It's not your fault

Here is a confession: I'm looking for a job. 

As some of you may know, this experience is excruciating. It's filled with a lot of emotional ups & downs. 

I find myself obsessed with dotting is and crossing ts. Or, nowadays, checking punctuation and removing the passive voice. Does my resume just not have enough action verbs? Maybe it's my formatting? Maybe I need another certification? Should I go back to school? Maybe I'm being too ambitious? 

It reminds me of dieting. 

This was how I thought of myself when dieting: I was doing everything just a little bit off. That was the reason why I "wasn't losing weight." I ate 12 too many crackers. Or maybe I'll add an extra mile to my run. It's because I ate 4 servings of vegetables instead of 5. 

All the skinny women in New York City seemed like living proof that being skinny was an achievable goal. I felt like it was my fault that that I wasn't skinny. I was in control. It seemed like it was achievable. 

Sometimes the truth is that we are not in control. 

The mechanism through which most people apply to jobs is pretty broken. It's the farthest thing from meritocracy. It's usually nepotism or something like that. It's not about my action verbs or my certifications. So far, I've only been able to get interviews at companies where I know someone. 

Diet's don't work either. 

They don't take you where they promise they will take you. 

It's not your fault that you haven't lost those 10 pounds. It's not something you did. It's not because you skipped the MCT oil. It's not because you ate 12 crackers instead of 6. 

Just like it's not women's fault that they're not in C-level suites. It's not because we say "like too much." It's not like ALL WOMEN lack professionalism. It's not as if women leaned in enough, we wouldn't have a pay gap anymore. 

If you're still stuck in diet mode, you can stop blaming yourself too. 

Not giving a fuck about being "fat"

Hi. I'm Noel. 

And I don't give a fuck about my cellulite

It didn't always used to be this way. 

This is me eating churros in a bikini. And I don't give a FUCK. 

This is me eating churros in a bikini. And I don't give a FUCK. 

I remember when I  learned about the shame of weight.  I overheard one my handsome male classmates describing Lizzie McGuire as "a fat cow." 

I was subconsciously aware that I didn't want to be fat. Until that moment, I was suspicious that other people cared. This classmate confirmed it. People are watching and even if you're a cute Disney star, you're still not good enough. 

 If Lizzie McGuire didn't measure up, I certainly did not. 

I felt the shame of not looking like a cover girl. 

And that shame stuck with me for years. Through high school. Through college. Through a few years after college. I felt like I always needed to show how sorry I was about not measuring up. Dieting was the easiest way to repent. 

This is an unspoken part about dieting. Dieting isn't just a way to lose weight. It's social and cultural capital that represents your desire to be better.

When you don't measure up to the standard, your only recourse is the act of trying. "Sure, I may not weigh as little as supermodels, but I'm trying to". It somehow makes us "better" to people who might feel disgusted with how we look. 

If we quit dieting, we quit apologizing.

We quit easing the tension. We quit the people-pleasing. We have to own who we are and not give a shit about somebody else noticing our zits, our belly rolls, our cellulite. 

This is terrifying. 

Embracing intuitive eating and embracing your natural body shape requires courage. 

But, on the other side of this courage is freedom. 

Freedom to not give a fuck. 

Don't worry about other people being fat, either

Don't worry about other people being fat, either

At least 100 times since I've started my vigilante effort to help women quit dieting, I've encountered people who oppose the idea. 

They look at me skeptically and say things like, "fat people are lazy." They believe that if someone is not trying to diet, the heavens punish them with extra weight. They believe fat people only exist because they failed to abide by [insert diet of choice].

Last week we talked about shame. I talked about all the reasons that shame doesn't work to make you thinner. Just like shame doesn't work for you, it doesn't work for other people. 

Will shame make you thinner?

The short answer to this question is no. 

It feels like shame will make you thinner. It feels like hating our bodies will somehow magically make it look better. 

But, here are 5 reasons that being ashamed of your body doesn't actually work to make you thinner even if that's what you think you should be. 

1. Shame doesn't work to discipline the body. 

To quote Brene Brown, "Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change." 

When we grab at pieces of our body and tell our reflection in the mirror that we are ugly and lazy, we zap the part of ourselves that makes us want to change. 

Shame takes us from thinking we are capable to thinking we are stuck. Worse than that, it makes us believe we are somehow inherently incapable. We ARE bad. It's not just our actions that are bad but our whole being is bad. 

So, if you're so bad, how are you supposed to change? 

2. Shame can't change biology, baby.

You can call yourself mean names all day but shame can't change your set point. 

If you've read my blog, you know that I've mentioned set point theory a gazillion times. And for the gazillionth time, set point theory means that your body has a range mostly determined by genetics and stays within that range regardless of what you want your weight to be. It explains why our weight loss plateaus and slowly creeps back up even if we're doing everything the same. 

So, even if you feel super BAD about how you ate, slept, or exercised today, it's not going to change your set point. 

It turns out you can't hate your way to weight loss. 

3. Shame can affect digestion.

There are neurotransmitters in your gut which means that how you feel can affect how you digest. Your guilt or shame around food can actually activate your "fight or flight" response. According to this article by Marc David of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating: 

"If you're feeling guilty about eating the ice cream or judging yourself for eating it, the hypothalamus will take this negative input and send signals down the sympathetic fibers of the autonomic nervous system. This initiates inhibitory responses in the digestive organs which means you'll be eating your ice cream but not fully metabolizing it."

If you've ever had a lot of guilt after a meal, you might feel like you have an upset stomach. You might feel bloated. You might hold on to that ice cream longer and you might store it. That doesn't sound like an effective strategy for weight loss. 

Notice how your guilt and shame affect the way you feel after eating. 

4. If you feel guilt and shame, it might lead you to eat emotionally. 

To quote the infamous Austin Powers character, Fat Bastard, "I eat because I'm unhappy and I'm unhappy because I eat." 

One wouldn't think such wisdom would come from a Mike Myers film but a lot of times, feeling guilty around foods just leads to more eating of the food that makes us feel guilty.

Listen, I don't even think emotional eating is that bad. Hating yourself, however, will NOT help you stop eating the ice cream that you eat as a coping mechanism.

5. Shame prevents us from listening to our body. 

Shame's worst crime is taking us away from our body's needs. If you are constantly pissed at your body for eating or eating too much or eating carbs when you're supposed to be Paleo, you start to develop a really terrible relationship with your body. You don't trust it. 

And not trusting your body means you don't listen to what it needs. You don't eat when you're hungry. You don't stop when you're full. You don't go for walks when you need them. You don't stop running when you have bad knees. You don't take care of your body because you're mad at her. 

That sucks. 

Your body is this super awesome machine that's completing like I dunno a billion chemical reactions a day. It's what takes you through life. It's what creates life. It's the body that's helped you build your career and your life. If you're able-bodied, it allows you to talk, walk, run, cook, clean, play music, explore, travel, or have sex.

Since you're stuck hanging out in this body, why not love it? Why not appreciate it? Why not take care of it instead of yelling at it like a mean nun at a Catholic school in the 50s? 

Being mean to your body is not actually making you thinner. So, please just stop. 









It's not just something you shout out at incestual queens who are trying to atone for their sins at Kings Landing. 

Shame is something I've mentioned a few times on the blog.  It's really important in the conversation about body image for reasons I'll get into next week. 

I'm cooking up a post or two about shame and well, it's lengthy. While I finish editing it, I highly recommend listening to this super cool lady named Brené Brown. She has some thoughts on shame. 

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