occasionally post new articles here on "Living a
and a Full Life at Every Size.
no harm: an alternative to dieting. When we
perpetuate a myth, when we suggest or support our
client's wish for an outcome that is unsupported in the
literature, we violate the basic tenet of our profession,
to do no harm.
than sixty percent of the population of the United States
is overweight according to the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention. This is true despite diet
plans, exercise options, shaming messages, and medical
warnings on the dangers of being overweight (whether
supported by research or not).
psychologists, we are frequently asked by our patients to
help them lose weight. Many people believe that is
the only choice if they are to have a good, positive,
whole life. Acceptable, desirable size is time bound and
culture bound. If we do not have an alternative, we are
simply supporting the value of the culture, at this
moment. Psychologist and client alike get "high jacked"
by the focus on weight loss and miss the critical message
of having a healthy lifestyle without focus on the number
on the scale.
media present us with thinner and thinner models of what
is good, right, desirable for our bodies. The current
goal is size zero! What should therapists do to disavow
the culture, the self hatred, the demoralizing dance and
depressing messages our clients are immersed in day by
day? What many of us think about, prescribe or discuss
with our clients is what would be called an eating
diet, one must spend an inordinate amount of time
thinking about the process of eating, while limiting
intake, ignoring hunger and satiety cues, and reinforcing
the idea that the body and food are the enemies. Dieting
does not make people thinner! When the diet necessarily
ends, the nearly universal experience--95 percent of
people--is to regain the weight that was lost, sometimes
more--90 percent of people.
dieter is left with less muscle tissue and more fat,
less confidence and more shame. And, we continue to
support weight loss as the goal!
question then becomes what solutions do we have to offer
if not a focus on dieting and weight loss? As
psychologists we are responsible for learning about
interventions that actually help people of any size live
the healthiest life. There are services and supports
specifically designed for large people such as fitness
programs, social organizations, problem solving resources
(e.g., finding clothing that fits, securing adequate
medical care, handling job discrimination), and political
have a full life means having choices. Many people
with more weight than they wish to have are subjected to
intrusive and negative comments.
assumptions are made about who they are and how they
conduct their lives. If we perpetuate those assumptions,
in overt and covert ways, we fail to offer our clients
choices that can and do lead to a more fulfilling life.
learning about being fit and fat, healthy lifestyle
alternatives, what is actually possible, what
interventions are efficacious is our responsibility, as
is true for any clinical service we offer. We must
challenge our own thoughts when we "read" a client's
issues from the size of her body.
of us, in whatever words we use, say to our clients that
what matters are the modest changes that can be sustained
over a lifetime. To have a healthy life, where the
number on the scale is not the accurate measure of
health, we must all do the same things: move for fun; eat
a variety of foods for fuel and taste without avoiding
preferred and delicious ranges of choices; drink
sufficient water; breathe; get enough sleep; and be with
people who cherish us. So basic.
must look at process goals--what anyone can do
today--rather than unattainable outcome goals. If we
support the view that life must "weight" or be delayed
until someone's weight reaches a certain number, we are
answer that may sound radical is that living your life in
a healthy way leads to a good weight for each of us.
If watching the number on a scale would lead to people
being lighter/thinner over time, the world would have
smaller people. As psychologists, we need to address the
unique issues a client brings. Ask yourself, "If this
client was thin, what would you focus on?"
Tips for Bountiful Women
you know it's possible to be healthy at any size? A
new study confirms that you don't have to be thin to be
fit. Steven Blair, director of research at the Cooper
Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas claims "there
is a misdirected obsession with weight and weight loss.
The focus is all wrong.
fitness that is the key." Blair's study shows that trim
people who don't exercise have double the death rate than
larger people who do exercise.
don't need to lose one pound to be healthy, but you will
Take your eyes off your scale and move your body in
enjoyable ways. Dance. Stretch. Garden. Park a
few extra steps away. Walk for five minutes a day.
Start where you are, begin slowly and increase as your
fitness level grows. Make a one percent change and in 100
days, you'll be at a dramatically different fitness level
than today. Drink.
Drink water--not coffee, wine, soda--just water.
Water intake makes a huge difference for your energy
level--experiment for yourself. Here's the
formula--divide your weight in half and that's the number
of ounces of water you need each day. If you weigh 200
lbs., you need about 100 ounces; that is about eight, 12
of us are sleep deprived, needing a minimum of eight
hours of sleep a night. One way to tell if you are
getting good sleep is if you dream. Dreaming requires
deep sleep to occur.
Do not deprive yourself of foods you especially
want. Remember, there are no bad foods. Nourish
yourself with nutritious choices of vegetables, fruits,
and lean protein. When you crave chocolate, try eating
something good for you, like an apple, and then eat
chocolate. You may eat less, you may not, but you
will become more aware of your choices.
current: Get excellent medical care in a timely
way. If your physician sees fat and does not see
you, try asking, "if I were a thin person, what would you
do next?" If he or she cannot see the entire you,
immediately go elsewhere. Do not avoid routine check
ups. Bodies of every size need more tender loving
care as we pass forty! Check out the link for
fat-friendly professionals at
loved: Invest your time in people who cherish
you. Who you spend time with matters.
the choice to live a full, fit and bountiful
Passion and Love
into the world seeking and enjoying pleasure. All
healthy babies do. Unfortunately, many of us learn
to ignore what we feel, what we sense, and to avoid
pleasure. Consequently, many women believe they must
"weight" until they are good enough, right enough, and
thin enough to be sexy and sensual. Oo oo baby, not
is when you . . .
deliberately savor the taste of every food and
actively explore the aroma of whatever you
touch all sorts of things, noting the textures and
listen for even the softest, unnoticed sounds--this
may require you to be still for some
see life as if you are an artist, appreciating light,
dark, color, shape, and illusion--what do you see that
you didn't see before? Look at the spaces
between the leaves and find the patterns . . .
embrace love. At times we say we want a relationship
but then do everything to avoid it.
every moment our bodies are experiencing sensual
stimulation. We can either pay attention to them or cut
ourselves off from these pleasure. Many of us have a set
of rules who we are to be and how we are to act that tell
us to neglect our sensual selves. Can you think of some
of your own rules, right now? The length of the
list might surprise you.
are some of my old rules: Don't wear sexy underwear.
Don't flirt. Don't see your curvy soft body as delicious.
Don't notice attractive people. Don't sing out loud
whether or not you can carry a tune. Don't be noisy or
messy or too alluring. And whatever you do, don't let
them see you naked.
you made up your rules to begin with, perhaps you can
make up new rules! How do you like some of my current
rules? Always get your feet rubbed.
whenever, wherever you feel like. Sing out loud. Move
around, jump up and down, hop, skip, jump. Be big
and flashy and seductive. Light some candles, put on
romantic music, dance. Luxuriate in bath water. Treat
yourself to a massage. Be lusty, voluptuous and
is a way of life based of choices we make each day. We
need to tune into the sensual experiences that are
already happening by enjoying our surroundings, our loved
ones and our bodies.
to Be Accepted/Don't Accept Anything Less!
wants to be hurt. No one wants to be hurt, again. The
only way to avoid every possibility of one more
disappointing encounter is to avoid all relationships.
What an empty life that can be.
there are risks in life. The challenge for each of us is
to choose wisely, chose carefully, and be sure you
choose. If any of us tries to "play it safe," you must
face that you are making a choice, a choice to be
separate from others.
important is to chose to be with people who cherish,
honor, and value you. Sometimes, you don't know exactly
who those people will be until you get to know them. You
are attracted to a certain person because she or he is
warm, interesting, around in your day-to-day lives. As
you get to know that person, rather than scanning for
danger, rather than watching and monitoring the other
person's behavior and way of being with you, what is most
essential is paying attention to how you feel when you
are with that person and after the time with them is
find yourself relaxed, laughing, sharing whatever is
important to you and leave feeling refreshed, that sounds
like a good person with whom to share time and
experiences--friendship, romance or whatever. If, on the
other hand, you feel otherwise, feel that you are
struggling to talk, censoring what you say, on guard,
worried about what you said, there are two questions to
ask yourself. First, is this the feeling you mostly have
when you are with other people? If so, it might help to
talk to a wise friend, a loving family member, a
therapist, a religious or spiritual person in your life
and explore why you are so unsettled with yourself.
answer to the first question is, "no, this is not how I
mostly feel," then ask yourself the second question, What
is it that I am enjoying/receiving in this relationship
that keeps me coming back to spend time with this person?
Be brutally frank and honest with yourself. If you are
saying things to yourself, such as, no one will want me
so I have to accept what I am receiving or be alone, or,
he/she is so terrific . . . (fill in the blank), I must
be worthwhile if they want to be with me, or, I feel
loved, cared about, appreciated by this person. Clearly
determine your feelings so you are honoring yourself,
being loyal to yourself. You deserve it. We all do.
spend time with really really matters. Many bountiful
women have taken emotional hits because our bodies have
not measured up to what some people feel is
right/better/good for us. Healing those wounds,
developing our self esteem is our work, as it is the work
of many women who believe there is something not quite
right about them. Do that work. Get whatever help you
need to heal the past. The other half of the equation is
to be only with people who cherish you when you have the
choice. If you must be with someone who is toxic/harmful
to you, limit the contact, have a friend with you, but
know you will have to take care of yourself after you
have spent time with that person.
you select people who honor you, respect you, care about
you, want to know you, life will be bountiful, full and