What to do when someone calls you fat

Earlier in the week I overhead a comment that sounded like someone was speaking about how I have gained weight.  I cannot 100 % guarantee this was the comment, but whether or not it actually happened is beyond the point.  People make rude comments to each other about age, weight, height, life choices etc. all the time.  Also, this might be an easy comment to shrug off for many of you.  For a highly sensitive person, whose struggled with having positive body image my whole life- this was a doozy!

When this comment happened I really wish I would of had the guts to stop in my tracks and address the issue head on, but unfortunately this is a skill I am still lacking (and need some practice in).  Instead I chose to pretend for the time being that I must of misheard, and went on with my day.

But I noticed the comment sticking with me throughout the rest of the day as I worked with my clients.  Did I gain weight?  I am not sure!  I haven’t weighed myself since 2013 (you can read more about that story HERE).  I slowly started to get slightly self conscious…maybe my clothes had gotten a bit tighter?  When suddenly I had an amazing realization (thanks to 5 + years now of self awareness and personal development work!).

What did I realize?

When someone comments on you this comment is coming from their reality, their head space, based on their day, and their mood, their feelings about themselves and their own bodies.  I found this amazing meme on a Facebook page I follow regularly called GO Kaleo:

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Hate/Judge it’s all the same..

Although intellectually I was able to process this understanding, I still at the same time was feeling a bit insecure.  I decided I needed to carry out an action plan so that this one little comment didn’t ruin my day, and my week.

Here are some of the things I did to work past my insecurities:

#1:  Many of my friends know about my journey of learning how to EMBRACE my body and learn to love it, even if I am not 125 pounds and 15 % body fat (You can read more about that journey HERE).  So the first thing I did was text a few friends about what happened and how I was feeling.  I made sure to finish up the text by saying ‘I am texting you this so you can remind me to continue to EMBRACE my body, have a positive body image, and not fall back into disordered thoughts and eating”.  My friends were very encouraging and supportive, as always, which helped.

#2:  Next I actually went to Instagram and Facebook.  In my journey to teach myself body positivity I found a lot of good resources online from people all over the world who were all shapes and sizes and whose main message was to take care of ourselves, without restriction, guilt, and shame.  I came across an Instagram account that I thought was profoundly honest, hilarious, and totally up my alley.  Her name is Kate, and she is in recovery from some very debilitating mental illnesses, one of which she is currently battling being eating disorder recovery and having positive body image.  The first video I saw was her dancing crazy around in her living room in her underwear to help herself and others overcome negative thoughts and the need/desire to appear perfect.  You can check out her Instagram.  After reviewing her account, and a few others I follow on Facebook I was once again in a great state of mind, realizing that there are so many other women like me everywhere who are tired of trying to look a certain way, and don’t want to be judged for it either!

#3:  Ok, now here’s the funny part.  After watching Kate’s account I decided that I also wanted to “Dance it out” on video.  I flipped on a song, and pressed record and OMG the craziest dance moves came out, and sure put a smile on my face.  It’s impossible to be depressed or anxious when you are dancing around like a fool in your living room.  The best way to get out of a funk is to get up, throw on a song and dance!  And guess what?  I am going to share my dance with you 🙂  You know why?  Because I want you to smile.  I want it to bring some happiness to your day.  Sure I look like a fool!  My hair is hanging half out of it’s pony tail, I’ve got the most ridiculous facial expressions, and my dance moves are wild.  And sure I fear that you will judge me and think I am nuts.  BUT in the end I want to spread more joy, and love, and goofiness, and silliness in this world- rather than judging others.  And I think this video will help.

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Watch the Video Here

After I made the video I sent it to a friend and dedicated it to all the people in the world who are judged daily.  We can find ways to not let these judgments bring us down- but instead lift us up!  Which brings me to my next point.

#4:  After having this experience I decided that the only plausible thing to do was to spread a tremendous amount of kindness into the world, to counteract for all the judgement and hate.  I made an extra effort to smile at others, express thanks and gratitude, say hi to people I don’t normally, and treat others with the respect they deserve.

In 1970, the average age a girl began dieting was 14, according to The Eating Disorder Foundation. By 1990, that age had dropped to eight.  Each new study on children, dieting, and body image reveals only more appalling details. In 1991, 42% of first-through-third-grade girls reported wanting to be thinner. That same year, a study found that 51% of of nine- and 10-year-old girls felt better about themselves while dieting.  SOURCE

The world needs more women of all shapes and sizes looking, feeling, acting confident.  Not putting their bodies down!  

In the end I had a FREAKING great week.  Whether or not I have gained weight or not, I now know that I can manage these comments and don’t let them tear me down.  I didn’t force myself to overexercise the rest of the week.  I noticed when I wanted a bit of extra food because I was hungry, and noticed how that negative self talking voice in my head tried to stop me (but it didn’t).  I wanted to share for reference how I might have reacted to this comment 5 or 10 years ago:

  • When I was in University if someone called me fat I would have:
    • Put into immediate action a plan to get on a better diet.
    • Forced myself into more exercise that day then I wanted to.
    • Felt low, crappy about myself and my abilities.
    • Felt like a failure that I can’t live up to societies standards for weight.
    • Felt anxious, started to avoid eye contact.
    • Limit my social time to spend more time trying to lose weight.

 

  • 5 Years ago, someone did call me fat.  This was during a period of time that I had gone from basically not eating food, to eating food again, and I had indeed gained weight.  My reaction at the time, was a little healthier. I:
    • Called a friend and cried.
    • Doubted myself, my ability to eat food and exercise in moderation, and would have continued contemplating some kind of diet/exercise program I should be on to satisfy others needs for how I should look.
    • At this point I was working with a nutritionist who supported me in not heading down that downward spiral.

It is so refreshing for me to see that although it took 5-10 years I was able to transform many of the thoughts I have had about my body, and my relationship with food from my whole life.  

I wanted to write this to all women, because I know that we all suffer to some degree from this obsession to look or be a certain way.  Please reach out to someone you trust and get some support if you are in a guilt, shame, depressed, anxious, self hating spiral.  Remember- all the little negative comments you say about your body add up.  Stop saying the little ones:)  And finally- it’s ok to be upset and sad about something someone else said.  In the end, don’t let it break your spirit.  Set up an action plan (like mine) for when you are down and need some uplifting!

If you know someone who this might help today, please pass it along 🙂

Love to all you body positive warriors out there!

 

7 Questions to Ask yourself about the use of a scale (and my “no weighing myself” 3 year anniversary)

It’s been 3 years since I’ve weighed myself.  I actually feel a tremendous amount of pride around this victory in my life- because dropping the scale signifies a very important transition in my life from obsessing about weight to living a very healthy and free life away from the chains of the scale.  Weighing myself ended up being an EXTREMELY destructive habit for me, and it wasn’t until I stopped weighing myself that I discovered a balanced way of eating, exercising and living so that I felt happy, healthy, fit, and look great in my body.

On that note- I have a few questions for you to ponder today before we get started.

  1.  If all the scales in the world were set to fire, what else would you use to determine whether or not you at a healthy weight?  And why is that “healthy” for you?
  2. When you see the number on the scale- what other emotions do you feel?  What stories are you telling yourself about that number?
  3. What do you ACTUALLY do different in your life in terms of healthy lifestyle habits from weighing yourself everyday/regularly?
  4. How did you come up with the number that you are ‘supposed’ to be on the scale.
  5. If you stopped weighing yourself today, how else would you stay accountable to feeling and looking great in your own skin?
  6. WHY are you so obsessed with seeing a certain number on the scale?
  7. If you could feel fit, health, strong, lean, thin, and rock an awesome wardrobe would you keep weighing yourself?

And my final question before you read on is would you be willing to ditch the scale, and focus on healthy habits instead?

Read more about my story and maybe I can convince you:

Using a scale was a completely destructive habit in my life that lead to a crazy obsession with trying to always be a smaller/skinnier person. I had no clue how to eat or exercise to support a healthy weight and was using the scale to constantly monitor “how I was doing”. In the end this led to a pretty rocky relationship the scale and I had, with a nasty break up. But in the end, with every relationship that needs to come to an end- the scale and I are much happier without each other 🙂

When I used to weigh myself I weighed myself daily. I always felt pretty shitty about my body because that darn number on the scale always glared “155” at me- when I thought someone at my height should weigh “130”. I used to force myself to exercise and eat well to try and get skinnier.  I believe that making food, social, and exercise decisions from a positive mindset of balance, health, indulgence, joy, and weight maintenance is a good approach. I believe making these decisions solely on weight is very destructive.

It’s hard to describe how unhealthy this daily (and sometimes more than daily weighing when I worked specifically in a weight loss centre) was and how unhappy I was because it seems so normal to behave this way in our society.

Consider why this was unhealthy for me. I was always a healthy weight/healthy BMI. I am 5 foot 7 and weighed between 145 and 155 on average. This put me in the “normal” body weight range for my height. Also- I had a very high percentage of muscle mass and an average percentage of body fat. Nothing about my body was unhealthy, overweight, or overfat, yet somehow I had convinced myself that I was supposed to be smaller.

Seeing the scales saying anything over 155 was a NIGHTMARE

Seeing the scales say anything under 150 was a HAY DAY for me.

Can you relate? I am sure you have your own “set of numbers”.

I truly believe many people are living this way now, and I hope that sharing my story about ditching the scale will help you to loosen the reins and grips on to the scale and look at things in another perspective.

In May of 2013 I started working with a holistic nutritionist. This was the point in my life where I had lost about 20 pounds following a NO carb diet, but in the process I also lost my ability to menstruate, exercise for more than 30 minutes, have any energy to do ANYTHING on nights or weekends besides lay in bed, had developed acne due to so much stress on my system. AKA it wasn’t a healthy weight for me.

Working with this nutritionist I came to realize that not EVERY FREAKING BODY has a ‘standard’ weight they are supposed to weigh.  Some bodies stall very thin and small even when eating poor diets, other bodies are athletic and fit in larger frames.  Some people have bigger thighs or arms or bellies, and all of this makes us unique.

I came to realize that your body can fluctuate 10 pounds in a day depending on how much water and food you ate, how much you sweat vs sat around, and if you took a big crap or not! (Sorry to be so vulgar here).

I came to realize that sometimes I weighed more in the winter because I did less natural movement, and less in the summer, and this was all ok 🙂

I came to realize I was living a pretty shitty existence that was completely based around living a life that would make me skinnier, and in the end it was getting me nowhere.  In the end I was spending so much time thinking about how much I weighed I was missing out on thinking about a lot more important things in life.

After 10 plus years of weighing myself pretty much daily I decided “what’s the worst that could happen if I stopped weighing myself forever”. In May of 2013 I threw our scale away and told myself that I could be a healthy, attractive, slender woman without abiding to some crazy number.  I haven’t weighed myself since.  Even now, I could guess at what the number is- but what’s the point of jumping on the scale?  I never want to go back to the negative mindset I was in before.  I love the routine and positives habits I have set now that keep me thin, healthy, active, and vibrant.

You know what happened first when I ditched the scale?

My nutritionist helped me to take all foods off limits. I had made so many foods seem so “Bad” for so long that I was literally driving myself nuts trying not to eat them. I gave myself permission to eat whatever I wanted. I probably gained a few pounds- who knows! I wasn’t weighing myself 🙂  Did I go on gaining weight forever?

Eventually what started to happen was I noticed negative effects of eating MANY foods. Some of these effects were achy sore joints in my hands, extreme tiredness (falling asleep at work), bloating, upset stomach, mood swings etc.  After eating all the banana bread in the world I wanted for a few months I decided I didn’t really want banana bread, or cookies, or chips, or treats that much anymore because it really messed with my head and my body!

By paying attention to these cues I dialed in on a bunch of foods that when I ate them I felt happy, alive, not bloated, my body felt good, I felt energetic, I felt motivated, and I ACTUALLY FELT LIKE EXERCISING AND EATING WELL FROM A POSITIVE PLACE. I also began to find a balance between how much and what I ate and how my clothes were fitting and how I felt in my own skin. I was able to stop portioning food, weighing food, weighing myself, and being restrictive by just paying attention to how my body reacted to my food intake and exercise regime.  Now that I am on ‘the other side’ of things I can really see how when I stuffed myself full of foods that were bad for my body everything about me physically and mentally was off- I was sick, grumpy, tired, sad, and unmotivated.  I am so grateful everyday at how I feel now, which is pretty much the complete opposite!

From taking the focus off of my weight, then allowing myself some freedom with my diet I taught my body how to enjoy eating well and moving for the sake of FEELING FREAKING AWESOME. Now I wear a size 6 comfortably, I eat food when I am hungry and I eat foods that are delicious and healthy. Sometimes I eat junk food, and it averages out to be about 1 “treat a week”- and other weeks it’s 6!  I can hike mountains all day, do triathlons, run road races, climb rock walls, and cycle for hours, and I BARELY ever give a thought as to how am I going to eat less today to try and turn those numbers down on the scale a bit. Now I eat for fuel, for health, for vitality, and because it’s delicious!  And the best part is that personally I feel like I look much better than I did before while putting 1/10th the amount of thought into it!

So do I think all people should stop weighing themselves? I am really not sure how to answer this one. Some people tell me a lot “I use the scale just to keep myself on track and weigh myself occasionally”. I can see the merit in this. We all need some form of accountability or goals so that we don’t get swept up in our life and forget about staying healthy and active, and perhaps I’ve just switched my obsession with the scale to being obsessed with feeling and looking healthy- who knows.  I also know that not everyone who weighs themselves has all this emotional baggage around the number, and it’s just good to check in with that every once in awhile.  For those of you who can look at your relationship with the scale and say it “works for you” I applaud you, I am glad you read this article to appreciate other perspectives, and maybe something I said in here will resonate to help make your life happier and healthier as well too!

All I know is that it’s important to take care of your mental self first. If your scale says “170 pounds” and that means a lot more to you than just a number, it’s probably time you ditched the scale and took action towards sorting out the deeper relationship you have with your weight.

Research shows that keeping your weight down does in fact promote disease prevention, so that people can live longer and healthier lives with more vitality, and therefore I am a huge advocate of decreasing the appropriate amount of body fat for your body to stay as healthy as you can. What if rather than focusing on the scale number you instead focused on your habits? How many times did you exercise this week? How many vegetables did you eat today? How many glasses of water did you drink? How few hours did you sit down today? How many steps did you get in? How many hours of sleep did you get? How did you manage your stress levels this week? In the end these are the habits that will keep your weight down long term. The habit of getting on the scale and beating yourself up about some number is not a positive habit towards keeping your weight down and living healthy.  Considering we live in a society where something greater than 50 % of our population is overweight and obese, and the diet industry is a billion dollar industry, I really don’t think having a household scale is helping too many people.

So start to making positive changes in your life.  It’s ok to still want to get healthier, focus on your aesthetic goals, look good in a bathing suit, fit into a certain size, and maybe even weigh a certain number- but can you do it positively?  Can you focus on your actions and get to your goal through positive changes and uplifting yourself rather than beating yourself down about a few poor choices or seeing a crappy number on the scale?

So I dare you- get obsessed with daily habits of healthy lifestyles that make you feel good rather than being obsessed with the scale, and in the end you are going to be smaller, leaner, happier, and healthier then when you started 🙂

 

 

A shift in Mindset- from ‘weight loss’ to ‘getting a pull up’ or ‘squatting 200 lbs’

Today I had an epiphany.  Over the past 2 years I have made a drastic change in how, and why I exercise.  My whole life I generally exercised to keep weight off, lose weight, and get smaller.  I would say 1 out of every 10 workouts was a workout I was actually looking forward to, but most of all I felt I had to go because ‘I had eaten something bad’ or ‘I need to burn off the calories I ate’ etc.

Over the past two years, a variety of influences have shifted my mindset and the reasons why I exercise.  I slowly stopped exercising to blast calories, and slowly started getting strong and fitter.  I started to love exercise because my lifts were going up, I was able to do some wild things I never thought I could do in yoga, and overall I noticed things became easier in life.

I noticed that I didn’t have to say ‘no’ if someone asked me to go for a 10 k run on the weekend even though I don’t run, because I knew I would be fit enough for it.  I started noticing that the once dreaded push ups were now starting to get much easier.  I loved going hiking with groups and always getting to the top of the mountain first.

I loved leaving the gym to realize how much stronger I was that session than the last.

As a result I WANTED to go to the gym more, I looked forward to it, I was excited to try new things and push myself and have fun.  Workouts stopped being about “how much can I blast my body this hour’ to ‘what do I need to work on to get fitter and stronger?’.

With the consistent and desire to go to the gym more, and the more I worked on my strength and not just being a cardio bunny, the more muscle I built, fat I shed, and overall ‘trim’ and healthy I felt.  And the best part is, I created a lifestyle out of it.  There’s no  ups and downs in weight anymore, because I exercise with equal consistency and regularity now.

Now I don’t even think about calories or sizes or weight, when I go to the gym I think “ok it’s going to be a back day and I really want to work on my wide grip pull up, etc. etc.”.  As a result I still burn calories, sweat, and all that good stuff, but the oh so small shift in mindset from “I need to run for an hour to get smaller” to “I want to be the strongest, fittest, happiest version of myself” has been such a huge change.

I wanted to share this with you to see if any of it resonates with your journey.  If you find you waiver in and out of going to the gym and not going to the gym really look at why you go in the first place.  I find most often if it’s a superficial goal like “being skinny” or “losing weight” it will only get you so far.  What is going to motivate you when you do lose the weight?

By having all types of goals that drive you to exercise, the gym, or whatever you do for activity can become such a huge driver, and a more sustainable one.  Once you master your pull ups, there is always a bigger goal to work towards in the realm of fitness.

Right now for goals I am still working towards my:

–  pistol squat

–  more than 1 strict pull up

–  Some crazy yoga holds (youtube videos to come)

–  overall improving my main lifts

What are you working towards right now?

So you Want to lose weight?

Weight loss, it’s such a tricky subject to maneuver.  As a society it is accepted and considered fit to be slim and lean.  There is an enormous amount of pressure from the media, especially social media, to live up to this expectation.  We live in a society where men and women strive, and take drastic measures to be at their lowest body fat percentage.  This means following restrictive diets, eating too few calories, exercising like crazy, or taking pills/supplements/gimmicks to get there.

I get it, I understand!  I tried over exercising, undereating, living of coffee, eating only protein and vegetables, and following other diet companies.

AND YES!  I LOST WEIGHT!

But you know what?  I am not going to teach those methods to my clients, because the weight doesn’t stay off.  Unless you keep doing what you are doing to lose the weight you will not maintain it in the long run.  For me, as soon as I ate any carbs again after restricting them for so long, the weight came back!

So I could write this blog to you and tell you to work out everyday, cut your carbs right down, load up on protein, use caffeine to keep yourself awake etc.  But I know, that one day that weight will come back.  I know at that time you will feel shitty about yourself, you will feel guilty, you will feel like a failure, and once again you will jump to some other program to make you feel how you did when that weight was off.  And I also know that while you do those things your brain will get foggy, the joy will be zapped from your life, you will lose your libido, you will have so many thoughts about food and exercise that you won’t have mental space for love, relationships, and a stellar career in your life.

SO INSTEAD!  I am going to give you my rules for weight loss. These rules will help you take weight off (If it’s there to take off in the first place), but not only will you lose weight you will create sustainable lifestyle practices that will allow you to keep the weight off forever.

On a side note- it’s natural for our body to fluctuate.  5-10 pounds in certain seasons, and on certain weeks is normal!  In the winter maybe you move more, or choose fewer salads, or more hot chocolates!  And that’s ok.  There is no need after winter to follow some crazy diet or cleanse, just bring it back to my rules for weight loss and the body will naturally stabilize itself.

My Rules for Weight Loss
Before you get into the rules, I need you to promise me one thing.  Before you go trying to lose weight you need to be HAPPY NOW, HAPPY WITH YOUR BODY NOW.  When we try and lose weight out of hatred, disgust, or that something is wrong with our body, everything about that is so negative!  You work out cause you hate your body, you deprive yourself of food because your belly is too big…none of it is good and positive.  INSTEAD- love your body now.  Love every darn curve, every extra roll, all those pieces that make you unique.  Then decide that you love your body so much you are going to make it healthy and fit as you want!  Exercise for the sake that you can, you love feeling stronger, you love that you know you are fit to do anything.  Turn down a slice of cake at work because you know that sugars aren’t good for this sexy body!  Limit the wine you drink on the weekend because you know your liver is your metabolic engine, and the more you overwork it with booze, the less help it will give you for it’s regular functions 🙂  Having a positive approach to weight loss is the key.

And on that note….here are the rules.
1)   Move your body everyday and as much as possible.
2)   Participate in structured activities that raise the heart rate 3 times a week for 30-60 minutes.
3)   Participate in heavy strength training 2-3 days a week.
4)   Do a stress management technique daily for 20 minutes (yoga, meditation practice, journaling, deep breathing, progressive relaxation), you need to decrease cortisol in your body to lose weight.
5)   Master your mindset.  Anger, blame, guilt, frustration, sadness, lack of self confidence, lack of self worth, worry, lack of trust, pessimism, feelings of inadequacy etc. are all emotions that fester in the body and prevent weight loss.  They show up in cravings, overeating, making poor choices, deciding not to exercise, lacking motivation to do what needs to be done to be healthy.  Coaching, therapists, support groups, journaling, having a friend who actually listens and supports are all great tools here.
6)   Laugh, smile, and have fun.  Hormone optimization is key to encouraging weight loss.   By maintaining joy and good hormonal status in the body you encourage weight loss.
7)   Eat your meals slowly, focusing on chewing, enjoying the food, with no external distractions (work, TV, cell phone etc.).
8)   Include 2-3 vegetables in every meal you eat.
9)   Control your carbohydrate intake by having them in the morning, before and after workouts.  Choose non-processed carbs 90 % of the time (fruit, sweet potato, quinoa, potato, barley, spelt, kamut, rice etc.).
10) 7-8 hours of sleep per night minimum
11) Ensure your protein is adequate and you are at least getting 1-2 palms of protein in 1-2 meals per day.
12) Make good choices 80-90 % of the time.
13) Have 1-2 tbspns of good fat with each meal (coconut oil, avocado, butter, olive oil).
14) Limit deserts and caloric drinks to 1-2 times per week.
15)  Eat 3-4 meals per day, when you feel physical signs of hunger, and consume your food until you are satisfied.  This doesn’t mean eat the whole meal you made.
16)  Get to the bottom of your cravings.  Cravings aren’t normal.  They are an emotional or physical sign that something is lacking in your body.  Your body will tell you if you actually listen, or you can work with a naturopath or nutritionist to figure this out.  Generally as you balance out your entire health ALL (AND I MEAN ALL) cravings will go away.  I used to crave and binge on peanut butter all the time.  This was at the same time that I was only eating about 1500 calories a day, and very little fat.  My diet was lacking fat, I was starving myself, and my hormones were out of whack, and as a result my body desired peanut butter!  Now that I eat plenty more than 1500, eat fat regularly, and have perfectly balanced hormones I eat my peanut butter in moderation 🙂
17)  When deciding to have something delicious & indulgent, first decide “Is this what my body really wants and needs right now?  Am I eating this because I am tired/hungry/bored/unhappy?”.  If you are truly having an indulgence because you indulge in moderation and love the taste, then enjoy it!  Love it!  Lick off every last drop, and then feel great about it after.  Guilt gets you nowehere.
18)  Make every effort possible to get processed foods out of your diet.  Processed foods lack minerals and vitamins, and are generally empty carbs.  By removing these foods and filling up on whole foods you nourish your body on fewer calories.  As you build a body made of whole foods instead of processed foods you will naturally look and feel healthier.

If you are reading this and decide to completely ignore what I wrote, and continue to do something restrictive, I salute you to that, and I hope one day you come back to me and my blog to help guide you into something sustainable, rather than continuing to destroy your body.  

Precision nutrition does a fantastic job of breaking down what it TRULY takes to be as lean as you want, and what are the costs and benefits to it.  I highly recommend you take a look. http://www.precisionnutrition.com/cost-of-getting-lean.

On that note if you aren’t losing weight with my rules I want you to check in with two things:
1)   Do you really need to lose weight?  Are you at an appropriate weight for your body?  Are you trying to fit into a society ideal that doesn’t work for you?  Are you perhaps looking to strengthen your muscles so that you don’t look as high body fat, and instead look ‘toned’?
2)   If these don’t work it’s time to visit a naturopath to ensure that everything in the body is running optimally.  This means looking at hormones, vitamin and mineral status, and overall health of the body.  An unhealthy body is going to hang on to weight.

I hope this article got you thinking, and shed some light on some tools you could use to lose weight.

Let me know your thoughts,

Katherine