Movement/Exercise

Disabilesity

Published 7.9.2017
The title of this post was taken from a new series at The CarbSane Asylum. The term combines disabled and obesity, and means being disabled by obesity. I want to comment on the series, but in greater depth (and more formatting) than would be possible in the comment section.

I think CarbSane is brave to state honestly that despite all her debunking over the years, she herself was still in denial about the health effects of being obese. She’d lost plenty of weight, then plateaued, as well as experienced some health effects that may have been due to the very low carb diet she’d been following. However, she was also strong and active, and generally felt healthy despite her obesity. Until, that is, her joints began to show the effects of carrying a significant amount of excess weight. There are genetic factors involved as well, but the excess weight certainly didn't help, as she admits.

If this series develops as I hope it will, this will be an important contribution to the discussion. Being physically active is essential, but if your current weight makes it dangerous for you to be active beyond a certain level, then your focus needs to be eating less to reduce the weight on your frame. I’ve lost over 30 pounds, which allows me to speak with experience about the weight loss process. However, I was never 100+ lbs overweight, and the bodily damage caused by my excess weight does not truly compare to the bodily damage of carrying over 100 lbs of excess weight on a skeleton not designed to do so.
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I recognize that all the methods I used, which incorporated increased physical activity from the get-go may not be an option for everyone. Certainly using the NIH calorie calculator to determine how much a human of the age, size and activity level you’d like to have needs to ingest will work for everyone. And I guarantee it will be less than what you’re eating currently.

Carbsane makes that point as well, but she still believes in having a diet phase followed by a maintenance phase. That’s where I disagree. I think the trouble for most dieters begins when they try and up their calories after completing the diet phase. Beginning as you mean to go on, in other words starting your diet at the ultimate maintenance level, means that there is no adjustment. You learn to eat at the level that will be required for the rest of your life— and it is less, sometimes much less than what you ate at your larger size.

I don’t care how you eat, whether low carb, high carb, whatever. The amount of energy in the form of food and drink is what determines your weight. If eating a low carb high fat diet allows you to do that, great. It’s not the plan for me because I don’t want to eat that way. If eating a high carb low fat diet allows you to do that, great. I don’t want to eat that way.

All that matters is the total amount of energy consumed. Sure, different diets will affect different people’s health differently, but every diet, “lifestyle change”, or “way of eating” that reduces your weight reduces the amount you consume— whether you count calories or not. Just because you don’t count them doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

For me, eating below my ultimate maintenance amount, as determined with the NIH’s calculator, which I have praised often before, was too restrictive. My weight loss is likely slower than someone cutting intake more aggressively, but once I realized that I needed to change the amount I eat for the rest of me life, I wanted to begin as I meant to go on. So I started ingesting (food and drink) the amount a lighter human female of my height and age should be ingesting, and my weight slowly adjusted.

Because I like to eat, I changed my sedentary habits to increase my non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) contribution to my personal energy balance, and (later) I also began to formally exercise more. That energy expenditure acts as a “hedge” against eating a bit more than my target. I don’t formally track anything, not calories ingested, nor calories expended. I did track calories for a bit initially to learn how much food my target calorie total represents.

In the second entry in the series, health at every size (HAES) gets a mention. Linda Bacon gets slammed, as she and the HAES movement should be. I was wondering if HAES would show up in the series. CarbSane has more bona fides when it comes to this, because she has been triple digits overweight.

I agree with the post, however I think calling HAES an oxymoron (as CarbSane does in the comments) is overly kind. HAES, as preached by its high priestess Bacon, is a lie. The body compensates for stresses and abuses visited upon it, until it cannot. Excess weight is absolutely a stress on the body, and absolutely affects health.

I’ve written about HAES previously, so I won’t go on too long here. There were good ideas in the original HAES concept, but Bacon and her followers (Baconites?) have perverted into fat acceptance. This shift (away from the original message of adopt healthy habits and let your body come to a natural weight— Bacon herself lost 30 pounds doing just that) to no weight loss at any time for any reason has caused rifts in the HAES movement.

The hard truth is that many of the loudest HAES voices suffer from a variety of health issues, most of which are exacerbated by their excess weight. it doesn’t matter that that thin people also suffer from the same afflictions. What matters is that maintaining excess body weight additionally stresses your body and makes whatever ails you worse. A HAES believer who begins to lose weight (and it can be done when following the original HAES precepts) and experiences health improvements is "called out" if she (and most HAES followers are female) celebrates that improved health.

I hope this series continues. As I think it's important reading, I will continue to highlight it.