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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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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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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Preparing for the Storm: The Fat Girls Fitness Way

 

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Ok – so what if I live like a sad bachelor?

A blizzard is coming! News anchors are telling you to stock up on food and essentials. Inclement weather alert!!! Now is the perfect time to gain five pounds over the weekend and sabotage your weight loss efforts 4 life.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Don’t kid yourself. Winter preparedness does not mean you need Wonder Bread, American Cheese, and Donuts. Nutella is great – but do you really need it to survive the storm?

Maybe. I don’t know. It is really tasty….

One of the hardest parts of losing weight is avoiding temptation. And with a potential blizzard on the way, everyone is trying to sell you something comforting and delicious to increase your dress size. But if you care about your pants, it’s helpful to keep those tempting foods outside of the house and/or apartment altogether.

So the above photo? That’s my actual fridge right now. Of course I’ll make sure I have the essentials: water, toilet paper, basic foods to make sure I won’t die. And I’m not a crazy person, so of course I’ll keep plenty of rum on hand. In fact I’ll probably head out and add some wine to my collection.

But notice what isn’t in my fridge: anything extra (other than alcohol).

I’m not suggesting you deprive yourself. Have fun, have a snow day. Eat some terrible stuff if you are so inclined. But I find one of the most helpful steps to leading a healthy lifestyle is keeping crap out of the house. Sure, I eat crap from time to time. But the fact that crap is not available to me two feet from my living room helps more than you might think.

If I want to make an inadvisable food choice, and I often do – I have to walk two blocks to 7/11. That’s not far, but it’s enough of an impediment that I’ll usually just reach for a fruit instead.

So yes – I’m irresponsible. I haven’t done my “emergency shopping” just yet. But when I do, I’ll stock up on fruits, veggies, and maybe some canned beans. Fine maybe one little Twix bar.  But just one!

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Plateau Busting: The Two Pound Goal Post

I’m slightly worried this post might betray my weirdness, but here is a mental technique I used to help me lose weight once I began to plateau.

Preface: Goals are great. But if you keep making them, and not meeting them – they can be very discouraging. Goals should be achievable, but just barely so.

Step One: Calculate your “Goal Date”

Pick a day 10 days in the future. This is your goal date.
Example: Today is January 22. Therefore, my goal date = February 1.

Step Two: Calculate Your “Goal Weight Range”

Weigh yourself today (in the morning, before you eat or drink!). Subtract two pounds from that weight, but only counting the whole number.
Example: So let’s say today I weigh 165.9, 165.5, or even 165.1 – my Goal Weight Range would be “163 point anything”.

Step Three: Put It on a Calendar

Hold yourself accountable by physically writing or typing your Goal Weight Range on your calendar.
Example: In this case, I would write “163 point anything” on February 1st in my calendar

Step Four: The Mental Work

Every morning while you brush your teeth (assuming you brush your teeth!), take a look in the mirror and remind yourself of your specific goal. Promise yourself that you will make healthy choices, just for today – in order to be one day closer to your Goal Weight Range on your Goal Date.

Realize that you whether you make your goal or not, it’s OK. In any event, you’re going to make good choices today to get there.

Step Five: The Weigh In

Sometimes, you won’t make your weight, and sometimes you will. This is simply what happens when you are close to a healthy weight and losing weight becomes harder.

But here is the key: if you make good choices for a 10 day period, sometimes you will lose one pound in 10 days, and sometimes you might lose three. This is especially true for females. No matter what – you repeat the process on your weigh in day. Always with a two pound weight range as your goal.

Step Six: The Repeat

The key is to do this consistently (and also to be gentle with yourself) until your reach your ultimate goal weight.

What I like about this method is that your goal resets every 10 days. And because we are rounding, sometimes your goal is actually closer to one pound, and sometimes it’s closer to three (depending on your start weight).

Because your goal continues to reset, you can kiss your history goodbye. All that matters is what choices you make today.

Because of monthly hormonal fluctuations (and fluctuations in my eating habits) I personally found that I meet or EXCEED my goals about 3/4 of the time, and usually miss them 1 in 4 times. Over a period of a month – I generally averaged somewhere between 7 and 10 pounds with this method.

If you miss your goal two times in a row, it’s probably a good indication that there are changes you can make to your eating habits if your goal is to continue losing weight.

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Avocado Toast On Fleek

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GET INSIDE ME.

So I tend to get a bit teary-eyed when I talk about avocado toast. And fine, it’s true – I might be a Trader Joe’s fangirl.

But I want you to experience this toast.

I swear to you I am not sponsored by Trader Joe’s (if only!). But Trader Joe’s 100% Rye Bread, in particular, is my favorite for this recipe. If you have access to it, you should definitely use it for this recipe.

This toast is so simple and SO good. It’s perfect if you’re cooking for yourself or for two people.  Like many of my other recipes, you can make it all in one pan.

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Don’t stare directly into the pit.

You’ll need:
1. small amount of onion
2. one or two eggs
3. 1/2 avocado
4. one slice Rye (Preferably Trader Joe’s 100% Rye)
5. Optional but recommended: Tomato and/or Olive Oil

Directions:

  1. Do whatever you do to make your pan not stick. I use Trader Joe’s Coconut Cooking Spray
  2. Cut up onions, throw them on one corner of the pan. You’ll want to do these first, because they’ll take the longest.
  3. Once the onions have been cooking for a bit, begin toasting the Rye on another portion of the pan. At some point you should flip the Rye.
  4. Crack an egg somewhere on an unused portion of the pan. I cook it sunny side up or scramble it, but wtvr works.
  5. Dump everything from pan onto a plate. Spread avocado on toast, add onions and egg on top.  Nom nom
  6. Optional: cut up the tomatoes and cook them lightly in the span. Add them to your toast. SO good!
  7. Double Optional: Drizzle a little olive oil on the whole concoction. MMMmmmMMMMmm.
  8. Mandatory: ENJOY!!!

Let us know how you modify this recipe to fit your own tastes 🙂

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