Fat Acceptance Promotes Helplessness and Hopelessness
Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 4:05PM

Today while surfing the web at work I suddenly found myself in a new section of the internet - the fat acceptance movement. This is a crazy wormhole.

It's not entirely unusal that I found this, I've heard about it before, done a little cursory reading, and frankly thought it was stupid and never bothered looking at it again. This was in the midst of my lifestyle change.

My max known weight was around 250lbs. I can't tell you how much I really weighed at my fattest though because I made sure to not own a scale. I accepted my lazy, fat self just as I was, convinced myself I was happy to sit on the couch playing video games, that my high blood pressure being treated with medication at 23/24 wasn't a problem, and (in hindsight) was eating a RIDICULOUS amount of food. You can't maintain that kind of weight otherwise! It did not take much to start losing weight, at least not in terms of eating less and doing a little more activity - all I did was walk around the block. At a certain point I was watching Human Planet and some other documentaries on Netflix about human evolution and realized there probably weren't fat cavemen, which coincidentally coincided with reading Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes, and discovering primal and paleo. I read 4-Hour Body and started doing bodyweight exercises and running, I was getting close to 200. I learned about LeanGains and Intermittent Fasting, Stronglifts and Starting Strength, macronutrients and supplements, keto and carb cycling - you name it I've probably read about it. And I tried them all and made tweaks and sought help from the internet. Oh, I had a few backslides and slip-ups, but in the end here I am now, 3 (or is it 4 now...) years later flirting with 170, and kicking butt at climbing, mud runs, parkour and gymnastics training, and bodyweight training (when I'm not injured... this right shoulder is still not better, but that's another blog post).


The hardest part about going from fat to fit isn't the stuff you have to do, it's DOING IT. It's holding yourself accountable, having the willpower, the mental fortitude, the strength, the drive to do this thing that, frankly, feels REALLY HARD. Go back to my "Your Thoughts Are Not You" post if you need a primer on why you shouldn't listen to your brain. Even though that post was written for men who are scared to talk to women, it holds true - YOU are the one who has to do it, you need to stop making or looking for excuses, and just tough it out and do the hard work. And that's hard, so it seems out of reach, and a lot of people just give up (or don't even try) and that's the fat acceptance movement in a nutshell.


I think I was no better than any of them, or you (depending who reads this, I guess). I definitely believed at the beginning of all this that I would fail, but over time and learning more I realized I could do this, I had the power. But I really had to shore up my abilities, not physically, but mentally. Everyone thinks they are so mentally strong, but most of us are not. Take willpower, for example, did you know you use it up? That's why it's so hard to skip that piece of cake at the end of the day when you're on a diet. Willpower is like a lake, it has two dimensions - how big is the lake (surface area or breadth) and how deep is the lake (depth).

Willpower is like a muscle, you have to exercise it, and if you are weak this is way harder than lifting heavy weights 3 days a week. Want to know some tricks? Go stare at a rack of candy bars for a while, then don't eat one. Tell yourself all day you get to have pizza or Chipotle, then don't do it. This is how you get strong. I'm not kidding, but I'm also no expert - go read The Willpower Instinct and apply that stuff. You can do it, you have to believe in yourself.


You need to learn to be ok by yourself, you need to learn to love yourself, and have self-compassion. Meditate, have mindful awareness of your thoughts, especially those negative ones. I know this sounds hokey and new-agey, but if you don't love yourself you just aren't going to try. I was going to say "try as hard" but lets be honest, there's 'trying' and there's really TRYING and most people would agree that they have accomplished things they REALLY truly set their minds to. This is not "accepting yourself just as you are" because if you did that you wouldn't be a part of the fat acceptance movement because you wouldn't try dieting or anything in the first place because you would be perfectly content with yourself. Being fat is not who you are, just as loving Papa Roach when you were in high school is not who you are. There are lots of books on these topics, I'll try to put together a reading list at some point.


And you need to learn what happiness really is. If you're a mega tubster and you think you'd be happy if you woke up tomorrow as a fit skinny person, you're wrong. Happiness comes from doing your best, trying hard, putting effort into it, and accepting things as they are. And this, I think is where FA really screws up - acceptance. Acceptance does not mean that your sitaution is unchangeable, static, unwavering, so you need to accept it; acceptance means you take responsibility and acknowledge that you can't move things along faster then they are meant to go. "I got myself into this position, I'll get myself out of it!" instead of placing blame and "I can do 5 push-ups, and tomorrow I'm going to try for 6!" instead of "I can only do 5 push-ups :/". You are where you are, but that does not mean you will always be there, you can change it! It won't happen over night, but if you put the time and energy into it, you will improve. It's the same with weight loss, I guarantee it.

I'm getting off track, and I could go on and on, so as one last thing I just want to point out that eating "all natural, organic, blah blah blah" junk food is no better than eating other junk food if you're eating it in quantity, stop lying to yourselves! Just eat REAL food, food that looks like food when it is grown or born. Once you get your weight and eating addiction under control then you can CONSIDER eating those again from time to time as a treat.



Anyway... so today I stumble upon /r/fatlogic and subsequently Ragen Chastain along with /r/fatpeoplehate and some other stuff, and was disgusted with what I saw.

An overweight woman posting pictures saying she has been chronically sick and depressed and nothing but nice post after nice post from people saying "hey, I used to be there, try eating better, eating less, and exercising more, it helps a lot!" with her responding "IMPOSSIBLE" and acting like Mrs. Pancake from Rick and Morty 

Though she was much more rude and angry.

Claims of "stopping dieting and just eating how I feel like and finding her balance point" but putting on A TON of weight and how that is totally OK. And post after post after post of fat people telling other fat people it's impossible to lose weight, don't worry about being fat, just accept it. People talking about yo-yo dieting, another fiction created by fat people who don't have enough self control and willpower to stay away from that box of donuts after they drop the first 20lbs and want a little self-congratulatory circle jerk. I don't care that you love Twinkees, stop eating them! The reason you think fast food and junk food taste so good is THEY ARE SCIENTIFICALLY DESIGNED TO TASTE LIKE THAT TO DRAIN YOUR WALLET. This is not the way human beings are meant to live. If you are a big fatty fat, but are an animal lover/activist and hate seeing animals caged up in zoos and getting lethargic and messed up THAT IS WHAT YOU ARE DOING TO YOURSELF!

I'm getting frustrated, clearly, so let me say I still mess up here and there and eat a case of butterscotch crumpets or a whole pizza. The difference is I TAKE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR MY ACTIONS. When the scale ticks up 5lbs the next day, it is what it is, I don't beat myself up over it, just accept it and try to do better the next day. Not every day is going to be a great day, the goal is just to make the majority at minimum pretty good days so a once in a while screw up doesn't derail the whole train. You can't give up after one slip up and just see it as inevitable that you will overeat shitty food every day, I KNOW you are stronger than that.


I'm not trying to attack or make any hamplanets (or even ham-plutonians) feel bad here, I care about you and I want you to get your shit together! Get out of this fake little world you've created in your head and accept that if you don't make a serious change only bad things are in your medical future. Once you've gotten away from the bad food, break the bad habit of overeating, stop eating your emotions, start working out, and all that jazz you will eventually realize that a) exercise is fun b) all that super delicious "food" is actually pretty gross and all those healthy things you don't think you like are actually pretty good and make you feel good and c) no matter how good you feel when you are fat, guaranteed you feel worse than an average day for a fit person.


Contrary to what Ragen and her compatriots would have you believe, there is HOPE, and let me tell you it is glorious. When you are fit, and skinny, with relatively low body fat your body works at it's peak and optimum capacity. Yes, sure, you look good, but what's more important is YOU FEEL AMAZING. The way your mood changes, your outlook on life, your confidence, and willingness to put yourself out there increases 100 fold. Just think about that for a second.


You are not helpless, you are not hopeless. You can lose weight. You can get fit and strong. You can climb mountains or run marathons or lift heavy or learn to do a backflip and a handstand. You can do it all. You just have to want it more than you want to shove a donut into your mouth. It takes work, time, dedication. You have to have awareness of and acknowledge your weaknesses, then work to make them better. Losing weight and getting in shape isn't just about having a better body or being more attractive, it's about being the BEST YOU you can be. Nobody else can be you, so why would you want a shitty version of yourself running around?


So give it a go, and if anybody tells you that 95% of diets fail, kick 'em in the crotch and say "I'm not on a diet, I'm changing my unhealthy lifestyle."

Article originally appeared on Life and Times of Ed (http://www.lifeandtimesofed.com/).
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