Do Fat Acceptance Bloggers Really Believe It Does Not Matter

Yesterday I came across a Fat Acceptance blogger who said that she is over 400 pounds and her weight does not negatively affect her life.

Really. I had to ask myself, “Is she being honest with herself and her readers?”

I read further in her blog (I just couldn’t help myself) and she talks about the difficulty of finding clothes that are larger than 5X or size 34, having to rent a scooter at an amusement park because she could not walk between the rides because of her weight, having to purchase a seatbelt extender for her car, and a post where she explains that she has to wear a Poise pad all the time because of incontinence that is likely contributed to by her weight.

This really bothered me because when I was 300+ pounds, I admitted that my weight affected me and how I lived my life. I didn’t always admit it in public because I tried not to talk about my weight in a public forum, but privately I admitted to John that I knew that simple things like walking through the mall was harder on me than it should be because I was “fat.” He always tried to make me feel better, but I knew the truth.

I knew that my weight was negatively affecting me. I did not try to sugarcoat the times when I had to ride without a car seat belt because the belt in my friend’s cars did not reach across my belly. I did not try to make it seem “fun” to squeeze into an airline seat, and I never said that I was  “healthy” fat person because I knew that I was at an unhealthy weight that did affect every area of my life.

When I do public speaking and people tell me that their weight doesn’t affect them or their activity level,  I often say, “How do you know?” If it has been years since you’ve lived at a healthier weight, how do you know that your weight is not negatively affecting your life in some way? How do you know? You don’t until you shed some of that excess weight. (Disclaimer: If you only have a few pounds to lose, then yes, your weight is likely not negatively affecting you too much. But if you are morbidly obese or have a substantial amount of weight to lose, then yes, your weight likely does affect your choices.)

Although I knew that my weight affected some parts of my life, even I did not realize how much my weight was affecting almost every area of my life until I started shedding some of those excess pounds. I knew the physical hardships of being morbidly obese, but I had no idea that my energy level had suffered so much, that my self-esteem was as low as it really was, that I thought of myself as inferior to other people, and that not being able to sit in a movie theater seat comfortably was such a big deal to me. I never realized that my oldest child was sensitive to what her little friends said to her about her mom’s weight either.

As I discovered life outside of morbid obesity, I had to own up to the fact that the days when I did try to be accepting of the Fat Diane were a complete farce. For me anyway.

Perhaps there are people who really can be 400 pounds and feel happy with wearing Poise pads, not being able to find clothes that fit, or having to struggle to breathe when walking up and down their house stairs.

Or perhaps these people are being sold a bill of goods by the Fat Acceptance movement which says:

Proponents of fat acceptance maintain that people of all shapes and sizes can strive for fitness and physical health. They believe health to be independent of, not dependent on, body weight. Thus, proponents promote “health at every size”, the philosophy that one can pursue mental and physical health regardless of their physical appearance or size.

Within the Fat Acceptance movement there are several schools of thought on whether you can be trying to lose weight and still be part of the FA movement, or whether you should not be trying to lose weight if you are a believer in FA.

Due to intrinsic linguistic misunderstandings and differing definitions of the word “acceptance,” some fat activists believe the phrase refers to any fat person fighting for equal rights and opportunities, regardless of whether or not that person believes that the pursuit of reduction in a person’s body mass is feasible. Other fat activists define fat acceptance more strictly, applying that phrase only to fat people who are not pursuing a reduction in their body mass, and use phrases such as “fat activist” to describe fat people and allies working more generally on civil rights issues pertaining to fat people.

I am a proponent of respect at any size and of not discriminating against people because of their size – remember – I used to be over 300 pounds and know what that kind of discrimination and disrespect feels like. What I’m not a proponent of is just accepting our obesity as healthy, inconsequential, and normal.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on whether the FA movement has any benefits beyond promoting equal treatment of all people regardless of size? Does the movement try to give people a “free pass” on obesity without regard to their health and well being? Diane

81 thoughts on “Do Fat Acceptance Bloggers Really Believe It Does Not Matter

  1. blackhuff says:

    I’m with you Dianne and I think people who are obese/overweight, will also see our point when they do lose the weight. I too thought that I was happy when I was obese and boy, how wrong I was.
    I’ve never considered my obesity as healthy or normal. I thought only of myself as happy but always knew that being obese is not normal nor healthy. So I do disagree with the FA with accepting obesity as healthy, inconsequential and normal. Obesity is not that, ever!

  2. Anna Down Under says:

    I agree that fat people should be accepted and treated with equal respect as anyone should be. But I am morbidly obese and I know it’s not healthy. Years ago I managed to lose a lot of weight and I remember feeling so much better … I had a spring in my step. After years of being obese I literally felt so free and light like I’d float away with each step, and I had so much energy! So I know what I’m missing out on now, and I want that feeling back again.

  3. vickie says:

    You are a very brave woman this morning.

    I agree with all that you say.

    You hit the nail on the head with your passages about you thought you knew, but you didn’t REALLY know until the weight was all off your body.

    Me too.

    I had NO idea (how negatively my fat impacted me) until every last pound was gone.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      I think very few of us really know how the weight affects us until it is gone. Honestly, I still think about my obese years all the time and I often discover new ways that being 300 pounds negatively affect my life and self-esteem – even after all these years.

  4. Beth M. says:

    You are one of the few people I would really listen to about this Diane because you were there. You were in your own words, “a morbidly obese woman” and who better to share the differences between the two lifestyles you lived (as fat and not) but someone who has lived both.

    I’ve read the FA information and it seems that aside from the equality issue, they are doing nothing but promoting that people turn their back on common sense, eschew healthy living, and instead just eat themselves into an early grave all for the sake of personal freedom.

  5. Samantha says:

    I used to believe in the Healthy At Any Size philosophy until I got diabetes at age 32. I weighed more than you did and was unable to work. I had truly, truly, truly believed until I was diagnosed that my weight didn’t matter and that the drs could just fix anything that happened with those magic meds. Well, I ended up having weight loss surgery to lose over 125 pounds, which I know you didn’t do, but anyway, my diabetes is so much better that the doctors say I will likely be able to stop meds soon.

    The idea that our weight doesn’t matter is crazy and drs cant magically fix our mistakes with meds – I still can’t believe I thought that was true.

    Thanks for being brave this morning Diane.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      Samantha – thank you for sharing your story and congrats on losing the weight. You are so brave to share your story of believing in the movement until you saw first hand the consequences that can come from being morbidly obese.

  6. Karen p says:

    I remember my doctor telling me ” ok, so your blood work is normal and you don’t have health issues , YET , because you are young. “.

    Very interesting post Diane. It’s going to keep me thinking this morning.

  7. Jane at Keeping the Pounds off says:

    This post brought up a LOT of emotions. I remember being 385 pounds and thinking “Thank God I am still healthy” because I was not diabetic and did not have high blood pressure.” I also did not go to a doctor regularly so I cannot tell you know how I could have really thought I was healthy. – denial

    I used a golf cart at our church festivals to get around the place and walked with a cane at theme parks. A couple of times I used the electric wheelchairs at the parks – that was a breaking point for me.

    I never had incontinence but I was in cars where the seat belt did not fit. On planes with extender belts.

    I spent 17 years of my life weighing over 300 pounds. For more than a decade I denied how the weight was limiting my life. It was only when I put the fork down that I could really SEE what I what missing, what I had done to my life, my family, my friends.

    I feel much empathy for the fat acceptance blogger you write about. I hope I never find her blog while she lives in this denial. It is too heartbreaking – and too close to home. I believe that everyone deserves respect and compassion but I cannot pretend to accept that sort of life as normal and good for anyone. I have to live in the solution, not the unwell past.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      I feel so much empathy for her as well for all the reasons that you said. You, like me, have lived that life that she is living, and it wasn’t sunshine and roses. I had no obvious health problems from my obesity, but I was only 31 when I lost the weight. If I had carried around an extra 150 pounds for 20 or 30 more years then I feel certain things would have been different for me. I still remember walking through Disney World at 300 pounds, wishing with all my heart that I was brave enough to ride in one of those scooters. Instead I pushed through, sat down a lot, and was unable to deny that my weight was affecting my life and my family. It was a sobering day for me.

      Your story is amazing and I so appreciate your honesty in sharing with all of us.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      Roy – I’m really just saying what she said on her own blog. I wasn’t supposing she thought anything. If you want her blog address just message me and I’ll send it on over so you can see for yourself that I’m just rephrasing what she said.

  8. Amy Parker says:

    This is such a touchy subject and I agree with others, you are brave for tackling the topic. The FA movement really does bother me because, let’s be honest, people that are morbidly obese aren’t doing things that are healthy most of the time – UNLESS they are trying to lose the weight and get into better shape.

    I agree with the concept that everyone should be treated with respect and caring because you don’t know what that person is dealing with. However, I can’t look at someone who is 300-400 pounds who ISN’T trying to turn their health/weight around and agree with their lifestyle. It’s hard for me – I started out over 300 lbs (312) and I’m still ‘fighting’ every single day. I love food. I mean, I LOVE FOOD… but there is no way at 312, or even at 272 that I can believe that I am healthy – no matter how active I am.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      It takes honestly to say that Amy, and I appreciate it so much. I was much the same as you. I love food and still do, but I also had to come to the point where I had to acknowledge that how I was living was not healthy for me physically or emotionally.

      There were many times when I was morbidly obese where I internally said, “I’m happy where I am. I’m not going to diet anymore. I’m just going to live my life and be happy.” Although I tried to believe that internal message, there was some part of me that knew differently. It took some courage to confront the fears I had surrounding my weight, but I did it and I applaud you for doing it too!

  9. Jody - Fit at 54 says:

    I have seen shows on these people where they come on & talk about how their weight does not effect their life….

    I agree that we should have equal rights for all people in terms of jobs & things like this – as long as one can physically do the job..

    As for the other part – I really am not sure whether they believe what they are saying or not. I know many times in my life I acted one way but deep inside a lot more crap was going on…..

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      There is often so much more happening in someone’s life then we can see on the surface, especially where weight is involved. I’ve met very few people who struggled with their weight and did not have some emotional attachments to food. Very few. (And I’ve talked with bunches of people over the years.)

  10. Joe says:

    It seems to me they are talking about a persons rights as a human being. Obvisouly they should be treated with respect like everyone should. Now some people that are obese might take those statements and make them into more than what they really are. Diversity should be celebrated but obesity is not diversity it is a health problem. Maybe their message should be tweaked a bit.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      Like I said, I definitely do not want to see people discriminated against because of their size and I know that happens all the time. I was treated very differently when I was obese and it always made me feel terrible.

  11. Erin says:

    The most important part of the Health at Every Size movement is HEALTH. If the intent is to create an environment where obese people feel comfortable working out, going to the doctor, etc, then it’s a good thing. I’ve never seen any real HAES advocate argue that eating unhealthy food and not moving from the couch is a great thing.

    What that woman is living makes me sad. I wish she wanted a better life for herself.

    • Catherine says:

      I totally agree with your first paragraph, Erin!

      I have been struggling with obesity since I was in elementary school… I was basically taught to hate my body. It took many years & the discovery of the HAES movement in order for me to be able to accept myself as a fat person. From there, I have been able to really commit to being healthy AND losing weight (down almost 30 pounds from my highest point!). I feel good about myself, and I’m doing it for ME.

      • Diane Carbonell says:

        That’s so important Catherine. I too hated my body when I was obese and although I didn’t know about the HAES movement, as I began to discover the appreciation inside myself for me, I also began to have success at shedding the pounds. When it comes down to it, we have to get healthy for us, not for a spouse, a parent, a child, or a friend. It has to be about you.

        Thanks for sharing.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      Great point Erin. I think that encouraging everyone to exercise to their ability and get regular health check-ups is a great thing, because when I was obese, I avoided the doctor whenever possible and never exercised. What bothers me is when morbid obesity is held up as a normal, healthy way of living because although it may be more normal now then it was 25 years ago, it is still not the ideal.

      Her blog did make me sad. It brought back a lot of memories for myself and made me wish something different for her. Although I suspect she would disagree with me.

  12. Dawn says:

    Reading about that blogger must have been really tough I know it would have been for me. Reading Jane talk about spending 17 yrs over 300 lbs made me count the years and I spent over 25 yrs above 300 lbs so goodness knows I can relate. Looking back I think the thing that makes me feel the worst is how my obesity affected my children so I’m very happy to hear this woman doesn’t have children. It’s definitely living in denial because honestly at 400 lbs it would feel pretty hopeless, I know at 378 lbs it felt that way. I also know that if the people that really claim to be accepting of themselves at any weight were truly accepting the weight would start to come off. Weighing that much is about using food for other things than to live. Anyway, good post it definitely makes you think. I’m thankful that I made a change and that my children will benefit the most from a less tempered, tired, sick mother.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      It made me sad on so many levels Dawn. Really, it did.

      I feel so fortunate that I was able to lose my weight before it severely affected my health or my kids. My oldest was only 7 when I reached my goal weight and she really has limited memories of me as an obese mom. I too am thankful that you made a change too! Thank you for sharing your story and I love Jane’s as well!

  13. evilcyber says:

    By Jupiter, Diane, the fat acceptance movement has irked me to no end. The entire “health at every size” notion goes in the face of research that pretty much set in stone that that isn’t so. There are, for example, numerous studies showing that obese workers have more sick absences.

    If these people want to stay obese, fine by me. But they should at least have enough back and acknowledge that what they are doing is not healthy, instead of painting an entirely unrealistic, self-justifying picture of their lifestyle choices.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      It’s the public declarations that bother me. The declaration that “weight never matters” when we all know that being morbidly obese does matter. It matters emotionally, physically, psychologically, and even financially.

      What is interesting to me in that the blogs that I read were so very frank about issues like personal hygiene being an issue, about not being able to walk around for any length of time, etc. but in the same post the person would share some techniques to deal with those problems. For me, I’d rather lose weight than have to wear pads or use a scooter because of my weight. Granted, it took me 10 years to get to that point though.

  14. From Polyester to Spandex says:

    I lived as a morbidly obese, and super morbidly obese, woman for the majority of my life. I started gaining weight as a toddler before my 2nd birthday, and it took until I turned 39 for me to begin making healthy changes. To date, I’m now down 141.5 pounds in the last 17 months because of the food and exercise changes I’ve made, and I’ve still got over 80 pounds to lose just to reach the “overweight” BMI category, but I’m well on my way. That being said, I spent a vast part of my life trying to get people to know, understand, and love (read:accept) me regardless of my weight. Somehow, I had confused acceptance of the spirit of who I was, with being healthy. In my mind, I thought that if I was accepted for who I was, then there wasn’t anything wrong with what my physical self had become. Key to my changes was realizing the separation between the two. Just because I had a good sense of humor, or loved my family and friends, or had obtained a good education or knowledge, or had a good moral compass, did not mean that my body was healthy. Acceptance and health are two totally different matters that, in my past, I had mistakenly melded into one. Hmmm….I may have to elaborate and blog more about this later myself!

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      Acceptance and health are different and you explained it well. I wasn’t very good at accepting myself at 300 pounds. I had a lot of self-loathing, but like I told Catherine, everything about getting healthier (and losing weight) became easier when I starting loving myself enough to take a chance and make a change.

      You have done an amazing job and I applaud you for not only what you have accomplished physically but emotionally as well. And yes, please do blog about this!

  15. L says:

    When I was severly anemic and surgery was about to take place to remedy it (I was not happy about the surgery, at all), the pre-op nurse said to me, “Look, if the change that has taken place in your body to get you where you are today, had happened in the span of two weeks instead of two years, you would be begging us to do this surgery so that you could feel normal again. Why you are reluctant is because you have felt this bad for so long, that it doesn’t seem to you to be so bad to you anymore. It’s bad, and you need this surgery.” This statement, more than any other made to me in the weeks preceeding my surgery, gave me some perspective on how sick I was. It wasn’t until this nurse asked me to recall that time before I was so sick and how that felt, that I “remembered” my body was once a whole lot healthier than it had now become. I think obesity tends to promote health amnesia, and that, as well as the obesity itself, can be deadly.

  16. Dr. J says:

    One thing I have noticed repeatedly is that when an obese person, who has continually talked about how being fat is fine and doesn’t really matter, etc, then goes on to lose weight for whatever reason, they are always proclaiming how FABULOUS and WONDERFUL it is for them now that they are not under that burden!

  17. Sarah says:

    I read a health at every size blog and it does make interesting points. The philosophy does address some interesting issues – everyone whether underweight or obese and all those in between should focus on healthy eating and exercise.

    Children in particular shouldn’t be stigmatised by their weight and should all be encouraged to eat healthily because its good for you rather than because they are fat or thin.

    People who are obese and engage in healthy behaviour should not quit the healthy behaviour if they find weight loss doesn’t happen – they are probably doing themselves good anyway.

    Not every overweight person has health issues – in fact they can be healthier than slim people who don’t exercise and eat junk food.

    However if obesity starts to impair daily quality of life, movement, joints, getting round doing ones everyday tasks, then this is a negative impact and its not healthy.

    Personally I became overweight by eating too much and not doing enough exercise – there must be a lot of people in the same category.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      I think there are a lot of people in the same category – I know I was. I wasn’t obese because of a medical condition, but really because of choices I was making in terms of food and lack of exercise.

      I don’t like it when people stigmatize children or adults because of their weight either, and I hope that comes across in my blog. Healthy eating and exercise often times does lead to a healthier weight, at least in my experience. And too, there is the component of not only eating healthy foods, but eating healthy foods in the appropriate portions for your activity level, age, and healthy weight.

      The obesity numbers among children are so concerning to me because it can be so difficult to not only grow up as an overweight child, but being overweight as a child often leads to the same when they become adults.

  18. Michelle says:

    I was one good at telling myself what I wanted to hear. I had normal blood pressure and wasn’t diabetic, so I was healthy. I didn’t get sick often. I was fine. At least I wasn’t like one of those “really obese” people I’ve seen. I wasn’t that bad. it’s the same thoughts that make me think…oh, one more cookie won’t hurt…which has been making losing weight difficult for me. I’ve been working on changing that.

    Even having lost 30 pounds before and knowing how much better it felt, I let myself gain it back and thought I was healthy enough.

    Just yesterday speaking to a couple people I know, I heard a couple of the same lines coming from one of them. She is quite overweight, probably considered obese and said that she was healthy, didn’t have any health problems. She works in a day care and I didn’t really want to point out how much easier it would be to get on the floor and play with the kids it would be. I don’t want to become one of those pushy people who tells others that their way of life is wrong. I know it is easier for me to get down and play with my kids and I’m only 40 pounds into this weight loss journey. I still have almost twice that to go. I feel so much better in so many ways. I hope that, seeing me regularly over the next few years, she (and others) will be inspired to do something about their weight.

    I don’t know anything about the “movement”, but what I hope it means is that women who are 10 or 20 pounds overweight can feel comfortable with their body. One thing that bothers me in society is that a person has to be stick thin to be approved of. I may feel different when I’m 10-20 pounds away from my goal “healthy” weight, but being healthy at slightly overweight is different (IMHO) than trying to convince yourself and others that being terribly obese isn’t affecting your health.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      I agree that stick-thin is not the goal – at least not in my world. I believe in healthy weight and that does not mean a size 2!

      Although I blog about weight loss, in my own life I never say anything to friends or acquaintances about their weight unless they ask. I’ve learned that all I can do is model good behavior and hope that my friends who struggle with their weight will be able to be encouraged by how my life has changed. It sounds like you have the same philosophy and your friends are lucky to have you in their lives.

    • C says:

      Ha I also never saw myself as that big until I watched an episode of biggest loser and realized I was their size. Of course it was an early season and the contestants got much bigger after that but still it was enough to shake me into doing something!

  19. Joy says:

    While I do not think being overweight/obsese is healthy. I am obese at 240 pound but I still able to do a lot of things. I work as a waitress for 35 hours/ week on my feet walking countless miles, I workout at the gym four times a week, Don’t get me wrong my weight does affects me emotionally, my self esteem is low and that’s why I am trying to get to a healthy weight but I guess what I am trying to say being overweight doesn’t have to limit you as long as your are trying to be eat healthy and stay active.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      You are right that the amount of weight we carry affects us in different ways. When I was 300 pounds I could live my life in a basically normal way, but I did get a lot more tired than I did after I lost weight. I was surprised how much more I could do after I lost weight and how my energy level changed, but I’m sure that is personal and varies between individuals. You are doing a great job at living a healthy lifestyle and that is nothing but a positive!

  20. fitmom1969 says:

    Denial no one is happy being 50 lbs to hundreds of pounds overweight or even except it, what their doing is giving up and since they feel they can’t change it they attempt to except the situation which is far from hard to do. Overweight/obesity causes so many diseases and I know from expereince if you don’t have diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease you eventually may get one both or all the longer you carry that amount of weight and don’t take care of yourself in the form of exercise and eating healthy. Even though I exercised and ate healthy off and on I still became diabetic and have high blood pressure and I”m now 250 lbs and nothing healthy about it, I’m currently working on getting the weight off by exercising regurlarly and eating healthy consistently not off and on . It’s hard but worth it and not I don’t except the fat. It’s uncomfortable and makes it hard for me to do so many things healthier and smaller people can do. And ofcourse a person can live healthy and happy if they were just 10 20 lbs overweight and mayve even 30 lbs depending on their height but more than that it runs into obesity and morbid obesity which decreases your chances of a longer life span. I applaud anyone for trying to except themselves because it’s hard to do for lots of people even whe not overweight, but lets not except something so unhealthy that could lead to our deaths. I also beleive everyone deserves respect so this isn’t mean’t as disrespect to anyone I just feel we should be honest with ourselves so we can get our health and life together I say love ourselves enough to want to do better, then do better. Thanks for sharing Diane.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      Thank you for being so honest with your comment, because a lot of people do find it hard to acknowledge that their weight makes a difference in how they feel. You are so right that it is hard to lose the weight, but it is also so worth it.

      Accepting obesity may seem like a good thing from a politically correct standpoint, but over time, most people who live with morbid obesity will have the health consequences that come with that lifestyle. I’m working with several people now who are above 300 pounds and I could write a book on the health consequences they are seeing. One thing that makes them different than some of the bloggers I see is that these women I am working with are over 50 and have had many, many years of obesity.

  21. My 2 cents says:

    I’ll be short and sweet since I know that I’m a total outlier here.

    Fat acceptance and HAES are absolutely NOT the same thing.

    HAES is all about adopting healthy habits: eating healthy foods in reasonable portions and doing physical activity that is enjoyable and health promoting. If these habits lead to weight loss, that’s fine. But often, they don’t. What they do lead to is a healthier body. Of course, as long as people assume that being overweight means that you’re unhealthy and being slim automatically means that you’re healthy, what I’ve just said makes no sense. But that’s what the serious research is telling us: overweight people who engage in healthy eating and regular, moderate exercise (at least 30 minutes per day, at least 5 days a week) are just as healthy as their slimmer counterparts. Dr. Steven Blair, a world-famous exercise physiologist, has done extensive research that confirms this in no uncertain terms.

    Of course, on this blog, I know I’m going to be seen as a fat apologist, a lazy slob and a Twinkie addict. Too bad, I’m none of the above.

    • Taryl says:

      I wouldn’t pidgeonhole Diane or the commenters. Quite to the contrary, I know that many of us (and our lovely author) are huge proponents of living healthfully in whatever body God placed us in, I causing controlling our diet and maintaining an active lifestyle. Being fat does NOT automatically make someone lazy, repugnant, less valuable, or any less deserving of respect. It is the line many folks cross, into justifying their size and (poor) habits, and ridiculing those who choose to work at losing weight to improve their health, that gets our dander up.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      I don’t think you are any of those things, and I appreciate you commenting and opening up the discussion further. I wonder if there is a difference between the impact of exercise on a person who is 50 pounds above an “ideal” bodyweight and someone who is 150 or 250 pounds above and “ideal” bodyweight in those studies? (And I use the word “ideal” loosely because I know there is a wide variation.) Because honestly, when I was 300+ pounds, I could technically walk, lift weights, do yoga, or swim, but there was no way I could engage in the level of exercise I can now because of the physical limitations of my body. It wasn’t until I combined healthy eating with exercise that I actually began to get healthier. And yes I lost weight, but I also gained health in terms of endurance, better numbers on blood pressure/cholesterol/sugars, and heart rate.

      • My 2 cents says:

        If you’re seriously out of shape–no matter what your weight–your ability to exercise is compromised. You started out slowly and built up stamina, which makes perfect sense. You also worked on changing your disordered eating. You’ll notice I call it disordered eating, not overeating. Many times, you’ve explained how you stuffed yourself silly on junk food. That’s just plain disordered. In fact, I must admit that over the years, I’ve often wondered what led you to eat this way. I seriously doubt it was pleasure that led you to eat a bag of M&Ms or a jumbo hamburger, fries and soda. I suspect there was a lot of frustration or unhappiness that you stuffed down with all that food.

        So it’s no surprise that you improved your health markers by engaging in physical activity and throwing off the yoke of disordered eating. With the amount of extra weight that you had accumulated, it’s not surprising either that you lost weight, but when did you see the health markers improving? Did it take losing 150 pounds to see your BP improve? Did it take a “perfect” BMI? As long as we remain fixated on the scale number rather than the health numbers, people will continue to hopelessly confound weight loss with health. They just don’t always go together and certainly not to the extent that the weight loss community and the weight loss industry want us to believe. (I realize from your comments that we are perhaps not in such great disagreement over what constitutes a “healthy” weight.)

        BTW, Diane, of the weight loss bloggers that I read, I find you are one of the most open-minded and certainly one of the most polite. That cannot be said of many others.

  22. Rose says:

    I spent 20 years in an obese body and it was horrible. I had some really amazing life experiences as an obese person. I traveled to many different countries, got a wonderful education, made life long friendships, fell in love, and had a beautiful amazing child. All my accomplishments as a fat person felt hollow to me because I had such a glaringly obvious shortcoming. It was not until I began to accept myself and my potential that I slowly embraced the healthier lifestyle that led to my 145 pound weight loss.

    I think that people who lead lives that are truly healthy will have a physical appearance that reflects their choices. From size and shape to skin and hair our outsides tend to reflect our insides. My goal is to live the healthiest life I can. There are numerous contributors to good health and the markers are a bit different for each person. That being said I feel weight is a significant marker of good health and well being.

    If the Fat Acceptance philosophy helps people build self esteem to where “good enough” is no longer enough than I can support it. If it is primarily promoting apathy then it is doing far more harm than good.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      Apathy does nothing good for us, whether it is about food or politics! Thank you for sharing your experience, and I so appreciate that you brought up how rich your life was when you struggled with your weight. I often tell people that although I was morbidly obese for 10 years, there were also a lot of wonderful things that took place during that time, including having three children.

      Congratulations on your weight loss!

  23. jeanette says:

    Food for thought today… thank you Diane. I truly believe the more we lie to ourselves and to others, the more we keep ourselves from being healthy and being the best we can be.
    Does being at a healthy weight and eating nutritious give us that? You bet it does!
    Of course this is my own personal 2 cents….
    I just don’t believe that someone obese is at their physically and emotionally best. (I certainly know I wasn’t and any of my friends either)

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      Thanks Jeanette. It is hard to be truthful with ourselves sometimes, I know it is for me. After all, who likes to admit that her choices are negatively impacting the quality of life she lives? That was a hard pill for me to swallow. I still remember when I came to the point of acknowledging that my food choices were limiting my life choices. That day brought a lot of grief, but it also began the emotional healing process.

  24. julie says:

    I was healthy when I was obese, but I was mildly obese, and in my early 30s. Already, my knee hurt, and incontinence was coming around the bend. I didn’t want to go there. There’s plenty of diabetes in my family, I didn’t want to go there either. I actually like the HAES philosophy, but get irritated by the dogma that nothing causes weight loss, and even if weight can be lost, it won’t stay off. I think you’re the best example of how that’s not true. Eat less/move more does work, it’s just really hard to stick with, long term.

    I’m surprised the blogger and all who agree haven’t come over in droves to tear you a new one, but it would be difficult to tell you, of all people, that what you did is impossible.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      I’m surprised too, but if they come over I will do my best to be nice! After all, I did live the morbidly obese life, so it is not like I’m talking without the knowledge and history of what living with morbid obesity is like. I know how hard it was for me to tie my shoes, put on tights, keep myself clean, and a host of other things. That wasn’t a healthy or normal way of living.

      You are right to point out that there is a difference between the quality of life we can have as overweight people. Someone who is not morbidly obese is likely in a better place health wise than someone who weighs more than 400 pounds. That kind of weight just puts a whole new level of stress on our bodies. I’m so grateful that I stopped gaining when I did because I can only imagine where I would be now.

  25. KarenJ says:

    Interestingly, I am currently reading the book, “Health at Every Size” by Linda Bacon. I think she is trying to justify being overweight in her book. I understand that not everyone is going to be a size 6 even if they eat in a healthy way, but there is no way you can maintain obesity without being an unhealthy eater. I think people who talk about accepting themselves at 400 pounds have given up. There is a big difference between accepting yourself and accepting your weight however. I believe that people should accept themselves, but at the same time should be honest if they have an eating problem, and I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here to say if you weigh 400 pounds you have an eating problem. It takes a lot of food to maintain a weight like that, and there’s no way you can get any kind of exercise, therefore the “health at every size” philosophy does not apply in this case.

    • C says:

      Although the title is misleading I also read the book and think that she does make some good points. She even said that by following her guidelines that she even lost weight. I truly do not think that she is saying that 400lbs is healthy but more like if you are eating right and excersizing and paying attention to your health and your body your weight will find a good place. I think that many people will lean on fat acceptance to justify their life style choices. A blog about being healthy at 250+ lbs for a woman is not really following the principles in the book. I of course am no expert and do not follow any of the HAES. I think that my brain at this point cannot eat intuitivly that is what got me to 245 at my highest and I need to rely on outside influences like portion control and counting calories to reset my brain.
      Very good discussion topic Diane, its always great to hear so many different and polite perspectives on things like this.

      • Diane Carbonell says:

        Thanks C – I feel like I have the best readers and commenters in the blog-o-sphere! Thanks for your perspective. I too found it impossible to eat intuitively and lose weight, and in fact, I’m still not an intuitive eater. I still watch portions, monitor fats, and exercise religiously.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      I have read bits and pieces of that book, so can’t comment on the whole theme. Thanks for your thoughts on it.

      I agree that there is a difference between accepting and loving yourself and accepting an unhealthy lifestyle. I know I was easily eating between 4,000 and 5,000 calories a day when I was 300+ pounds. Plus, I was not active in the least, which contributed to my continually putting on weight.

  26. Lynn says:

    I agree with you that there should be respect for any one of any size. I also believe the key words are HEALTH at any size. Honestly, I am still quite obese but have been working out for years and my doctor is quite pleased with the improvements in my health. I am still a work in progress and will continue to strive for health; however, I know that I need to keep losing weight to be healthier….BUT being thin also does NOT equate to being healthy. I think that point is missed by lots of people as well.

    Anyway, I have not disagreements with what you are saying. When I was much heavier, I was afraid I would go to sleep one night and never wake up…obviously I was NOT healthy, mentally or physically.

  27. Taryl says:

    I am with you 100% on this Diane. I actually removed a blog from my roll because there was just too much vitriol, toward people, in general, in the name of fat acceptance. Someone’s conduct and character defines who they are, not their size, and respect is absolutely crucial. But it is quite a different matter to declare that things like uncontrolled binges or being so large you cannot wipe yourself as a normal, healthy, way to live, and that it doesn’t somehow impact your quality of life profoundly.

    My weight loss didn’t change one important thing about who I am. It did, however, change a boatload of things I could do and how I felt! And for my health and the sake of my family, working at healthy habits and seeking a healthy weight has been crucial.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      Thank you Taryl – I am all about respecting ourselves and other people. In part that’s what helped me lose weight – because I respected myself enough to realize that the path I was on was disrespecting my body. Like you pointed out, when your food choices so negatively affect you to the point where you cannot perform normal bodily functions, something is wrong.

  28. Fran@BCDC says:

    Great topic and excellent post, Diane! I believe that everyone deserves to be respected, regardless of their weight. I worked for 15 years as a Weight Watchers leader and at 4 classes a week I saw the pain and sadness that surrounded my members who came in weighing so much. I watched their struggles and I was able to share in their successes. I know that it was hard for them. But I also so how much healthier they became as they worked at losing weight. I still see it every week when I attend my Saturday Weight Watchers meeting. Even though I’m not a leader anymore, I try my best to encourage the members who are still working toward their goals. I feel I’m still helping even though I’m not the leader. I fear that Fat Acceptance is something that these bloggers talk about, but I bet on the inside, they’re only saying it to ease their inner pain.

  29. Larkspur says:

    The part that is sticky about this (which I think you manage very well, Diane) is that there should be acceptance of the PERSON regardless of their weight. You can agree that being fat is not the optimal way to go through life for a whole bunch of reasons. The overt and subtle messages really pull for self-hatred when you’re fat, and self-hatred is not a great place to work from. There are bloggers 50 or 80 pounds heavier than I am who eat better and are better about working out. Some who weigh 50 pounds less than me subsist on 1300 calories a day with an hour’s daily exercise. Do I get to disdain the heavier person because I’m thinner? (I know you’re not advocating this!) Should I feel like a crawling worm because I don’t want to live on 1300 calories? You sacrifice many things when you’re fat, kind of a natural consequences thing, but you shouldn’t also have to sacrifice self-love and the love and respect of your friends and colleagues.

  30. Stephanie G Travis says:

    This is a hard one for me because I believe in the sovereignty of our bodies and I believe we all have: 1) our own realities (quantum physics), 2) illusions about one thing or another and 3) denial. I know several thin people who exercise and preach on and on about health but they do things like smoke pot, eat aspartame or douse their homes with pesticides. This seems inconsistent to me, but not to them. And, what’s interesting is that I think people should be consistent! Hahaha! We are all going down the learning curve of life and we all get into some weird spaces emotionally, mentally and physically as we descent. Your truth is not the truth for everyone. Even if it seems the other person is downright lying about what they see or observe. It’s important we don’t judge others, listen to them and be compassionate as they find out truths for themselves.

  31. Marla Richter says:

    YOu dont know what you are talking about. I have researched the WHY am I fat. Have done every diet, yada yada yada. I know of what I speak. It took me 30 years to research why people are fat. Go to my website or go to amazon and read my report that is my book Fatology101. Most of you wont do it. Are you afraid that you might find being fat is natural or that all the self esteem you get from being born thin will be taken away from you. I say this humbly and from my heart. We are born different. Some tall some short some thin and yes some fat. Read my book and prove me wrong. I challenge you. Otherwise do not reply to me unless you have done so because neither of us will agree. Remember people used to believe the earth was flat and the sun revolved around the earth. Being fat is NOT self inflicted.

    • Taryl says:

      I don’t think most of us who have struggled with obesity believe it is self inflicted. I, for one, have a definite endocrine-based tendency for weight gain and insulin resistance. It is very much genetic and the normal food environment of this country exacerbates it. That does not, however, mean I cannot seek to treat the symptom (obesity) and seek to correct/aid my underlying disorder (a messed up hypothalamus) to improve my quality of life. My vision is poor, too. Does that being a natural state for my body mean I shouldn’t pursue eye exercises or corrective glasses when it negatively impacts my quality of life? There are all sorts of things with our bodies that occur but are not optimal, the ‘natural’ argument just doesn’t hold water for me when it is better for my health and my happiness to take simple steps to change it.

      Given the plethora of secondary symptoms coming about from my obesity, many of which were going to get debilitating or even life threatening down the road (even if they were almost unnoticeable at the time), it’s pretty impossible to argue that, complete physiological predisposition to metabolic syndrome or not, I shouldn’t have sought to heal my body as much as possible and address the impacts of obesity. That’s not denying my body’s default, it’s deciding my quality of life and future would be better served by working with and treating my symptoms than just letting them go.

  32. Matt Dallas says:

    I am the manager of a weight loss clinic. There are so many people who come through my doors feeling like there is no hope. Sometimes I feel like HAES advocates are those who have lost hope, but there is always hope. As someone who has struggled with weight myself and seen countless people overcome weight issues I want to tell everyone to keep striving for a healthy lifestyle and never give up.

  33. Eyerisgrl says:

    I find it hard to believe that the FA blogger truly doesn’t feel the affects of her obesity in every aspect of her life. At 215lbs and only 29 years old I was tired, sore, lethargic, and having major health problems related to my weight. Even after losing my first 25lbs I saw a huge difference in my life, how I felt, and what I was able to do. Now after losing 65lbs I am a completely different person.

    I think often times people give up and accept that as their lot in life. They are in denial because they don’t want to really come to grips with the fact that their issues may be something they can control. I do believe in loving yourself for who you are and accepting yourself but I also believe more in being the best version of yourself. No one can be their best version when they can’t walk around a mall or fit into a seat. Every one deserves better than that. I hope for this FA bloggers sake that one day they have the epiphany that so many of us have had and begin to truly live a healthy life.

  34. KCLAnderson (Karen) says:

    I’ve been away and unplugged for several days so I am behind on my blog reading.

    First, I want to say that the HAES movement is not “fat advocacy” and that when I use the word “acceptance” in regards to self, I do not mean “overeat crap food and sit on your bum all day.”

    HAES is designed to get people focused on healthy habits, not on losing weight, knowing that when we focus on health (rather than on “losing weight” which can be triggering for some) the weight takes care of itself.

    And self-acceptance is the practice of meeting yourself right where you are and choosing to love and take care of yourself from a place of compassion, not from a place of hate (or defensiveness, which I sense among a number of “fat acceptance” bloggers).

    • evilcyber says:

      Karen, when one of the FA movement organizations writes on their website, that they “believe health to be independent of, not dependent on, body weight” then I can’t take it any other than that they are in fact advocating being fat.

  35. MamaBearJune says:

    This seems to be one of those topics similar to politics. The people calling for tolerance to all will come and stomp your head if you disagree with their viewpoint on ANY LEVEL! 🙂 There’s no way you can make a blanket statement that health is NEVER affected by weighing over 400lbs. There’s too much scientific evidence to the contrary. That will put a strain on the machine that has all of those systems that keeps you going throughout your day. Absolutely, everyone should be treated with respect. We can never judge a person’s heart by looking at their body and we don’t know the path they are walking. So it’s a shame when people are rude or allow their children to make rude comments about how a person looks, whether it’s their size or any other “imperfection.” The great majority of human beings are, unfortunately, not known for their kindness.

    Watching the weight loss shows or the half-ton teen/dad/mom shows, the emotional issues are enough to break your heart. You can see the unhappiness and torment these people are going through. And yes, I know, the producers look for the people who will make the best TV, so they wouldn’t want to find someone emotionally healthy, but can you truly abuse your body that badly and be emotionally healthy? And the dysfunction certainly isn’t limited just to that one person, it’s usually in abundance throughout the entire family.

    I know self-acceptance is really key, but so many times if someone has experienced rejection as a child, that can be so very hard to overcome as an adult. I was blessed with a Mom who believed in us and thought we could do anything. She bragged on us like we were doctors who discovered the cures for cancer. I wish all children could have that foundation to build upon. Maybe we would live in a better world where people would treat each other with a bit more kindness and grace and understanding. And then people wouldn’t have to turn to Twinkies for comfort. 😉

  36. body imagemania says:

    Diane, I agree with you here.I think everyone deserves respect regardless of one’s size.
    I also believe its OK to be happy with who you are but its also important to accept reality.I mean if you’re genuinely overweight then do something about it. The Fat Acceptance Movement has given an impression that its OK to look the way you’re so that even when people continue to pack the weight on, it still remains OK and NORMAL to these people.Isn’t that negligence in disguise?

  37. Satu says:

    I like the phrase “respect at every size” you use.

    I think that the person writing that blog is probably in denial rather than accepting herself.. On the other hand I know how hard it’s to lose weight (and maintain the weight loss) so I kind of understand why the fat acceptance proponents focus on acceptance rather than trying to lose the weight.

  38. JP says:

    I know this post is almost a year old, but I found it and couldn’t help but comment to say thank you for posting this. I am a person who’s been overweight to obese her entire adult life (now just over half of my life). My morbidly obese mother died of heart failure at 48. My overweight father has had one heart attack and multiple angioplasties for blocked arteries. Type II Diabetes ran on both sides of my family. My cholesterol and blood pressure have been within the good range but I’m not getting younger. And most recently, my HDL (good) cholesterol was very low. That’s bad.

    Anyhow, I have been having some issues because I used the idea of “health at every size” to motivate me to focus on health rather than pounds or dress size in my attempts to exercise more and eat better. How I feel is more important than how I appear. Of course, as I began to exercise and maintain a healthy diet, I began losing weight. And while I am not active in FA groups, I have been getting treated strangely by friends who are. They will write posts about “traitors” or that “real women have curves” (so women with different builds aren’t real?) or write posts saying that in order to avoid discriminating against overweight and obese people, doctors must NEVER associate weight with health outcomes. That last one was too much for me to sit by and not argue: I just said I wish my mother’s doctor had a. considered her extra weight gain the year before she died to possibly be a symptom of a bigger problem, like heart failure, and b. strongly emphasized and encouraged the need to make lifestyle changes. I would rather she had the difficult — and yes, embarrassing 00 moment of facing the truth about her weight and its impact on her health if she could’ve lived to see me get married.

    Your other posts on handling changing relationships are also helpful, but this post was especially helpful for what was a puzzling situation, and you did so with sensitivity. Now I know what to do. I am going to listen to reason, not to critics. If these few friends involved in Fat Acceptance cannot continue to like me for who I am, fat OR fit, they aren’t very “accepting.”

  39. Sharice says:

    I very much agree with this piece. It’s informative and kind-hearted from someone who has walked a mile in the shoes of being obese. I like you Diane, weighed around 305 in 2011. I’ve always been a heavier child but I knew my weight was a problem when I gained weight throughout my puberty years. By my junior year in college, I was what doctors would consider morbidly obese. I was in denial as to why I walked slower than my friends when I took a trip to New York in 2009, why my knee problems I’ve had since i hit a growth spurt worsened every year, why it was becoming harder and harder to find clothes that not only fit but were fashionable as well. It wasn’t until a annual check up result came back to me revealing that I was pre-diabetic, made me take control of my life. Since 2011, I eat clean and am now transitioning to a full time pescetarian, exercise 4-5 days a week and I’ve never felt so good in my body since I was a child. I’ve lost 80 lbs and have 40 more to go and I wouldn’t trade my journey for anything. Seeing the fat acceptance movement become more popular saddens me because the women and men that promote the movement talk about self love at any size, yet they’re not nourishing their bodies with the proper nutrition or getting exercise, which is not self love at all. Humans are not designed to be overweight and live a long life. If that were the case, God would’ve created us that way. Thanks again for the article. Hopefully someone sees this and decides to turn their life around.

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