Monday, June 15, 2015

Body Love Conference 2015 - A day of inspiration

We all need a day just focused on body love and body positivity in our lives!  I was lucky enough to have one of those in June of 2015.

I first learned about the Body Love Conference last year from the social media page of Jes Baker aka The Militant Baker.  She's an advocate for body acceptance and active in many different ways to try to help us embrace the idea that truly all bodies are beautiful and an important figure in the HAES® and size acceptance movement.

I found out they were accepting submissions and I figured I'd submit an idea that I had for a presentation.  Luckily my submission was accepted!  We'll get to that in a few, but first let me tell you more about the conference and the time leading up to it.  As the conference got closer and closer, I was obviously nervous about being in front of a group of people but, in all honesty, there were other issues going on.  Recently I've been filled with self-doubt for many different reasons but let's just say the past six months have been a struggle.  The self-doubt that I was experiencing (like with all things negative) permeated into other parts of my life.  With the conference approaching, I was looking forward to be in an accepting environment of all different types of people, not just as a presenter but as a participant also.

The other thing that I was looking forward to was connecting with some other professionals that I've followed via social media for a while, the co-founders of Be Nourished, Dana Sturtevant, MS, RD and Hilary Kinavey, MS, LPC.  These two women are inspirations for me because they embody the type of body positive practice that helps people across the country heal their relationship with their body and with food.  In addition to Dana and Hilary, I also met another HAES® professional, Carmen Cool, MA, LPC and a teen dynamo Maya Greenberg.  Together, their work at the Boulder Body Alliance is something every community needs: adults and teens working together to advocate for body positivity to local school boards and local and federal government.  These colleagues (and now friends) were a large reason why my weekend was so memorable.  Coming to a conference where you really don't know anyone can be daunting but when you're struggling with self doubt and depression, it is overwhelming to say the least.  Their sessions inspired me and their kindness towards me will always be appreciated because it made me feel accepted and a part of the community.

Being accepted was a theme that really resonated with me over my whole weekend in Tucson.  Part of what I was going to talk about in my presentation was my own personal experience with weight stigma.  As a fat dietitian, I get it almost weekly and I wanted to share my experience at the conference.  So as I got to the conference, I was excited to be in a community that was so open to all different shapes, sizes and genders.  I was not disappointed one little bit.  Over the course of the entire weekend, I felt so comfortable around everyone and it was a feeling that I continue to hold on to.  When it came to my presentation, I was standing in front of a group of people and never once did I feel judged by my size....not once! Usually when I present, I notice about 25-50% of the people there stealing peeks at my stomach, not looking at my eyes.  Well, that never happened--not once--during my entire weekend.

This leads to what my presentation was about.  It was called, "Judge me by size do you? Lessons learned from a fat dietitian."  Like I mentioned above, it was about my experience of being judged by my size, but I also talked about Intuitive Eating, HAES®, and Star Wars.  Yes, Star Wars.  I used quotes from the Jedi Master, Yoda, to bring home how making peace with food and accepting our bodies is like using The Force.  It was full of movie clips and quotes and I was thrilled with the response I got.  I was especially thankful that Jes Baker found time to attend the session!

Truly, it was an overwhelmingly positive experience.  It was amazing to be surrounded by so many "body positive" activists.  It felt so amazing to meet Jes herself.  When I did, it seemed as if she was just as excited to meet me as I was to meet her.  I'll always be thankful for her warm reception and accepting hug!  I'd also like to thank the team of volunteers who organized this weekend.  It was truly a labor of love and the fact is this: their work in organizing this weekend made a positive impact on hundreds of lives.

Now that I'm home with some perspective on what this weekend meant to me, the answer is clear.  It was just what the doctor ordered.  I came home energized and ready to spread the message of body positivity, Intuitive Eating and HAES® to all the future Jedis out there.  I came home smiling but also ready to tell the world, "Your body does not need to be changed!"  Embrace the body you have now! For remember, what Yoda said, "Luminous beings we are!" and I've never been more convinced of that statement than I am today.

Monday, June 8, 2015

What Are You Prepared To Do?

It's been a while since I wrote on this blog. Why? Many reasons, really, but let's just boil it down to this: nothing really inspired me.  And with no inspiration, there was no writing.

To what do I owe the pleasure of inspiration?  Its none other than JJ Virgin.  She's  a nutrition and fitness expert with nearly 30+ years of experience in the field (per her website). She is an avid writer and her latest book "Sugar Impact Diet" was a New York Times bestseller.

So there I am, wasting time on Huffington Post (as I'm prone to do) and I came across this article, 9 Science-based Strategies for Long-Term Weight Loss.  Obviously with a title like that, I'm bound to be intrigued, right?  That's what a good headline is supposed to do, after all.  Well, it worked and I found myself reading the article. That might have been a mistake or one of the greatest things ever....we'll know after I finish this blog.

Just reading the headline, I was wondering, "Has someone finally cracked the code to successful weight loss?"  If so, then let's get the Nobel Prize for Science ready!  But before we book flights to Stockholm, let's see what the article said.

It starts by citing a study done in 2007 that found (no surprise if you've read any of my other blogs) that over the long-term, most people (around 95%) will eventually regain weight after their initial success in losing weight.  You would think that after reading the article she references, the author would say, "So, why not give up dieting?"  No way no how! She goes on to say that despite these insurmountable odds, these 9 science-based strategies will disprove the previous article she just mentioned.

Anyone--and I mean anyone--can find numerous studies that show short-term weight loss. Great, then let's get to the real crux of it then: where's the long-term data? I don't care about short-term data, show me the numbers after 5 years.  Why don't they report these?  Because they show the truth, that most people gain the weight back!

But let's get back to the article, shall we?  Her 9 strategies say that people who maintain "fat loss" do the following:
1) They measure to improve by using mobile apps to track calories, daily weights and wearing a pedometer.
2) They journal their intake and their health goals
3) They eat mindfully and I have to quote here, "They know even a few moments of mindless eating -- such as a perilous 11 p.m. cookie dough fridge raid -- will derail their best efforts." 
4) They downsize by using smaller plate and glasses to eat smaller portions 
5) They simplify breakfast by having a meal replacement shake. 
6) They add before they take away meaning they "fill up" on fiber so that they don't end up eating other unwanted foods 
7) They keep their enemy away by not ever letting offending foods into the house.  (JJ's personal example is almond butter!) 
8) They surround themselves with like-minded people and again I quote, "To maintain fat loss, studies show a person's chances of becoming obese increased by 57% if they had a friend who became obese in a given interval." 
9) They engage in community by being around other like minded people.  

As I read these, I realized that these all seemed so incredibly sad.  Why sad? Well, let me interpret these 9 strategies for you.  To me, what I read is that if you want to lose weight and keep it off for the long-term here's what you better be prepared to do:  

  • Forever be slave to...
    • calorie counting  
    • keeping a food journal
    • drinking your morning meal replacement shake and
    • the scale. 
  • You better be sure to be hyper vigilant and never ever ever slip up because if you do, you're doomed. 
  • Make sure you never eat too much and be sure and surround yourself with other people who are experiencing the same thing you are so you all can complain about how miserable you all are.  
  • Oh, and be sure to not have any fat friends because if you do, they'll sabotage your efforts. 
If these sound as unappealing to you as they do to me then I have an alternative for you. You have a choice and here are the ones I've made:  

I choose to enjoy my food by savoring each bite, no matter what it is.  
I choose to listen to my body, my cravings and my fullness.  
I choose to live with peace with my body and my food.  
I choose to surround myself with people of all shapes and sizes because their size does not determine what kind of person they are going to be. 
I choose to honor my body with movement that makes me feel alive.

This is Health at Every Size® an Intuitive Eating and it works.  Interested in joining me, there's plenty of room on this train! 

Thanks JJ Virgin for helping me get back in the blog world!  It's nice to be back.