Fashion club, eating levels, HAES, and a bit about weight loss.
A trigger warning that this email contains talk of weight loss and related terms. It's at the end of the email if you want to still read the first bit xx
Kia ora Sweaty Pals, how’s the day gone for you?
I’m writing this on a Tuesday evening before my fashion club starts. Oh I need to tell you about my fashion club. It’s not called that - it’s actually called “Own your style” and it’s a group run by Monique Doy who is just wonderful. Essentially, it is styling advice for people in bigger bodies. And if you live in a bigger body, or know people who do, you’ll know that it can be a challenge. Firstly, because clothing size ranges are quite narrow. But also, a lot of the styles of clothing out there are shown on smaller bodies and often times, copying a style seen on a smaller body doesn’t always translate to the same look on a bigger body. I don’t know why, sometimes it’s fine, but as someone who lives in a bigger body, styling clothes in my 40’s is much harder than it was when I was in my 20’s and living in a smaller body.
Anyway, fashion club is on a Tuesday night and Monique runs a Facebook live dibs sale on all the amazing clothing she has pulled out of people’s wardrobes, or found for people while on her travels through the shops. She shows it off, and if we like it we say so and then we pay for it (super good prices for often very designer type stuff) and then it gets sent. I didn’t think I would be a person in love with second hand fashion, but holy smokes I do. A lot of the clothes still have tags because we buy things we think we should like or that we “hope” will look good on us, but then we get it home and find that it looks ghastly. Our superstar Monique takes the offending item from our closet and sells on behalf to someone else who genuinely loves it. Tuesday evening is my highlight of the week. And I don’t mind at all picking up hardly worn Trelise Cooper pants for pennies. It’s good for me, it’s good for the environment, and so that’s what I do on Tuesday evenings.
Go and have a look at Monique’s website. And if you like the idea of fashion club, you can get on the waitlist to join in a couple of months when it opens again. This part of the email is not sponsored or anything like that. I don’t even think Mo reads my waffle, but its a cool club and I get a lot of value out of it.
I have a whole raft of stuff I wanted to talk about this week. If it was in my skillset to run to themes, I would do that, but as it is not, a cherry pick of my top of mind topics for the week is it instead. On my mind this week I have food (always), there is HAES, and there is weight loss. Yeah I know. I don’t talk about weight loss but a thing came up this week and I really gotta. Don’t worry, it’s probably not what you’re expecting.
But first, here’s a thing to keep in mind. When it comes to nutrition, let’s agree that there are three levels of eaters.
Level one is you and I and pretty much anyone who eats what they want without having to count out or pay close attention to the food they consume. We eat to satisfy hunger (there’s three types of hunger actually), and we eat for social reasons and cultural reasons and it’s all very flexible and fun.
Level two is the counting. It may be counting energy measures (calories, kilocalories), it may be counting macros in foods, where fat, carb, and protein is measured out daily as an adherence for a particular outcome, or it may be some other type of thought process that happens before food is eaten. Diabetics hang out here in level two, as they need to be conscious of insulin levels.
Level three is where athletes and performance sports people’s nutrition is dialled in. Level one and two eaters have no business being in level three and when level three eaters are done with their competitions they are probably dropping right back to level two and one. People generally don’t stay in level three for a very long time because it is super restrictive.
Level one is where most of the population hangs out. And it’s important to name the levels because it helps us tell apart what is a restrictive diet and what isn’t. You can’t really be eating with freedom and flexibility of level one if you are counting things or restricting food groups based on a metric. If you know where you are on the level scale, you can keep a handle on how you’re eating and know when to seek help to make improvements.
HAES stuff - the rant.
HAES is on my mind a lot. Mainly around people who are very against HAES, are running their mouths about things they know nothing about.
And if I were to really dig deep on my cynicism, those people tend to give HAES a hard time, sometimes because a HAES way of life means less of the diet industry dollars to be had. I’d like to park my snark on all of that but it feels like lots of things like this comes down to who is losing out of the fitspo dollar, eh. Contrary to popular belief, HAES people do not believe that all bodies are healthy regardless of size. We don’t believe that weight loss is the worst and damn any person that wants to change their own body composition. Body positivity, yes, but more importantly it’s body fairness, because if I could narrow it down to one thing that HAES is a champion of, it would be weight stigma and the absolute eradication of it.
As one of the main gigs of HAES, getting rid of weight stigma answers a whole lot of problems. And one of the many reasons for ditching stigma is health. Yeah it’s a trip!
Did you know about fat people going to the doctor for a health issue, only to be turned away with a weight loss prescription, to then find out when it’s too late that they’ve got cancer and it’s too far gone to do anything about it. This happens a lot and it’s got to stop. Some say that fat people are a drain on health funds; here’s the thing about that.
If people were treated properly at the time of health complaint, taken seriously and cared for properly, they wouldn’t end up with progressively worse health issues that have been left to linger.
Would you go back to a doctor who was pushing weight loss for a sore throat? No, probably not. If you were made to feel ashamed of the space you take up, you’re hardly going to go back and say “yes Doc, please some more of that!”
And so fat people who’ve been shamed in this way, just don’t bother going back to the doctor for a second opinion, or for further help. They get sicker and sicker, until it’s a real state of emergency - hospital stays and surgery, all because they didn’t get the care they deserved in the first place, and then those bloody fat shaming dorks are screaming till they are hoarse “It’s the fat, it’s the fat! Lose weight! Save the health coin!” when actually it has nothing to do with the fat, and everything to do with the bullshit weight stigma right at the very start.
Not all doctors, I know. My doctor is phenomenal and gives zero shits about weight. But I’ve had plenty of experiences where the scale number seems to have more influence than the ten years of study plus x years of experience the doctor themselves has to draw on.
HAES is about fairness. Equality, body diversity. It’s about the same level of care regardless of body size. It’s about using actual metrics that matter to determine health, and not a scale number. You cannot eyeball a person and decide how healthy they are. You just cannot. And that is HAES.
And all of that leads me to the other thing on my mind - weight loss.
Even though I am an enormous HAES freak, and I welcome body diversity in spades, it is still very much ok to want to change your body shape or composition. You can still live a HAES life and lose weight. But you know what? It’s the way we are losing weight that is problematic. Using restriction, and scale data as the only metric, for me, just isn’t the way to go about it.
A scale number going up or down is completely out of our control. And when it doesn’t go the way we want, all sorts of nasty can happen. More stress, more worry, less actual reduction in body fat or whatever a person wanted to happen. Things we can control like adding nutrient dense foods to our plate instead of taking things away just makes sense. Getting better sleep, better hydration, managing stress (this is a biggie) is the way to go about getting a healthier body or yes even a smaller one. I’ve written about this before, but after seeing a friend who is absolutely fixated on getting smaller, I just felt I had to point out again - you are fighting a losing battle with restriction. There are so many studies that show there is no longevity in restriction. It works for some people - level 2 and level 3 eaters can do restriction quite well and be successful. Level 1 eaters not so much. And seeing that most of the population are in fact level 1 eaters, adopting practices that are really only designed to be successful as advanced eating strategies it’s not surprising when they don’t work.
If you need a pep talk, please email me. I will talk to anyone who is worried about weight gain or weight loss. There is nothing easy about fighting a billion dollar industry and I would love nothing more than to bring it down to its knees. However we all need support in the big fights, and if I can help in any way, please get in touch.
Thank you for reading my emails, your support with reading, sharing, and messaging me your thoughts just makes this whole thing so much easier. You can choose to support my work with a paid subscription, but it’s not necessary as I will keep on fighting toxic diet and fitspo culture till the end of time!
Remember, you can always reach out to me by replying to this email, or by emailing me directly firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you again,