Episode #74: Breaking the Chains of Fatphobia (Part One)
In this first of two interview episodes with Kate Brosnan, a weight neutral, non diet, registered dietician, Kate shares about the journey she has been on as a mother and dietician who realized that the beliefs and behaviors about food she was passing down to her daughter were having unintended consequences. Fatphobia is a harmful, socially acceptable form of discrimination that is keeping many of us stuck in unhealthy and sometimes dangerous behaviors. And we are passing these beliefs down to the next generation. After we recorded this interview, I had the opportunity to use some of the language and perspective that Kate shared with me in a tough conversation with one of my kiddos (who was in tears over body shame) and I want you to know that I felt so much more equipped to have this conversation in a supportive way. You may be surprised by what you learn in this episode.
Welcome to the Freedom from Empty Podcast, building strong, effective resilient leaders and humans. My name is Booth Andrews, and I'm your host. Thank you so much for joining me for this episode.
Today, I am so excited to welcome Kate Brosnan to the podcast. Kate is a weight neutral, non diet, registered dietician, specializing in helping families relax about what their kids will and will not eat with expertise, humor, and a whole lot of compassion.
She uses evidence-based practices to work on eating competence, confidence, and body image for children of all ages and their families. So I first met Kate at a CrossFit gym circa 2010 ish. And we've reconnected a few times over the years. Several months ago Kate reached out to me to let me know that she [00:01:00] was expanding her practice and this is some text from the email she sent to me. I think it sheds some light on why I felt like Kate would be a great fit for my listeners. And this is from her: "I specialize in working with individuals on healing their relationship to food from a non diet, weight neutral perspective, helping them unpack their existing and often disordered food rules and learn to nourish their body in a sustainable way that honors their unique needs and preferences rather than adhering to a set of external rules. I also love working with parents who want to explore their own food issues and break the cycle of disordered eating for their children." As we record this, we do anticipate that this conversation might stretch into more than one episode because when we spoke, we had so many things to say on this topic, but we'll get started and we'll see how it goes.
And we'll let you know, I guess when the podcast gets published, we'll let you [00:02:00] know if it's one or two episodes. So welcome to the podcast, Kate.
Kate: Thank you.
Booth: I'm really thrilled that you're here. To get us started, would you share with the audience just a little bit about yourself and the work that you do?
Kate: I am a dietician, uh, as you mentioned, and the path that I have taken to, what I currently do is very, very long and winding.
And I actually, I started working in a clinical practice back when I graduated and I absolutely loved it. I worked in an ICU setting and I thought it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. And then, my husband graduated and, uh, life took us to Hawaii and there were no clinical jobs open. And so I did what many dieticians do early in their career.
I went to work for WIC, which stands for women, infants and children. It's a supplemental nutrition program. And, um, I, uh, thought I was going to hate it and I absolutely ended up loving it. And that actually planted the seeds for what I do today. When I [00:03:00] was there, I was introduced to one of the more seasoned dieticians that.
Introduced me to the work of Ellyn Satter and she is a childhood feeding expert because at that point I did not have children and I had focused mostly on adults up until that point. So I really needed a crash course in learning about children's nutrition and her Ellyn Satter's method of approaching, uh, nutrition and feeding littles was higher on eating pleasure and establishing, eating autonomy, and building eating competence and it was less about controlled eating and it was also probably my first introduction to size diversity that I had ever experienced.
As most dieticians who have evolved their thinking from a more weight centric approach to a more weight, neutral approach will tell you I learned about it and I thought this is great, but it hit my weight centric brain and it kind of absorbed some of it and then I left the rest because we moved back to the mainland and I went back to working in clinical practice. Fast forward and I have my daughter [00:04:00] who is now nine and a half. And I decided I did not want to go back to working in a hospital setting.
I did not want to do every third weekend. I did not want to do holidays anymore. I took some time off to decide what I was going to do as she was progressing through the toddler stage and introducing solids, I really came back to a lot of the Ellyn Satter work. However, I was kind of straddling both.
Sides of the line. I was trying to implement some of her more relaxed approach to eating in a very, very, very structured, uh, paradigm that I had been trained in and that I was familiar with. And so, uh, as my daughter got to be a little bit older, I noticed she was exhibiting a lot of the signs of a child who was being restricted.
And that stopped me in my tracks because I was a highly restricted child and I had years and years of my own food and body issues. And I thought, wait a minute, I can't pass this onto her. I'm a [00:05:00] dietician. What am I doing? How am I still missing the mark? I really spent the next two to three years dedicating my life, besides from raising our daughter to relearning everything I had ever known about nutrition. It has been a rocky and winding journey, but it has been so beautiful because I now, she has a completely relaxed relationship with food. I had to work on relaxing my relationship with food and improving that.
And really, I can say that we, as a family, things are just so much better in every department, because really once you start to eat more intuitively you kind of start to live more intuitively, but that brought me to where I am today. And I thought if I could fall for these messages, if I had been taught the a better way to do it, and I still got wrapped up in wellness culture and diet culture, and this is my profession. I just felt so compelled to help other parents out and help them see that things that they're taught are not always [00:06:00] correct the way that they're approaching things. The one thing I learned at WIC, and I'll never forget this was, I noticed that there are moms that the minute they found out they were pregnant, they would stop smoking.
And do you want to talk about something that is so, so, so hard to do because there's a physical addiction part of it, it was stop smoking and then they would come in for their six week postpartum checkup and they had started smoking again. And I remember I talked to one of the other dieticians about it and said, I don't understand.
Uh, woman will do anything for her child. And granted, you know, probably should have laid off the cigarettes for her newborn child too. But the point was that doing something so hard, like giving up cigarettes is something that a mother will do. And so when a mother, when faced with doing something better for her child will really do anything.
And these are, I work with a lot of parents who want to do the right thing and oftentimes they think they're doing the right thing and I can see it starting to backfire. And it's a great population to work with because I'm able to really help stop break that cycle of disordered eating and diet culture and stop it [00:07:00] from being passed on to the next generation.
Booth: As you talk, I'm reflecting a little bit about just kind of my own journey growing up and where I have seen my own children struggle running into cultural norms and cultural expectations. And also even in times where I've tried to maybe send a different message and I'm not sure I've done it well. Diving further in, let's really talk about the elephant in the room, which is the perfect metaphor in this particular moment. What is fatphobia?
Kate: Fatphobia literally, you can break it down. It is a fear of being fat. It can be internal. So it can be something that we ourselves generally, as humans living in the society that we do, we are told that fat is bad and we do not want to be fat.
We are told that it's a sign of laziness, lack of control, lack of discipline. And we get those messages from society around us, from other people. It's like a layer of fatphobia. We feel it towards ourselves. And that applies to really [00:08:00] people across the size spectrum. People who are in smaller bodies might be exhibiting incredibly disordered habits underneath the surface.
Or behind the Instagram camera that you can't see to maintain that body that might not be a natural body for them, because they are deathly afraid of gaining weight of becoming fat because of what society tells us that means. And then it's really perpetuated by diet culture telling us that we can always lose those next couple of pounds.
And that's, that's even fallen out of favor recently. And now it's more like, oh, it's, it's not a diet. These are lifestyle changes you can make, but they always require some sort of caloric input and weight loss goal. I'm talking about something that runs with zoom begins with and "n". It's something that we judge ourselves for any sort of, for weight gain and society, judges, us for weight gain, and then other people can also can judge you for your size.
And so much of it is where does [00:09:00] your judgment end and other people's begin, you know? And are they judging you because they're more afraid of getting fat. So we just have this, we have this general fear as a culture of fatness and what it represents and really it's understandable why we have this fear of that because of what we're told it means.
Booth: Well, and I think there's even some statistics and I should've pulled these before the podcast, just in relationship to, like even advancement opportunities within careers being related to or affected by people's perception of weight, like of a job applicant or someone who's maybe up for advancement. So how is this culture harming us? How has fatphobia harming us? How's it harming our children?
Kate: Before I answer that, it's really interesting that you brought up work like job applications because I've often heard it referred to as weight discrimination is kind of the last quote-unquote acceptable discrimination. You know, now there's so much more awareness now around gender [00:10:00] discrimination and racial discrimination, but I'm a crazy consumer of podcasts.
And I can't tell you the number of times I will listen to something that is podcasts that might be typically talking about something really progressive in, in politics or in breaking down some, some discrimination barriers that we've had and then there's a diet ad in it and talking about how maybe you just want to tone up a little bit and it's just so pervasive that weight discrimination that's still considered acceptable.
And that's maybe because we think that people should do it for their health or we're just concerned about people. And so that is really interesting. I wanted to bring that up when you mentioned about job application, because the one thing that I think about is companies with like a non-descriminatory policy, but yet weight, although they can't necessarily say we're not, you know, someone might not necessarily say, we're not going to hire you because you're overweight.
That's not something that's necessarily done. But how many of us discriminate against somebody because of their size or paint them with a brush in our mind? So something about them, what are some of their [00:11:00] characteristics because of their size.
Booth: You and I talked about this a little bit pre podcast. It's not that, we know that people are experiencing discrimination of all forms every day, and fatphobia isn't something that's getting called out very often.
Kate: It's not even just that it's not being called out. It's still widely accepted.
Booth: So how is it harming us?
Kate: It's harming us in so many ways. I think one of the biggest things it does, especially for women, it keeps our focus on our body size.
The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf, a book that I actually didn't overly enjoy, but this quotation just sums it up. Everyone. I'm pretty sure I can attribute to that book is that a dieting is one of the most powerful sedative, uh, political sedatives for women, especially for high achieving women. And it's interesting because when our brains are so focused on our body size, it keeps our world so small.
So not only that, not only does it keep us preoccupied and takes up so much more mental space than so many other [00:12:00] way more important things in our life. And not to say that health is not cannot be important to somebody, but I think. It is up to that person. You know, I don't think health is a moral imperative for everybody to think that is one of their top concerns.
Not only does it keeps people preoccupied, but it also, it kind of adds this level of achievement. Like it gives us a standard that most of us will never be able to achieve, and if we don't achieve it, there's no talk of that not everybody can achieve it genetically. And there's no talk of what people have to do, who actually are some of the very, very small number of people who can maintain that sort of beauty and body ideal, what they're doing to it to achieve it.
It keeps us trying to do something that when we fail, the blame is pinned on us. Like, oh, we just didn't have enough. Uh, we just weren't motivated enough. We were just, not enough willpower. If I could just eradicate the word willpower [00:13:00] from the lexicon that would be great. And so, again, it's something telling us we're not enough when we did not fail the diet.
If you fail at a diet, your body and quote unquote fails, most people would view failing at a diet as not losing weight or regaining weight or your body actually functioned the way it was supposed to. It resisted intentional restriction. Our bodies are designed to do that. So, so you can see how this becomes a vicious cycle.
We're told that we're not good enough because we're not able to do something that our bodies are designed to not be able to do consistently. And then our answer is why just didn't try hard enough. So I'm going to try harder. I'm going to try something else. And pretty soon you're looking at the carb content of beets wondering if you can have it on your keto diet. And it's like, that's so far from where we need to be. Those are the two biggest things, it keeps us distracted and that it keeps us feeling like we're not enough. And then, even worse, [00:14:00] we pass it onto our children and we don't mean to, but we are swimming in that culture.
And even if we have a completely open and free of fatphobia home, our children are still going to get it from society at large. And so the best thing you can do is to try to root it out in your own home and your own lives and call it out so that your children don't grow up in a world thinking that's normal, you know, calling out like, oh, this woman is out on the cover of this magazine.
Do you know that they actually change the pictures with a computer to make their body parts look smaller or bigger? And I told my daughter that for the first time, and we read a book about it and her eyes got wide and now she'll point it out at the grocery store. Like, "I don't even know if that's real" and then she'll just completely go on to something else and ask me about if we're going to, you know, watch Frozen Two or something.
And it's so nice to know that it hasn't really rooted itself in her yet, but I still want to make sure she's aware of it so that she knows she doesn't have to [00:15:00] participate in it.
Booth: Yeah. So what would you suggest a parent say to a child who either says somebody called me fat or I'm fat.
Kate: This is so hard. It's so hard.
I will tell you that this is something that I can read, what every expert says in the book. And whatever expert will start out with is this is hard because. We can tell them til we're blue in the face, that being fat is just a neutral descriptor. And I use the word as a neutral descriptor and that's sometimes even feels like f-f-f-f.
Sometimes I struggle to get the word out because when I was growing up, I mean, and for most of us, it's one of the worst insults you can say to anybody. And so I've tried to bring it back just as a neutral descriptor, the same way you would say somebody is tall or the same way you would say somebody has a size nine shoe.
[00:16:00] Something just very neutral. Like you were born with it. This is the size of foot you are. Nobody's going to try to make your feet smaller. The first thing I would offer any parent who experiences that is a wagon full of compassion, because it's not easy.
I think maybe starting out with what not to say, because I think a lot of parents will first go to, you're not fat. You're beautiful. Okay. I get it. I get why our brains go there. And what you're telling your child is, fat and beautiful are opposites, and that is not the direction we want to be going. And I don't think that's what parents mean, but a lot of times parents are coming with their own baggage of being called fat when they were little, maybe even later, maybe they are adult an adult in a larger body.
That is very, very tough to handle. But obviously one of the number one things to say is not shy away from it. And just say like, no, you're not. Because then if you, even, if you say that the child thinks, oh, is being fat, bad, it's meant as [00:17:00] an insult when it's hurled at your six year old on the playground, it's usually meant as an insult.
So we have, by the age that your child is really able to understand what it means, they've already been indoctrinated into the concept of being fat is there's something wrong with it. Any other neutral descriptor is different, but there's something about fat that you don't want to be called.
And then you have your parents, well-meaning parents actually reinforce that attitude. And then fatphobia continues. This has happened to me. And what I have found is address it, head on. And the first thing is say, what do you think that means? Or just try to get more information from them. Maybe just find out, find out what the situation was.
And meanwhile, you're, you're also buying yourself time to get them talking. If it's something that they really didn't care about, you don't necessarily want to go full court press into I'm going to make this a huge deal. And so [00:18:00] I usually try to ask a little bit more about the situation and then saying something along the lines of.
Your body is your body. You eat well. And you're growing at the rate and to the size that your body is supposed to be. And yeah, some people are going to be in bigger bodies and some people are going to be in smaller bodies. Everybody has different sized bodies. And then I usually rattled off a number of people in our world who just have different size bodies. I think the biggest thing is to promote size diversity. I don't always like to focus on just small or just larger, because I think it's really important for them because if you still, if you single out just larger bodies, I feel like they can still sense that you're singling them out for a reason. So talking about how different people have different body sizes. So that would be number one.
Number two, if it's a child, a young child who has yet to go through puberty, that also, I've definitely said. Right now, your body is going to go through so many changes. You're going to put more [00:19:00] fat on and then you're going to put more muscle on, and then you can put some more fat on then you're going to then put some bone on. Then you're going to put some fat on and just saying that everybody's body changes at different rates and you actually don't know what your adult body's going to look like. Chances are it's going to look something like daddy's and my body, because you're a product of us.
That can also kind of get a child warmed up to the idea of, oh, a lot of my body is inherited and I think that's something that a lot of people miss is that if you have a very tall and lanky father and a very tall and lanky mother, chances are you're going to produce a tall and lanky child. And sometimes not, but often that's the genetics will work.
So kind of linking it more to, oh, this is something I was born with a genetic body size and a weight range, kind of similarly to how I was born with an eye color. It's all just taking down the temperature on what that means. However, I do feel it's important to prepare your child that other people think have been taught [00:20:00] that having a body that isn't thin and tall and slender or whatever descriptor you want to use that that is what everybody needs to be. And so that people say that people comment on other people's bodies because they have been taught to believe that there's really only one acceptable way to have a body. And if they wanted to hurt your feelings, people have been taught that commenting on somebody's body size is a really easy way to hurt someone's feelings.
I think that if you don't share that with your kids, I think that that is kind of doing them a disservice because they need to know that that's the world we live in and it's unfortunate and they don't have to buy into it. But, and then I'll usually say, you know, that's kinda like making fun of somebody for having green eyes or making fun of somebody for having curly hair. And then they're like, I would never do that, you know? And so just try to dial the temperature down and make your body size just a little bit more neutral and. Everybody has very [00:21:00] different body sizes.
And it's the least interesting thing about you. People tend to focus on body size, but this person is really good at playing the violin. And this person is an excellent runner and this person is this, and this person has this. And I actually have, I have a file of really diverse body sizes of people in really diverse body sizes, doing all sorts of different things. So whether it's a pro surfer or, you know, an opera singer or Lizzo or someone, just people who are amazingly talented and their body size is like the last thing you think about them when you hear a song of theirs on the radio. I know that was a really, really long winded way of saying it, but there are just so many there's, it's so nuanced. And I think that it starts with what not to say and then what to say, and then also to discuss the elephant in the room of people do say it as an insult. And that's really sad. And I'm sorry that somebody commented on your body size and made you feel [00:22:00] bad and your body size is always going to be changing. The person who hurled that insult at you, their body size is going to be changing throughout their lives. Body sizes change.
I'm really sorry. Come and talk to me about that whenever you want to. If someone ever says that to you again. Let's think about all of the great qualities in ourselves and the people we love that have nothing to do with body size and just to kind of put body size in its place.
Booth: Well it's interesting, too, as I think about it. I mean, I was called short when I was young, but it made fun of for being short, but you're right, we don't make fun of people for their eye color or their shoe size or their height. And, and I think part of it is because we've also been taught and you already have said this earlier that the body size is something we should be able to control.
Booth: And then if we're not controlling it, then there's something wrong with us.
Booth: And you know, we're not going to make fun of somebody's eye color because we know they can't do anything about their eye color. I [00:23:00] mean, at least it doesn't hold on in the lexicon of playground, insults as much as body size does.
Kate: Right and it's not like we should make fun of somebody for anything that they could control, but it's a completely, you would never think to do that because our society hasn't put any value on like only green eyes. That just hasn't happened.
Booth: Excellent point we shouldn't make fun of the things people can control either. I wonder if that's part of the hook and that's part of the shame that then feeds into a lot of the, I think, hurtful and harmful eating behaviors. So I'd love to know, and you talked about, you know, you had to go through your own kind of unlearning journey. What has it been like to rewire your own beliefs around body size? And how would you help someone else do that as well?
Kate: I always come back to size diversity. I had a very traditional dietetics education and it was full of recommendations for weight loss. [00:24:00] And I think that was something that I'm really embarrassed to admit I did not know much about until I started going until I really started examining a lot of my own beliefs. And part of that is I have thin privilege. I am in a smaller body and I've always been in a smaller body. That's my genetic blueprint.
However, my issues started in pre-puberty when I went out before I went up and that is so common. And I actually, I saw this happen with my daughter and it was, it was such a good feeling to see it happening, knowing that I was going to protect this time for her, because that was the time that I was made to feel that my body was not okay.
And I had to watch it. If we could sum up the advice we got from other women and other generations, it would be, you have to watch it, even though it was really hard to examine my own issues while also changing how I was [00:25:00] parenting, that was like double trouble, but then I got to come through it and I got to see the fruits of my labor. And that was awesome.
And I think that keeping your eye on the prize of you do this to protect the next generation? I think that was one of the best things that helped me was, yes, you're doing this for you, but you're also doing this because you need to set a better example. So do you know when, you know, better do better favorite quote ever.
And so I knew better. And so I knew I had to do better. And I did. And that was just so satisfying knowing that, I mean, I am far from the perfect parent and I garble explanations of things like this that are difficult to have with your child and especially first pass. There, I mean, I can't even count the number of times that I've come back and said, so I didn't really explain this that well, and I realized I may have, I may have kind of led you astray.
Can I try again? And then she'll say like, sure. You know, so I don't, I don't want to give the impression that I know [00:26:00] what to say at all times, because I surely do not. Lots of trial and error. So I think that was something, if you can focus on healing also for the next generation, I think that is a wonderful motivator.
Also knowing that a lot of people aren't parents. That may not be a salient motivator for them. And so I think it's so individual, it depends on the person I'm talking to, but it could be, think of how much mental space you're going to free up. So freeing up so much more mental space, also just presenting the science to them.
And this really rings true with a lot of driven successful high-achieving women is that, they can respect the weight loss statistics and the science and weight science. And I think that also made sense to me was I needed to know that it wasn't failing. It was, this is not how our bodies are supposed to work. And so to me that really, that really fired up [00:27:00] the part of my brain that loves logic. And so that really helped me.
And then, you know, you have a lot of people who are dealing with the restricting their food or bingeing as an emotional response. Mine was most definitely part of that. And that definitely, you know, you need to bring a therapist on board and that's going to be a lot more nuanced. Does that kind of answered a little bit about? It's so varied and it's so individual about what helps individual people.
Booth: Is there an example you could give, obviously, without a name, like in a day to day, when someone is trying to recondition, reframe their beliefs around weight, and they have one of the many thoughts that our culture would promote, like I'm just fat and lazy.
How might they reframe that thought to be more constructive?
Kate: Often looking at their life circumstances and evaluating their stress levels and evaluating lots of other things. And maybe [00:28:00] their weight history. I don't focus on weight, but I always like to look at people's weight history, because I think it could tell us a lot about maybe how they deal with stress or was there a traumatic event where your weight fluctuated.
And so I think. Trying to take them out of the constant mental rollercoaster of like this didn't work because I wasn't enough, you know, fill in the blank or I gained weight in graduate school and now I'm trying to get it all off. And so really putting it in perspective of, well, your weight has tracked certain ways over the years. Let's understand that. And also work on accepting. Where your weight is now.
And I think one thing that really helps people is looking at a wide range of body types. We are inundated with the same body type, and it's a [00:29:00] little different from decade to decade, but now it's toned. And I hate that word. Now, it's great, if you ever watch music videos throughout the ages, you know, what is the female ideal? I mean, there's an eighties, there's the nineties, there's an aughts, and then now there's a tens and how it's cha-, slim has always been in there and now toned is just slim, but now you have to worry about building muscle too.
And so we're inundated with images of people that don't look like the average person. You know, when we do see pictures of people in larger bodies, their faces are blurred out and they're on like news headlines saying like new war on obesity research or something. And so that is just a complete knock to your self esteem.
When you only see the people who are in bodies that look like yours portrayed so negatively. So one thing I do is help people go through their, advise them to go through their social media and [00:30:00] really look at the images that they are projecting, that they are welcoming into their lives regularly. And then diversifying that.
So looking to different accounts and following people who look more like you and research has shown that that can really help with body image. Also just doing things to make you feel better in the body that you're in now. And I think something that, something that can feel very out of reach for people who are struggling with how their body looks is, they feel like they're faced with this binary choice.
And I understand why they feel like they're faced with it, but they feel like it's either body loathing. Or body love. And they are so far away from body love that there's no talk of the space in between. For better or worse, you're in the body that you're in. You may feel uncomfortable. You may not like your body right now.
Can we still take care of our bodies? Just talk the talk until you can walk the walk. So at [00:31:00] least just let's get to a point of being neutral about your body. Maybe make that the short-term goal. Like you don't have to look in the mirror and be like, I love the cellulite on my thighs, but maybe you can look in the mirror.
Maybe our goal is you look in the mirror and you think I have cellulite on my thighs, I don't really like the way that looks and it's time to go to work now. So let those thoughts marinate less in your brain and get to a point where, you know, you're focusing on other parts of your other parts of your life that you like.
Dressing in clothes that are comfortable. So every time you stand up, you're not reminded that you have jeans on that are too, well who wears jeans in a pandemic, you know, leggings that may not fit where you have to adjust the waistband, you know, get clothes that fit. And I know that that's a privileged thing to say there, you know, there are ways to do that now that don't involve spending a ton of money.
However, I do often suggest that to people that as they're dealing with a body, that they may not feel that comfortable in at [00:32:00] least work on taking care of it now. And. Oftentimes, there is a therapist on board and to discuss more of the maybe inherited and trauma related thoughts that may be in their history about their body size and maybe not.
But those are things that I think are just are actionable that can help someone start feeling better in their body. But knowing that body love maybe a long way away. And that's okay. Do you find this, like having your finger on the pulse of this a little bit, that makes people feel like the body positive movement just isn't for them because when you look up body positive, a lot of times you'll see really thin muscular women who were just happened to be bent over and have a little tummy roll.
And then it's, you know, talking about how body positive they are. And I can understand how that wouldn't ring true for somebody who is in a much larger body and they're thinking, well, of course you can be body positive. The world tells you that you can be body positive. What about [00:33:00] me? And so I do have so much compassion for people on that journey, but I think learning to at least if you can't love the body you're in, if you've even had a hard time, respecting the body you're in at least to start taking care of the body you're in.
And I think that can go a long way to feeling better and maybe help combating some of those thoughts of I'm lazy. I'm everything else, you know, and it is tough because I don't live in a bigger body. And a lot of times, by the time someone wants to work with me, they've actually accepted that their dieting life is so negative.
That they've kind of reached their breaking point. They no longer care if their body changes sizes, they just want to break free of the mental diet prison. And so I also find that that's pretty common.
Booth: From a healing perspective and just healing journeys in general, [00:34:00] anytime we can turn a gentle lens on ourselves, how can I take care of my body today? How can I take care of myself today? How can I be gentle and kind to myself today? There's healing that can happen in that space.
So it makes sense that kind of grounding in. You know, I may not love my body today, but how can I be kind to it today would be a really helpful framing of the conversation. So one of the other things you mentioned that, that people have found really helpful is just generally understanding how the body actually is supposed to work compared to how, what we may have been programmed to believe about how the body is supposed to work in terms of like weight and diet, kind of expand on that a little bit more.
Kate: Yes. So one of my absolute most favorite analogies is something called poodle science. It is taking something we all love dogs. Would you ever try to take a Chihuahua and [00:35:00] make them into a Great Dane? They're very different. Would you ever take a Great Dane and say, you need to look more like a Chihuahua. You would never do that.
We do that with humans all the time. We take someone who has maybe larger bone structure, more muscle. And maybe to go along with that, maybe they're just in a bigger body. There's you know more fat, more muscle, more tissue, more everything. And we say, no, no, but you need to fit into this box.
Or take somebody. And this happens with children, a lot, children who just happened to be petite. Somebody has to be on the third percentile of the growth curve and somebody has to be on the 99th. You know, it's, it's based on a literal lining up or a figurative lining up of a hundred children and someone's gotta be in each position. So there is natural size diversity. And I think we need to really wrap our minds around that, that what we see mostly in the media [00:36:00] again, are either people who are just naturally in what society deems as the ideal body.
Some people are truly that that is their natural body type. And some people are counting out their almonds and intermittent fasting for 18 hours a day to get there. And they're a mental train wreck behind the camera, but their body is probably breaking on the inside, but the picture that they're showing is that they are the quote unquote picture of health.
I think we need to realize that not everybody is going to look like that. And I know I keep coming back to this, but it took me a long time to realize this. And I, I know that it takes a lot of other people, a long time to realize it too. That's a great place to start.
When you start talking about why you can't you switch body shapes very easily. Everybody's body has a set weight range, and it's not necessarily a set weight point, which is like a, you know, a [00:37:00] single, a weight range of, you know, three pounds. It's probably closer to maybe about a weight range of about 15 pounds. It depends on so many things. It depends on bone density and muscle mass and how tall you are.
And it can also, our weight fluctuates very naturally during life. There are times when you may be in a, in a period where you're getting less exercise, maybe your weight goes up and then eventually, you know, it may go back down again. And so it's just, we're not really taught that this flux is normal.
Booth: I learned so much from Kate in this episode. And my conversation with Kate will continue in the next episode. So join us again as we learn to challenge some of our commonly held beliefs about the association between weight and health, weight stigma in healthcare, and the truth about weight cycling. We also spend time talking about the relationship between stress and weight and the dangers of applying hyper-performance behaviors to our attempts [00:38:00] to manage our weight.
Thank you for listening today. And if you haven't already, please hit subscribe and take a moment to rate this podcast wherever you listen to podcasts. When you subscribe and rate you help other people find this content. And if you missed out on the Well-being Challenge, sign up for the waitlist at boothandrews.com/wellbeingchallenge to be among the first to know when the challenge becomes available again. I hope you'll join us again. Next time.[00:39:00] .
Resources (from Kate)