Rant 57 May 2010: What’s Eating You?

May 9th, 2010  |  Published in 2010 rants, Rants, Stumpblog  |  72 Comments

Once upon a time there was a magical land.

The inhabitants of this land were lean and sculpted. Their skin was firm and blemished neither by the zits of youth nor wrinkles of age (nor that weird zit-wrinkle combo — like, what is that even about? make up your mind, skin!). Their ass cheeks were heavenly spheres betwixt which no flatus had ever egressed. Their abs were serrated blades upon which no flab nor dimples perched. These divine citizens wore hot pants Rollerblading and tiny swimsuits to do their laundry, and lo, it was good.

Their sturdy jaws were set with abundant, gleaming white Chiclets. The good citizens of Buffland used these Chiclets to masticate their four-to-six daily servings of lean protein and green vegetables, which they enjoyed at all times. They never deviated from this ingestion of aminos and antioxidants because they were a better, stronger, more in-control species than our slothful, gluttonous human race.

There was only one problem with this magical land.

It was complete. And utter. BULLSHIT.

I am about to lay some heavy duty stuff on you, possums. Now, you may be feeling real smug, because, like, you know that magazine are airbrushed and stuff. But do you believe it? Have you seen it step-by-step? Let me help.

OK, fine, we all realize Photoshop is involved and mainstream media eats a plate of ass. Hello, 1985 called, they want their feminist media analysis back. I know, I know.

But let’s talk about something more insidious. Look at your fitness role models. Look at the men and women who seem to have their shit together, are always perfectly lean, and never have a bad hair day. (Powerlifters, you can be excused from this discussion. Ha ha! I kid!)

What if I told you that many of these deities who look sleek and shiny on magazine covers or on the physique stage, or even the hotstuff trainers at your gym, had a big, fat secret?

That when the camera is off and the lights go down, those hotties get in their car, drive to the 7-11 and grab a 1 lb bag of M&Ms? That after the contest or the shoot, they gorge themselves to the point of pain on junk food? That they make 3 am runs to Taco Bell, or raid their refrigerator, swirling a block of butter in some brown sugar, or spooning in some ice cream with the laser focus and frantic speed of a meth-head surgeon and then afterwards feel sick and shameful? That they’re then shitting and puking and purging and exercising and starving that food off their bodies? That just like you, their diet ends in disaster as their bodies, ever more iron-willed in defense of homeostasis, cry havoc and let slip the dogs of Doritos?

Krista, you say. Surely you exaggerate. These are things that, say, misguided teenage girls do, or perhaps overweight lonely cat ladies who wear muumuus and read romance novels with unicorn bookmarks in them.

I only wish.

But biology is a bitch. The mechanisms that control eating behaviour are stronger than your pathetic attempts to delude them with fake foods. The exquisitely sensitive machinery that analyzes every last molecule that you send down the plumbing knows your game. Your brain may be fooled by the Splenda or the low-carb bread, but your digestive system is all like, “Oh honey, puhlease” before it sighs and sets about sorting the triglycerides into their allotted compartments or upregulating Poison Control to deal with the toxic sludge you just dumped in there in the form of diet soda. Your body will roll its eyes and go along with your little “I’m going to be so gooood” game from 7 am till 7 pm, and then the gloves are off — and said ungloved hands are shoving your face into a jar of peanut butter.

Combine the bitch goddess of biology with an environment saturated with stress, addictive food-like substances, and precisely delineated yet entirely false visions of “perfection”… and you have perfection all right — the perfect storm of disordered eating and self-loathing.

After working with nutrition clients I started to notice a funny thing: for many people, there was in fact an inverse relationship between socially accepted ideals of “fitness” and happiness.

Which is to say, the leaner and buffer many people got, and the more their bodies matched the mainstream norm, the unhappier they were. The more they binged. The more they purged, often through increasingly vicious exercise regimes rather than the old-school “open up the digestive sluices”. The more they restricted their food intake, whittling away and obsessively recording calories and carbs and choices. And the more they felt they “failed”.

Got your body fat down into a healthy range? Great. Go for lean. Got down to lean? Go for ripped. Got down to ripped? Go for “lipodystrophic wasting disease”. I want to see eye sockets, people!

Meanwhile, the folks who started out at, say, 300 lbs were just thrilled when they could breathe a little easier, get out of bed pain-free, and take a nice trundle around the block. If they tried a new veggie, or cut back on the soda, or their belt felt a little looser, they high-fived themselves.

This is, of course, the opposite of what you’d expect.

You’d expect that the fine citizens of Buffland would forevermore play beach volleyball gleefully, wear horizontal stripes fearlessly, and/or have ongoing instances of nice, tidy sexual congress. You’d expect that once their toned thighs or rocklike pecs had been accomplished, Bufflanders would close the door on the inconvenient chapter of their lives that involved cellulite, fried chicken, childbearing, and gravity, never to open it again. They’d be fit and perfect and eat kale. And that would be that.

You’d be wrong.

In fact, I’m not sure I’ve met a less happy group of people in my life (in the sense that “happy” would imply a deep, heartfelt satisfaction with the immediacy of one’s existence) than people who approached having “perfect” bodies, where “perfection” was defined entirely by an aesthetic ideal that defies most ordinances of nature, such as mortality, midsection squish, or menopause.

Literature majors, let’s double check: Poignantly contrary to what was expected or implied? Check! Yep, we have irony.

What’s the problem here?

The problem is what it takes to get that “ideal” body.

What it takes to get from “fit normal” to “magazine shoot” requires such a tremendous cost that your sanity usually goes into debt. There are a lucky few who can take their body to extremes of performance and aesthetics, and do so without becoming a rabidly bipolar beast who alternates between the highs of self-induced restriction and the lows of self-induced gorging. (High-fives to you, sirs and madams, I salute you. You are rare and unique creatures, and you should probably consider having your brain and metabolism examined for scientific purposes.)

Most folks are not so lucky. Scratch the surface of many “fitness pros” who buy in to the commercial industry and you’ll often find disordered eating and self-harming behaviours.

Talk frankly to a fitness or bodybuilding competitor about where they go and what they do after the shoot or the contest. It probably involves Baskin-Robbins or Pizza Hut or Cinnabon and the word “epic” may be used. Ask the tautest tush at your gym how s/he feels about him or herself. If they are speaking honestly, they will tell you that many of their days are preoccupied with thoughts of how to acquire, prepare, and consume food, as well as thoughts of all the body parts that are not quite good enough yet. Look at the hormone profile of these shiny young things and you may find elevated stress hormones, depressed sex hormones, and the blood cell counts of a chronic disease, for the gentle citizens of Buffland are often starving and shaming and stairmastering themselves into oblivion.

And it’s not restricted to pros. Anyone who ventures into the serious pursuit of aesthetically based fitness ideals, and/or who marinates in the malodorous stew of the fitness-industrial complex — even just a little toe dipping– is at risk. Male, female, old, young, smart, dumb, expert, newbie, nobody is immune.

What a fucking tragedy this is.

Scott Abel is one of the few throwing out the bullshit flag on this with books like The Other Side of the Mirror and his posts about metabolic damage. (Check out his April 2010 piece Sometimes Falling Feels like Flying… For A Little While)

So what’s the solution? Should we all just give up?

No. Going face down in the KFC Double Down does us no favours either.

If I like fitness and health, do I immediately turn into a narcissistic, self-destructive jagoff?

No, of course not. I wish more folks would love fitness, nutrition, and health… at least I wouldn’t bore so many people at parties by talking about how awesome it is to drag a sandbag around, and how many things you can make out of broccoli.

Use fitness, health, and nutrition to live better, and to engage more fully with life, not to withdraw from it, be angry with it, avoid it, or be afraid of it.

Does this mean we should all be “beyond caring” how good we look?

No. We have eyes for a reason, and sexual attractiveness is important to our species.

But. The disordered eating, behaviours, and mindset rampant in the industry have very little to do with true joy, visual pleasure, and/or sexiness.

When you are starving, self-obsessed, narcissistic, compulsive around food, avoiding social occasions because you can’t have your special kibble or because you think you still look too fat in a bathing suit, when the hormones that control your happiness and horniness are MIA because your body thinks it’s about to die from scarcity and is shutting the system down, that is not joy or pleasure or sexiness.

My solution is this. Focus primarily on what your body can do, and how you feel inside it. It is OK to want to be beautiful. It is OK to want to look hot nekkid. But understand what is real and normal and sane. Shoot for “fit normal” as an ideal and beyond that, focus on living wellness and an authentic, honest, loving relationship with your body (which includes, by the way, eating real food).

When you eat, ask yourself what your food is doing for you, not whether someone or something is allowing (or preventing) you eating it. Ask yourself how much distress this project prompts in you.

When you work out, feel the pleasure of your body moving, and the thrill of emergent power, not how many calories this is burning.

Are you going towards joy or away from it? Understand that drastic restriction, control freakery, and rigid rules will always come back to bite you in the ass, whether that’s an hour from now or a year from now.

Are you present with this body of yours? Aware? Mindful? Thoughtful? Are you caring for your insides — all your insides — mental, emotional, and cognitive? Do you bullshit yourself? Tell yourself lies? Yell at yourself? “Should” yourself?

Does every choice you make say “Yes, I will love and nourish you, self”? or do your actions really say: “I hate your guts and I will do everything I can to beat you into submission”?

———————————

One of the best meals I ever had was a grubby-looking protein shake made out of a smorgasbord of green veggies and fruits. I drank it out of a Mason jar.

I did not love it because it was virtuous, or because of its calorie content. I loved it because I drank it at the sixtieth kilometre of an 85 km bike ride, and it was sweet and nourishing, and gave my body what it needed to keep going. I loved it because I drank it while sitting on a park bench looking out at Lake Ontario, knowing that my tiny legs had pumped those pedals all the way around the shoreline. The question of my legs’ aesthetics was not at that moment even on my radar, beyond my brief notice that they were grease and mud-splattered. (Sexy.)

At that moment the veggies and fruits were my friends, nutrient powerhouses that would protect me from harm. I chose them because of how they made me feel: strong, joyous, energetic. Getting back on my bike I felt like my seven-year-old self with the streamers on the handles, riding the sparkly banana seat, thinking, “Wheeee!”

This is what the citizens of Buffland want but will never have. No matter how fantastic your ass is, if you don’t feel “Wheeee!” at least some of the time… and if your eating has become more like religious penance… then it’s a darn good sign that your soul is seriously out of shape.

Responses

  1. Justin Cascio says:

    May 9th, 2010at 8:12 pm(#)

    You are a continuing source of inspiration to me, Krista. I am going to forward this to everybody I know. I am so full of joy, and recipes for cabbage (swap for broccoli?), that I just want to convert people so I won’t be so weird at parties. Can’t there be a FitNormalLand, where we still play volleyball and ride bikes?

  2. Cate says:

    May 9th, 2010at 9:50 pm(#)

    Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.

    (inspiring of awe)

    Thank you. You picked me up.

  3. Michelle Dodd says:

    May 9th, 2010at 10:06 pm(#)

    Damn, woman, you can write. This is an important conversation, and so well put.

    I had a world-altering shift when I figured this out a few years ago: that if I focused more on what my body can do rather than how it looks, I am happier and often feel that whee! feeling of pure joy and giddiness in activity. Exercise becomes play. I also tend to be a bit lighter and fitter when I keep this focus. The instant I get pulled back into focusing on calories or what foods are off the list, I tend to obsess and a few pounds will find their way back on the body.

    Thanks for reminding us all to bring back the joy.

  4. Kayla says:

    May 9th, 2010at 10:53 pm(#)

    Yes! I completely agree. I must admit that a couple of years ago I was definitely in the so-fit-I-was-miserable category… I’m as normal fit these days, and much happier.

  5. Terry Gibbs says:

    May 10th, 2010at 1:57 am(#)

    You keep getting better, thank you..

  6. felipe says:

    May 10th, 2010at 3:32 am(#)

    Did he really use the “pucker” tool on her ass?

  7. Allie (Protein Girl) says:

    May 10th, 2010at 6:29 am(#)

    This is the best post on any blog that I have read all year.

    My favorite line is, “I want to see eye sockets, people!” Even as I lament the loss of my chiseled cheekbones, I applaud the return of both the fertility and sanity that I lost at 9% bodyfat. Buh-bye booty shorts. Hello happiness. The harsh inner voices of “but you’re not perfect anymore” are finally fading to the background.

    I recently started imagining my 5-year old daughter repeating to herself negative body image comments that flitted across my mind about myself. “My butt’s too big” or “mommy do I look fat?” Such abusive inner commentary has no business in anyone’s mind.

    Amen for this post!

  8. Allison McClish says:

    May 10th, 2010at 7:11 am(#)

    These kinds of articles are so much needed! I teach a Youth Group with grade ranges of 6th through 12th grade and every girl in my group could stand to hear these things. I think what the video was saying is absolutely right. Most girls/women don’t know the extent to which photos are retouched. And the obsessive behavior that you talk about is present in most of the young girls I come across. MOST!! That is both sad and scary. Thanks for posting!!

  9. Lori says:

    May 10th, 2010at 8:18 am(#)

    I love this post. I worry so much about my little nieces and what they are exposed to. I grew up before photoshopping became the norm, but they have been exposed to that standard since birth, pretty much.

  10. All The Stuff We Do » Blog Archive » Citizens of Buffland says:

    May 10th, 2010at 8:28 am(#)

    [...] What’s Eating You [...]

  11. Bethany Wadsworth says:

    May 10th, 2010at 8:32 am(#)

    Awesome rant!!

  12. Janna says:

    May 10th, 2010at 8:35 am(#)

    It seems to me that many fitness-oriented people go through a phase of obsession, usually centered around appearance and eating “perfectly”. Many of these people never get past this; they seem to live with the extreme mindset that one is either a gym rat or a couch potato. But some people do move forward and they find a way to embrace fitness and health without becoming fanatics.

    Is it possible to skip the obsessive stage, or do you think this is a rite of passage? I’d like to think so. But one is unlikely to stumble upon joy when the journey begins as a means to escape imperfection and demonstrate extreme control.

  13. MK says:

    May 10th, 2010at 9:22 am(#)

    “Focus primarily on what your body can do, and how you feel inside it. ”

    this, omg, this…I am far from the ideal (yes, I am fat, and that is OK) and I know the self loathing one gets…’calories in/calories out’ is such bullshit…and the ‘ideal’ makes us crazy

    instead of focusing so much on how I look, I focus on what my body does and how the hell it feels – food, while I enjoy the hell out of it (my mother of course feels i enjoy it too much) but I view it as fuel – and while the immediate gratification of some food is often it’s own reward, I view it also as fuel as to help my body do what I want it to – be it run up some stairs, bike 10 miles to work and then back again or dance all night long. but I don’t deprive myself either (sometimes ice cream is necessary)…the brain weasels still get to me at times, but then I go out and USE my body and they shut the heck up

    thank you for putting this out there

  14. hildreth says:

    May 10th, 2010at 9:24 am(#)

    brill. yunt. keep on keepin’ on krista.

    there’s so much crap we put in our bodies – literally, emotionally and metaphorically, and we could all stand to call a *loving* bullshit on ourselves more often…less furrowed brow, wagging finger and more gentle pats on the back. as a dietitian-to-be, i wish i had more psych and behavior training…it’s not just *what* you eat (real food!), but how & why. and that’s the stuff that no one teaches us anymore.

    thanks for reminding us to get back to a healthy happy!

  15. Meghan says:

    May 10th, 2010at 9:44 am(#)

    Bookmarking it! I love it.

  16. Doreen Dixon says:

    May 10th, 2010at 11:39 am(#)

    This is brilliant! After spending four months counting every calorie (and losing 30 pounds in the process), I’m enjoying feeling better and looking much better … and I’m not counting calories anymore. I’ve changed my lifestyle and can just get on with my life.

    Then again, I’m 62 so am past obsessing. Your blog needs to be read by those young enough to obsess about body image. Then they can all be as happy as are we old farts!

  17. Anna says:

    May 10th, 2010at 12:12 pm(#)

    You know, I told someone just this morning “I love how fitness models say I can look just like them by eating clean and lifting, but they’ve all got breast implants, don’t touch one single carb gram for a week before a shoot and while they swear they’re not I KNOW THEY’RE SHOPPED!”

    I eat plenty of veggies, limit my junk food intake, and love my workouts. My lab tests are all great and my doctor seems happy with the way I take care of myself. Anyone with a problem about the way I look can suck it.

  18. A says:

    May 10th, 2010at 12:38 pm(#)

    thanks for that. i don’t think it can ever be said enough. i have lost a totla of 60lbs. and have sculpted a pretty good body from the blob of clay of my childhood. yet, i still sometimes feel as if it’s not good enough. everywhere you look this is the message- not just fitness, but in your careers, in your living space, in the mode of transportation you choose. this culture is all about more, more, more and i try to fight it, but it’s ahrd when you’re constantly bombarded.

    every time that i see any of those cosmetic surgery ads in magazines, now, i make a point of placing an imaginary banner across those silicone breasts and bulbous lips that says “you’re not good enough”… and i mentally make the ad say what it is trying not to say, outright.

    bla bla. anyway, thanks again. women and men can never hear enough that normal is not perfect. :)

  19. Sharon says:

    May 10th, 2010at 1:59 pm(#)

    Just when I was ready to allow science turn me into a floating head, I read this and feel very silly indeed. Thank you, Krista!

  20. Stacey says:

    May 10th, 2010at 6:15 pm(#)

    LOVE THIS!

  21. elle says:

    May 10th, 2010at 6:37 pm(#)

    Krista (and all),

    I love this post. I’ve never been overweight, but I’ve been struggling with body-image issues since high school. Funny, I was never aware of an ideal-body type until I started to watch the boob tube. In any case, is there a delicate balance between going to the gym consistently and being a couch potato?

    Evolution would prefer us to be couch potatoes—it’s easier and conserves calories, ensuring survival in a harsh environment—not going to the gym to feel the burn for an hour a day. Should we only do activities that involve play? Don’t we have to do things we don’t typically enjoy—like the freaking Stairmaster—because we’re adults and we know it’s, as the saying goes, good for us?

    This is what I’m dealing with right now. I’m at a place where I’m happy with my body, but the little fucking creature of self doubt pops up every once in awhile. It’s the same creature that tells me that I shoulda done something (like go to the gym) against my will because I know it’s good for me.

    Any insight is appreciated!

  22. misterlee says:

    May 10th, 2010at 7:22 pm(#)

    Been a fan of your site for YEARS, and you always seem to top yourself!

    Printing this one off, If I could chisel it into granite I would…

    Bravo! (golf clap ensues)

  23. ALF says:

    May 10th, 2010at 7:49 pm(#)

    Thank you SO MUCH for this! Sometimes I forget that I don’t need to look all ripped and perfect. I lift more, run faster and farther, cook better, and sleep more peacefully than I ever have in my short though mostly sedentary life. So why should I tear myself down over a little bit of fat that keeps me HEALTHY and ALIVE? ugh.

    amazing rant, as usual.

  24. Karen says:

    May 11th, 2010at 2:02 am(#)

    Hi, I am not at all a bufflander and probably wont ever be :)! But I do have some experience of how they might feel.
    I lost 60kg’s(130lbs) in two years by Exercising and eating all the right stuff. I got on the scale every day,then I started counting calories, pushing myself harder at the gym. Suddenly,one day, I went from being elated to walk freely and without pain, buying clothes in an actual store and being healthy to being unhappy with myself and my progress. To being obsessed with making it work. Then a stressful event derailed me and one year later I have gained 20kgs back!!!!

    So, having more than another 60kgs to lose I find myself turning back to food every time I even thinking of counting calories or finding my way back to the gym. I find myself rebelling against everything I ever did – no matter what good it did me in the beginning.

    So, it is time to change my mindset and seek healthy and happy again. As apposed to losing the darn weight and proving myself to everyone – especially to those trainers in the gym that keeps approaching me!!

    No more watching commercials of buff bodies and fretting at the unobtainability of it. No more staring at the health or sport magazines and thinking “I should have been there”.

    Thanks Krista

  25. Mistress Krista says:

    May 11th, 2010at 5:33 am(#)

    Elle: Don’t forget that evolution also kept us in constant, daily-life motion with varying tasks: walking, sprinting, climbing, carrying, bending, reaching and grabbing, throwing, etc. And we were outside. The human body was actually meant to be moving much of the time — just not the way we currently conceptualize “movement”, which is “sit on your ass all day and then go do some pre-approved, hamster-like tedious machine-assisted task”. So yes, it’s a balance between rest and movement, but movement is not something we have to force ourselves to do… it’s our birthright just as much as relaxation is. We may have to prompt ourselves to move (especially outside) a bit more, simply because our current environment doesn’t facilitate it, but movement is definitely not something humans were designed to avoid.

    Check out: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/ and http://www.exuberantanimal.com/

  26. Trying a new tactic « The Weigh I Am says:

    May 11th, 2010at 6:05 am(#)

    [...] continents away?  Right after I published my post yesterday I went to Steph’s blog and found THIS article.  It just reassured me that i’m on my way to being a better me.  Not only for my [...]

  27. Lisa-Marie says:

    May 11th, 2010at 6:25 am(#)

    Wow! Someone posted the link to this rant and because I have been to your website before, I thought I would pop around and check out the rant. Fantastic!! I ought to come around more often.

  28. blitz442 says:

    May 11th, 2010at 10:29 am(#)

    “Focus primarily on what your body can do, and how you feel inside it.”

    So simple, so brilliant.

    This is why it so important to make fitness interesting; to pick a challenging activity or three and try to gain proficiency. A reasonably difficult physical goal, whether it be the desire to plow through a 10 mile hike up rough terrain, chin yourself 10X, or play 45 minutes of full court basketball without getting winded, will produce a nice, healthy body as a side effect. You ain’t gonna starve yourself or eat like shit, unless you want to be miserable on your hikes, flail away on the chin up bar, or be subject to public humiliation on the basketball court.

    If I may be allowed the indulgence of a brief personal ancecdote, right now I’m trying to put this into practice with this year’s pyscho workout. 400 meter sprint, followed without rest by an explosive upper-body exercise (such as 10 clap push-ups). Rest a minute. Repeat 5 more times.

    I’m not there yet (after the third sprint I’m a pile of mush, and I have to increase the rest periods to 2-3 minutes at least), but I can tell you that if I do not eat properly, sleep properly, etc., then this workout is a complete non-starter. And as I run around that track like a spaz, focusing only on going faster, over the next 6-8 weeks I will trim some fat and add some muscle to my posterior chain without so much as an afterthought.

    P.S.: Last year’s “psycho workout” was 20X135lbs power clean and press, 20X135lbs front squat, 20X225lbs deadlifts (any style), 25 burpees, 50 situps, and 50 pushups. Everything back to back, no rest between exercises.

    Any woman or man who trains for such a workout (adjust weights accordingly; for reference I weigh appx. 190lbs) will inevitably get their eating and sleeping habits in order, and will inevitably look better naked.

  29. Linds says:

    May 11th, 2010at 1:16 pm(#)

    Thank you for this rant!
    “Use fitness, health, and nutrition to live better, and to engage more fully with life, not to withdraw from it, be angry with it, avoid it, or be afraid of it.”

    I have been thinking and trying to live this way for a long time. I started weightlifting because I wanted to lose weight, but in turn, it has turned me into an eco-Conscious health nut (in a good way!). I look at my workouts as a way to have fun and connect with our ancestral roots. Sure, I would love to look great in a bikini, however what is most important to me is making sure that my body works efficiently and healthy. Fitness does not only equate to good looks, but it also equates to being healthy as possible in our day and age. And it doesn’t have to be difficult. I encourage everyone to go check out their local children’s jungle gym. Best free gym ever!

    I love the challenge of a long canoe trip, or a short quick sprint and instead of celebrating losing a pound off my booty, I celebrate gaining a pound or ten on the barbell 
    . Sure I am picky about the foods that I eat. But instead of focusing on the macronutrient breakdown of every tiny little thing I put in my mouth, I focus on where my food is coming from, and how it is raised/grown/packaged.

    Best. Rant. Ever.

  30. Simma says:

    May 11th, 2010at 5:10 pm(#)

    Great post, Krista. A message that needs to be constantly re-stated, especially when it’s expressed as well as you do it.

    To other commenters:

    While I agree that “functional fitness” metCon-style workouts are great for fat loss and general feeling good in life, let’s not forget that there are plenty who find their joy in more structured athletic endeavors, too. There’s nothing inferior about the elation some get from a PR in the snatch or shot put, or giving a good showing at a bout, etc. vs. the thrill others get out of an uphill bike ride. And there’s nothing wrong with loving competition, as long as competition serves as positive motivation instead of a reason to unhealthily obsess.

    The key is figuring out what kind of work and goals are a fit for our individual bodies and temperaments, not in trying to hold up one kind of exercise or activity (or view of exercise or activity) as “the” right way to go.

  31. Terry Gibbs says:

    May 11th, 2010at 9:17 pm(#)

    “This is what the citizens of Buffland want but will never have. No matter how fantastic your ass is, if you don’t feel “Wheeee!” at least some of the time… and if your eating has become more like religious penance… then it’s a darn good sign that your soul is seriously out of shape.”

    tell your clients you are worth more money…

    again thank you..

  32. Workout of the Day « FORTITUDE FITNESS says:

    May 12th, 2010at 1:24 am(#)

    [...] Whats Eating You? [...]

  33. Ninja M says:

    May 12th, 2010at 11:27 am(#)

    This IS the Ninja Manifesto. Thank you for articulating it so well.

  34. FlamingJune1967 says:

    May 12th, 2010at 1:35 pm(#)

    Wow! This post could not have come at a better time for me!

    Last Friday, I had an epiphany. I was working out at my gym all alone (as in no one else was there) and so I took the time to really look at myself while I lifted. Suddenly this size 10 body – the same size 10 body that only a couple of years ago could barely squat it’s own bodyweight, could not complete one pushup, and had never even touched a barbell- BECAME BEAUTIFUL! Oh, I still have some fat and flab, but I can actually feel my glutes contract now, 20 bodyweight squats are just a warm up for 24 115 lb barbell squats, and I’m up to 10 real push-ups!!! I am strong, healthy and fit, and can call upon my body to do things I never dreamed it would be able to. I no longer need the Chiropractor or my steady dose of Excedrin. My body can dance, and run and climb and do ab roll outs :-) My body may not be fat-free, but it IS beautiful, because it can do all the things it was designed to do!

    Thanks for this awesome post!

  35. Susan says:

    May 12th, 2010at 9:29 pm(#)

    Is it ok to forego the raves on the content of the piece, just to appreciate the fantastic use of alliteration? Because the content, while spectacularly prudent, was just so enhanced by the awesome alliteration.

    If it’s not ok, then let it be said that this post should be posted in all places of working out, so that we all could be reminded of the fact that form follows function, and our bodies function as so much more than objects on display for the pointing out of flaws. I think the idea of focusing on what we can do is nothing short of brilliant, and is critical to the crisis of industrialized-world body/fitness/food disorders. Well done, Krista.

  36. Terry Gibbs says:

    May 13th, 2010at 1:36 am(#)

    Flaming June, there is something basically sexy at a very primitive level in that part of our very primitive brain about a human who moves smoothly and fluently, strong & free of movement imbalance.

    Congrats …

  37. Sheng says:

    May 13th, 2010at 1:51 pm(#)

    This is beautiful, articulate and inspiring! Thank you!

  38. Dan says:

    May 13th, 2010at 3:04 pm(#)

    Cheers for another great article.

    In 10 years of playing all sorts of competitive sports, I’ve only ever met 2 guys who achieved a real six pack and they both said the same thing: it’s miserable.

    One friend dabbled in body building at Uni and spoke of having to force feed himself 8000 calories a day, and of how his skin hurt because of the dehydration necessary to tighten the skin before competition. The other friend also competed and said the months before competition were awful, chicken breast and broccoli countless times a day. He also looked *gaunt*. His abs may have been great with his top off, but with less than 10% body fat he mostly just looked frail.

    This focus on what your body can do over what it looks like is so important, I’m glad you keep hammering this topic. Chasing numbers on the scale only leads to unnecessary anxiety. And while weight loss has felt great, it has never compared to the feeling when I first broke 10 pullups, finished a 5K run or held a stable handstand.

  39. Brooke says:

    May 14th, 2010at 2:28 am(#)

    I love it how you describe the “Wheeeee!” feeling of fitness. I had a chuckle to myself, because that is spot onto the feeling it gives me ;-) It’s hard to describe that feeling to other people, but you did it very well.

    i look forward to your next RANT already. Bring it on!

  40. workouts for women says:

    May 14th, 2010at 4:06 pm(#)

    Wow, great video. They’ve been airbrushing photos for ages. Celebrities have had the privilage of having this option for many years. Now, thanks to photoshop, anyone could have a body like Raquel Welch.

  41. theevilthereof says:

    May 16th, 2010at 12:46 am(#)

    ‘Does every choice you make say “Yes, I will love and nourish you, self”? or do your actions really say: “I hate your guts and I will do everything I can to beat you into submission”?’

    Krista, this is a fantastic post as always. And I’m quoting the passage above because I recently started what I can best describe as a sort of anti-fitness blog. At the risk of shameless self-promotion, my rationale’s here:

    http://threepositivethings.wordpress.com/about/

  42. Sufficient unto the day… says:

    May 16th, 2010at 2:48 am(#)

    [...] Today’s inspiration brought to you by the rather wonderful Krista. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)No Title Posted by theevilthereof Filed in Uncategorized Leave a Comment » [...]

  43. Megan says:

    May 17th, 2010at 7:59 am(#)

    I loved this. I’ve lost 40lbs over the last 9 months and gained some muscle at the same time. I’m stronger, more agile, and happier, but I still sometimes look in the mirror and fret about my appearance. I needed a reminder to focus on what I can do rather than how I look. After reading this, I made a list of 37 things I can do now that I couldn’t have done last summer and I feel great about all of them. Full-form push-ups and a chin-up aren’t on the list yet, but they’re coming. Meanwhile, I can play tag with my kids, hop over the fence at my friend’s farm and carry a 50lb sack of feed with ease, and get through any exercise class at my gym without needing to sit out for even a moment.

  44. May Seventeenth « oh my my, oh says:

    May 17th, 2010at 6:05 pm(#)

    [...] happened uponthis post over the weekend and wow, did it hit home. Go read it. Now. I seriously need to read that [...]

  45. AJ Matthews says:

    May 18th, 2010at 12:24 pm(#)

    I love this blog and I love the brutal honesty. I have also given up on the idea of perfection, and the idea of going without all the tasty treats that I so enjoy. I just make a commitment to work hard at the gym so that I can eat a little extra later on. My drive in the gym has even taken me to a competitive level as a newbie power lifter. Fortunately, female power lifters don’t typically get as bloaty as some of the guys ;)

    I’m writing about my story in my new blog:
    http://www.atothejay.wordpress.com

    I hope to see you there!

  46. torrilin says:

    May 18th, 2010at 6:01 pm(#)

    Thanks for writing this. The photoshop videos were really upsetting. It made it really clear just how I end up seeing so many inhumanly thin photographs of models. And it’s real obvious how some of the deformities in “bad Photoshop jobs” get introduced. Way to dehumanize people!

    I worked off the upset by reviewing form and then beating on some bodyweight exercises, so now I’m much less irate. Natural endorphins cure a lot.

  47. Teneshia says:

    May 18th, 2010at 7:49 pm(#)

    I’m always curious to find out what I’d look like and how I’d feel if I regimented my life on a strict diet that would result in shredded abs, to which my skin would cling.

    But I love bread too much.
    And pecan pie.
    And pizza.

    When working out hard in the gym and eating become tortuous endeavors, I’d lose all interest. There’s joy to be found in living and living fitness; and unfortunately, the industry is turning the life of fitness and eating into ritualized dissatisfaction. Boourns!

  48. Wednesday 5/19/10 | Derby City CrossFit - Louisville, KY says:

    May 18th, 2010at 8:00 pm(#)

    [...] The Path of Least Resistance How Does Kinesiology Tape Work? Laughter Really IS Potent Medicine Photoshop is Ruining Our Perceptions of Beauty Visit sicfit.com for more [...]

  49. Jill says:

    May 19th, 2010at 10:06 am(#)

    ‘Getting back on my bike I felt like my seven-year-old self with the streamers on the handles, riding the sparkly banana seat, thinking, “Wheeee!”’

    I can’t remember the last time I had that feeling, but it reminds me of when I went bike-riding and hiking with my family as a teenager. Man, I miss that – and that’s inspiration.

  50. Other Jill says:

    May 20th, 2010at 1:00 pm(#)

    I had the Whee! feeling today, coming down a hill on my bike on the way home from work. Clothes plastered to me, wind in my face, weaving around parked cars and the slower cyclists…

    There’s nothing quite like a bike sometimes.

  51. Looking Good (for a mom) » Blog Archive » Weekend Roundup: What’s eating you? says:

    May 22nd, 2010at 7:05 am(#)

    [...] So what post did the trick? Well, my newest round-up post was inspired by Mistress Krisa at Sumptuous.com, whose latest rant (#57 if you’re keeping track) is about the effect that photoshopped models can have on our self-image and culture.  It’s about how we’ve put too much focus on looking good and too little focus on feeling good. I’ve said enough — Krista says it all so much more eloquently here. [...]

  52. Link Time! Rhubarb Smoothies, National Bike Month, and More | Community Health Now says:

    May 24th, 2010at 11:27 am(#)

    [...] images are airbrushed into perfection? Stumptuous has this tutorial which takes a bikinified woman from fat to fit with a few clicks of the [...]

  53. Checking in « says:

    May 26th, 2010at 1:26 pm(#)

    [...] read a great blog post today about body image and the media that really hits home.  I highly recommend that you take a [...]

  54. Shay says:

    May 27th, 2010at 2:38 pm(#)

    Ya know why I LOVE this site? Because of posts like this. Today, I was having a particularly “omg I hate my body” moment. I will never be as thin as a celebrity because I’m just super curvy. However, I still look good looking like a normal woman with healthy body fat. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for taking us behind the ugly scenes of Buffland. It ain’t all that, I see. :) And seeing that instantly made me stop hating my body.

    So, I’m gonna take my “I just walked up three flights of stairs without huffing and puffing” self and enjoy my feeling of Wheee! lol (that’s a great line btw!)

    Smooches,

    Shay

  55. Tina says:

    May 28th, 2010at 10:45 pm(#)

    What an awesome well written eye opening post! All the more inspiration to let my subscription to Oxygen magazine expire! I am now fit at 39 years old for the first time in my life (and have maintained a 20lb weightloss for the last 2 years), and your site was one of the first I had ever read on fitness, and in particular, female oriented fitness.

    A tiny part of me was feeling bad at one point that I didn’t look like a fitness model either, until I realized what punishment they put themselves through. All for larger deltoids or biceps to kiss ass with the judges at whatever show? Or having arm day and training as a laundry list of body “parts” to be improved? And the anal retentiveness about diet? Don’t even get me started on that one!!!! For me, Eat Stop Eat (intermittent fasting) is what keeps me sane…eating WELL/sensibly, having 2 24h fasts a week, and ABSOLUTELY NOT feeling guilty for things like enjoying a bit of my daughter’s birthday ice cream cake tonight.

    Personally, now I focus more on kettlebells, sandbags, pullups/bodyweight circuits and other such “odd” training, although I still incorporate deadlifts (alas I can’t afford a squat rack!). I do very very little if any dumbbell type work, and those type of workouts promoted in mags like Oxygen (bicep curls, etc) don’t really appeal to me anymore. I just love the feeling of, as you say, going and “lifting some heavy sh@t”.

    It feels so much better to train for function, and as others have said, the looks have come as a side effect. So what if I don’t have as well rounded delts as a fitness model. I have so much more endurance and function in my everyday life, like sprinting up the stairs, and such. AND, I can tell any man “I can carry this, thanks”. Wheeee!

  56. Stephanie says:

    June 3rd, 2010at 12:51 pm(#)

    This really hit me. I’m printing it out and putting it on my fridge:

    Does every choice you make say “Yes, I will love and nourish you, self”? or do your actions really say: “I hate your guts and I will do everything I can to beat you into submission”?

  57. Julie says:

    June 3rd, 2010at 8:40 pm(#)

    I loved the rant. Happily I fall within the power lifter group so I don’t mind not being pretty. ha. I have had more compliments about how good I look since I discovered how strong I am than when I was the skinny girl. There is nothing like the joy of discovering what we can do with our own bodies besides look nice. That confidence reflects in all aspects of our lives and provides a sexiness that flat abs never will. On the other hand, it’s provided me with an ass I never knew I had.

  58. Friday June 4th, 2010 « I just wanna tell you this one thing… says:

    June 3rd, 2010at 10:02 pm(#)

    [...] Reading Row Better What’s Eating You? Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Mission Of The Day 11 Aug09*CrossFit 4 Sports*FOD [...]

  59. Nicole says:

    June 13th, 2010at 7:43 pm(#)

    Words can’t even DEFINE the awesomeness of this piece!! I have struggled for 8 years with anorexia brought on by the very things you wrote about, and fell victim to the very traps you spoke of. Well said, well written, I was beyond moved!

  60. Kathleen says:

    June 16th, 2010at 4:32 am(#)

    Wonderful post. Truly. Thank you.

    I am about to turn 55 and can tell you, firsthand, the results of spending many years striving for “perfection.” I have hypothyroid issues (probably requiring meds for the rest of my life) as well as adrenal fatigue (I’m taking natural hydrocortisone to try to rest the adrenal glands until I’ll get weaned off of that, HOPING they will start functioning properly).

    Adrenal fatigue (aka adrenal burnout) is no fun. Krista, a single workout can send me to bed with exhaustion. I have difficulty handling stress of any kind. Now, when I need the energy most to rev up my career, it’s a daily battle.

    How’d I do it?! I overtrained and overdieted! For years. I’d diet ferociously for 13 weeks, only to end up in an all-out binge that I had trouble recovering from. I took thermogenics, often on a daily basis (remember Ultimate Orange, Ripped Fuel, Diet Fuel?). I did, 5-6 days a week, 45 minutes of intense weight training followed by another 45 minutes of demanding cardio.

    The magazines only want to talk about the “healthy lifestyle,” but I know the other side. Taken to extreme, it’s flat-out unhealthy.

  61. Kelly says:

    July 31st, 2010at 10:38 am(#)

    Awesome post! So though-provoking and motivating. Thank you for this, Krista. Your site never ceases to inspire me.

  62. Megan says:

    August 2nd, 2010at 12:52 pm(#)

    This was an amazing post. I’m no fitness guru but I’ve had my share of trouble with food/exercise and with being a pretty hateful bitch to my body.

    This mindset, this relationship that you talk about between food and mind and health and body, is my dream. I have my moments now and then – after a year of very little exercise I’ve been slowly working my way back up to where I used to be. Played a hard hour of ultimate yesterday and was practically high on the feeling. It was so good to sprint, cut, throw, all of which I can do because I’m eating well and exercising reasonably and taking better care of myself, so I’m getting strong again.

    Thanks for this post. When I start to lose sight of the positives and fall back into the old habits, it’s things like this that help me get back on track.

  63. JoAnne says:

    August 2nd, 2010at 12:58 pm(#)

    WOW. Amazing post. Spot on and well written. I needed to read this in 2005!! If I had only stopped at 10 lbs from goal (vanity pounds really!) and appreciated and seen how truly fit and healthy I was AND been grateful. I have no doubt now that the horrific rebound and resulting metabolic damage could have been avoided. Thank you for writing this!

  64. Courtney says:

    September 30th, 2010at 8:33 am(#)

    Methinks I have a problem. To be happiest with what I’m eating, I can’t lose any weight — I have to be able to go out with friends and enjoy my dessert and actually bum around the house when I’m not overloaded with college homework. But to become happy with my appearance, I’d have to ditch any spare food, work out twice as hard, and pretty much give up a lot of fun stuff so I could lose the stubborn “wintry European farm woman” body fat plan my body seems to have. For the record, I’m at a healthy weight right now for my height, and am somewhat in shape (not “running miles”, but far above “couch potato.”)

    …How does one reconcile this kind of thing?

  65. Mistress Krista says:

    September 30th, 2010at 12:07 pm(#)

    @Courtney: You recognize your situation, to begin with, as one of life’s contradictions. You make a list of your priorities and values, and live authentically in congruence with them. You also explore the possibility that your notion of what has to be “sacrificed” may, in effect, be incorrect — a denial/restriction-based paradigm is not wellness… nor is it always accurate for how lean people actually live.

  66. Nothing But Heels and Hair | Fowl Play says:

    November 22nd, 2010at 1:46 pm(#)

    [...] on the unreality of Photoshopped images, check out this post by the awesome Krista Scott-Dixon of stumptuous.com. This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. ← Laughter Makes You [...]

  67. Kathleen says:

    December 22nd, 2010at 4:10 pm(#)

    holy god. this post is utter and complete genius of the highest order. Just stumbled on your blog and WOAH….really enjoying myself.

  68. Merci says:

    January 22nd, 2011at 2:43 pm(#)

    Thank you so much for writing this. I’m 18 now, and I remember just two years ago becoming interested in my health and image. My whole family struggles with obesity, disordered eating and diabetes. Before, I laughed and joked and boasted about my extreme curvaceousness (at my heaviest weight that I measured, I was 180 lbs, and I am 5’8″ on a good day). I never, ever felt bad about eating ice cream or cake. I ate as much as I wanted, when I wanted. When I started to really exercise and be more careful about what I ate, at first I was so, so happy. I was proud of how strong I had gotten. I remember the day I weighed myself in the morning and was under 163 lbs, which I’d been plateaued at for months. I felt so proud that I had come so far.
    But the exact same thing you wrote about with health-obsessed people started to happen to me. After that breakthrough, I got more and more anxious about my weight. I started to get so depressed and upset about my body image, which had always been very positive before. In the end, I never did get quite down to my goal weight, because I gave up 5 lbs from my goal when I realized: I was fucking miserable! I had wanted to lose weight because I wanted to feel better, not worse!
    It’s taken me a full year to recover from the psychic distress I had then, and I’ve gained a lot of the weight back (172 today). But I’m also newly determined to lose the weight again and keep it off, because I want to. I’m not going straight to dieting; I’m going to make smaller changes that are easier to maintain in college. So thanks, for keeping a sister grounded.

  69. Road Warrior says:

    February 27th, 2011at 11:30 am(#)

    Great inspirational thoughts but what’s with the big body image conspiracy perpetrated by mass media? There are indeed plenty of non-airbrushed, lean, fit, healthy humans on the planet. A healthy weight is attainable but ranting about body image conspiracy sounds too much like an excuse and justification for being obese.

    Bottom line, and you’re not going to like this. Less than 3% of the obese population suffer from a medical condition responsible for their obesity. Couple things to keep in mind:

    1 – Gluttony and sloth will make you fat, unhealthy, and more likely to die before your time.
    2 – You don’t have to prove anything to anyone but yourself
    3 – You have an obligation to take care of your body so you don’t become a burden to yourself, family, and society.
    4 – Fast food, processed food, big agriculture is not making you fat; gluttony and sloth are making you fat.

    For the record, I am a triathlete and have been a serious athlete since my early teens. Neither of my parents were particularly hardcore but they did introduce me to golf and tennis at an early age. However, like most kids growing up in the 70s I spent my time playing outdoors, doing chores and homework. Limited TV, no Internet (didn’t have a choice) so all of us were lean, wiry kids. Boys and girls of my era spent their days on bikes, climbing trees, and coming home with skinned knees and elbows from stunts and crashes.

    Krista you are 100% correct that we all need to return to the joy of play and physical activity we had as kids. Just like chopping wood or shoveling a snowy sidewalk energizes, so does exercise. Do what you love, take joy in the power of your body, and stop making excuses.

  70. simma says:

    February 27th, 2011at 7:38 pm(#)

    RoadWarrior, you’re missing the point on a couple of levels.

    A) Krista isn’t even talking about weight here so much as images of bodily perfection. Those lean, sculpted, real-life bodies do exist, but they are, for one, very rare (I know many lifelong athletes who are very good at their sport and who look athletic, but look more like normal people than they look like fitness models). But even as rare as they are, they have skin that puckers and rolls around tight clothing, stretch marks, wrinkles, big veins, bruises, discolorations, calluses, etc. Krista is just pointing out that the images sold to us are impossible to achieve for almost everybody, because those images are not real.

    B) Blaming gluttony and sloth without being honest about what actually makes people fat is exactly what got us here. If you think overweight people lack the motivation to become thin, then you’re sadly lacking in empathy, compassion, and the ability to imagine the world through any point of view but your own.

    The reason people are fat is precisely because of the old “move more, eat less” simplification in combination with the terrible dietary advice that the public is getting from the government and from the medical establishment. They’re basically being told to eat a diet that increases hunger and maximizes fat storage (and increased fat stores then start a vicious cycle, as increased fat itself is hormonally active in a way that makes fat deposition easier and throw off appetite control). They’re told that they need to exercise–which doesn’t work unless their dietary issues are under control. And eating a low-fat, rich-in-whole-grains diet is the worst possible advice for a great many people.

    Your puritanical point of view doesn’t solve any problems, by the way–it just helps you shame people. Too many fat people already hate themselves and judge themselves to be gluttonous and slothful. Guess what? That hasn’t helped them lose fat. What would help them lose fat would be the acknowledgment that the institutions that have been claiming to have the solutions to their problem have been dead wrong, and that a different approach is needed.

  71. Ellen says:

    April 7th, 2011at 4:41 pm(#)

    yay! so happy i found this site and these rants.

    so rare to find this combination of knowledge, insight, and inspiration. yay for feminist fitness.

    “Hello, 1985 called, they want their feminist media analysis back.” love.

  72. Moving Toward Health, Not Obsession « Zoe Winters, Paranormal Romance Author says:

    June 23rd, 2011at 6:47 am(#)

    [...] Sorry for the double-posty-ness today. But I thought this was something that should be talked about. I was just reading a great post/rant called: What’s Eating You. [...]


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