All posts by Isabel

Resisting Fatphobia (A Social Justice Perspective on Size)

First, what is fatphobia?

In a highly over-simplified nutshell,

Fatphobia is any number of beliefs, attitudes, or ideas that rest on the assumption that “thin is good” and “fat is bad.” 

Fatphobia includes any actions, statements, exclusions, designs, or policy frameworks that assume this view—rather than respect and celebrate the reality of body-diversity in our world.

Fatphobia is being proliferated around us all the time, affecting so many areas of our lives (individually, collectively; emotionally, physically, etc.), that it is unreasonable to believe any individual could escape this cultural force unscathed, or unaffected, in our current social climate.

Realizing that escape, denial, and/or attempts at assimilation (e.g. dieting) are NOT suitable solutions to the problems posed by fatphobia—we are left with one option: 

Resistance. 

We reject those forces, structures and ideas that rank acceptability of bodies on a scale.

We stand up for our right to exist proudly in our own bodies, and for all other persons who have the right to exist in theirs.

We explore, identify and challenge our own fatphobic beliefs on an ongoing basis—reviewing both our own self-judgment, as well as our judgment of others.

We question research, institutions, authority figures, and social structures that uphold fatphobic ideals.

We educate ourselves about alternative paradigms (e.g. Health At Every Size, or weight-neutral Intuitive Eating).

We say no to media, institutions, and in some contexts, relationships that deny the humanity of non-conforming bodies, and/or put our own bodies or recovery at risk.

We seek to understand fatphobia and other systems of oppression (e.g. sexism, racism, ableism, and others) so that we may be more skilled in challenging these ideologies when they become known to us.

We acknowledge our privilege where it exists, and fight for the rights of marginalized people, understanding that “no one is free until we are all free.” (*)

We practice those skills and action steps that dismantle oppressive systems—that serve to protect, liberate, and improve the lives of all affected.

“Resistance,” in a nutshell, is the conscious and intentional practice of these skills—not only for the purpose of healing ourselves but for the purpose of healing the world at large. 

*And yes, I just quoted Martin Luther King Jr.

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How to Recover from a Painful Binge-Eating Episode

Stomach AcheOne of the most powerful tools I ever developed for recovering from a “bad binge,”

was simply learning how to separate whatever physical pain I experienced post-binge,
from the emotional pain I experienced post-binge.

When I took the time to notice, I realized that the physical pain of bingeing,
even the kind that leaves you in bed in the fetal position for hours,
is really not much more uncomfortable than having to pee really badly, or having a bad rash, or hangover, or some other arbitrary physical irritation.  

The true bulk of my suffering at the “hands of a binge,”
was actually the result of emotional pain

that is, my shame at having failed,
my fear of gaining weight,
and my belief that there was something deeply wrong with me for not being able to “control myself around food.”

(It didn’t occur to me that most people can’t “control” —aka restrict— their food for very long, and that most people binge when they try.)

While there’s no safe way to eliminate the physical discomfort of a binge after-the-fact (other than wait it out, listen to your body, and take care of yourself like you would a hangover),

our emotional discomfort,
which is the much more painful part of bingeing in my experience,
can be alleviated in an instant,
through challenging our weight-normative beliefs,
our morality of food and eating,
and developing compassionate understanding of what diet-culture has put us through.  

(And don’t worry, the physical discomfort part goes away pretty quickly on it’s own once we get back to listening to our bodies–just like a hangover).

Like this post? Check out my free video series about ending the diet-binge cycle here!

The Most Common “Emotional Eating” Mistake

Emotional eating, at the end of the day, is just a coping mechanism.

I’m all about “feeling your feelings,” and there is no doubt that getting in touch with your emotions is incredibly important for reasons that have nothing to do with whether or not you eat over them,

but unless we practice new coping mechanisms, we will continue to eat when emotionally uncomfortable.

Thinking we can live a life without coping mechanisms is totally unrealistic — it goes against our biological instincts to seek pleasure and avoid pain.

Not to mention that coping mechanisms are what allow us to function during times of emotional duress. We need breaks from crying when trauma occurs. Feelings can’t be processed every moment of every day. We have to get out of bed, go to work, pick up the kids, do our laundry…coping mechanisms take the edge off so we can show up for life in the midst of discomfort.

Now the problem for most “emotional eaters” is that they focus on “not eating” instead of focusing on developing new ways of dealing with their feelings.

Of course, the more we try to resist food, (i.e. the more we think about food), the more practiced we become at leaning on food as a coping mechanism. (I know, catch-22 from hell…)

Eventually, we fall out of practicing other coping mechanisms altogether and become dependent on food to take care of all our problems, especially as we obsess, worry and generally freak out about our bodies.

So here’s a new way to think about emotional eating…

instead of telling yourself “don’t eat emotionally,” I want you to start thinking about all the other ways you could possibly “cope,” and start practicing them…regardless of whether or not you eat as well. 

Ultimately, diversifying and expanding our coping mechanisms without worrying about the food is far more effective, than trying to resist (and therefore binge) over it later.

BTW – If you’re not quite sure the difference between “emotional eating” and “binge-eating,” this is something I cover in my free video training series, which you can sign up for here. All three videos of the series are out, so the videos will be emailed to you immediately after you enter your name and email at the bottom of the page. Enjoy!

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What does "normal" eating even mean?

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So the first question that usually comes out of people’s mouths when I say the phrase “normal eating,” is something along the lines of “what does ‘normal’ eating even mean?”

Like, most of us “get” that there are people in the world who
don’t really think about food,
and just eat what they want,
and naturally end up eating an “appropriate” amount food without really trying,
because they don’t really care about food that much to begin with. 

but we don’t understand how.

“What are they doing that I’m not?!”
“I don’t understand people like that!”

It took me a really long time to understand and emulate “normal eaters,” and that’s because I was approaching “trying to be normal” in all the wrong ways.

I was trying to control myself, trying to do something different with food, trying to “eat when hungry and stop when full” or whatever other way I was trying to “do” normal eating. 

But the reality of the situation is, “normies” aren’t doing “normal eating.”
There’s no “way” they’re eating, that you haven’t heard of before.
There’s no “trick” they’re employing, that you’ve never heard of.

They’re not doing anything.

“Normal eating” isn’t something a person doesit’s something a person thinksFurthermore, “normal eating” is not defined by how or what a person eats, but rather, by how one feels about themselves. 

If you’re “okay” with how you’re eating, how you’re eating is “okay.”
Conversely, If you’re “not okay” with how you’re eating, how you’re eating becomes “not okay.”

(And we all know what happens when we cross that line of “not okay.” All hell seems to break loose.)

The point is, it’s how you feel about what you’re eating that makes the difference, not what you’re eating in and of itself.

When you judge your performance around food — when you decided that there’s an imaginary line in the sand where “okay” ends, and “not okay” begins — you will inevitably cross that line, and probably lose your shit.

“Normies” don’t have a line to cross. If they eat a big dinner, they eat a big dinner. No big deal. If they have a cupcake in the middle of the day for no reason, they eat a cupcake and move on with their lives. If they eat an entire bag of chips in a sitting, they eat the bag and then think “ughg I need water,” and get over it.

What they eat has NO bearing on their self-esteem. It means nothing.

THAT is the difference between “Normies” and Emotional Eaters — it’s not what they’re doing, it’s how they feel about what they’re doing.

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