As you might know, I usually write about things like productivity and time management; personal and professional growth; and (usually terrible) customer service. Something else I’m passionate about is health and fitness in general (okay, you may have guessed that), and specifically, health at every size; anti-diet culture; and combating anti-fat language, behaviors, policies, etc. While I write about the work stuff I listed, the content I consume is often related to all that other stuff.*
That’s why I have to share about the latest Runner’s World newsletter I opened.
The top story featured a picture of a bagel smeared with butter with the headline, “Yes, It’s True That Butter Is Entirely Fat, But That’s Not a Bad Thing,” and the deck: “Despite what the ’80s and ’90s may have told you, fat isn’t a bad thing.”
As I scrolled down, there were headlines for an interview with a record-breaker, a round-up of running watches, another round-up of spray-on sunscreens, and then this: “She Lost 110 Pounds Training With a Couch to 5K Plan and Eating High-Protein, Low-Fat Meals.”
So, which is it, Runner’s World? Is fat bad or isn’t it?
I’m not picking on the Couch-to-5K subject. If a low-fat diet works for her, great. What I am picking on is the deluge of contradictory messaging there is in the health and fitness—or “wellness”—industry.
Not to mention the constant centering of weight loss in all conversations about eating and exercise. Some of us have goals unrelated to losing weight or inches, dropping in size, or having visible abs, thank you very much.
As mentioned in the butter article, fat got a bad rap in the 80s and 90s (and I think actually the 70s). But, it turns out, your body needs fat. According to Run Fast, Cook Fast, Eat Slow, one of my favorite cookbooks, written by marathoner Shalane Flanagan and athlete/culinary nutritionist Elyse Kopecky, “a diet rich in whole food fats (even saturated fat) is essential for a healthy metabolism, balanced hormones, and satiation,” as well as brain function by helping to prevent depression, balance our emotions, and improve concentration. (I’m sure I could cite more academic sources but this one’s more fun and delicious.)
And that’s just the fat that we eat. There’s also the fat on (in? of?) our bodies that is not evil but necessary, unique to each person, and oftentimes has no indication of our level of health.
Going back to that Runner’s World newsletter, it’s no wonder people are confused about what to do/eat/care about when the same issue of a magazine praises butter and vilifies fat within just a few pages. And that’s a mild example. People—and especially women—have been told to exercise for themselves, for the endorphins, for strength and longevity…in addition to weight loss, obviously. Same goes for diets: eat these things (or don’t eat those things) to achieve peak health! Which, of course, is a lighter, smaller version of yourself.
I hope you’ll join me in looking for, recognizing, and noting where “wellness” is conflated with weight loss and do your best to steer clear of such confusing (at its best) and damaging messaging.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go eat something with butter.
*What content do I consume? I’m so glad you asked!
- Maintenance Phase with Aubrey Gordon (AKA Your Fat Friend) and Michael Hobbes
- I Weigh with Jameela Jamil
- The Poison Punch Podcast with Kelly Roberts and Kayla Reynolds
- Let’s Get Physical: How Women Discovered Exercise and Reshaped the World by Danielle Friedman