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  • Is it even OK to want to lose weight anymore?

    I ❤️️ this kid so much. 

    IDK how you feel about this Dutch youth-about-town. I am IN LOVE with him; not even kidding. I want to pinch him and hug him and tell him how adorable he is.

    From the entry on the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam) website, I learned this: Like his father, the twenty-year-old Gerard Bicker is portrayed as self-assured, his arm akimbo. The striking differences in the garments worn by father and son confirm that they are from different generations. While his father Andries is dressed in dignified black clothing with an old-fashioned ruff, Gerard wears a colourful and showy outfit with a flat collar and elegant gloves. Gerard was not awarded as many key administrative positions in Amsterdam.

    Maybe it was his saucy fashion sense?

    Or maybe it was fat phobia.

    Fat phobia is something I think about a fair bit, because a lot of us have suffered its* effects, of which restricted access to "key administrative positions" are only one documented result. (*And I say "its" as if fat phobia is just floating untethered out there and might randomly knock us over, when, really, fat phobia is people.)

    Fat phobia and fat shaming do only harm. Prejudice and hatred are downright terrible ways to fuel change. They don't work. I am glad there are people in this world pushing back on fat hatred and phobia, and fighting for equal access to health care, work and other opportunities.

    Here's the thing though: As adorable as I find Gerard Bicker, and as much I think he and any other fat person on earth deserves love and respect for no reason at all, I don't think he looks very comfortable. I imagine he was not so healthy.

    And so I can't align myself with things like Health at Every Size (HAES), which is one of the most public ways people are responding to fat phobia. The contradiction is right in the name. Would any of us say that a woman so thin she doesn't menstruate is healthy? Health is clearly not possible at every size.

    We live in a world that's never going to praise us for our looks faster than it will tear us down - ask anyone from your mother to Madonna to Leslie Jones to Elton John. This is a world of unforgiving beauty standards, which is always drawing the veil of "health" over its obsession with thinness. We're right to be suspicious when claims like "I'm only concerned for your health!" are made.

    But what about those of us who are clear that health, weight and beauty are all different things? What about those of us who aren't seeking approval or trying to meet frankly impossible "norms" but are actually having a physical, self-contained experience of not feeling all that great in our body because we can feel it's really too big? 

    How can we feel okay about honestly wanting to shed some weight? How do we go about taking care of ourselves and our weight without feeling - and looking - like we're knuckling under to fat phobia and diet mania and compulsory weight limits and just plain mean people? Like we just let the world knock us down and keep us down? 

    Well, one way I like to do that is to never ever talk about what I eat and whyunless someone asks me first. And they need to ask because they're looking to help themselves, not me. If there were even a whiff of "concern over my health," I would shut that down so fast - although it's been years since anyone's had the nerve, and I doubt that's solely because of my now-normal weight.

    And this is one reason why I love the idea of EATING MEALS so damn much: you never have to talk about it. It's the stealthiest thing in the world! (I meannnnn. The main reason I love meals is that eating meals is the fastest, easiest way to stop disordered eating and start losing some weight.)

    I would certainly never ever offer a preemptive apology for eating. Hello, my name is Max, and I'm an ANIMAL! Animals EAT! Frequently, if the environment allows. So if anyone needed to talk to me about the crazy, crazy act of eating, I would be ready with a clapback.

    Oh does this seem like a lot? You should have seen what I had for breakfast, if you think this is a lot!

    That kind of talk, it just sounds like sovereignty. People recognize it - bullies clock it especially quickly - and before you know it, they just start looking for softer targets. It's quite predictable.

    So if you decide you never have to justify or apologize for eating, well then you're ipso facto eating for yourself. And if you eat for yourself, and just give your body what it needs, it will give you back what you need. Beauty standards and self-hatred are nowhere in this picture. You get to feel yourself - from the inside - instead of trying to control what you eat so you can control the size of your body so you can control how people treat you so you can feel okay. 

    You just already feel okay.

    So! That makes this a few thoughts on a very big matter. People like Susie Orbach and Lindy West and Roxane Gay have written whole books on this topic, and there's much to talk about. I'd really love to hear what you think about it. Just hit Reply. 



    * You know, I'm not actually sure that Gerard would have suffered from fat-shaming back in the day 1642. Beauty standards, obviously, are not fixed throughout history. They've seldom been more narrow than they are now, though.

    PS  New program: Body of Knowledge Weekly, aka accountability for sovereign adults. It started this week and 50 of you are having fun already with it. See all the details here, and if you're looking to make habit change easy this year, join us.

    Image: Portrait of Gerard Andriesz Bicker, Bartholomeus van der Helst, c. 1642, Rijksmuseum. Used with permission.

  • Accountability: Not the same as a bad boss

    The complicated meanings of weight loss.

    The above is what I want to talk about next week, when we return to our normal schedule. I am really keen to have a conversation about what it means to lose weight or want to lose weight in a culture of fat-shaming and rigid beauty standards. And I'm especially curious to hear what you are thinking. If you're also already contemplating these contradictions, hit me. I'm all ears.

    And if you're one of the many new people here this week, greetings! Super happy to have you.

    Accountability is not like babysitting.

    Sometimes when we hear that word "accountability" it reminds us of bad bosses, cumbersome goal-setting, stupid software and above all stuff we never wanted to do in the first place. Burdens.

    BODY OF KNOWLEDGE WEEKLY IS NOT LIKE THAT.

    This kind of accountability program is a partnership between sovereign adults. Thus, you will be using it to report on what's happening with the actions you most want to take, the habits you most want to cultivate and the outcomes you most want to see in your life.

    It's VERY WORTH DOING. This is a lightweight, near-magical process with a supportive, approving partner <- that's me. It should pay you back ten-fold, at least.

    The complete details are here. If you read that and have a question that isn't answered there, just contact me and ask away. I will get back to you quickly.

  • Accountability program details

    Body of Knowledge Weekly


    Many of you have asked for help with accountability over the years. AND IT'S TIME!

    As I am always saying, undoing a habit of binge eating can be quickly broken by giving yourself structure and freedom in the form of generous meals.

    I have seen this over and over and OVER. Women who binged daily for decades stopping after one session.

    And then they rode off on a bicycle through the French countryside with a baguette and a bunch of lavender in their basket < well NOT EXACTLY.

    No, what actually happens is they have to reinforce the new habit. Preferably with support.

    Then they discover other habits, second-cousin habits to the binge habit. Things like speed eating or too much sugar. They're ready to break those, too.

    They also find out they need and want to build new habits. Habits that support health and happiness and fitness and are 1000x BETTER THAN DONUTS IN EVERY WAY.

    And these things - replacing an entire set of habitual structures and losing some weight, if you're here for that - are not done overnight. But you can definitely shorten the time you spend if you get some support.

    So that's what I've got for you this week: A year-long accountability support program. All the details and sign-up here, or read on.

    Details (short version)

    It looks like this:  Once a week, on Friday (Saturday if you’re in Asia), you’ll get an email from me with some ideas for making habit change easier and more permanent. It WON’T take long to read. It WILL make your life better, because I will write with proven tips, shortcuts, solid research (and humor) to make you and your body happy.

    I will also ask you every week what's been happening. You'll tell me what you did over the week, and what you want to do over the coming week, and anything else you need help with.

    I will respond - to you, personally - and that is the simple process that brings your odds of success to 95% < AS CLOSE TO A GUARANTEE AS WE CAN GET.*

    Important to know: This program is personal and confidential. Obviously, everything between us stays between us. You should also know that you will never be judged, rated, graded or scolded. I run a very supportive program, no matter what.

    And everything that happens is learning. Everything that results is data. NO EFFORT WILL BE WASTED.

    And by the end of the year, you're going to have a mind-blowing record of accomplishment, momentum and UNBELIEVABLE CHANGE. So much more than if you'd continued to sort of think about changing. Details (complete version) and sign-up here.

  • The problem we CAN solve

    I’ve heard from a few more of you about current events this past week. One person said “You assumed I share your politics.”

    Quite the opposite! I assume we DON’T all have the same politics. I mean, I support Universal Basic Income.* I may be a bit nutty, but not so nutty as to assume that all 1,000+ of you do too.

    I DO assume we share some important values though. 

    I assume we share the value of sovereignty for women: autonomy, safety, opportunity, dignity and full humanity.

    I assume all of us want freedom from food and weight obsession as well as from the diet culture that fuels them.

    And because I have spoken with so many of you, I know we all value courtesy and kindness and generosity.

    And that is more than enough to be going on together with. So let’s keep going because we can't solve all the world's issues this week, but we CAN solve our eating problems, and we can actually do that rather quickly.

    Could you use some 1:1 coaching?

    Because maybe you're not the group type. Maybe you would prefer me all to yourself. Plenty do.

    See all the details here, and if it sounds like what you're looking for, hit Reply and let me know. We'll make a date to have a phone chat and make sure we're a good fit for each other.

    I'll say it again: BECOMING A NORMAL EATER is so much quicker and easier than we're told.

  • Every time we say Yes to something, we make it easier to say Yes the next time.

    Yes, and...

    A good friend has that phrase,Yes, and, tattooed on his inner wrist where he can see it. It's a reminder of how to approach life. It’s like the opposite of "Yeah, but..."

    For a habitual overeater, though, it’s a good reminder about choice. No Yes is a simple Yes. Yes is always Yes to this, AND its consequences.

    If I say Yes to chocolate cake for breakfast (a choice I have made on several occasions not limited to the day after my birthday), I am saying Yes to cake, AND probably Yes to a desire for more cake at lunch. Maybe I will say No to cake at lunch, but mostly I'd rather not have the discussion at all.

    I know I am also saying Yes to the temptation to say “screw it, I’m just gonna skip the salad and go straight to the cake” at lunch. Then I would be saying Yes to feeling sick, AND Yes to not wanting to work out or even take my walk.

    Maybe I'd be saying Yes to skipping dinner because I never want to eat again ever AND thus Yes to feeling like a slug the next day AND Yes to making it that much easier to say Yes to cake! for breakfast. Again. 

    And if it’s the 8th time this month I’m saying Yes to cake for breakfast, I’m DEFINITELY saying Yes to extra weight.

    And if it’s the 86th time this year, I’m saying Yes to increased risk of diabetes and some other health problems. 

    Freedom and sovereignty are crucial to overcoming overeating. We have to be able to say Yes in order to say No, or else we’re just caught in a cycle of rebellion and restriction. (Much like diets.)

    But we also have to know, fully, what we’re saying Yes to, since every time we say Yes to something, we make it easier to say Yes to it the next time.

    BECAUSE THAT'S HOW HABITS WORK.

    So I want to ask am I saying Yes to normal eating, or Yes to disorderedeating? What am I building for myself here?

    Image: Family Group near a Harpsichord (detail), Cornelis Troost, 1739, Rijksmuseum. Used with permission.

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