Fat: The Owner’s Manual- Navigating a Thin-Obsessed World with your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact by Regan Chastain
Regan Chastain is a Fat Acceptance and Health at Every Size advocate, as well as a former National Dance Champion & Choreographer.
I’ve read a few books about how to live your life as a fat person, and was not impressed. This book was different. Regan takes the science behind why dieting doesn’t work and really breaks it down for normal people, like you and I. She also explains why behavior centered practices are the way to achieve health.
It’s hard to be a fat girl in a world that thinks that there is an epidemic of obese people taking over the population. We are bombarded with messages from misled or uneducated health care providers, the 90 billion dollar diet industry, and the media that show that because of our weight we are disgusting, and at high risk of early death.
Regan gives intellectual responses of how to deal with all the drama behind the many myths and misconceptions of obesity. She talks a lot of about VFHTs: The Vauge Future Health Threat. Often times fat people receive shameful threats, letting them know that their body size will lead to death. The fact is that 100% of us will die. However, there are very few actual studies that show any type of causation factors related to weight. Regan uses this illustration: we can’t determine how hard someone works based on their bank account, just like nobody can determine someone’s health based upon their body size. There are no fat diseases, meaning people of all sizes get disease, not just fat people. Thin people get diabetes, and fat people get diabetes. (Did you know that fat people with Type 2 Diabetes actually live longer than their thinner counterparts with the same disease?) Sometimes thin people receive better medical care than their fatter friends. Many doctors treat the thin person’s symptoms, where as some fat patients are just told to lose weight. A great question to ask your medical provider, should this happen to you, is “How might you treat me medically if I was a thin person with these symptoms?”
I really loved the section of the book where she talked about health-focused practices. Weight loss does not bring about better health. However, our behaviors, such as eating and moving in ways that feel good in our bodies, do. It’s clear that exercise does not always lead to weight loss, however, it almost always leads to better health, as long as it is done is a safe way. If you are interested in making this more of a priority in your life, Regan and I both recommend The Fat Chick Works Out, by Jeanette DePatie.
My health-focused practices include yoga, strength training, eating whole foods, & learning to love my body just as it is right now.
Being a fat person in a diet-focused world requires a lot of emotional and mental strength. This book really gives you the facts and the arguments against practices that don’t lead you to weight loss, but really lead you to hating your body. We really need to focus on hate loss and accepting who we are as people. I’ve been working on that through meditation, mindfulness, and sitting with uncomfortable feelings.
I think Regan’s purpose is clear. “My work is for the people who are looking for an oasis of body love in a barren desert of body hate. We are bombarded with the idea that being fat is synonymous with being in poor health. We know that’s untrue, and I think it’s important to stand up to that stereotype.” (Regan Chastain)
What stereotypes do you want to stand up to?
What health-focused practices do you incorporate into your life?