Tag Archives: nutrition

Five Reasons Why BMI Report Cards Need To Stop.

BMISo, I’m a little late to the game.  Apparently, for a few years now, some schools have been including a BMI (Body Mass Index) score on children’s report cards.  In 2011, The Huffington Post reports that BMI scores are “the latest weapon in the fight against the growing obesity epidemic in children”.  I’m sure you can already guess my reaction to this, but before I get into the more objective reasons, I’ll include a little personal history.

You all know I was an overweight kid.  An overweight kid who carried a lot of shame about both her body and imperfections.  Those imperfections included my less-than-stellar grades in math.  Report cards, a necessary evil, filled me with anxiety and dread every quarter.  Why?  I knew, deep down, that I wasn’t a perfect student; I occasionally turned in homework late and periodically made careless mistakes on tests.  I held a deep level of shame due to these peccadilloes – I feared I was a bad person because of it.  I feared my parents’ reaction to it and hated myself around report card time.  “I should be doing better”, I would mutter to myself.

Can you imagine the amount of shame I would have had if BMI’s were added back in the 90’s?  Can you imagine the ridicule I would have gotten from fellow students?  Can you imagine the reaction from “trusted adults”?

“Well, your BMI is 4 points too high, and therefore, you need to lose weight, Amanda…”

So.  Here are my reasons for banning BMI report cards.

  1. Let doctors and nutritionist do their jobs, and let teachers do theirs.  Is it important that we model a healthy lifestyle for children in our schools?  Absolutely.  Teaching them to obsess about a number is not modelling a healthy lifestyle.  Especially when schools continue to pack their vending machines with candy bars and less-than-healthy foods.  Hello, mixed messages?  More importantly, who are the people who are trained to deal with an individual’s weight, activity and nutrition level?  Their PCP.  Their PCP can do a much more thorough job of determining whether or not a child is healthy or unhealthy.  Better than an index number.  And better than an untrained teacher or administrative personnel who is transmitting this information to a child.  (I’m not knocking teachers, I just think it’s clear kids’ personal doctors are probably better equipped to assess that stuff.)
  2. BMI’s can trigger, but not cause, an eating disorder.  I’m a firm believer that a multitude of factors need to be in place to cause an eating disorder.  But, an environmental trigger like a BMI report card can trigger a child who is already predisposed to having one.  Kids at school are already influenced by bullies at school telling them they need to weigh less, wear better clothes, or don more makeup.  But if adults told them this?  We may forget adults in our lives wielded an unusual amount of power, power that has the ability to influence us for decades and haunt us.  Some kids may not care two ways to Sunday if a trusted adult in their life tells them they’re fat.  But a vulnerable child?  A child who comes from a traumatic home or has low self-esteem to boot?  They’ll take that as truth, and they’ll run with it.  People vulnerable to eating disorders tend to be people-pleasers, and if someone tells them to lose weight, they’ll do it.  I personally know someone who has been triggered by BMI report cards.  This is no joke.
  3. BMI’s are not the most accurate predictor of fat mass.  In general, can it tell you if you need to lose weight?  Probably, I’m not a doctor.  But there are other scales – two are Body Fat Mass and Percentage of Body Fat.  It’s completely possible to have an obese BMI and a normal or overweight score for BFM or PBF.  I’ve also known people who weight train, lose inches from their waist, and watch their BMI scores rise.  Go Kaleo talks a LOT about this (she’s a WARRIOR, check out her blog/fb page).  And, here you can see how she’s clinically overweight by current indexes.  Ridiculousness.
  4. BMI scores are not going to change a perpetually unhealthy household.  I’m guessing that national health advocates are hoping that BMI scores will “wake up” parents who don’t keep a good eye on their child’s nutrition.  As in, maybe they’ll change their family food habits if they see their kid weighs too much.  Mmmmkay.  I believe this might work for a total of two weeks.  Why the cynicism, you ask?  Well, I’m going to take a wild guess and say that the majority of households who constantly feed their kids donuts, soda and McDonalds may not have access to food that is healthier and therefore, higher-priced.  So, there’s financial blocks, and there’s mental blocks too.  I’m going to go a step farther – which may get me in trouble here – and posit that these same families may not be in the best place mentally or spiritually.  And the solution to this is not a number on a report card.  It’s a change in family communication patterns or beliefs.  You don’t work from the outside in and put a band-aid on it; you treat the actual wound.  Bottom line, NUMBERS NEVER HELP PEOPLE TO LOSE WEIGHT OR CHANGE LIFESTYLE BELIEFS.
  5. Isn’t the medical profession’s oath “Do No Harm”?  I can’t take credit for this one.  A couple of weeks ago, on Good Morning America, one of their medical correspondents “weighed in” on this subject.  GMA had interviewed several teenage girls who had communicated that the BMI scores ultimately made them feel bad about themselves.  The reporting medical correspondent insightfully noted the medical profession’s possible betrayal of its oath.  If GMA’s small-scale interview translates to the rest of the teenage population, then harm is being done.

Is obesity healthy?  No way.  But neither are eating disorders.  Our nation has missed the mark and swung the opposite way with food obsession.  We uselessly obsess about gluten and sugar and numbers.  And I’ve harassed you all before about the dangers of obsessing about food and numbers.  Obsession about numbers = obesssion about outside appearance = not solving your food issues.  But working from the inside out works every time. Building your child’s self-esteem through encouragement of esteemable tasks?  Works.  And modelling a balanced diet and positive self-esteem will protect your children from any imbalance.  But an index number?  No way.

Top Three Reasons Why I’m Finally Bikini-Ready.

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I remember a time, long ago, when the internet was just a household fledgling and Sarah McLachlan played nonstop on my Walkman.

It was 1996, and I was so unhealthy and sick when it came to my body image.  Now keep in mind, I was also the thinnest I’d ever been.  Weighing twenty pounds less than I should have, my body cried out for nutrients.  But because I’d been told by many a person that I was “Super-skinny”, I decided it was finally OK for me to wear a bikini.  So I bought one and wore it on vacation to Panama City to visit my half-brother, who was stationed there at the time.

And I hated it.  I felt  like I was crawling out of my skin the entire time we went to the ocean or a water park.  I was paranoid people were staring at my body fat and shuddering in disgust.  When I developed the pictures from the trip, I despised looking at my stomach in them.  It seemed to pour over the bikini bottom and just looked, well, gross.

(And the fact was, it was just ill-fitting, and I was so weak I had no muscle tone.)

Fast forward eighteen years.  (Excuse me while I go have an age-related heart attack.)  I’m twenty pounds heavier, have had a child, and have some rumply skin right above my belly button since giving birth to my daughter.  I also have some rumply skin underneath my arms, just a little bit, that’s popped into existence over the past couple of years.  I have stretch marks, but I’ve had those since I was a kid.

Before this recent Fourth of July weekend, I briefly contemplated buying a bikini.  I hadn’t worn one since that trip to Panama City, and thought maybe I was finally in the right head place to do so.  “No”, I grimaced to myself.  “My abs don’t look like those people’s I see on the beach.  I’m too white.  I’m suppposed to be tan.  People would laugh.”

Then, I realized, I was listening to my old eating disordered voice, and f%$& that s*$%.

I’d been listening to it all along.  Who the hell CARED if my stomach looked fish-white?  I’m supposed to look like that, I’m Scottish, Irish, English, German and French!  Who the hell cared if my bikini bottom was too big and someone saw my ass for a second as my daughter climbed onto me?  It was at a freaking family BBQ.  I realized I’d been missing out on being me, crazy, “who gives a shit”, outspoken Amanda all these years because I was listening to an old tape inside my head.

So I picked out a polka-dotted bikini, and I wore it on the Fourth.  And here’s the reasons why I think I was ready:

  1. I stopped giving a shit about what others thought of me.    Was this easy?  Hell no.  It probably took about eighteen years!  But – the second you realize the things people say about you negatively are directly related to the way they feel about themselves, you are set free.  Seriously.  So that friend who always makes comments about what you’re wearing and how you look in it?  Probably hates herself.  And her body hate doesn’t have to influence the way you feel about yours.
  2. I gave love to the places on my body that needed it.  Some of you may remember the “Tummy Love Project” that I started on here.  I never finished it on the blog, but I finished it in real life.  One of the reasons I never wore a bikini was the amount of hate I had for my stomach.    So, I meditated about it, I gazed at it lovingly in the mirror, and I strengthened it (I find in my recovery that muscle strengthening exercise does not trigger me, but instead makes me feel empowered.)  You may be laughing at the gazing at it part, but it worked.  Why?  For years, I’d been pretending it wasn’t there, silently excluding it from existence.  For the first time, I acknowledged it and respected it.  And that started the hate loss.
  3. I respected my body for what it’s gone through.  The funny thing is, before I’d given birth, I loved my body way less than I do now.  Part of it is – I didn’t know what I was working with before.  I didn’t know that I had this amazing body, capable of producing and giving life to this world.  Again, you may claim corny, but I say it’s astounding that women can do this, and be up and walking the next day.  It’s a miracle!  So, I respected my body – and flaunted its magical prowess when I wore a bikini.  I gave birth, goddamnit.

I’m sorry if you read this article expecting some miraculous not-yet-discovered secret about weight loss that made me look bikini-ready.  I was only bikini-ready because I finally loved my body and respected it, not because I had finally achieved some weight loss goal.  My head had to be in check to wear one.  Interestingly enough, I was less bikini ready when I was thinner.

So here I sit, in my bikini, writing this out in the sun on our front lawn while my little one naps.  My legs are pale white, some fat hangs over my bikini-bottom (PS, we all have it when we hunch over)…

and I’ve never been happier with my body.

Media Mondays: Does Body Acceptance Mean An Unhealthy Lifestyle?

So my friend sent me this article because she thought I might have something to say about it.  (Me?  Never.)  And I did.  So, here’s the link –

Real Women…?

So this lady’s argument is that there’s this common theme today of saying “real women” are only size 14, with curves, and that thin or healthy women get shit on in regards to being “real”. If you scroll down, she tells you that she was one of the overweight women in the second set of pics, and then she became a bodybuilder.  Can I tell you something?  I agree with ONE of her points.  And that is:

There has been a backlash against slender people since the body-acceptance movement.  It’s true.  I bet most naturally-tiny people have felt discriminated against at times, with the boatloads of body acceptance size 14 memes floating around the internet.  The truth is, all women who don’t have botox and don’t photoshop their pics have “real” bodies.

But I don’t agree with the rest of the article.  And here’s why.

1.  One thing that bothers me is the name-calling.  Lady, how ’bout you don’t shame people by telling them they have “shitty” eating habits.

2.  She’s using her story in the wrong way.  This gal apparently lost like 50 lbs or so.  OK, good for you, I was overweight as a kid too and lost it (albeit through unhealthy ways.)  Just because I am society’s standard of “normal” doesn’t mean you see me taking the “real women” movement personally.  I’m confident enough to know I have a real body, a body that is just as real as those size 14-ers.  It’s like a white person crying because black people have their own equality organizations.

3.  I’m sorry, but if you’re a bodybuilder, I’m guessing you use extreme measures to maintain your appearance.

4.  WHAT ABOUT DEPRESSION?  This lady makes losing weight/getting healthy seem supremely easy.  And you know what?  It is, for some.  But others have to battle co-existing illness like depression and anxiety which compound the ability to lose it.  You don’t have a choice when you have depression; it’s a disease and you have symptoms that prevent you from making choices.

5.  And oh yeah, there’s class status.  Not everyone is white and middle class and is able to shop at Whole Foods!

6.  And lastly, God.  Lady, I am guessing when people say “God gave me this body”, they mean their genetics/biology.  And guess what?  That does have an impact.  I’m never going to be Anna Kendrick-sized, but I’m also not ever going to be Geena Davis sized.  Science does, in fact, happen!

Bottom line:  I just hate that women like this get 47,000 likes on an article of this quality, which is basically a shot to get money and publicity through emotional manipulation.  And my little blog just plods along…albeit happily…

(and if you’re wondering the answer to my title, it’s this…)

grumpycat

Blissful Body Fridays: Your “Perfect” Weight

 LOVED THIS!

perfectweightchart

Spotted this on 16nite’s Tumblr site.  Cannot claim this as a Bruce original!

Have a great weekend, folks, and be good to yourselves!

Recovery Tip Tuesdays: Set Point Theory

acceptanceGood ol’ set point theory.  What is it?

The idea that all of our bodies have their unique set point, a number, give or take 5-10 lbs, that our body likes to reside at when it’s healthy and we’re feeding it well.

One of the biggest breakthroughs I experienced in my ED recovery was accepting my set point.

(Which is a tall order, I do realize.  Acceptance can be a bit of a bitch to work through)

And my set point is pretty average.  Coming from a family of Irish-German “Campbell Soup Kids”, I realized I was never going to be 110 lbs soaking wet (sorry for the rare number), once I was able to see through the irrationalities of my eating disorder.  It just wasn’t going to happen, unless I engaged in superhuman exercise and dangerous restriction every day.  Which, was alarming to my ED at first.  My ED wanted to fight my body.  Screw you, it said to my body.  I’ll show you.  You can be different.

However, once I accepted it, set point theory was…relaxing, actually.  It comforted me, because if I fed my body the way my nutritionist told me to, it would never screw me over.  It would never put me at an obese weight I feared…it would put me right where I belong.

(But there was quite a fight to get to that acceptance.  Think: A crying, binging sometimes, scratching, screaming fight.)

I still have to check myself fairly daily on this when my ED starts luring me into lesser-weight land.

What do you think?  Have you accepted your body type, your set point?  If not, what steps do you have to take to obtain that acceptance?

*What works for me may not work for you.  Proceed at your own risk.

eateverything

Three Reasons Why This Blog Will Never Be Popular.

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I’ve spent a long time thinking about how I can market this blog, make it bigger, more accessible, increase the traffic so it can reach more ED sufferers and those in recovery (from bad body image or an ED), and I’ve concluded –

This blog will never be popular.

This is not pessimistic, this is a realistic viewpoint.

And these are my reasons why:

 

1.  Some readers think I’m pro-fat.  I’m not.  I’m pro-health.  And sometimes being healthy also means being overweight.  Given that the current trend is panicking about any “bad” foods or “bad” eating patterns, this “grey-area” blog is not going to go viral anytime soon in this all or nothing thinking world.  (“Either you’re fat and unhealthy or thin and healthy!”  Nope, nope, that’s just not true.  And what about emotional health?)

 

2.  People LOVE trends.  LOVE.   What’s more appealing than a new quick fix all the cool kids are trying out?  Let’s take an example – Paleo.  (Just using that because it seems to be the “trendiest” right now.)  Can some people turn this into a permanent lifestyle?  Very few, I think.  The thing about trends is that they’re never sustainable.  History has proven it.  Powdered faces with the hairline shaven back?  Gone with the medieval times.  Or something.  White lipstick?  My mother dabbled with it in the sixties.  Paleo?  Probably gone just as quick.  

Now, is Paleo healthy?  Absolutely, parts of it.  But it’s the fact that it’s a trend that will ultimately be the demise of it.  Something else will come along that people will latch onto and try.  and it will be left in the dust.  

My blog doesn’t focus on trends – it asks you to do the longterm, day-at-a-time work.  The internal work, not the “change your outsides so you have a temporary high” work.  

 

3.  Diets Make Money.  I could google it, but I’m going to assume that the diet industry makes millions of dollars each year off of people buying into their particular cookbooks, their programs, and low-carb cheesecakes.  So, when I say they’re bullshit, this will obviously earn a quick snub from most viewers. Why?  They invested money in a product and they don’t want to be told it was for nothing, or for little, or for temporarily.  They want that investment to mean something.  And I’m threatening that.  

 

So, that’s part of why I think this blog will never be popular.  

(Like not being popular has ever stopped me before….)

And an anecdote to finish this off.  Recently, I was sitting with my therapist, and said, “You know, I think I’ve found the secret to a healthy weight and healthy life.”

“And what is that?”  She asked.

“Not worrying about it,” I replied.

She smiled.

A little bit of both is health, IMO...

My Toddler Knows About Dunkin’ Donuts (And Other Non-Atrocities)

A little bit of both is health, IMO...
A little bit of both is health, IMO…

Every day I’m convinced I’m going to give my 16 month old an eating disorder.

Which is stupid, really, because it’s not just one thing that causes one – but the fact that I’m recovered from one ups the ante a little bit.

Let me give you an example:

Every week, my daughter has her play group and like one week out of the month we stop to get Dunkin’ Donuts right before (me: iced french vanilla with cream, you know it, and her: one or two munchkins ((crazy baby doesn’t seem to care either way for them.  WHAT??))  This morning, as I narrated her life, as I do maniacally every day, I said absentmindedly, “So we’ll get in the car and we’ll stop at Dunkin Donuts.”

She halted.  Her head swiveled and her eyes lit up.

I guess she cared more about those sprinkles-encrusted balls of goodness than I previously thought.

And my head went into a mindspin.  Is this why she’s in the 90th percentile?  She’s going to get bombarded by obesity comments at the doctor’s in a couple of years.  I’m so bad for giving her sugar, at all?  I’m going to parent hell!  I might as well be Honey Boo Boo’s mom!  I might as well set up camp at McDonald’s.  I’m ruining my daughter’s future!!!!!!

And then I stop, take a pretend Xanax, and reality-check myself.

First, I try to remember my therapist’s words (“It’d be pretty hard to force food to a baby, Amanda”).  Then, I remember that I feed my baby quinoa on a regular basis.

(You should have seen it when I tried to explain what it was to my mother.  She kept going, Kinney?  Quinna?  Finally I had to tell her to remember Joaquin Phoenix but backwards.)

(Some might even call me a “Quinoa Mom” – horrors)

And I mix spinach into her sweet potato so my fruit-lover will get some much-needed vegetables as well.  And I buy those overpriced organic pouches so she’ll eat SOMETHING nutritious on a day when all she wants is cheese in 1/2 inch squares only.  And, I don’t keep juice in the house.   And over my dead body will she have soda.

I think my downfall is comparing myself to those gluten-free-paleo-vegan-vegetarian-GMO free mothers who don’t let a drop of sugar pass into their kids’ sacred bodies.  But that’s kind of redonk, because a.  I’m never going to be that kind of mother and b.  I don’t, personally, think that’s healthy.  Do I think kids should snack on Happy Meals regularly?  No way.  But do I think they should enjoy the occasional bowl of ice cream that you can get messy in and smash all over your face?  Absolutely.  That’s part of being a kid.

And lastly, I try to remember the work I did on myself that brought me to the place where I don’t attach moral value to food, and the valuable lesson I will pass on to her.

So, I think I’m doing ok.  In spite of the neuroticism.

My Body!

Media Mondays: My Body Gallery

Happy Monday!  I’m gonna take a break from my “media watchdog” status and post something from the media that is BODY POSITIVE – or at least, I think so.  My fabulous friend Liz let me know about the My Body Gallery, a site that is dedicated to portraying an accurate depiction of what REAL women look like.  The coolest part, in my opinion, is the place where you can type in your height and weight and see pictures of other real women.  For the women I spoke to, this was a wakeup call – as in, “Hey I look better than I thought!”  Why?  Because often we view ourselves more negatively than we do others.  However this could be a trigger for some – so you have been warned.

 

So click away!

 

Have a great Monday, folks!

keepcalm

Do You Want Your Blog Linked On Mine?

Hey all!

 

I’m looking to link a bunch of Recovery Blogs on my “Links” page.  I’m all for the ED Recovery community connecting and supporting each other.  So, if you want your link on my page, you should meet only a few requirements:

1.  Have a pro-recovery blog (no pro-ana or mia sites, please)

2.  On this blog entry, submit your blog URL.  I will post it!

3.  Comment on another blog that’s  linked on my “Links” page.

 

That’s it…link up my friends!

 

 

spiritual_comm

Recovery Tip Tuesday: Spirituality

Welcome to Recovery Tip Tuesday, a weekly update about a skill that’s worked for me in ED recovery.*

*****

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Spirituality.  Why is everyone so afraid of it?  Maybe because we’ve seen those religious extremists who’ve taken it way too far.  Or maybe it’s because the word “God” (Dun-dun-DAH) is involved in it.  Or maybe it’s because self-help groups which claim spirituality as its base struck us as cult-like.  Either way, I personally find it unfortunate that some shy away from this, because your spirituality or God could be a can of tomato soup.

What do I mean?  Well, let me give you an example.  Right after treatment, I worked a job in Harvard Square at an upscale boutique.  I took the T home daily, and got off at Davis Square.  I had been feeling pretty lonely, and fairly lost, because of my recent necessity to quit my regular job to attend treatment.  One day, I had gotten off the T, and all of a sudden, time seemed to slow down.  I noticed everyone around me, walking, running home, all doing and participating in the same thing.  All humans, just trying to achieve the same simple goals, of making enough money to survive or thrive and to be able to enjoy life with their loved ones.

And I, suddenly, felt connected.  Because I was doing the same thing:  I was part of a whole.

And that’s spirituality to me.  That feeling of connectedness that hits you unexpectedly, rendering you ever so present, aware, mindful, and humble.

And connectedness kills eating disorders.  EDs thrive in isolation.

That day was groundbreaking to me, because it reminded me I would never be alone, even if I was alone.  Who knows why it happened – maybe it was some higher power, or maybe, because I was finally feeding my body, my mind was able to be totally and beautifully present.

And I now attempt to utilize it daily.  I’m not perfect, but I try.  When I try to make the right choices about food, I remind myself I’m not alone.  That if others who went before me could trust that eating full meals everyday worked and didn’t make me fat, so could I.  I remind myself that if I need to stop a behavior, I can call someone or pray.  Yes, that scary word, pray.  (To me, prayer is as simple as a dialectical skill, a pause between a feeling and an action, so it’s not that scary anymore.)

What is your form of spirituality, if you have one?  Is it connecting to nature?  Is it healthy exercise?  What other recovery strategies have worked for you?

 

*  What worked for me may not work for you!  So proceed at your own risk.

(Image provided by adaliaconfidenceandsuccessblog.)