The HAES Files

An Open Letter to Fitness Professionals

by Lindley Ashline

Encountering weight-based discrimination and internalized weight bias can be particularly challenging in spaces designed to highlight fitness and body movement. In this piece, Lindley Ashline writes a letter to fitness professionals about the challenges faced by fat persons in fitness spaces and encourages fitness professionals to be more intentional and inclusive of fat bodies.

The Happy Place

Recently I saw a comment from a fitness professional that got me thinking. She said that she wants to help people in bodies of all sizes get to the “happy place” of exercise.

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Recovering Abundantly in a One-Size-Fits-All World

by Erin Harrop

When I began my recovery journey from an eating disorder 13 years ago, I had a certain set of expectations about how the recovery process would go. Healthcare professionals told me to expect several things. They reassured me that as I learned to eat a broader variety of foods that my anxiety around eating would go down. What?! They said the more I faced my fears, the more comfortable I would feel. They also told me that my body would start to “adjust,” and that with regular consistent nourishment my hunger and fullness cues would normalize, my digestion would become more regular, and my physical discomfort with the eating process would decrease. It was hard to believe at first, but in the end, they were right. The more fear foods I approached, the less anxiety I had; and even though I felt very uncomfortable physically in the beginning, the more consistently I ate my meals and snacks, the more everything started to “flow” a little better.

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To Be Seen

by Dawn Clark

When I came home from the ASDAH conference, I was repeatedly asked about my time there. How was it? Did you have fun? Did you learn anything? Who did you meet?

The simple answer to most of those people is; “I had a great time. I really enjoyed meeting everyone. I learned so much. And I learned that I have much to learn, especially regarding marginalized people.” But the deeper answer more confusing and difficult to understand. Deep down, when I reflect on that experience, I want to shout from the rooftops; “I WAS SEEN!!”

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Never too much: Reflections on accessibility and fatness

by Gabrielle Hruska

In the summer of 2017, I woke up one Wednesday morning, unable to walk. The pain was so intense in my right hip and ankle, and my left knee. Unbearable pain, with absolutely no recognizable reason. I went to Urgent Care, the doctor there thought maybe I had Lyme Disease, she advised me to take antibiotics, and to see my regular doctor BEFORE THE WEEKEND. By the next morning, I was unable to take the pain and went to the Emergency Room. In Radiology, they thought I had been in a car accident. After 4 days in the hospital, it was determined that I had Reactive Arthritis. Reactive Arthritis is really rare, and was described to me, as precipitated by a “perfect storm” in the body. Some kind of infection combined with food poisoning, and after the food poisoning passes, your body can go into Reactive Arthritis. I did not test positive for any kind of infection, nor did I have food poisoning… I have no idea why this happened. It takes anywhere from 6 months to a year to recover from Reactive Arthritis, and my Rheumatologist says I will always be susceptible to a flare up. I spent the entire summer using a walker. I fought desperately against the supposition that “Of course this happened, you are fat.”

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Healthcare Providers Get Our Marching Orders for the War on Fat People

by Deb Burgard, PhD

My brilliant friend Jessica Wilson has taught me so much. She is fond of asking, “What is the problem we are trying to solve?”

The question is burning in my mind after reading a recently released Washington DC think tank publication called “Provider Competencies for the Prevention and Management of Obesity”

Go take a look at this 8-page document that attempts to dictate how healthcare providers should carry out its vision, complete with a whopping 8 citations.

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Food is the New Classism

by Glenys Oyston

The argument (really just a friendly debate; not an actual fight) has stuck in my head for years.

A self-proclaimed foodie friend and I were discussing the qualities of the best grilled cheese sandwiches. I declared that my favorite was still the kind made with processed cheese slices. She was horrified. “Ugh no!” she gasped. “That’s not REAL cheese!”

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Confessions of a Dietitian

by Nicole Geurin, MPH, RD

It’s easy to make assumptions about me because I am a dietitian.  You might think that I carefully manage my calorie intake and that I tell my clients to do the same.  Let me set the record straight.

Part 1: Why I am actually thin.

Unlike many people mistakenly assume, I am not thin because my nutrition knowledge has enabled me to master the ‘perfect’ diet.  (There is no ‘perfect’ diet, nor do I strive to achieve one.)  I am also not thin because I enjoy playing tennis and being active.  While I enjoy these lifestyle habits because they help me to feel well, they are not the reason that I am thin.  (Nor are they are moral imperatives for others to adopt, regardless of size.)

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A Fat Runner’s Path to Intuitive Exercise

by Lindsey Schuhmacher, MA

I like to run. I like the sharp, morning air in my lungs. I like when my breath finds its rhythm and all of a sudden it doesn’t feel like work anymore. I like how alive I feel afterwards, with fresh ideas swarming in my head and optimism lightening my step. It hasn’t always been this way. Like many people with disordered eating and exercise backgrounds, my relationship with running wasn’t always so simple.

I am fat. I have always been or identified as some form of fat. Even during the times when my weight dipped low enough to be at the high end of the “normal” range of the BMI, I felt fat. That is because I have grown up in a culture with an “ideal” image of health and beauty that I can never attain. The strange part is that I was at my least healthy, physically and psychologically, when I approached the ideal most closely and would regularly receive compliments about my looks and health. I was also repeatedly asked for advice about how other people could get to where I was. Looking back, I feel sad for myself and for those who wanted to emulate my negative behaviors.

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Dear Fathers: Your Son’s Body Is Just Fine

by Dawn Clifford, PhD, RD

Dear Dads,

Please leave your son’s body alone. Your son’s body size and shape is just fine. He doesn’t need to fill out, bulk up, slim down, or get ripped.

Your son received genetic material from you and his biological mother. That DNA will largely dictate his body, both as a child and as an adult. So if there’s anything that doesn’t seem quite right about your son’s body, it’s all you (…well, at least half you)!

Your son’s body will change naturally throughout his childhood. He will grow out, he will grow up, and he may also remain a bean pole. Quit trying to change it.

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