ArtWalk + More Update

Well, I didn’t sell much – someone I know bought one pack of notecards, but it was still a really great experience! I got some great feedback on my artwork, which really made me feel good. It was nice to hear so many people say that they like my work. I’ll probably be at the other 3 ArtWalk events this season, so that’s exciting also!

In other news, I’m seeing a nutritionist who is recommending that I cut out all processed sugar from my diet. My doctor told me I have an insulin problem that I’ve probably had since I was born, so eating low-GI (glycemic index) foods is recommended. I’m pretty nervous about starting a different way of eating, because I have a tendency to be obsessive and overdo it. When this happens, I tend to develop a weight-centric focus and forget all other reasons to develop a healthy diet. I’m hoping that I can do this without that happening, because otherwise it will likely mess up my body-love progress I’ve been making.

On Saturday, the husband, doggie, and I went for a hike at Baker Lake – we probably hiked about 4 miles total. It was so beautiful and the hike was lovely. We turned around because the puppy was exhausted, and so was I…but we definitely plan on going again, possibly with camping gear! :)

Notecards!

I finally got my art website up and running – http://www.sarahstensbergart.com – and with the encouragement of a friend, I created an online store where you can purchase some of the body positive artwork I’ve been creating on photo notecards. That notecards are 5.5″ by 4″, and you can purchase 4, 8, or 16 (at least one of each design in each pack). Go to my website to look at them! :)

 

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3 Ways You Might Be Body Shaming – STOP IT!

1. “Oh my god, look at her! She looks like a slut!” – This is also called “slut shaming”, and it’s harmful. Why? Because it continues to reinforce negative stereotypes about women and sex. It reinforces the double standards we place on men and women in our society. STOP DOING IT.

2. “She’s so big. I hope I never get that big.” – This is also called “fat shaming”, and it’s something we’ve all been guilty of (I used to do it up until a few years ago when I learned what fat shaming is). It’s harmful. Why? Because when you fat shame someone, you are reinforces beauty and body ideals that can prevent someone from receiving adequate health care. You are preventing them from living comfortably in their own skin. You are actively working against movements that seek to equalize us all. STOP DOING IT.

3. “He looks and acts gay, so he must be gay.” – This is stereotyping by assuming that all people of a sexual orientation look and act the same way. This is wrong. Why? Because it perpetuates stereotypes about a group of people you know absolutely nothing about. It groups people together based on something personal like sexual orientation and takes on an often harmful meaning. STOP DOING IT.

No one should have to tell you that these things are wrong, but unfortunately there are many, many bloggers who dedicate their time and energy to educated the masses on this issue. Body shaming is wrong, no matter who you’re shaming or why. Shaming anyone for any reason is wrong. You may GENUINELY believe you’re being helpful, but you’re not. Slave owners weren’t helping when they imprisoned, raped, murdered, and abused thousands of African people. The Nazis weren’t helping when they rounded up and murdered millions of Jews. You’re not being helpful, either. You are damaging society as a whole, and perpetuating ideals that lead to hate crimes, eating disorders, and suicide. If you shame someone for any reason (yes, even you, concern trolls), you’re nothing but a bully.

I will leave you with this:

fatselfie_WM

 

Breakthrough…?

I’ve been reading Linda Bacon’s book, Health At Every Size. It is seriously one of the most powerful and incredible books I have ever read (so far) because it empowers us to take care of ourselves without all the hype. In her book, Linda discusses the importance of nutrition and exercise, but she emphasizes total body wellness, beginning with loving yourself. She believes that as you learn to love yourself as you are, your desire to take care of your body naturally increases. If you feel badly about yourself and your body, this can negatively impact your health.

The reason I mention all of this is because I think I had a breakthrough last night, an epiphany if you will. In chapter 8, Linda begins to explain how you can begin to love your body more, and part of that involves really analyzing your own thoughts and beliefs about your body. She explains that it is important to acknowledge that some of us may WANT to be fat in one way or another, because we use it as a protection. She uses the example that one of her clients was sexually abused as a child, and began gaining weight after the abuse occurred. The client realized that he used his fat to make himself seem ugly and unapproachable so that no one would hurt him. I met a woman once who went through something very similar – she gained weight after she was sexually abused. I agree with Linda that it is important to acknowledge these things, so I began to think about it some last night, and wrote the following in my journal:

“I realized that my weight helps me appear intimidating, non-commital, and standoffish. By seeming unapproachable, I’ve been successful in avoiding many personal relationships. And I’m able to blame some of that on my weight, thus continuing the cycle. My weight allows me to hide my intelligence, humor, strength, and many other things. But it also allows me to feel safe in a world that is oftentimes unpredictable. How convenient for me that I am able to say, “When you’re fat, people don’t mess with you as much.” It’s true, but it also limits me. I’m afraid to experience the world because I don’t want the judgment that comes along with it…and I think that would be true regardless of my size…but my weight makes the better excuse so that’s what I go with. It’s easier to say, “I’m fat and that’s why I don’t do this or that.” But the real truth is, “I don’t do this or that because I’m afraid of being notices, and afraid of being judged by my merit and personality.” I can change my physical appearance, supposedly, but I can’t change my core…my soul. What I most fear is that I’m a bad person, and if I’m not fat, people will actually take notice.”

I think the above statement from my journal really shows my true block in life…it isn’t my weight, but my fear that I’m not a worthwhile person, worthy of success, love, luck, affection, friendship, etc. I learned from a very early age that what really mattered was whether or not I was physically attractive. I know that this wasn’t the intentional lesson, but this is certainly the message that was received. I also learned that women weren’t worthy unless they got married, had children, served the man, and stayed quiet. I was encouraged to be smart, but at the same time told that I’d never measure up to a man’s intelligence. It was an unfortunate childhood at times. Thankfully, I’m now finding, through my own marriage and on my own, that life and love can be wonderful if you take the time to be introspective and honest with yourself. And my truth, my honesty, is this: Genetics may have a lot to do with it, and my personal nutrition and exercise habits could be better, but there is also a part of me that wants to be fat (and have a “fat mentality”) because it offers me the excuse not to be the person I want to be. I can hide behind my own body where no one can see me or connect with me.

Why You Can’t Win An Argument With Trolls

We’ve all had the experience of being on a forum, blog, or news article reading threads and comments, and suddenly our eyes are accosted with the most nonsensical and insulting drivel we’ve ever read…ever. Ah, yes…the attack of the plentiful internet troll. No matter how much logic we pump into our well-thought out post, they just don’t seem to understand our point of view, and worse yet, they are DICKS! So what do we do about this? Why can’t we win an argument with them?

Problem #1: As my husband pointed out, if you are looked at by someone as a horrible person, how can you possibly defend your position? For example, fat people are often seen as disgusting, lazy, gluttonous, and selfish. How can we possibly defend ourselves against that point of view? What are we to say? “Oh no, Mr. Troll! I know you believe those things about me, but I’m not like that, I swear!” It is a weak argument, and we can’t win it no matter what we say, even if we’re a “good fatty”. In other words, “Hater’s gonna hate.”

Problem #2: The “Herd” Mentality can dictate the way these arguments go on forums, blogs, and news articles. Perhaps it doesn’t apply as much to the internet as it does to the physical world, but the “Herd” Mentality is said to be very influential. According to one article, it takes as little as 5% to sway the thoughts of the rest of the group (Nauert, 2008). That means that if 100 individuals are commenting on a post, and just 5 of them have a different view point, the other 95 may change their position without even realizing that they are being influenced by those 5 people. Thus, it could be surmised that internet trolls have a good deal of influence on the general population given the right circumstances.

Problem #3: This is probably the most important thing to keep in mind when dealing with internet trolls. They are “…more likely to have narcissistic, Machiavellian, psychopathic, and sadistic personality traits (Gaines Lewis, 2014).” This suggests that internet trolls have something wrong with their brains, which makes them unsuitable for intelligent, logical conversations in which a common or middle ground can be reached and decided upon by both parties. It also, unfortunately, means that internet trolls are potentially dangerous individuals, although the article suggests that internet trolling may help prevent them from doing something physically damaging (Gaines Lewis, 2014).

So what does this mean in terms of Fat Acceptance activism? How can we educate the public while battling the trolls? Well, my suggestions are quite simple. First, you need to identify if a poster is potentially a troll. If you think they might be a troll based on their comment (s), don’t engage them by responding and bickering with them. Instead, write a separate comment to contribute to the general discussion (i.e. create a new thread). If a troll responds to your post, DO NOT ENGAGE. As the internet would say, “Do not feed the trolls.” Second, establish the ways in which you can help actively participate in changing the perception of fat people, and help make sure the civil rights portion of the issue is thoroughly addressed. You can do this by engaging your doctor, therapist, friends, family, and others in a dialogue about what it means to be fat in society. You can educate random people who show interest in what the movement is all about. You can volunteer with eating disorder treatment facilities and help educate the people in treatment (and their counselors) on the benefits of Health At Every Size (HAES). And most importantly, you can BE YOURSELF, be happy in your own skin, practice healthy behaviors (if you so choose), and not allow yourself to get caught up in the turmoil. Be a positive influence by not body shaming anyone, by treating people with basic human respect, dignity, and kindness, and by sharing your story with others.

I hope you have found this informative and useful in your daily struggles with trolls, and with yourself.

 

Sources

Lewis, J. G. (2014, February 25). Internet trolls are also real-life trolls. The Guardian. Retrieved April 26, 2014, from http://www.theguardian.com/science/head-quarters/2014/feb/25/internet-trolls-are-also-real-life-trolls

Nauert, R. (2008, February 15). “Herd” Mentality Explained. Psych Central. Retrieved April 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2008/02/15/herd-mentality-explained/1922.html

The Biggest Loser Weight Loss Results Over 11 Seasons

I thought it would be interesting to compare the weight loss results of participants on the NBC show, The Biggest Loser. I wanted to compare data of their starting weight, finale weight, and current weight (as of 2012 using the data from this article) and see whether or not these participants maintained their weight loss since being on the show.


 

First, let me point out that I compiled my data from Today.com. It wasn’t stated whether or not the current weights of the participants were self-reported, or measured by the original person compiling the data. Second, I don’t have data for ALL of the participants from the first 11 seasons because not all participants were listed on the article. Third, 3 participants in this article did not provide a current weight, so their weight gain or loss since the show is also not available.

The Data

Season 1:

Starting weight: 330
Finale weight: 208
Current weight: 300

Starting weight: 215
Finale weight: 156
Current weight: 155

Starting weight: 242
Finale weight: 163
Current: ND (No Data)

Season 2:

Starting weight: 339
Finale weight: 182
Current weight: 237

Starting weight: 227
Finale weight: 132
Current: 175

Starting weight: 370
Finale weight: 217
Current weight: 240

Season 3:

Starting weight: 407
Finale weight: 193
Current weight: 368

Starting weight: 260
Finale weight: 154
Current weight: ND (No Data)

Starting weight: 365
Finale weight: 219
Current: 260

Starting weight: 307
Finale weight: 178
Current weight: 225

Season 4:

Starting weight: 334
Finale weight: 170
Current weight: 207

Starting weight: 361
Finale weight: 175
Current weight: 198

Starting weight: 297
Finale: 187
Current: 213

Starting weight: 279
Finale weight: 174
Current weight: 178

Starting weight: 298
Finale weight: 185
Current weight: 220

Starting weight: 255
Finale: 150
Current: 158

Season 5:

Starting weight: 234
Finale weight: 122
Current weight: 125

Starting weight: 310
Finale weight: 174
Current weight: 180

Starting weight: 271
Finale weight: 162
Current weight: 190

Starting weight: 285
Finale weight: 156
Current weight: 189

Starting weight: 436
Finale weight: 301
Current weight: 324

Starting weight: 283
Finale weight: 153
Current weight: 165

Starting weight: 364
Finale weight: 199
Current weight: 235

Season 6:

Starting weight: 242
Finale weight: 132
Current weight: ND (No Data)

Starting weight: 335
Finale weight: 197
Current weight: 230

Starting weight: 294
Finale weight: 156
Current: 175

Starting weight: 239
Finale weight: 135
Current weight: 160

Starting weight: 216
Finale weight: 142
Current weight: 165

Starting weight: 229
Finale weight: 124
Current weight: 137

Starting weight: 331
Finale weight: 185
Current: 193

Starting weight: 218
Finale weight: 154
Current weight: 179

Starting weight: 380
Finale weight: 265
Current weight: 261

Starting weight: 246
Finale weight: 145
Current weight: 150

Season 7:

Starting weight: 257
Finale weight: 117
Current weight: 135

Starting weight: 294
Finale weight: 139
Current weight: 161

Starting weight: 372
Finale weight: 226
Current weight: 239

Starting weight: 381
Finale weight: 245
Current weight: 260

Starting weight: 269
Finale weight: 146
Current:151

Starting weight: 369
Finale weight: 192
Current weight: 198

Starting weight: 242
Finale weight: 159
Current: 158

Starting weight: 430
Finale weight: 238
Current weight: 251

Season 8:

Starting weight: 430
Finale weight: 191
Current weight: 215

Starting weight: 444
Finale weight: 289
Current weight: 240

Starting weight: 247
Finale weight: 147
Current weight: 150

Season 9:

Starting weight: 526
Finale weight: 262
Current weight: 289

Starting weight: 264
Finale weight: 165
Current weight: 170

Starting weight: 389
Finale weight: 230
Current weight: 225

Starting weight: 372
Finale weight: 230
Current weight: 242

Season 10:

Starting weight: 400 lbs.
Finale weight: 219 lbs.
Current weight: 235 lbs.

Starting weight: 421 lbs.
Finale weight: 208 lbs.
Current weight: 250 lbs.

Starting weight: 367 lbs.
Finale weight: 205 lbs.
Current weight: 247 lbs.

Starting weight: 258 lbs.
Finale weight: 159 lbs.
Current weight: 165 lbs.

Season 11:

Starting weight: 261 lbs.
Finale weight: 132 lbs.
Current weight: 142 lbs.

Starting weight: 248 lbs.
Finale weight: 128 lbs.
Current weight: 138 lbs.

Starting weight: 440 lbs.
Finale weight: 287 lbs.
Current weight: 315 lbs.

Starting weight: 256 lbs.
Finale weight: 131 lbs.
Current weight: 140 lbs.

Total number of participants: 56

 

What I Did

My methods were fairly straight-forward. I made a spreadsheet with the following headings: Season, Participant, Original Weight (OW), Finale Weight (FW), Weight Lost (WL), Weight Gained (WG). I calculated the weight lost by subtracting the FW from the OW. I calculated the weight gained by subtracting the FW from the participant’s current weight listed in the article.

What I Found

Out of the total number of participants reported from seasons 1 through 11, only 5 of them (8.92%) lost weight after the show. Out of these 5 individuals, 4 (80%) lost within 10% of their FW (finale weight) and 1 (20%) lost more than 10% of their FW.

51 participants (91.07%) gained weight after the show. It should be no surprise that 26 of the 51 (50.98%) gained more than 10% of their finale weigh-in, while 43.13% gained within 10% of their FW. 3 of the 51 participants (5.88%) gained 50 or more lbs, and 25 (49.01%) gained 20 or more lbs.

I used a measure of +/- 10% if finale weight to account for individuals who may be fluctuating within their body’s weight setpoint.


I hope you found this as interesting as I did, and I hope you’ll excuse any flaws in my methodology! ;) Any constructive criticism is welcome!