for about 3-5 minutes or until translucent
  • Chop onion and garlic, saute for approx 3 to 4 minutes until translucent
  • Drizzle half avocado with lemon juice, salt and pepper
  • Mash baked potato and avocado together and mix in onions and garlic
  • Serve with cooked shrimped and lemon wedge

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