Why Dr Oz makes me sad and anry

As I was grabbing coffee in the office breakroom this morning, I was subjected to a few minutes of the Dr Oz Show.  Unsurprisingly, he was discussing weight loss.  Oz had two women on stage with him, at some sort of mock-up restaurant table, and they were discussing weight-loss “rules” for eating out.  (Keep in mind that this is a man who has been exposed as a liar and scolded by senators for promoting “miracle” weight-loss scams.)  Of course the women on stage (and presumably his entire audience, both in-studio and at home) were hanging on his every word as if he was some sort of prophetic weight-loss savior.

The 3 “rules” I caught before I got my coffee and ran out of the room were as follows”

-Order first – Presumably this is so you will order a ‘healthy’ option, and not be swayed by the orders of your dining companions.

-Grab the “healthy” stuff when it is passed around – I’m all for choosing options like fresh fruit or veggies, but you should make that choice because you enjoy eating them and/or you like the way they make you feel when you eat them.  Oz is pushing this as a “rule” because he is teaching his viewers that if they fill up on the “healthy” stuff, then they won’t be “tempted” by the “unhealthy” options.  I take issue with the pervasive need to label foods ‘good’ or ‘bad’, or ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’.  Food is food.  We need to stop demonizing certain foods.  Demonizing and labeling foods only leads to guilt when we choose to enjoy the “unhealthy” options.  The only “rules” anyone needs to follow are: 1) Eat when you are hungry.  2) Stop when you are full.  3) Eat what you want/what makes you feel good.  4) Avoid foods that make you feel yucky.  There ya go.

-Take 3 bite of dessert and set it aside (then drink a full glass of water so you will be full and not tempted to eat any more) – Seriously?!  This is the last one I heard, and it pissed me off so much that I almost ran (fast walking, I was carrying a hot cup of coffee, remember?) out of the room and back to my computer to start a draft of this post.  This makes me angry and sad for so many reasons.  It makes me angry because it is again demonizing a particular food, and basically telling women that they can’t listen to their own bodies’ hunger signals and must therefore set the ‘bad’ food out of reach so that they will not be ‘tempted’ to eat more.  If all you’re going to eat is three measly bites, then why the hell are you even bothering to order the dessert?!  Now, if you order the dessert and decide you are full/satisfied after just 3 bites, that’s fine.  Pack that yumminess up ant take it home for later.  But I don’t want women to feel like they must stop after 3 bites, if they still want more.  Stop because you are satisfied, not because you think that eating more will turn you into some sort of fat monster overnight.

It makes me sad because I know that so many women who hang on his every word and believe what he says, simply because he is a doctor and because they really believe that fat is the worst thing you can be.

It is things like this that lead to the widely-held belief that fat is bad and it is ok to bully, harass, and tease people about their weight, and this impacts our children as well.  Statistics from the National Eating Disorder Information Center show that,

“Overweight and obese children are more likely to be bullied than their normal-weight peers. For example:
– In a survey of 11–16 year-olds, 10% of normal-weight children reported being bullied, compared to 15% of overweight and 23% of obese children
– Obese girls were 2.7 times more likely than normal weight girls to be verbally bullied on a regular basis and 3.4 times more likely to be excluded from group activities

Janssen, I., Craig, W. M., Boyce, W. F. & Pickett, W. (2004). Associations Between Overweight and Obesity With Bullying Behaviours in School-Age Children. Pediatrics, 113(5), 1187-1194.” (NEDIC)

The other big problem I have with Dr Oz is that he continues to shill his weight-loss snake oil, without having any proof that it is either safe or effective.  Guess he forgot about the “Do no harm” part of the Hippocratic Oath, huh?

We’ve discussed the fact that diets don’t work previously here on More Than My Size, but lets look at some different sources for this argument today.  In an article from the NEDIC,

“Katherine M. Flegal, PhD, Senior Research Scientist at the National Center for Health Statistics, CDC, explains, “Although people think there’s all this evidence out there showing a high mortality risk associated with overweight, in fact the literature doesn’t show it.” Far from it. Flegal’s research, analyzing 30 years of actual deaths in the US, corrected an earlier CDC report that indicated severe risks related to overweight. She showed instead that being clinically ‘overweight’ is associated with a lower death rate than so-called ‘normal’ or ‘healthy’ weight2. It confirmed much earlier research that had been studiously ignored.” (emphasis mine)

So despite the fact that earlier research has shown little to no connection between being overweight and a higher risk of mortality, and despite Flegal’s study being published in 2005, those in the medical field are still prescribing weight loss to their patients.

“Further, despite nearly three decades of intense research, obesity specialists fail to show success for any of the current weight loss methods, whether diet, drugs or surgery. All are considered experimental. None are proven safe and effective.

  • Dieting causes short-term weight loss lasting no longer than six months, followed by regain, known as weight cycling, which carries its own risks, and can lead to food preoccupation, bingeing, dysfunctional eating and sometimes eating disorders.
  • Drugs offer only minimal weight loss of about 5-11 pounds, regained when the drug is stopped, so must be taken long term with increased risk. Of 6 million U.S. adults treated with fen-phen/Redux, the FDA reports that one-third developed leaky heart valves, fatal to some, and others died of primary pulmonary disease.
  • Gastric surgery for weight loss carries risk of nearly 5 percent death rate (nearly 50 percent for patients age 75 and over) according to Medicare studies3, and more than 60 complications.

The 1990 Congressional hearings exposed much deception and fraud in the weight loss industry. In 1992 the National Institutes of Health reported not one diet company could produce research showing safety and success for any program.

In their 1998 New Year’s Day editorial, Marcia Angell, MD, and Jerome P. Kassirer, MD, editors of theNew England Journal of Medicine, warned, “Until we have better data about the risks of being overweight and the benefits and risks of trying to lose weight, we should remember that the cure for obesity may be worse than the condition.” (all emphasis mine)

So why do so many doctors still prescribe weight loss, despite lacking any good science to back it up?  Why do so many women continue to fight their bodies and jump on and off of the dieting, weight cycling, self-hatred bandwagon?  Because the diet industry tells them to.  Remember, the diet industry is now a $60.9 BILLION dollar business.  60 billion dollars is a whole lot of money that they can spend to fund studies that turn out favorable (for them) results, launch body-shaming ad campaigns, lobbying congress, and promoting their products to doctors and other health professionals and organizations.

Unfortunately in the mythic ‘war on obesity’, the diet industry (and it’s cohorts like Dr Oz) are far better armed than those they are waging war against.  Unlike an actual war, where the casualties are fairly obvious, the casualties of this war are rarely known.

This is why I write.  This is why fat activism is my activism.  Because I am sick of seeing the women and girls who have become casualties of this war littering the halls of our hearts and minds.  I am tired of seeing more and more young girls losing their spirits and even their lives to eating disorders.  I am tired of seeing how preoccupied we are with our weights and with our diets.

It is time for us to stand up and speak out.  It is time for us to speak with no only our voices but our wallets.  It’s time to stop buying into the crap that the diet industry (and it’s snake oil salesmen like Dr Oz) are selling.  The revolution is beginning.

Are you in?

Sad body image factoids (plus my thoughts on the matter)

Imagine how much free time you would have for thinking about the stuff that matters, if you weren’t thinking about what you hate about your body.  More time for thinking about what fun things you could do this weekend, or time to plot and plan the perfect birthday party for a friend, or just time to aimlessly daydream.

Yet that is the body type that so many are starving and hating themselves to get.

The media is killing our kid’s spirits 😦

I was one of these girls.  I dieted off and on from the age of probably 12 to 31.  I starved myself (going a day or more without eating) and used diet pills before I was even old enough to buy them. (My father bought them for me)

Girls this young should be thinking about their next slumber party or learning how to do a cartwheel, not about dieting.

Imagine if society and the media celebrated all bodies as beautiful, ho many fewer people would not fall victim to eating disorders. (I am aware that there are other reasons that people get eating disorders, however I believe that truly celebrating all bodies as beautiful would do a lot to help)

Undergrads should be thinking about projects and exams, not dieting and their weight.  Depriving your body of nutrients on the latest fad diet only makes it harder to study, concentrate, and remember the information.

I makes me sad and angry that physical attractiveness seems to be the number one focus of all advertisements, especially those aimed at women.  Why are women and girls so rarely celebrated for their brilliant minds, artistic talent, kindness, or anything but their bodies!?!

Spoooon!

Thankfully MurderofGoths reminded me, or I would have missed Blogging Against Disablism Day!

I’ve discussed the issue of disability and being a Spoonie a bit previously here.  Today I want to look at the ways in which fitspo is actually shaming, ableist, and hurtful.

Fistspo, or fitness inspiration, has become very popular on all social media platforms.  Fistpo’s “goal”, as touted by those who create and share it, is to “inspire” you to get fit.  Usually this is done with “inspiring” statements encouraging viewers to get off their asses and go work out, plastered across pictures of washboard abs or rock solid glutes.  “What’s your excuse?” is a popular phrase, brought into the media spotlight by Maria Kang.  Click to read the ABC news story on her picture, but be warned, she makes no apologies for her fat-shaming or how it may have hurt anyone who saw the image.

The problem with fitspo, and especially with phrases like “What’s your excuse?”, is that it leaves out a lot of important considerations.  First and foremost being that no one needs an excuse for not looking like a fitness model or even for not exercising.  Why? Because it’s no one else’s business but your own what you choose to do with your body. Period. Full stop.  I don’t need an “excuse” because I do not have to justify my existence to anyone, TYVM.

Fitspo can also be highly problematic to anyone who suffers with eating disorders, body dis-morphia, or self-esteem issues.  For someone who is struggling to love their body and is doing the very hard work of learning how to take care of their body again, images such as these can cause major setbacks.  According to the ANAD, “up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder) in the U.S”.  In addition, “95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25.8”, and “The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate associated with all causes of death for females 15-24 years old” (emphasis mine).  These images do nothing to help millions of young people who are already bombarded every day with media that tells them that in order to be pretty/popular/or worthy, they must be thin, at any cost.

Now, relating to how fitspo plays into ableism, its images and messages ignore the fact that many people, especially those dealing with disabilities, both visible and invisible, may not be able to participate in fitness, especially to the degree required to achieve washboard abs and roch hard glutes.  For someone like myself, who is dealing with fibromyalgia, or for those who deal with diseases such as lyme, lupus, or CFS, our disability is likely less visible.  So according to proponents of fitspo and the like, we have “no excuse”.  Never mind the fact that there are days when I debate with myself for 10 minutes about whether taking a shower is worth the pain it will cause, let alone going to the gym for a workout. Even people with visible disabilities such as those that require them to use a wheelchair or prosthetic limbs, have no excuse thanks to so-called ‘inspiration porn’, images of disabled individuals doing Crossfit and lifting a barbell with one arm, wheelchair athletes, and the like.  Now, I’m certainly not trying to downplay anyone’s athletic achievements, able bodied or differently abled.  My point is that no matter your ability, the only acceptable body is still one that is fit and active.  And the inspiration porn featuring disabled folks is hardly celebrating their achievements.  Rather it serves as a message to able bodied folks that says “Look at this poor disabled person.  He only has one arm but he can lift weights and have a muscular body!  If he can do it, then you have no excuse!”

I am all for finding things to inspire you to find enjoyable ways to move your body, if you so choose.  However, I would like to see more positive images, rather than images meant to shame you into doing what other people think you should.  I believe in finding ways to move your body, simply because it makes you feel good.  I also believe that no one knows your body better than you, and therefore no one else knows what you can or cannot handle on any given day.  Some days I can hop on the treadmill, zone out, and walk/jog/run for 3 miles, and love every minute of it.  Some days I can get off the treadmill, do 20 minutes of work on weights, and then hop in the pool for a 15 minute swim, and finish up feeling tired but great.  Then there are some days where if I can manage the drive to the gym, all I can handle when I get there is a 10 minutes of gentle movement in the warm pool.  Or maybe I just go and sit in the steam room or hot tub to loosen the knots that seem to have moved in to every muscle of my body.  Some days I can’t even manage the drive to the gym, and just do my best to get from my chair to the bathroom when I need to pee!

Fitspo and its proponents seem to forget that all bodies are good bodies.  They forget that it isn’t anyone’s business but my own whether I exercise or sit of my duff.  They forget that not only is body shaming cruel, but it does far more harm than good.

My hope is that one day we will celebrate the wonder and beauty in EVERY body, rather than just those that fit society’s narrow standards of beauty.

I want to encourage you to celebrate your body today (and every day) for all the crazy-cool things it can do.  Take some time today to check your sexy self out in the mirror.  Find those spots that bother you, those spots that the media says are “trouble spots” and need to be “slimmed/smoothed/reduced”.  Really look at your body, especially any areas that you have trouble loving.  Touch those spots and find something about them to compliment.  For me, my belly has been a source of shame for too many years.  Now when I look in the mirror, I like to look at my belly (from the front AND the side!) and tell myself how much I love it’s soft curves that look like a big, rolling hill.  Some nights I lie in bed and caress my belly and focus on how soft it is, tickle the little happy trail that lets from my big round belly down onto my pudgy pubic mound.

Today, whether you are able-bodied or not, whether you have all the limbs or are rocking some bionic bits, whether you have all the spoons you need or are struggling to find a stray spoon that might let you wash your hair….take a little time today to love yourself.  Celebrate the body that you are in, right here, right now.  Because no matter what, you are alive.  And that, my friends, is pretty damn cool.

Jes Baker tells Lane Bryant what is wrong with the #I’mNoAngel campaign

Holy blogging, Batman!  Jes Baker one again hits the nail right on the head.  Today she posted an open letter to Lind Heasley, of Lane Bryant,  discussing their new #I’mNoAngel campaign, and the problems many of us have been discussing in relation to it.  Jes discusses many of the same issues I laid out in my previous post on the topic, probing each in more depth, as well as discussing things I hadn’t, like how only seeing a few body types as “acceptable” only serves to add to the myriad of reasons that so many girls and women develop body dysmorphia and eating disorders.  Jes says,

“When a person is constantly bombarded by images of one “ideal” body (plus or otherwise) it wreaks havoc on their psyche. The continual exposure mentally trains them to believe that only ONE body is worthy and this unfortunate social conditioning is one of the largest contributors to low self-esteem, body dysmorphia, eating disorders, and other severe body image related issues- all of which affect daily living. Visible diversity is a solution to these problems, and asking for it is anything but egotistical. It’s absolutely necessary.”

Jes even went a step further, putting together a photo shoot to demonstrate to Linda Heasley the type of representation that she is suggesting.  Jes gathered some more badass babes like herself and created photos reminiscent of LB’s original images, but with much, MUCH more diversity.  (Side note, I like to imagine that Jes and her friends have some sort of secret signal that they put out when a badass girl gang is needed.  Then they are all “Gir-vengers, Assemble!” and this amazing girl gang appears, looking fabulous and fierce.)

Seriously folks, go check out this post.  It says everything I have said, plus so much more that I didn’t, and it is so well-written and obviously though out.  I absolutely devoured every delicious word as I read it.

And yes, I do totally have a massive sapiosexual girl-crush on Jes, and reeeeealy hope to have the chance to meet her and soak in her awesomeness one day!

ETA: HOLY POOPCAKES Jes and her campaign made the front page of the Huffington Post!!!!!

Happy Friday!

I decided I liked last Friday’s cute and happy post so much that I want to do it again.

Today I am sharing some body positive comics that I found while wandering around the interwebs.

Via MoMakesComics

captain floppy asscheeks, here to save the day and promote body-love for all.

Next up, ColleenClarkArt!  Click the comic to read the rest.  It’s totally worth it, I promise!

image

OurSuperAdventure

I am feeling real body positive lately because bodies are dead cool!! they come in lots of different shapes and sizes and I think that is pretty neat!!
(Read more diary comics over at oursuperadventure.com!!

The last one is from MayaKern, and it is one of my favorites!  While you are there, check out this one too, it might just be my second favorite!

Body of Work

When I think about the awesomeness of our bodies, I tend to think about a mud run I did with a friend of mine.  For the uninitiated, a mud run is a race, usually about 5k in length, that runs through an obstacle course of crazy-fun stuff for you to conquer.  Now, I don’t run these looking for a great time (see above).  I run them to push my body to do wacky things that it never gets to do.  At a mud run I get to swim and climb and crawl through all sorts of tough and muddy obstacles.

Anyway…the reason I think back to one particular run is that it highlighted for me the awesome things that bodies can do, no matter what they look like.  I did the run with one of my dearest friends, who has quite a different body than I do.  My friend is naturally quite thin, ans has in fact struggled for years to gain or maintain weight, just to stay healthy.  Then there was me.  Short, fat, and definitely not looking like the mud run ‘type’.  But that’s another great thing about these runs, you get all types.  There were muscle-bound hardbodies, trim runner’s bodies, soft fat bodies, and everything in between.  One of the coolest things about the runs is the way in which everyone really helps one another.  For example, my friend does not swim.  She never learned, and is afraid of deep or dark water, so the swimming parts of our course had her nervous.  I, on the other hand, learned to swim early, and while I am neither graceful nor skilled, can propel myself through the water just fine.  Being fat helps too, since it gives me a natural flotation device!  So before the race, I told my friend that I likely wasn’t going to run too much, I just wasn’t in shape for that.  She had no issue with this and said she was happy to go as slow as I needed.  I was eternally grateful for this when we rounded the first curve and saw the hill that we had to trek up for the first leg of the race.  Bless her heart,s he stayed right with me as I huffed and puffed and trudged up that hill.  Later, we came to the water obstacles.  I had promised her when we signed up that I would stay right beside her for anything that she was afraid of.  She could hold onto me and I would pull her across, or just stay with her while she paddled.  As it turned out, the first obstacle was not as deep as we had expected, so we walked across, fighting the mud that threatened to suck of our shoes and never give them back.  One down, no problem!  The second one was a different story.  Since I swim and have no far, I hopped off the edge first, to see how deep the water was.  I never did find the bottom of that cow pond!  Fortunately, there were ropes along the side, so my friend clung to the rope and worked her way slowly across the water, me floating next to her in case she needed a human life preserver.  She never needed me, and totally kicked the water’s butt!!

Later we came to a climbing obstacle.  It looked like this, but at an angle, instead of straight up and down

We each took our turns grabbing a rope and hauling ourselves to the top.  We yelled and screamed and cheered encouragement for one another as we climbed.  I crested the top and started back down the other side in a cloud of euphoria, I did it!  Wooo!  Later, when I saw pictures from that obstacle, I marveled at how freaking cool it was that our 2 very different bodies totally rocked!  In each of our pictures you can see our faces screwed up with concentration, brains working faster than light to figure out how to climb the wall.  You can see the muscles in our arms and legs outlined beneath our skin, using all their strength to pull and push and balance.  I mean come on, how awesome is that!

So next time society’s messages of imperfection and body shame get you down, remember all the cool things your body can do.  Try making a list of all the things that your body does that make you happy or amaze you.  Maybe that’s dancing to your favorite song, picking up your kids, your brain working out a tough puzzle or problem, your legs propelling you down the sidewalk, or your belly turning yummy food into energy for all your parts.

Tell me in the comments, what are the awesome things your body does that you think are really cool?