About a year ago I stumbled upon the idea of Health At Every Size (HAES). And I loved what it said.
It says that no matter what size I am, I can still be healthy. It says I have the right to move my fat body in any way I choose without censor or ridicule.
And it says that fat does not immediately mean out of shape and that thin does not immediately mean healthy.
In fact, I remember a man in my first ‘Oh fuck you have Type II diabetes, now what?’* class who was thin as a rail. And still had Type II.
You know why? Because a Type II diabetic is one whose body does not use insulin properly. Yes, that can mean because they are too big for their insulin supply, or could just mean their body produces too little. But they produce some.**
Anyway, HAES gave me the courage to say ‘fuck it to dieting.’ I have never really been a “dieter” anyway, but I certainly tried Weight Watchers or other weigh what you eat plans. And have never kept the weight off for more than a year.
Of course, I didn’t just see HAES and give up watching what I eat. I also read the actual studies about the harm yo-yo dieting does to the human body and also how none of the weight loss “experts” or programmes, such as Weight Watchers, will even publish studies past about 5 years of success.
One of the blogs I follow, Dances With Fat, says this about weight loss past five years:
“The vast majority of people who attempt long term weight loss gain their weight back, and a majority of those gain back more than they lost. When most people trying an intervention have the exact opposite effect, ethically we have to stop recommending it, at least until we figure out why and have research that shows a higher degree of success.”
HAES has actually even permeated Type II Diabetes guidelines. When I was diagnosed about 10 years ago, I was told my HBA1C*** had to be under 7 in order for me to be in control. Just last year that number went up. To 7.5. And just two weeks ago, at my 6 monthly appointment, I was told it needed to be about 7.6**** or under.
This was because a lot of studies showed there was a nominal difference in health and secondary pathic issues between 7.5 and 7 but a huge difference in the quality of life for diabetics. In other words, people were working so hard to achieve 7 or lower, they were miserable.
And my last A1C (not counting two weeks ago, that one isn’t back yet)? 7.4.
And then there’s SA. SA is exactly what it says it is. Accepting that people are fat or thin just as they are tall or short, brunet or blonde. My weight is none of your business and your weight is none of mine. You can’t tell how healthy someone is by their size. And it’s really none of your business how healthy I am or am not.
So what does this mean practically for me? It means I still eat fairly well most of the time (I’m a huge lover of vegetables and always have been) and when I don’t? I don’t worry about it.
But I am also exercising more. Because my goal isn’t weight loss, but to just enjoy the exercise, I am more willing to do it and I do it more often. There is no goal, actually, beyond trying to move (I usually walk) about 4 days a week, if not more.
So give it a try. Try eating what you want, when you want, as much as you want and accepting that some people are just fatter than other people. I mean, I will never be 6′ tall. And now I accept that I will never be 140 pounds either.
*Probably not the actual name of the class.
** For the record, a Type I or Juvenile diabetic produce no insulin at all. That’s the difference between the two. Also, everything I say here having to do with diabetes is about me and Type II.
***HbA1c refers to glycated haemoglobin (A1c), which identifies average plasma glucose concentration, usually over 8-12 weeks.
****The United Kingdom no longer uses DCCT numbers for A1C but IFCC numbers instead, which are two digits and start at 35. But just as kilometres have no meaning to me, IFCC numbers mean nothing. So I always convert to DCCT, which I understand!