What I eat, and how much I exercise

I’m sure many of you wonder how much (and what) I eat, and how much I exercise. For someone who myth-busts the health-claims made in support of losing weight, and so forth, I should be interested in some way of being healthy and living the longest and happiest I can, correct?

That is, in fact, correct. I am. Does eating and exercise have something to do with it? Why, yes.

As for how much (and what) I eat, and how much (and how) I exercise?


I know some people catalogue their activity, as if to say, “See, I’m buying into Healthist attitudes, yet I’m still fat! Aren’t I morally upstanding, and aren’t your expectations of how one looks when they follow Healthist doctrine so very wrong?”

The problem with the above attitude is that it never calls into question whether or not tying particularly popular ideas of how to be “healthy” to moral rectitude is a good thing. It also implies that accepting a fat person is somehow conditional on whether or not they buy into Healthist propaganda.

This is not acceptance, in any way, shape or form. HAES is not fat acceptance. It’s another expression of Healthism, of Health as “goodness.” Why do I say HAES is not fat acceptance? Suppose no fat people adopted HAES-approved approaches. Then HAES wouldn’t be about fat people, it would be about how some fat (and thinner) people *could* be healthier, if only they did X and Y.

See the difference? It’s not about accepting fat. It’s another version of Healthism, of the “should” inherit in Healthist attitudes, as opposed to people who just want to do what’s best for themselves and cross their fingers that others just sod the fuck off with their misplaced concern or outright sanctimony.

There’s only one difference between a person who doesn’t believe in FA outright, and one who claims to believe in FA with an HAES-only perspective or focus: one person who promotes popular ideas of how to be “healthy” thinks those ideas will always make someone thinner, and the other person promoting a “healthy” lifestyle thinks that it won’t necessary lead to weight loss.

For those that want to defend HAES, I need to include the disclaimer that I don’t think all the ideas of HAES are phooey in my own day-to-day life. However, that’s also true for more mainstream varieties of “health.” But what I do to make myself feel better/live longer contains no inherent “should” for someone else. I don’t think it is imperative that others are active (even if we qualify activity with the words “fun” and “interesting”), and I don’t think it is imperative that others pick their brains to intuit what it is they should eat at the moment (even if there is “wiggle room” in the determination).

It’s just another group of myths and semi-truths. Does it make some people feel good to do it? Sure. But does it make them better people? No. Are people who don’t engage in it morally reprehensible, or even worse off from an *objective* health standpoint? No, and impossible to determine generally. Finally, is it fat acceptance? No, it is not. It’s just another group of people hawking yet another “healthy lifestyle.” Only this time, there are some fat people in the bunch!

Why is HAES so attractive to some people in FA? I think it gives one a weapon, a “comeback” as it were, to a troll who wants to say “Well, you can’t be fat and healthy!” The comeback: “Studies of HAES have shown to be healthier blah di blah…”

Why is the need to be seen as healthy so imperative? I think it’s less rewarding, but much more honest (and more helpful for promoting *actual* fucking fat acceptance) to tell the troll to MYOB.

It’s not easy. But fighting the moral imperative to be healthy with another form of a moral imperative to be healthy isn’t going to get fat people anywhere. The problem is with Healthism. The problem is with how Healthist attitudes are cordoning off certain subgroups of individuals and treating them like second-class citizens. And it’s *not just about fat people*, though fat is the most popular excuse used these days. It’s about smokers, and people who belong to demographics which have a greater genetic tendency to certain diseases or body characteristics.

Reject Healthism, and tell concern trolls to MYOB. Don’t apologize. Don’t detail your behavior. Tell them to get the fuck out of your clothing, and that your body is YOUR business. This goes for spouses too, certain readers of mine. No relationship, I repeat, *NO* relationship merits this kind of terrorism in the name of the Holy Grail of Health.


7 comments on “What I eat, and how much I exercise

  1. Tiana says:

    I don’t think of HAES that way. To me it is two things: 1) The belief that people can be healthy at any size. 2) A community that I can turn to if I need health-related advice. That’s all. And actually I don’t think there is such a thing as “HAES-approved approaches” – where did you get that idea? I’m really curious, I try to read as many FA blogs as possible and yet I’ve never seen anyone declare a set of HAES rules or anything of the sort. Yes, I have seen the occasional person state how much they exercise and what they eat, but for different reasons. Maybe I’m missing something.

  2. bigliberty says:

    The approaches would be those suggested in this book, for instance: http://www.lindabacon.org/HAESbook/

  3. bigliberty says:

    I understand where you’re coming from, Tiana. It’s so ingrained in all of us that ‘healthy’ is something we should strive to be, and that promoting health is above reproach.

    But by using HAES as an example of how fat(ter) people can be healthy, too, you’re unintentionally buying into the idea that health is an imperative, and fat is okay because it can be healthy.

    The conversation just can’t include health at all. Our bodies are *our* bodies. They need to be removed from public dialogue (and especially, public policy). In order to do that, we need to stop the conversation short of what body type can be healthy or not. We need to realize it’s not a fair fight, it’s not a fight *anyone* can win.

    That’s why I think HAES does not help true fat acceptance. Fat people shouldn’t be second-class citizens, regardless of why they are fat. Suppose there was no such thing as a healthy fat. Should fat people then be admonished publicly, demonized, treated like second class citizens, not allowed to raise children, etc until they lost weight?

    That’s the kind of fat acceptance *I’m* talking about. The kind based purely on liberty and body autonomy, with no strings attached. The same way I’m against anti-smoking laws, or programs that target certain demographics with the assumption that their parents are too stupid, lazy, or criminal to know the “right” way to protect their health.

    Healthism is classist, racist, politically discriminating, and all-around fascist. We’ve *got* to buck the trend of the health of others being a public discussion, esp. if they are “certain” others (like fat people, or family members, or users, and so forth).

    “Health” is being used as excuse to abuse others and to abuse ourselves. There are shows on TV that torture and shame fat people, and they’re wildly popular. I’m sure you see how dangerous this ideal, this Holy Grail of “Health” At Any and All Costs, has become.

  4. Fatadelic says:

    I get where you are coming from on this; that if there is a set of behaviours required in order for fat to be accepted, then it is not really accepted. And I agree with you there. But I don’t necessarily agree with your take on HAES. I think in its purest form, HAES is a release from ‘required behaviours’ for fat people – but I’ve also seen HAES repeatedly co-opted by the food-police or exercise-police and used to chastise fat people who aren’t ‘being healthy’.

  5. Tiana says:

    I get the feeling that we’re looking at this from two entirely different perspectives and I just can’t see what you’re seeing. I do not believe that healthy is something everyone should strive to be. I don’t think HAES is about what people should be at all, it is for those who want to be healthy and need fat-friendly resources. I haven’t read the book in question, but I doubt it contains a set of rules that every single person on this planet is supposed to follow. I also do not think that fat is only okay if it can be healthy, but that still doesn’t stop me from wanting to prevent the spreading of misinformation! FA and HAES are two entirely different things, but they don’t contradict each other.

  6. bigliberty says:


    HAES is, right now, the only “healthy lifestyle” option open to fat(ter) people. I do understand that part of it is meant to be a negation of the standard “healthy” rigamorale we hear applied to fat people all the time, but it is also a prescription. It’s still about achieving health – there are even studies being done to test HAES relative to other traditional diets. Believe me, the mythbusting part of it is very tempting! I love the idea that there’s some kind of evidence that standard anti-fat “health” prescriptions aren’t so healthy.

    But really, at the end of the day, by saying, “No, your demonization of fat people as unhealthy is wrong because they *can* be healthy” still makes the conversation about health, no matter what way you look at it. Health as a moral imperative. The demonization of fat people is wrong because fat people are people, too – individuals, and not second-class citizens.

    For instance, what Sandy does at JFS is *so* important to the movement. She takes the air out the sails of a heck of a lot of biased morons. But she’s a health blogger. I think that a very important part of FA is the part which removes health as an imperative for someone to be a full-rights citizen.

    Thanks both for your comments, I completely understand where you’re coming from. It’s been a long and winding road for me before I came to the conclusion that Healthism is so damaging to so many people that we need to start taking that weapon away from the fat haters.

  7. Fatadelic says:

    But really, at the end of the day, by saying,No, your demonization of fat people as unhealthy is wrong because they *can* be healthy” still makes the conversation about health, no matter what way you look at it.

    I see where you are coming from and I also agree that that is how many people interpret HAES. The whole health as moral imperative thing with a new twist.

    But that’s not what I’m saying at all. I don’t claim health as a goal for every fat person or hold HAES up as a holy grail of ‘not dieting but being good’.

    I don’t believe in good fatties or bad fatties. I see HAES more as individual freedom. A name for allowing yourself to make the intuitive choices that are right for you at a given time, based on your current mental, physical and emotional barometer (including whatever limitations you have). And this may involve eating “well” (whatever that means) – or not – and it may involve exercising – or not. Perhaps I need new terminology?

    I think that a very important part of FA is the part which removes health as an imperative for someone to be a full-rights citizen.

    And I absolutely agree with you on this. The relative health of a person should have no bearing on their ability to access full-rights.

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