Body Respect

I was delighted to receive a free copy of the book Body Respect by Dr. Linda Bacon and Dr. Lucy Aphramor. The two doctors take to task the idea that we have an obesity epidemic in our society. However, the truth is we have a weight stigma epidemic. Body insecurity is actually more harmful than being overweight. The books shares scientific evidence as to why this is the case. The message is clear -show respect for your body as it is right now, and pursue health. It may or may not lead to weight loss.

I asked the authors, Linda and Lucy some questions about this profound work.

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1.) What are obstacles many women face when trying to incorporate the HAES philosophy into their lives and what can we do to overcome them?

Possibly one of the biggest obstacles is that we’re going against the grain culturally. It’s more common and accepted in industrialized countries for women to bond over dieting and self-deprecation. Yet, we need community and relationships to thrive. So we need to create those communities intentionally, seek out others who are supportive. And fortunately, that’s not too hard to find: there is a thriving Health at Every Size and body-acceptance counter-culture. Witness the HAES Community Resources (www.haescommunity.org), HAES UK (www.healthateverysize.org.uk) and ASDAH (www.sizediversityandhealth.org) as examples and places to find other resources, like books and blogs.

2.) Women may read Body Respect & agree with the research behind it. They may even start enjoying movement and become more attuned with their eating. However, some may still have desires to lose weight and be thin. What advice would you give them?

Self-acceptance is rarely available to us as an overnight wonder pill where we wake up unconditionally loving ourselves. In real life, the forward journey is not that smooth, and is likely punctuated with the trips and stumbles of painful emotions and conflicting positions. There’s no rule that says that you’re okay only if you love your body. Readers will find much more than research in Body Respect: they’ll also find safety in honoring conflicted feelings. We’d be surprised if readers don’t have conflicted feelings about accepting their bodies. What the HAES journey does though is make it easier to sit with these difficult emotions without judging them or getting caught up in them. Everyone deserves respect, and when someone is struggling they can use an extra bit of kindness.

3.) Why do medical professionals continue to use weight as an indicator of health? Why is our medical community so adamant about prescribing diets to their patients?

Many medical professionals believe they’re doing what’s best by focusing on weight. They’re just following the path that’s been laid out for them. While we don’t want to absolve them of responsibility for their actions, we can certainly understand how they got there.

For some practitioners it takes courage to apply critical thinking and to just say no to the dogma of their professions. It can be particularly difficult for educated health professionals to consider Health at Every Size (HAES) seriously as our education can get in the way of our ability to learn. The more experienced and “expert” we are in a particular field, the more likely we are to apply our “knowledge.” This can prevent us from giving serious consideration to innovative ideas.

Also, it can also be scary when we consider the ramifications that may come if we adopt HAES: Would it threaten our career to stop promoting weight loss? Would we lose the respect of colleagues if we adopted such a contrarian view? What would it feel like to assume a position that provokes considerable resistance? It takes a lot of courage to open our minds to a challenge when the stakes are so high.

Indeed, with stakes this high, it may not be a conscious choice to avoid fully engaging with the HAES challenge. Many of us have strong defense mechanisms that keep us rooted to the safe and familiar. Defense mechanisms frequently operate below the level of conscious thought, allowing us to dismiss information before it threatens our worldview.

That said, more and more, professionals are feeling a sense of disquiet. They know things aren’t working even if they may not know a different path yet. We’re hopeful that as these ideas get out more, there is greater support for professionals to challenge conventional thought and ride the HAES bandwagon. Their position can only be maintained by ignoring actual outcomes of dieting, its ineffectiveness and the harm done and the way the anti-obesity agenda eclipses wider social determinants of health and disease. It also means being deaf to the distress and shame that accompanies chronic dieting. It’s getting harder and harder to live in that bubble. Part of why we wrote Body Respect was to give individuals and health care practitioners the tools, support and confidence to walk a more respectful – and successful – path.

4.) Why do you believe the media continues to push weight loss schemes on its viewers? What can we do to push back?

There’s no money to be made off self-acceptance! Billions of dollars are made off of our self-hatred. A person who is content in their body – fat or thin – disempowers the industries that prey on us, telling us we are unacceptable and need their products to gain acceptance. That’s why self-love is such a revolutionary act.

And again, many people selling the products will still believe they’re offering a real chance at health at happiness –and that’s a seductive promise for someone caught in the cycle of shame and/or living with size stigma. If we want to push back we need to get more stories out there that challenge the belief that weight loss works. And more stories of the joys that come from abandoning dieting and reclaiming the pleasure in eating.

5.) What is the connection between mindfulness and body respect?
Mindfulness practice can improve our critical-awareness skills and enable us to make better sense of our emotional life and life experiences, helping us to ride out the rollercoaster of our internal and external worlds. There are many ways this then transfers over into better self-care and body respect. Consider as an example someone who struggles with binge eating. The binge is often a way of comforting or distracting herself when she experiences difficult emotions. A mindfulness practice can help her develop the ability to ride out the emotions, or take care of herself in ways that feel more nourishing.

6.) Final words?
We love the tie-in to yoga in this blog and in your practice. It feeds us to know that there are so many of us on this journey, to feel our community growing and getting richer.

In solidarity,
Lucy & Linda

Reader Giveaway!
Would you like a copy of Body Respect for yourself? I’m hosting a giveaway of this book. Leave a valid email address where asked to in the comment form and share how you see yourself pursuing body respect and health, as opposed to weight loss. Winners will be chosen at random. Continental United States only.

May the odds be ever in your favor.

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Mindful Eating Summit

Free Online Event: August 25 – 29, 2014

Join Emotional Eating Expert and author Dr. Susan Albers as she interviews 20+ world-renowned experts on the habits and emotions that shape the way we eat. Learn techniques, strategies and tools that you can apply right away to take charge and stop emotional eating!

  • Listen to 20+ world-renowned experts on the habits and emotions that shape the way we eat
  • Learn tools, strategies and techniques you can apply right now to eat healthier
  • Discover the cutting edge science that is shaping the world of nutrition and how you can apply it right now
  • It’s 100% free to register and attend.

To reserve your seat to the FREE Mindful Eating Summit please go to the official website:

http://mindfuleatingsummit.com

Eat, Drink, & Be Mindful!

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From Father to Daughter

God’s Vision for Me!

Dearest Daughter,

You have inner and outer beauty. I’m so excited that you are really starting to see that.

You were created perfectly. However, your sin nature and that of the world’s has brought you down some challenging roads.

I’ve been there with you every step of journey. Sometimes you came up running to hug me. Other times it was quick wave and a smile. You and I longed for so much more.

Daughter, I am redeeming you.

You don’t know what I have planned.

But guess what?

It’s GREAT! Beyond your wildest expectations.

You are still learning to trust Me. And that’s okay.

You move slowly. But I see you taking risks.

Don’t stop.

Keep reaching out and letting love in.

Accept rejection as part of the plan to building a new community for yourself.

Continue to write.

I know you think you have nothing left to write about. You told me that you never wanted to write again. But, I gave you a gift for communication and encouragement.

You say that you are out of ideas.

Yes, YOU are. But, I have oodles for you to share.

Trust me to reveal myself to you.

Be still.

Be available.

Get comfortable with the quiet, and surrender.

I am the artist. You are my paintbrush, my dear daughter. I will bring bold colors and patterns into our portrait.

You will want to know what this portrait will look like. But doesn’t the mystery of art unfold through the creation process?

I am making all things new.

I ask that you be open. Resistance in the past has served you well. It allowed you to go at a pace that was comfortable for you.

Start learning how to be uncomfortable. I will be there with my hand on your shoulder.

Little butterfly, it’s time to fly.

Love,

Your Heavenly Father

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The scale doesn’t weigh health or vitality.

The scale doesn’t weigh health or vitality.
The scale doesn’t weigh who you are or what others think of you.
Throw your scale out – you are so much more than a number on a scale.

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“We humans are about 2/3 water. Each of us contains about 40 liters (or quarts) of the stuff, and each liter weighs a bit over 2 pounds. Our bodies effectively regulate fluid balance by adjusting urine output and sense of thirst, but this is done within a 2-liter range.

Within this range, your body doesn’t really care if it is up to a liter above or below its ideal fluid level. What this means is that we all live inside a 4-pound-wide grey zone, so that from day to day we fluctuate up or down.

This happens more or less at random, so with any one weight reading you don’t know where your body is within that fluid range. Your weight can be the same for 3 days in a row, and the next morning you wake up and the scale says you’ve gained 3 pounds for no apparent reason.

For people who weigh themselves frequently, this can be maddening.”

Source: The Art & Science of Low Carbohydrate Living

Thanks to Healthy Living How To and Verdant Health Inc!

How do you measure *your* Self?

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Fill Your Pitcher, Fill Your Life

“Imagine that you are a pitcher that holds water.

When you take care of yourself, you are filling the pitcher with water.
When you are taking care of others, you are pouring water out.

You cannot pour water from an empty pitcher.

You can only pour out what has previously been filled by you.

Fill your pitcher &, then, and only then do you have plenty to pour.”

~Christie Inge, “Hungry for More”

How do you fill your pitcher?

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Being Fully Alive

There is Joy in Community

There are Tears in Community

There is hustle and bustle

There is quiet

There is wondering

There is assurance

Why do I reject it?

Why do I crave it so?

I reject it because it means that I might not be accepted.

I reject it because relational risk seems like suicide.

I crave it because I was created to be with people.

So I might Grow.

So I might give

And Take

Showing people your soul

Laying out your unmet needs

Is

Paper-thin hopes

Crackling

When you don’t fully know yourself

It’s hard to show others who you are.

But

Maybe that’s part of being in community

Getting to Know ME

In the supported circle of others

Maybe they are getting to know themselves as well

I won’t know

Until I ask

Until I show up

Until I breathe in the undiscovered love around me

Relational Risk ~ Suicide?

Really?

Suicide is gone forever, no more feelings, no more hopes, no more dreams

In Suicide you lose yourself

With relational risk

I lose

That Girl That Hides

She must go

I don’t have any more hopes and dreams for the hide-r

The blooming bud is where I am now.

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In the Love

Getting rooted In

a Family

The Word

Traditions

A New Focus of Eternal Values, as opposed to earthly materialism.

Some Day I will form My own seeds and disperse

Is it possible I might be doing that now?

This cycle continues

The give The take

The supporting the encouraging

I’m taking in love, I’m giving My Story, My Hopes

The Girl That Hides

Must Be Acknowledged

Must Be Heard

And reminded

That God has plans for for Her

A message to share

About Not Using Food

And Being Fully Alive

Must the Girl in The Bottle Leave Forever?

Is it truly suicide?

Or might I come back to her from time to time

When I need to

She may have a new role

New Employment

She may be the one to re-energize me

To honor the sacredness of the quiet

She may leave, but not be forgotten entirely

She will nudge me

Letting me know when it’s time to go inside

A Peaceful Place, no longer a Cocoon

The glass bottle will be broken

She will wait for me

Offer some tea

And let me slumber

Away from the Noise

Of that Much Needed Community

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The Church is Messy

Broken Glass & Shattered Memories

Yelling, Screaming, Anguish

The scene?

A church meeting about six years ago.

I cannot tell you the heartbreak I endured as Christian men and women, whose children I had grown up with, whose leadership in the church was greatly admired and respected, did battle with each other.

Feeling Alone

Sharing Deeply

Met with Stares and Ambivalence

I was seeking safe people within a small group Bible study.

To my surprise, these women, with whom I’d “done life with” were unreceptive, shallow, & curt in their responses.

These situations lead me to falsely believe that Christians are DISINGENUOUS people who will always let you down.

Always.

When I teach the skill of fact and opinion to my third graders, we look out for black and white words like ALWAYS, NEVER,  & EVERYBODY.

But somehow …

In my thinking …

I overlooked what I teach on a regular basis.

It’s like that taking the yoga off the mat idea.

It doesn’t always happen.

Oops there’s that always again.

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The fact is that Christians are Messy. The fact is that some Christians are authentic, and some are not. Some want to be, but don’t know how because that was never modeled for them.

The fact is that Christians have passionate disagreements that cause them not to want to worship together anymore.

For some reason after that church meeting, a part of my perfect childhood dream in my head died.  The dream of: I had the perfect church experience. The dream of: all of my childhood heroes would worship together here on Earth indefinitely together.

Did the lies keep me hidden? Or did the lies cause me to hide?

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

I believe that God came to save the Messy. But what I mean by messy is: the poor, the addicted, the handicapped. Not: the mean-spirited, the cheaters, & the liars.

But, He came to save everyone.

Part of Christianity is accepting that you will never be perfect this side of heaven. I really have no issue with that. I’m with myself 24:7, so I completely understand that while I strive to my like Christ, I’m not actually going to be LIKE him until I am with Him.

But…

What about accepting that OTHERS (even faith giants) will never be made perfect this side of heaven?

The church is made up of other messies just like me.

Writers Note: This post was partially inspired by Mike Yaconelli’s Messy Spirituality, which I read a number of years ago.

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