Friday, February 24, 2012

Why would Disney teach kids to bully each other and feel bad about themselves?

Why would Disney teach our children to pick on each other?  Why would they teach discrimination and stereotyping based on a physical characteristic?   THAT is exactly what Disney is doing in their exhibit Habit Heroes.  (Warning:  Do not watch with children in the room.  This exhibit teaches kids to believe all fat kids are lazy, gluttonous, and stupid.  When thin kids watch this, it will encourage prejudice & bullying.  When fat kids see this, they ARE being bullied by Disney and it will make them feel bad about themselves. )

Have we learned nothing about discrimination in the last 44 Years?  Why are we still dividing kids up based on physical characteristics and encouraging negative stereotypes about those kids?  In 1968 a teacher in a small Iowa town did an experiment with her third-grade class.  Jane Elliott divided her class based on physical characteristics.  

Based only on those physical characteristics, she told her class that one group of children "were better people" than the other group of children.  The resulting discrimination, devastated self-esteem, and differences in performance were astonishing.  Discrimination hurts.  Please watch this Frontline special "A Class Divided" online to learn more about the negative effects of discrimination based on physical characteristics.  (Have your tissues ready.  You will cry.)

In Disney's Habit Heroes they divide our children into two groups:

  • The thin kids who are assumed to be healthy eaters, regular exercisers, and having control of themselves.
  • The fat kids (those who have been labeled with "childhood obesity") are assumed to be gluttonous, lazy, out of control snackers
In our culture, with the War on Childhood Obesity, where we focus on children's body size, we are teaching discrimination based on the physical characteristic of body size.  This teaches our children to discriminate against each other and that they are entitled to bully each other.  It teaches our children to hate their large bodies and themselves.

Instead of bullying exhibits like Habit Heroes and hurtful campaigns like the "War on Childhood Obesity" (which could also be called a "War on Large Body Size" ... it is a war on a physical characteristic!) what else can we do?  We cannot just ignore the health of our children.

Instead of teaching discrimination based on body size, we can encourage body appreciation and healthy lifestyles for all sizes.  There is a new peace movement called "Health At Every Size®".

Our schools, doctors, and government should support the five principles of HAES℠:
1. Accepting and respecting the diversity of body shapes and sizes.
2. Recognizing that health and well-being are multi-dimensional and that they include physical, social, spiritual, occupational, emotional, and intellectual aspects.
3. Promoting all aspects of health and well-being for people of all sizes.
4. Promoting eating in a manner which balances individual nutritional needs, hunger, satiety, appetite, and pleasure.
5. Promoting individually appropriate, enjoyable, life-enhancing physical activity, rather than exercise that is focused on a goal of weight loss.

In your life, as you write comments online, and in your messages to Disney, YOU can promote this new peace movement.
Please watch this Frontline special "A Class Divided" online and CHOOSE to be part of ending size-discrimination for our children and in your life!

Hopefully and Tearfully (because I am now watching segment 4 where Jane Elliott is teaching adults her lesson),
Kelly Bliss

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Why focus on LIFESTYLE and NOT on weight?

Most of my clients come to me to lose weight.  I ask them to put that goal on the back burner and try focusing on their ACTIONS instead.  I am so pleasantly surprised that there are so many people willing to take this brave step. But why on earth would we do such a radical thing as focus on lifestyle instead of weight?  The reason is simple.  Focusing on weight loss can CAUSE people to give up on their healthy lifestyle and actions of self-care.  These are some of the facts that I share to help people give up the old weight loss paradigm in favor of the LIFESTYLE paradigm.

When people focus on weight and then do not lose weight fast enough, they become frustrated.  This frustration often causes them to stop their healthy behaviors.  “Heck, if I am working this hard and I only lost this puny amount, what’s the use in trying!”

When weight loss is the goal, and the body responds by “plateauing” or leveling off at a stable weight.  People get frustrated and either stop their healthy behaviors or they ramp up their effort and eat less / exercise more.  For most people, this ramped up effort simply cannot be sustained long term and that causes people to give up on their self-care.

Sometimes when hitting the plateau, people ramp up their food restriction and workout intensity to the point where they embrace eating disordered thinking and actions.  If this ramped up effort combines with a pre-disposition toward eating disorders, then a full blown eating disorder may develop. 

And then there is the reality of weight cycling.  Almost every large and very large person I know has "dieted their way up to this higher weight".  Even though 95% of weight loss dieters gain back the weight they lost plus more, when the body asserts its weight set point and causes weight gain, people often blame themselves.  This causes increased body dissatisfaction and lower self-esteem, which robs people of the motivation for self-care.  They give up on the actions of healthy living because they are devastated by the weight cycling process.

If focusing on weight so often causes people to give up on the actions of self-care, what else can be done?  Understandably so, people often say:  “I cannot just stay this way at war with my body and in a battle with food!  I cannot just give up and eat my way into oblivion.” I do have a response to this desperation.

I ask you to do something very familiar ... and something revolutionary.  The familiar activity is to work on your healthy eating, fitness, etc.  Only this time we will include intuitive eating and enjoyable movement.  We will pay attention to your whole self, including relationships, environment, stress, sleep, and more.  

The revolutionary part is that I will encourage you to do all of these actions because your wonderful body deserves the CARE, totally independent of weight or weight loss goals.

Whatever happens with your weight will be an inconsequential
side effect of your healthy LIFESTYLE.  

You take care of yourself and let your weight take care of itself.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

4 Steps to treat yourself well this week!

(This all happened on a holiday week.  But it is good self-care any week.)
A client was frustrated because she was eating more sugar than she wanted to eat.  Notice, she was not vilifying sugar or any food.  Food is just food.  However, she had already noticed that for her eating too much sugar reduced the amount of nutrient dense foods she ate and made her feel sluggish.  So she wanted to get a balance in her eating for better nutrition and energy. Eating less sugar was part of what made her feel better.

As a "Health At Every Size®", non-diet, lifestyle coach, what did I suggest?

4 Steps to treat yourself well this week!  
… (and then notice how your nutrition and energy are doing)
  1. So that you are nutritionally and enjoyably satisfied, ask yourself:  "Did I eat enough today?"  How was your breakfast?  Your lunch?  Your snacks?  In general, make sure you eat enough and see what that does to your cravings for sweets.
  2.  Eat Some Fruit 1st, before you eat some "entertainment foods" that are sweet but have little nutrition.  Sometimes we crave sweets when our bodies are craving some nutrient in fruits.  Sometimes just eating a delicious piece of fruit is satisfying enough.  Sometimes not.  That is fine.  You are just choosing what you want and trying to listen to all of your needs.
  3. If you still want a sweet, Go Get ONE!  Yep, go get ONE.  Savor it.  Enjoy every bit of it.  For me, I walk to the local cafe when I want a sweet.  For someone else, they may take one sweet off the office tray.  In any case, enjoy ONE.  And see if you might be satisfied with that.  If not, have another.  If you are wanting even more, ask yourself:  "Is this what I really need, or do I need something else?"  (Did you eat some fruit 1st?)
  4. Try this amazing way to end your day and start your evening: “Fruit & Relax Drive Home”.  Here is how this fabulous self-care exercise goes:
  • At the end of the work day don't drive home.  Instead, get in your car, turn on some relaxing music, and eat an apple or some other convenient fruit BEFORE you begin to drive.  
  • This way you drive home relaxed.  You arrive home with stable blood sugar and you have some nice fiber in your system.
Did you notice that I did NOT say "you should eat less sweets"?   That is because I do not want to trigger any of your diet war wounds from years of dieting.  We all know too well that the first day of food restriction brings you one day closer to a binge!

Instead, I encourage you to meet your needs and see what effect that has on the balance of nutrients in your life.  That's all.  Just treat yourself well and see how you feel.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

My advice to a mom with concern for her plus size 8 year old daughter...

Mom Asks:  Hi Kelly I need help is there a class or a trainer for overweight children? My daughter is 8 years old and I am trying to help her lose weight she weighs about 140 lbs and I have tried a lot of things and I am scared that she might turn to be a diabetic. I was going to join up with Ricki Lake kids program but don't know how that will work. Do you have any suggestions? Do you work with children at all?
Thank You, Carol
My Answer: Hello Carol,
It is wonderful that you are paying attention to what is best for your daughter.  Raising a plus size kid is SO difficult.  My heart goes out to you in this difficult situation.  There are so many messages out there about what to do. 

The truth is that NOBODY SHOULD EVER WORK WITH AN 8 YEAR OLD CHILD ABOUT HER WEIGHT.  I do not ever recommend a camp or a class or a diet coach for big kids.  I say this as a psychotherapist who works with teens and young adults who are recovering from childhood dieting experiences.  Instead of working with your daughter, I can offer YOU coaching in the kind of ideas below.

Parents and caregivers should seek advice and counseling so that they learn the best ways to feed and handle weight issues with their beloved child.  Our entire culture is telling large children that they should not exist.  You need to accomplish three things with your daughter:

1.    Offer her TASTY healthful foods while avoiding ALL dieting messages

and ENJOY active play without linking it to weight loss
a.    Children brains interpret the world in black and white.  Nutrition messages WILL be misinterpreted.  Exercise so you will not be fat WILL be heard as a criticism.  This teaches her to hate her fat body.
b.    NOBODY should be giving children good food/ bad food messages.  This trains her young mind to think in eating disordered ways.  (Yes, our culture teaches eating disorders as a way of weight loss)
c.    Instead YOU learn about nutrition for health (not body size) and active lifestyle for the fun of it … then give her an example in your life of balanced living.
d.    Read the books below to help with these goals.
  1. 2.    Teach her to love her body and that bodies come in diverse sizes
a.    YOU learn self-care and body love so that you can demonstrate it for her as you live your life
b.    Read the books below to help with this goal.
  1. 3.    Help her cope with the war on obesity and how it hurts her
a.    You learn how to cope with the constant attack on fat bodies and demonstrate this skill for her as you live your life.

I would be happy to coach you. 
I work with people by phone for about the cost of a co-pay:  $20/half hour.

Start by YOU reading these book for your daughter's sake:

For you to improve your own self-care and body love so you can help your daughter – no matter what your size, read these.