Fat Acceptance, are we ready?

The first time I went on a diet, I was nine. Of course it didn’t last long, I was nine years old after all. That was only the beginning of my dieting career. I’ve tried every diet under the sun, from Weight Watchers, to Tony Ferguson even to the cabbage soup diet. Nothing worked. A couple of years ago I managed to lose nearly half my body weight. Despite my loss, up until a year ago I still thought my body wasn’t slim enough.As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised that losing weight wasn’t the point of my dieting. Instead, I realised that I needed to diet because being fat is just socially unacceptable

Hatred of fat is everywhere. For example, in my high school PE class I was taught that being obese would eventually lead to organ failure and type-two diabetes. Imagine being the fattest kid in class and hearing that. You can imagine all eyes were on me. Wonderful.

The same message is hammered home in popular culture. Watching The Biggest Loser, I remember trainer Tiffiny Hall saying  that there was no way her overweight contestants could possibly be happy at their starting weight. They were simply lying if they were. Just for the record, Tiffiny Hall has never been overweight nor is she a qualified psychiatrist.

According to the World Health Organisation, 64.7 per cent of Australian’s are considered overweight. Surely we as a country want to try and decrease that number. Who could possibly be happy being overweight? Right?

I believed the link between health equals thin and that, fat equals unhappy to be true until I stumbled upon fat acceptance. Fat acceptance is a movement to change society’s views on overweight and obese people. The movement argues that overweight people are targets of hatred and discrimination. These boys and girls want to change the stigma behind the word Fat and make it into a positive word. Yeah, they’re fat. So what?

Being fat doesn’t make you less of a person. Being fat doesn’t mean you are less attractive or not as smart as someone with a healthy BMI. The fat acceptance movement wants to remind society that fat people do love their bodies and it is not OK to discriminate against them because of what their body size is or what the number on the scale says.

For the fat acceptance movement, you can be happy and healthy at any weight.

The fat acceptance movement argues for Health at Every Size (HAES). HAES is a behavioural system, which focuses on intuitive eating and pleasurable activity rather than dieting and weight loss. HAES isn’t about pursuing a particular body weight. Simply put, you can be overweight but still be fit and healthy.

Some of the biggest voices in the fat acceptance movement are here in Australia. Fat Heffalump, for example, is a popular fat activism blog run by Kath. Fat Heffalump receives hundreds of comments from women all around the world thanking Kath for making her begin to love their bodies for the way they are.

But even as I read about fat acceptance, a little voice boomed at the back of my head telling me that being overweight was bad for your health. I have spent my entire life trying to change my body because I felt that I needed to do it to fit into society. I spent my awkward teenage years hating my body and wanting to hide it away from the world, refusing to go out on weekends because I was humiliated of myself.

The Health At Every Size has taught me that it’s OK to love your body and that your body doesn’t make you who you are. Fat acceptance demands that all bodies be treated with respect and dignity.

Whether you’re fat or thin, I hope that  this is a vision of a society that we can all agree with.

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What the hell is clean eating

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If you’re on Instagram and Twitter, you’ve probably seen the hashtag #Cleaneating (amongst hundreds of other hashtags on the same damn photo…) appear on your main page here and there. If you’re like me (and god this is embarrassing) you would assume clean eating means to just simply wash your fruit and vegetables a bit more throughly when you get them from the shops.

Apparently not. According to ItFitness, Clean eating is eating foods in their most natural state. This means that you need to throw processed food, foods with preservatives and foods with lots of sugar out of your diet. Essentially you are keeping your food in its natural state and only adding natural flavours to give it taste (Think squeezing some lemon on your salad, etc.) Basically, say goodbye to fast food and hello to your own kitchen because the basic idea behind clean eating is making your own meals from scratch.

Science based medicine breaks it down in the following dot points:

  • Eat 5 or 6 small meals every day
  • Eat every 2 to 3 hours
  • Combine lean protein and complex carbs at every meal.
  • Drink at least 2 liters, or 8 cups, of water each day.
  • Avoid all over-processed, refined foods, especially white flour and sugar
  • Avoid chemicals, preservatives, and artificial sugar
  • Depend on fresh fruits and vegetables for fiber, vitamins, and enzymes

A quick google search on “Clean eating results” show hundreds of photos of people showing off their 30-day clean eating results, with many of them having very obvious weight loss (as shown below)

(Source)

Clean eating is essentially a “lifestyle change” and not a diet as such. Mixing clean eating with exercising in moderation can be beneficial and the results of clean eating speak for themselves. But, like the many fads in “lifestyle changes” before, another new one will pop up before we know it and then the general population (including me) while be googling and scratching our heads in confusion as to how it’s different from the previous fad. I am all for welcoming it, just go easy on the Instagram tags, guys..

Part 2 with Tash

As you were losing weight, were there times when you felt like reaching your goal weight felt almost impossible, or too hard? Did you ever think about giving up?
Not necessarily. Ever since my weight journey began, I was always realistic about my body shape and my naturally gifted curves. I think so many young women are blindsided and driven by what society  ‘teaches’ us what to look like, how to dress, how thin you need to be in order to fit in. The truth of the matter is that for me, regardless of how much weight I lost, I always knew that I would never look like your typical skinny minny. Instead, I chose a celebrity that had the SAME body shape as me and strived to be driven by her and her successes. By doing that, I NEVER WANTED to give up.

Did you reward yourself at anytime as you reached “milestones” in your weight loss journey
I did. Rewarded myself with new clothing, a new hairstyle, and a ‘cheat’ meal once a week. (Not McDonalds, more like a homemade pizza!)

What made you want to become a personal trainer?
I had no intentions of becoming a personal trainer, until roughly 6-8 months of my own personal journey. Something came alive in me and I thought ‘if I can make such a change and such a difference in my life, I can absolutely do this and assist others with their struggles and their fitness goals’. For once I my working career, I feel as though this industry has come to me and has found me. For once I’m not settling for just ‘a job’. It’s quite beautiful actually.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a personal trainer?
I think every trainer would agree – RESULTS. The first thing that would come to your mind would be ‘oh yeah weight loss’. When I talk results, I mean yes physically but MOST importantly attaining the results that CAN change your entire life. Every individual can lose weight, but can everybody be happy and content at the same time? No. And that’s the best part of my job. It really speaks for itself.

Do you find that you can relate to your clients sometimes as you have been through the same journey they are going through?
Each and every time! This is the advantage I hold within this industry. When clients SEE a transformation, nothing motivates them more.

What is your training “philosophy”?
Keep it simple! The more we complicate things for our clients the higher the expectations and the higher chance of failure and de motivation. Two key things you DO NOT want a client to experience. The other key ingredient to my training philosophy is building RAPPORT. Between both yourself and the client; Always!!

On Fernwood’s Facebook page, I noticed you said posting the photo of your “before” picture was hard, why is that?
The most difficult thing I have ever experienced in my life. Not because of what I looked like, but more because the emotional pain this causes each time I see it. To a point, I will never escape that feeling…

 

“I have confidence in springtime, I have confidence in me..”

One of the first things I remember about walking into the gym in the first couple of weeks was how amazing the bodies of the person trainers were. Now, normally this wouldn’t have made me too bat-crazy, until I remembered that I had signed up for personal training in my gym contract. The thought of someone watching and judging my every move from  a mere meter away was nerve wrenching. I mean, sure, that’s their job but still. Their perfect bodies in their lycra without any noticeable bumps and lumps on their thighs watching me who.. well, let’s just say lycra pants wouldn’t be an option for another couple of years. If ever.

I have to say, these thoughts flew out of my head the moment I met who would be training me. Oddly enough, I’m quite good friends with my past two trainers and both of them know the ins and outs of my life, including body issues.

One of them is Tash. The moment I met Tash, I was greeted with a warm smile and bubbly personality.  Of course, the same feelings about being embarrassed to be judged by her came back. I didn’t tell her about this until about two months later when I found out, via the gym’s Facebook page, that Tash used to be obese. I immediately flagged her down the next day at gym and asked her all about it. The more I spoke to Tash, the more I realised you simply can not judge someone by their body shape. The most important thing to be in the gym is confident. There is no point being scared and intimated by what the girl on the treadmill next to you looks like. She, like millions of people around the world, has a different body shape to the next girl and the next girl. Working with what you have is the most important thing in the world and confidence will help bring that out.

Below is my interview with Tash.

When did you first start to notice that you were putting on weight? Did it begin in your childhood?
If you look at my physique, it is not hard to see that i naturally have a solid foundation. I have built shoulders, a curvy structure and a booty (always have). Ever since I could remember, I was always a part of the boys group. Girls seemed to avoid playing with me in the school yard and I could never work out why until adolescence. In answer to your question, there was never really a ‘time’ when I started to notice I was bigger.  I always was and to a point always will be.

At your heaviest weight, can you recall the feelings you were having at that time?
I was 24 and weighed in at 104kg. This was my all time low. Confidence no longer was a part of my vocabulary and eventually I learnt that the only way to ‘deal’ was to put up the wall. The wall of ‘its OK, I’ve got a great corporate job, no one will judge me and I will be accepted for who I am, not what I look like’. Unfortunately in my world this was NOT the case. Trying to convince myself that it was okay was a way to block it out with a marker or hide the facts away. And then the next day, the same horrible feeling would come back; day in and day out.

During this period of your life, did you try any “fad diets”? If so, did you have any success with them?
I tried them all. Weight loss pills, no carbohydrates, dukan diet. I had success with them, however it was very short lived. The weight dropped off, HOWEVER within 6 months the weight crept back on. The issue you may ask? EDUCATION and lack of it.The secret to weight loss and managing weight loss in my view is LEARNING. Knowing what is going into your body, when it needs to go into your body and what is actually happening to your body when such food is consumed. I always say to my clients, ‘sometimes I wish the inside of our body could act as the outside of our body, just to see the impact good and bad foods can affect us both physically and mentally’ – 1 out of every 5 of my clients replies with ‘wow, I never really looked at it that way.’

What was the “turning point” in your life that made you decide to lose weight for good?
After much contemplation and fearing the unknown, something clicked (how cliché does that sound). That’s the honest truth. I’d literally forgotten who I actually was and I was so consumed by my job that things started taking a personal toll on my life and my relationships; one morning, I woke up and that was it. I handed in my resignation and 2 weeks later, I was on my way to a healthier, happier lifestyle.

How did you start your “journey?” Did you join a gym, for example?
Fortunately, I was financially in a position to take some well earnt time off from EVERYTHING, but primarily work. After being in the corporate sector for 10 years it was time to focus on me. My brother is a qualified trainer, so as funny as this sounds I always sort of had a base knowledge of what exercises was. I did join a gym (Fernwood Epping) and that was my life. Sleep, eat, train, REPEAT.

Were family and friends supportive of your lifestyle change?
Absolutely; in every way imaginable. Regardless if they were or were not, it was not going to change my mind set.

Continue to part 2