I'm quite dedicated to the paleo movement, to the health benefits, and the science behind. I love evolution, I am interested in a lot of things connected to all of that.
But I am also very strong opponent of blaming or judging fat people. I am a supporter of the "Health at Every Size" movement, and against the constant media crazy against any kind of fat visible under a microscope.
Just about an hour ago I was very happy to see the Surgeon General mini-youtube (you may see it here, on my blog) in which she announced emphasis on health, and positive conversation about the issues of obesity. She also mentioned that we can be healthy at any size.
I welcomed it with relief. Finally the end of crazy obsession with fighting obesity, where everyone feels free to share opinions on fat person's health, diet, exercises, philosophy, morals, will power and ability to be honest or do work well, after only shortly seeing her/him on the street/tv show/photo. This is injustice and a horrible way to teach about health and healthy nutrition.
When I saw the entry about this lady on Free the Animal post, I was happy to join, naively expecting similarly positive reactions. The nasty jokes, epithets and name calling shocked me. Almost all the commentators joined the choir. I found it snotty, arrogant and very judgmental.
Is that the norm? Is fat hating so typical in paleo community? Do we really still judge person's skills, knowledge, experience, intelligence, competence and variety of other traits needed for such position by the looks? Did the fact that she is a fat woman (even though to me she is rather chubby than fat or "obese") helped the attack? Was it really so enjoyable to join the male choir of low jokes about "General Ding Dong"? I know nothing about her health. I've seen many photos of women in her age from hunter gatherer communities who were similarly chubby, rounded. The same as I know nothing about the health of some random skinny stranger. Would that person be more qualified just because he/she happened to be skinny?
ETA: "Healthy at any size" means: be HEALTHY at whatever size you are, not "ANY SIZE IS HEALTHY". It means focus on health, human worth and dignity, not size. Don't obsess with dieting, fads, excessive exercising or guilt for the looks, but make sure you feel healthy, your body works fine, you eat healthy things, and the weight will adjust.
Speaking as another shrinking fatty, I think it's perfectly valid to heap scorn on the Surgeon General. We don't hate fat people, we hate the system that made them/us that way. Most of us have been badly harmed by the SAD, and the Surgeon General is part of the system that promotes it.
The fact that the SG is "chubby"/fat/obese and still giving the same old advice just adds some irony, and a little more evidence of how wrong she is, making it more fun to disparage her. And yes, Nikoley is a loudmouthed asshole (not that there's anything wrong with that). I think you'll find a lot of that amongst those of us willing to defy the conventional wisdom.
You know I wrote a whole new long answer detailing my entire life experience with weight but erased it. It really is a very crazy story. Seriously, you're going to think I'm making this sh*t up. I'm always hesitant to talk about it because it gets me very emotional but I've decided to write it again. This only deals with weight aspect of my life.
I'm 21, male, 5'9'', 180 lbs. When I was 5, I transitioned from a normal weight for my age and slowly became more overweight and obese. In elementary school, I was lying about my weight but it was obvious to the other kids I was a behemoth. Imagine being 180 lbs (my weight now!) in elementary school. It was not fast food or school lunches that did this to me, but binge eating at home. Eventually, I got over 200 lbs. I must have been 220 lbs at this first peak of my weight. I was 13 when I put myself on a strict low-fat diet, and 14 when I became a vegetarian and a vegan. I was losing weight and feeling happier with myself than ever. I later left my strict low-fat veganism behind and ate more nuts in my diet, peanut butter became part of my daily diet.
This happiness soon ended. Suddenly I was "too skinny". I started to hear people ask me in my face if I was anorexic or bulimic. The answer was always the truth, No. You know you really see how supportive people really are when you become "too skinny". All they want to do at that point is fatten you up. And that's exactly what they did to me.
Not only did my mom secretly lie to me about the anti-depressants I was taking actually being appetite stimulants (I wonder if any medical professionals were complicit in this, or encouraged it...hmm, I need to get some legal revenge) she began to shove junk food in my face yelling at me to eat it. I was forced to go to therapists where I was weighed and made to feel guilty for being myself!
After all this pressure, or maybe it was the appetite stimulant, or both, I jettisoned my health views, and fattened up like a prize pig. I was still very much an ethical vegan, so as long as the calories weren't from an animal, I didn't care. I soon became addicted to hummus , which I ate with copious amounts of pita bread. Then margarine became another addiction, which I added to everything. I could eat a whole tub of cashews in a sitting. This binge eating was all in addition to the copious amounts of food I was eating. I was also not exercising as I learned to concede to their demands that I not exercise, being so skinny and all. Really, I think of it as the old me being brutally murdered (in a mental sense) and then resurrected into a zombie state. I'm still in recovery from the physical and emotional damage that I did to my body, mind and my health. Sure, they started to say I was eating too much, but I had already been brainwashed. I wanted to eat like that, but I don't consider it's my fault. If someone pushes you off a cliff, and you keep falling, it's not your fault if you keep falling.
In the beginning, I did look healthy, less emaciated, less like Skeletor. That was only temporary as the weight climbed up. Within a couple years I had gone from 117 lbs (with a BMI of 17) to 285 lbs (with a BMI of 42). I had lost 100 lbs, and gained back 165. So much for the anti-anorexic witch-hunt crowd wanting me to become "healthy". Anorexia is a behavior not a number, and my experience as a falsely accused anorexic proves that.
It gets worse. I suffered simultaneously from malnutrition and overeating. My digestion was horrible. I vomited after eating more than once. I skipped school, because I was severely depressed, but also because I had developed incontinence and had difficulty keeping myself from having to go to the bathroom. I went from a A & B student to mostly F's and D's. I was skipping school so much, that I eventually just dropped out of high school. Seriously, becoming fat again ruined my life.
That went on for a few years until I was 20, January 2009, I put myself on a diet again, and I've lost 100 lbs, most of that lost on a vegan diet.
I stopped being a vegan in March of this year. I'm still dealing with weight, body image issues to this day. During my weight loss last year I experienced many episodes of anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. Even now when I am at a more modest weight, I've hit a plateau and I often think about starving myself. But the reason I haven't gone full blown anorexic is because I hate the pain of hunger too much, and I don't like the idea of being malnourished of essential vitamins and minerals.
If anyone here should learn anything from my story, it's that as someone who was both very fat and very thin, I know how stupid people can act to you. Granted, I felt much better even when people were giving me sh*t for being skinny. What didn't feel good was the pressure to eat junk food and over-eat, what didn't feel good was becoming fat. I would like it if I could do it all over again, and gain muscle instead of fat. I definitely felt worse being fat. I have my own idea of what being attractive is and I measure myself up to it. Fat people like I was hate themselves way more than anyone else hates them. Being thin isn't as bad, but I do think it is oppressive how people who are thin or become thin are treated. I don't think people should be treated like that for being any size.
Most of the pain in my life has come from me being fat. I did not accept myself. I do not consider the physical health issues of being overweight to be nearly as concerning as the mental and emotional damages one feels having to deal with the stigma of being one of the fat ones. Seeing attractive people wherever you go. Overeating becomes your routine, or your comfort in emotional hell. Can you imagine if on top of that, someone decides that they are being "good" by shaming fat people to thinness? The number one reason fat people do not want to exercise is because they are worried what people will think of them. It's not because they are lazy!
Seriously, instead of being all angry at fat people you need to have a heart. I support Health At Every Size movement. I personally do not agree that being fat should be encouraged, but I feel that it shouldn't be subject to massive scorn and bigotry either. I support people who have decided to value their own self-worth as a human being despite of being "too fat".
That's it, I bared my soul. I'm being 100% honest and truthful. I just feel so embarrassed getting it off my chest.
The following will win me no friends but "Health at Any/Every Size" is complete and utter BS.
In fact, it implicitly contradicts why one would bother to eat Paleo. Sorry.
That noted, I do NOT condone ad hominem attacks on people for being overweight.
When I see very fat people, I feel sorry for them. They have been fooled but the so called experts into living and eating in ways that destroys their metabolisms. Then when they get fat, the same 'experts' blame them for having lack of willpower. Then when they try to do anything about it, most of the experts tell them to do more of the same. Is it any wonder that so many people are fat!?!
Of course, once people are addicted to sugar and garbage, and their brains are half fried, it's even harder for them to see past the so called experts and realize the real problem. And everywhere, society constantly tempts them to go back to the societally accepted way. I recently met this one guy who said he did great eating a low carb diet and lost lots of weight easily, but then everyone told him it was 'the heart attack diet' and he was scared he would get sick if he continued eating that way. Most people in society are just not going to spend 500 hours reading research articles and then have the chutzpah to tell all the 'experts' to go suck an egg. Instead, they will listen to those who are supposed to know something intelligent. So when I see a fat woman up there spouting bull about health, I can't help but see her as another borg drone that got sucked into the system. She is doing what she was brainwashed to believe is correct.
I think those who feel hate and animosity towards fat people are just people who themselves carry a lot of hate and animosity inside them and are looking for an excuse to let it out and have fun at someone else's expense. There are people everywhere that are full of hate and animosity and that includes some in the paleo community. It doesn't mean that paleo people are like that. It only means that all kinds of people are involved with paleo, including some that are like that.
Thin does not equal healthy, first of all. Even if you were thin and eating the SAD before discovering paleo, you were just as ignorant (literally speaking, not as insult) as a fat person, and simply genetically lucky that your un-health didn't manifest as adiposity.
In a way, maybe SAD fat people are the lucky ones, since they at least have smack-you-in-the-face obvious evidence of un-health, with very motivating lifestyle benefits to be had by going paleo. The perpetually thin SAD'er can continue under the delusion that he is healthy since he doesn't gain weight, albeit chronically deluded about the source of his psoriasis, acne, cancer, parkinson's, etc.
Additionally, while everyone is ultimately responsible for his own choices, SAD fatties are legitimately victims (as are thin people) of a governmental-agricultural-scientific hegemony that is constantly giving them terrible and contradictory advice and then blaming them when it doesn't work. Fatties deserve sympathy, kindness, help, education, and encouragement.
Disclosure: I am a fatty (but shrinking).
I know of exactly 0 healthy and maintaining obese status(read:visceral fat)humans. It's not natural. Skinny doesn't = healthy, but overweight and holding is definitely not. Doesn't mean we should deride them, merely help educate.
Crappy attitudes And opinions are human flaws. Don't lump all of us in a basket because of the negative statements made by a minority. That's severe prejudice and Just as bad.
Maybe I missed something but I don't think anything she said in that video Richard posted has anything to do with diet and nutrition. She was talking about healthcare reform.
In the video you posted on your blog she said "eat nutritious foods, exercise regularly, and have fun doing it". I think that is a good message.
She may be overweight but everyone in America is not thin. If fat people can't talk about nutrition because they are fat then that's a terrible attitude. Some fat people are trying to lose weight and be healthy and lost weight, but they're still overweight but they still have wisdom to share.
What about the super skinny gamer nerd that plays World of Warcraft, never gets any sunlight, and subsists on a diet of Mountain Dew and Cheetos. Being skinny only means you are skinny. Plenty of skinny people keel over and die and get sick.
"Do as I say, not as I do" does NOT fly for a government anointed health authority. She needs to walk the walk AND talk the talk.
I think that allowing people who are very overweight to believe that "everyone in my family is 'big'" (so it's genetic) is really harmful.
I'm concerned that fat "acceptance" is just going to result in people never finding out what really is a healthy lifestyle. Because the conventional wisdom doesn't work for weight loss, they might never look beyond that and instead just figure that's the way they are.
Carrying 10-15% over your ideal weight is no big deal. Some studies show those people have very favorable health outcomes, and I think that a lot of unhealthy obsession can go into getting off that last bit of weight anyway. Saying that people who are more than 25% over their ideal weight are just as healthy as those folks? I really don't think so.
Wow. I read the post and all the comments, and Richard Nikoley is a f***g idiot. Didn't he used to be quite chubby himself?
And as far as I can tell, he is just good at aggregating other people's paleo ideas and being a decent writer. Now it appears that he feels his transformation has given him the liberty to be a mean-spirited jerk. Well, most paleo bloggers seem like nice guys/girls: Mark Sisson, Stephan Guyenet, etc...
Also...her job is not Obesity Doctor General. To tag her as a hypocritical role model is not quite logical. I used to work at an obesity clinic, and some very knowledgeable people with great positive influence, who happened to have trouble controlling their appetites, attended sessions there. Your looks do not dictate everything.