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Lessons from the Fat-o-sphere: Quit Dieting and Declare a Truce with Your Body Paperback – May 5 2009
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About the Author
Kate Harding has been writing popular feminist rants for Internet audiences since 2007, most notably at Jezebel", at "Salon" s "Broadsheet" blog, and at her own body-acceptance blog, "Shapely Prose". She s also the coauthor of "Lessons from the Fat-o-sphere", a major contributor to "The Book of Jezebel", and an essayist who s been published in several anthologies, including "Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World without Rape". Kate recently started a new Tumblr blog, "Don t Get Raped" (victimblaming.tumblr.com), which uses news items about sexual assault to catalog the many situations women and men and children have to avoid to fully protect themselves against the threat of rape. She lives in Chicago.
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Top Customer Reviews
And why, for my "health's sake".
Written by two girls who know what they're talking about, telling all about this big conspiracy against "fat"; And they're so honest about themselves too, you can actually relate to their life experiences. It's all about expanding... both accepting the expansion of your waistline, which is most likely not your fault, and expanding your consciousness about the false surveys done to become both fearfull and hatefull of your fat. Big financial interests for pills to gadgets have set the foundation for a lot of prejudice, leading to a fat-o-phobic society, presumingly fat that will surely kill you (says who, find out: read also "Health at any size").
I'm a better shopper now, I open my ears and eyes to this propaganda, and will not initiate anymore pettytalk about my (now non-existant) efforts and research to loose weight; I do notice it's not easy to change my own attitude of self-defeat and to get to a guilt-free way of eating like, for example, justifying my choice of lunch to co-workers. I'm finally reaching a truce where there is no "good" or "bad" food, for any reason. BUT: there are: "bad friends" and "wrong lovers" that send us subtle (or not so) messages about how they think we should look, but happily, good ones too!... how to tell the difference... and speak up!!
This book is a relief to us all: No "expert" to tell me what to eat and how many times a day I should jump up and down; At last authors explaining me with a great deal of everyday humor, that I'm very ok with the way I look, and feed myself.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Seriously. I was lucky enough to read an advanced copy (but I still bought the finished book as a show of appreciation and support). I was 6 months out of a relationship and feeling anxious about putting my girthful self out into the cruel world of dating. I decided I would take the leap in the spring AFTER I'd lost 50 pounds. Then I read Fat-O-Sphere. It made me feel strong. If I was happy and successful and active and feeling great, why not embrace it? Being fat did not negate all those really good things. So I promptly began online dating. And it worked. I'm having extreme fun and meeting lots of men (some amazing, some ok, some crazy) who delight in my glamorous heft. I am beyond grateful to Marianne and Kate for writing a book that helped me stop feeling ashamed and guilty and confused.
Health at every size, peace of mind at every size, happiness at any size--that's what this book advocates, explains and encourages.
The basic premise is that diets don't work long-term for any but a tiny minority of people and that they create more health problems than they fix (if they fix any), and that the beating your self-esteem takes from continual weight obsession is not helpful. There are studies and statistics to back this up, and the authors encourage readers to check out their sources and come to their own conclusions. For me, it doesn't take much convincing. I've seen my weight drop or go up inexplicably, or stubbornly refuse to budge when I'm doing everything "right" based on whatever diet I'm doing at the time. And, hang around any dieting message board, and you will hear from people who are following the plan and not losing. People who are dieting talk a lot about tricks to keep yourself from plateauing--cut calories, but not too much, or give yourself a couple days where you eat "normally" to convince your body it's not starving, or bump up the calories a little but exercise like a fiend. It's a commonly accepted fact that when you try to lose weight, your body will fight you every step of the way. Which is part of why the subtitle is about "declaring a truce with your body." The point is to avoid fighting a war against yourself that you can't win and that will make you miserable.
Another issue the writers point out about dieting is that having foods be forbidden just makes them more attractive, and having things that you are "supposed to" eat makes them less desirable. And it's the same with exercise.
Now, this is where a lot of people get hung up. They see "Don't diet or try to lose weight" and they think that the writers are encouraging everyone to be sedentary and live on Twinkies. That's totally not it. Instead, they're encouraging a concept called "Health At Every Size" which is about doing healthy things for your body *regardless* of whether they change your weight. Doing them for their own sake, because they make you feel better. They talk about paying attention to how you feel when you eat--eat what you want when you want, stop when you're satisfied.
When you start eating intuitively, you will probably eat a fair bit of "unhealthy" food. Though one of the things the authors talk about is that we have a really skewed idea of what's "healthy." You'd think from what you hear and read that eating ice cream is about equivalent to pouring battery acid down your throat. But it does have actual nutrients, like calcium. Even fat is a nutrient, one that's required for your body to process vitamins A, D, E, and K. Sometimes you crave "bad" things because they have nutrients that your body needs. So, instead of fighting your body, you give it what it wants. If you've dieted forever, the idea that you can eat whatever you want will, at first, involve cheeseburgers and donuts and everything you weren't allowed to touch before. But eventually, the novelty wears off. If you're allowed to have pizza for breakfast and a box of Twinkies for lunch, you might do it a couple times because you *can.* But you will probably feel like crap that day. Or start craving strawberries, or zucchini, or rice. Eventually, you end up eating a pretty balanced diet, because you're paying attention to your body, which will generally tell you what it needs. That's much better than denying it for as long as you can, then eating everything in sight because you're *starving.*
One of the things they stress is to not get wrapped around the axle about doing intuitive eating "right." The main point of intuitive eating is throwing away all that OMG PANIC about having to eat the "right" foods. And freeing up the time and mental energy that goes into obsessing and counting calories to do more worthwhile things.
The book advocates the same stance toward exercise as it does toward food. Rather than looking at exercise as something you "have to" do, find a form of movement that you enjoy. Maybe it's yoga, maybe it's swimming, maybe it's dance. But find something and do it. If you try something and don't like it, don't consider it a failure. Just try the next thing. It's kind of like dating. Maybe yoga isn't "the one," so you break it off with yoga and go give bellydance a call. And remember that you're doing this because it's fun and it feels good. If you miss a day, it's not something to beat yourself up over. And, if it's something you do for its own sake, when life gets in the way one week, you'll find yourself really looking forward to it.
That's another principle that speaks to me. I like exercise. I love yoga, I love bellydance. Because the motion burns off stress and puts me in a calm state. And I like lifting weights---it makes me feel all buff and powerful. But I *hate* exercise for the purpose of weight loss. Once it becomes something that I "must" do to make my body an acceptable size, that just sucks the joy right out of it.
The awesome thing about doing these things for their own sake is that you won't give up on them if they don't make the scale move. I've seen a lot of people give up on the healthy foods they were eating or the exercise they were getting because their weight plateaued. Which is a shame. This book encourages you to find more lasting and significant motivations for healthy behavior than the numbers on the scale. Personally, I find that I eat more veggies, exercise more, and generally take better care of myself following an HAES mindset than I did when I was dieting.
Another key concept of the book is to be a critical consumer of media and to limit your exposure. Both authors noted that when they stopped watching much TV, their self-esteem shot up because they weren't continually comparing themselves to women whose job it is to be thin and conventionally beautiful. Women's magazines are even worse than TV because you can't Photoshop television. Nobody looks like a model, including models. And seeing that all the time creates a very skewed view of what you're "supposed to" look like. They also talk about critically reading and analyzing articles about weight and health. What does the study really show? Does the data support that? Does the headline match the article's content, or is it an exaggeration to draw attention? Oh, and who funded the study?
Overall, I would definitely recommend this book. The writing style is awesome--funny and no-nonsense, very personable and easy to read. And there's a ton of resources--all the sources the book cites, as well as a bunch of other informative books, blogs, and articles.
If you are dead-set on hating yourself, this isn't the book for you. But if you've been thinking that maybe those crazy fat acceptance folks have a point about dieting not working, you are ready to sit down and listen to two honest, caring girlfriends who will tell it like it is.
No, it's not all unicorns and cotton candy, accepting your body and yourself is hard work, it's just a different (and more rewarding) kind of work than what restricting your eating and exercising as punishment are. This book provides some specific direction and resources for feeling better about, and connected to it, taking better care of, your body.
If you aren't female, you might not feel like you are being spoken to directly, the way that I did when I read it, but if you have women in your lives (moms, friends, girlfriends, wives, sisters) who could use some reinforcement in the body love department, this book may make a great gift (but not for someone who will feel insulted by the word "fat-o-sphere").
I know the authors couldn't include everything in the whole world of fat acceptance in the book, but if you want to know more about intuitive eating, I also recommend "The Diet Survivor's Handbook: 60 Lessons in Eating, Acceptance and Self-Care."
I know I'll be glad I have this book on my shelf during those times when my acceptance muscles are feeling fatigued -- girlfriends Kate and Marianne (and special guests) will be there to remind me of what I need to do to get back on the path to good self care.
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