Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The keyword in “Health at Every Size” is health.

February 12, 2010 by  
Filed under HAES

This guest post is from Bianca from the Zaftig Chicks. – mamaV


I was diagnosed Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) in my late 20s. Basically PCOS causes infertility, obesity, excess body hair, and acne. It has also caused me to develop insulin resistance. You can read more about PCOS here.

Because of this I have a higher risk of heart disease and certain kinds of cancer. I take several medications to try control my symptoms, but you know what every doctor I have seen and every study that I have personally read about PCOS says the most effective treatment is?

Weight loss.

Now we can argue until we are blue in the face about whether or not weight loss is actually beneficial, or just an easy cop out, but for every study that says being fat is not unhealthy for you, there are 10 studies that say it is. And those studies that do say being fat is not unhealthy, usually say that what matters is how much belly fat you have, because that is what is risky for your health.

Well guess what?

I am very apple shaped. My bust and hips are the same measurement, and my waist is only 5 inches smaller than that. There is a lot of fat on my belly. Now I cannot change my body shape, and I am not saying that people shaped like me need to lose weight. It’s your body and you can do what you want. But I am saying that me, myself, and I want to reduce that fat percentage bit, and hopefully lower my risks. Maybe it won’t work, but I think I owe it to myself, and my body to try and be the healthiest I can be.

This is not about extremes, or starvation, or cutting out entire food groups. This is being mindful of what I eat, and focusing on exercising more. I know this will cause me to lose some weight, and it already has. And I feel a lot better.  I sleep better. Simple things like bending over to take laundry out of the dryer and twisting in my car to out my seatbelt on are easier. I am focusing on my health and my body appreciates my efforts.


10 Responses to “The keyword in “Health at Every Size” is health.”
  1. Allison says:

    “I am focusing on my health and my body appreciates my efforts. ”

    Good for you, then! I think that’s wonderful.

  2. Bianca says:

    Thanks! I do feel so much better.

  3. ksbennet says:

    I am often dismayed by my healthcare providers repeatedly telling me to lose weight because of my PCOS, even though they know I’m recovering from an eating disorder. I’m trying hard to eat healthy, delicious foods in appropriate amounts … but PCOS diet changes and ED recovery don’t exactly go hand-in-hand. It’s frustrating … doctors are hesitant to prescribe me medication to help with my symptoms because, “You could just lose the weight.” Riiiight, tell my builimia that story. Ha.

    I think it’s great that you’re doing this with a very positive mindset and a healthy set of goals. Maybe one day I’ll be able to do that, too! It’s great to hear from someone who’s pursuing weight loss for all the right reasons. Good luck!

  4. I, too, love this: “I am focusing on my health and my body appreciates my efforts.” Because you are focused on health, more than losing weight itself, I think you’ve made a stronger resolve and created a more solid foundation that can carry you through the challenges of your endeavor. I’m sure your efforts will pay off more as you continue. More power to you!

  5. lissa10279 says:

    “This is not about extremes, or starvation, or cutting out entire food groups. This is being mindful of what I eat, and focusing on exercising more.” — Beautifully said, Bianca. Small changes really can lead to big results. And if being healthier spurs weight loss, all the better. Best wishes to you!!

  6. I just love it when I hear people say their physician told them the best treatment for a health problem is to lose weight. Yet most physicians have no real clue about how to help people do that. The usual recommendation is some form of diet, although we know that dieting is really about losing weight, then regaining it, which just adds to any health problems someone may be experiencing. See my blog post today on A Weight Lifted about yo-yo dieting and inflammation for more on that:

    IMO, whether we have PCOS or some other health problem, the complication of unhealthy body fat is best addressed by focusing on our behaviors, not on the fat. You’re smart to focus on being mindful and on how you feel, Bianca. That’s your best bet for finding and maintaining a lifestyle that will best support your health. Whether it will change your weight, we don’t know. But we can be pretty sure it will help your PCOS.

  7. atchka says:

    I agree with everything you said except one thing.

    Regarding studies: there are 10 times as many studies saying fat is unhealthy because that’s where the funding is. The diet and pharmaceutical industries, as well as government agencies like the CDC, rely on the doomsday studies to line their pockets (industry by pushing new customers to them and government agencies by demonstrating how they need more money to fight said issue).

    But study after study shows that industry-funded research is incredibly biased toward the industry-desired outcomes. (One such study is here.)

    And you don’t have to look any further than CDC Director Julie Gerberding’s butchery of the obesity mortality numbers in 2004 (which estimated 400,000 annual deaths in the overweight and obesity categories… turns out it was closer to 26,000 net) to see that there is a vested interest for health agencies to manipulate the data.

    Basically, you need to follow the money, know what the stats *really* say (as opposed to what the abstract says), and have a skeptical mind about whatever the study says.

    But everything else is correct, in my view. Good health is achieved through healthy diet and exercise. That’s it. If you’re doing that and you’re still fat, then you don’t need to freak the fuck out and starve yourself. Eat right and move, that is the key to health.

    I’d be curious if lifestyle change is enough to affect something like PCOS, though. For many diseases, like heart disease and hypertension, making those lifestyle changes is enough to mitigate the disease.


  8. Candice says:

    “This is not about extremes, or starvation, or cutting out entire food groups. This is being mindful of what I eat, and focusing on exercising more.”

    Perfectly said – totally what I’m trying to do, too. It should be intuitive, really. I think sometimes people don’t think that being mindful of what you eat includes portion size. If we really pay attention to when we’re full, the good feelings that follow (physical and mental) are so rewarding. (Of course, assuming there is no other issue causing problems with recognizing the full feeling – which is a complicating factor.)

    In the end, doing what is manageable is a great idea (imo). If it becomes easy, then you step it up to something new that’s still manageable.

    Can’t wait to hear how this goes going forward.

  9. PCOS & Uterine cancer survivor says:

    It’s been awhile since I’ve read the details, but PCOS is linked with metabolic syndrome. In your post it said that PCOS can *result* in weight gain. However, I’ve read that eating challenges can lead to PCOS. I certainly had eating challenges before the PCOS kicked in: put on a starvation diet in early high school by my pediatrician, starving and bingeing through high school because his diet didn’t work and he’d terrified me about being *gasp* 10 lbs. over what the weight table advised. Well, all of that dieting just kept increasing my weight, and harmed my health.

    I encourage anyone to fill up on meal foods (at meals and at snacks) to minimize bingeing and cravings for sweets and high-fat, low-nutrition foods, and to find enjoyable, relaxed, pleasurable physical activity, for safety and health, rather than weight loss. Weight is not health, healthy behaviors are health. Best wishes in achieving your health goals!

  10. Cara says:

    The interesting thing is that I lost weight, and am now a very healthy weight, but I continue to have PCOS and symptoms of it, namely acne and strange hair growth. My periods still aren’t 100% regular, in that cycles seem to lengthen and shorten at random, but I do now have periods every month. I still definitely have PCOS, though. So weight loss? Not a PCOS panacaea.

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