HAES – Health At Every Size Resources

In a recent post about my personal frustration that a lot of health professionals  refer to the outdated BMI, and my concern that this mentality and practice could potentially put patients in life-threatening situations by dissuading them from seeking health care, I received a lot of feedback, so many stories from so many women who have experienced similar (and worse!) than me.

HAESAustralia

Health At Every Size

Health, not numbers

I was so thrilled this week to receive word that a group of savvy health professionals have launched an initiative that involves an “Advisory Committee” made up of HAES professionals located from around Australia that have been using HAES and the Non-Diet approach for a number of years both personally and professionally. They represent a diverse array of body shapes, sizes and experiences.  They are a group of dedicated and passionate volunteers who have recognised the need for a portal to resources for women like me who wish to be treated from a non-diet approach.

Health At Every Size (HAES) is a weight-neutral approach to health. HAES practitioners advocate that a focus on health behaviours, rather than a focus on reducing body size, is the most useful way to support people of all sizes to take care of their health.

HAES recognises that weight loss dieting is an ineffective and harmful intervention, as evidenced in over 50 years of research. As research into HAES continues, the non-diet approach has rapidly gained support from Scientists, Academics and Health Practitioners around the world as an effective alternative to weight loss.

Hallelujah!

Congratulations to my friend Sarah Harry and her colleague Fiona Sutherland over at Body Positive Australia who are not only doing amazing things within their business, but are members of the Advisory Committee of HAES Australia.  If you’re not following Body Positive Australia already, I urge you to do so, they are inspirational and offer some incredible retreats and services too not to mention Sarah’s incredible yoga classes 🙂

If that wasn’t fantastic enough, the other key reason for popping over to check-out the HAES Australia website and follow them on Facebook – is that there is a list of HAES Specialists – GPs, Psychologists, Counsellors, Dieticians, Physiologists – you name it, there’s one for you on that list – and all of these registered practitioners follow the non-diet, Health at Every Size approach.  Hooray!  Please note that this section is a work in-progress – if you have a trusted practitioner who works from a body positive perspective, please encourage them to register on the website.

Please share this information with all the curvy women you know that would benefit from this list. It’s so important that we look after our health, and NEVER let the mis-informed attitude of health professionals that don’t understand the HAES approach impact our commitment to caring for ourselves.

Love your shape!

Janine x

 

BMI = Bloody Meaningless Information

When the people and tools that could make a difference, actually have the opposite effect!

Last Friday was a public holiday here in Melbourne, and as I’d just returned to Melbourne after a fabulous holiday in Thailand and Cambodia with my family, I was keen to nip into my GP for a prescription. Alas the clinic was closed, so on Saturday I booked the carefully selected time of 2pm for an appointment as I knew I could duck in and out for the simple request….

About 4 years ago I developed insomnia.  To give you some back-story to my plight, back in May 2011 I decided to quit smoking.  I successfully did this by retreating to a lovely cottage for a week until the “grumps” were over and I could assimilate back into normal society 😉 A couple of days after quitting, I noticed that I was feeling different – but not in the positive way I had been expecting. Flash forward to mid June and my beautiful dad passed away suddenly. The shock of this event, and the enduring months that followed no doubt added to my health issues. Until then, apart from smoking, and obviously being overweight, my health had been pretty normal.  Now obviously with such a tragic event in my life, it would be normal to think that I would suffer from some emotional and potentially physical reactions. That’s what I kept telling myself when my body was so exhausted it could barely get out of bed in the morning, when I couldn’t sleep at night and when panic attacks and irritable bowel like symptoms began to present. This went on for a few weeks until it was impossible to ignore the warning signs. Something was seriously wrong. As we all do as women, we focus on our families, our work and just getting on with it, but this was becoming impossible.

I started googling (yep I know, not recommended, but still, I needed some answers). I presented to my then GP who offered Stillnox as a solution. WTF? No way, so I decided to try for a 2nd opinion. The next one I visited suggested that “If you only lose some weight you won’t feel so tired”. I was gobsmacked, and needless to say I left the office without a stillnox prescription and with no answers.

In the interests of keeping the story succinct, I finally, after visits to more than 5 mainstream doctors, I gave my friend Andrea Hepner a call. Andrea is a naturopath and runs a clinic called Empowered Health. I was unable to attend her office as I could barely move at this point, so she kindly offered me a Skype consultation and she went through a thorough line of questioning and testing that NEVER involved weight.  Andrea started me on the path of diagnosis and help, and I will be forever grateful to her for her incredible attitude and approach to health. It turns out I have a metabolic disorder. It seems this disorder is often dormant (as it’s genetic) until triggered by a stressful life event and it’s now clear to me now that I know what the problem is, that in the preceeding years I had been experiencing minor symptoms that were in hindsight the indicator that something bigger was coming!  I had adrenal fatigue bordering on adrenal failure, chronic insomnia, my iron level was so low that it was a miracle I was still standing and my bowel was so sick from the adrenal fatigue that it took months to improve.  In fact, it turns out that my smoking had actually covered-up the extreme symptoms, that with the stress and then quitting, in one hit came on with vengeance. With the help of Andrea, and thereafter an Intergrative GP who specialises in this condition, I have clawed my way back from this chronic illness into a healthy state.  I’m so grateful to my husband, my family and friends and of course the professionals who helped me during this difficult time, their support was unwavering. It’s incredibly scary to think that had I not been a “strong” person I would have been taking the advice of “professionals” offering incorrect medications and incorrect diagnosis of my condition.

I’m happy to say that this condition is completely manageable and I now take daily supplements to maintain the happy healthy place my body is now at.  Interestingly, my 12 year old son was diagnosed with the same condition just over a year ago, I was so relieved that he presented with the symptoms well and truly AFTER I had gone through the tough process of diagnosing it. When he developed it, I recognised the signs immediately and already had the help in place. He’s doing great!

So, back to that appointment I had last weekend. As I mentioned I see an Integrative GP who specialises in my condition, but for the everyday things, I have a local clinic that our family frequents. When my insomnia is bad, I sometimes have to take a sleeping tablet to “train” my sleep pattern back.  So I’m waiting for my turn, the GP calls my name and off we go into her office. She asks why I’m there today? I state that I’d like a repeat of my sleeping tablet prescription. She hesitates – which I understand, these drugs can be abused and used incorrectly, so knowing this, but knowing that I have a legitimate use for them, I’m happy to jump through the hoops to justify this.  However, the line of questioning then proceeds down the path of, do I feel suicidal? Am I depressed? Am I working on my weight? ummmm hang on, what????????????  She then launched into “diagnosing me” with sleep apnoea.  I don’t have sleep apnoea. My symptoms aren’t even close to sleep apnoea. I know this because I’ve googled the symptoms AND because I’ve already been down the diagnosis route before with a doctor to confirm this!!!!!!! She then decides that she needs to refer me to a sleep clinic for sleep apnoea. I said I was happy to see a sleep specialist if she thought that would help. She then tells me that she needs a few “facts” first. Yep here it comes…

What’s my weight? I tell her. What’s my height? I tell her. Then I hold my breath as I wait for the inevitable, I know what’s coming next. Yep you guessed it – “AAAGGGHHH”, she says after a moment of calculating… “Your BMI is Enormous!” (yep she said “enormous”), “I need to take your blood pressure”.

Are you serious? Take my blood pressure now…. I didn’t need to look at the result to know that it was going to be – high – very high!

She then asks if I’ve ever had an issue with blood pressure? “No”, I say honestly. “Right”, she says – clearly doubting my answer.

My blood pressure was at this point 133 over 90.  She then announces that I have hypertension and if I don’t “lose weight immediately you will be in serious trouble”.

Wow.

So at this point my heart is pounding in my ears, I’m trying to remain calm, ignore the bullshit, and focus on getting that prescription – with the knowledge that my Integrative GP – who I trust implicitly has NEVER worried about my weight during the whole 4 years I’ve been consulting her for the other condition.  The focus has been on wellbeing and health, never about my BMI.

The GP’s voice comes back into my awareness as she’s droning on about weight and what I can do to work on this. I consider losing my cool and having a complete rant at her. But then I realised – obviously – nothing I say to her is going to make any difference at all. It was clear that the moment she laid eyes on me she had decided what her course of action was going to be.

I stated “I do not wish to discuss my weight with you”.

She was shocked.

She was speechless.

She said “well, someone needs to help you”.

Did this woman seriously spend 4-6 years in University to earn a PhD? What are we teaching our doctors? How is it that I knew more than she did? and more importantly – do they teach these medical professionals that empowering your patient is their best chance at success? (no need to answer that – doh!).

She then huffed and puffed, made a big performance about printing out the prescription, handed it to me and said “Is there anything else? to which I replied, “no thank you, have a lovely weekend” and walked out.

255712-bmi-measurementI can’t stop wondering how if I had been a woman with a distorted body  image, would I have coped with this barrage of rubbish? What would I have done?  The damage that this attitude is doing to the population is overwhelming. It’s wrong. It’s actually creating a larger problem.

The fact that a qualified GP is still in this day and age using the BMI (body mass indicator) to calculate a patients’ health is gobsmacking.

For the record my BMI is 40 – based on the online BMI calculator I need to lose between 47-66 kgs to be a “normal” body weight. That is over half my body weight – wow, just wow!.  The current BMI formula (which is literally dividing your height by your weight) leads to confusion and misinformation.  In fact Nick Trefethen, Professor of Numerical Analysis at Oxford University’s Mathematical Institute wrote a letter to The Economist that “the BMI formula is flawed and is only a rough guide to helping people judge whether they have a healthy weight”.  It goes on to say that when the BMI calculator was developed there were no computers, calculators or electronic devices, so they opted for a very simple system.  Trefethen does wonder, though, why institutions on both sides of The Atlantic continue using the same flawed formula?  Good question?! You can read more here…  In fact, the flaws just keep coming, especially if you compare a “Couch Potato” to “an Athlete” with the same height and approx. weight, yet one does an incredible amount of exercise and the other doesn’t – their BMI is practically the same!  RIDICULOUS!

In my case, and based on my personal story above:

There is NO evidence that BMI induces Insomnia. FULL STOP.

There is NO evidence that “Stillnox” is going to cure my Metabolic Disorder, nor insomnia. FULL STOP

There is NO evidence that being rude, condescending and offering INCORRECT advice to a human who is obese, overweight or otherwise is going to help the “Obesity Crisis/Obesity Paranoia” that is so incredibly misunderstood.

I don’t dispute, nor deny or ignore that obesity has an impact on health, that is a fact.

I am obese. That’s a fact.

BUT, I am so much more than that, and so is my health.

On Saturday I posted about my visit on Facebook, within minutes I had ladies commenting on their own experiences with health professionals. Appalling is the word for it, so many stories (and for the record I have about 10 others of my own experiences I could have chosen to tell here).

One lady spoke of her 4 year old daughter deemed “Obese” at a Maternal Child Health Nurse check-up, another had a pain in her hip, her GP did a “poke around” the general area and then announced that if she lost weight it wouldn’t hurt anymore!!!???!!! – her Personal Trainer (!) diagnosed a muscle strain from exercise. Yep. That. And then there was the comment by a highly regarded dietician and Body Positive Ambassador who had a client come in this week after a visit to her GP for a rash, and left with a lecture on her weight and highly inappropriate diet advice – oh lordy, it just goes on and on. Oh and how about the women who commented on being shamed for their weight when presenting for their annual pap smears – wow, just wow.

As a survivor of cervical cancer it makes me shudder to think that a Dr’s attitude to obesity could prevent a woman having a potentially life-saving check-up simply by shaming her about her weight.

THIS APPROACH AND ATTITUDE NEEDS TO CHANGE NOW.

There ARE great GPs and specialists out there. There are organisations and professionals who are working hard to educate the general population of GPs and specialists, and working in our Universitites to change the education and “speak”.  Namely the gorgeous Sarah and Fiona at Body Positive Australia to name just one such organisation.

It’s time to change this. I want to create a list of BODY POSITIVE – Wellbeing focussed GPs and Specialists. I know that some have done this in the past, and I’d love to hear from anyone that would like to collaborate on this project. I will be setting up a page on my website to list these Drs, so that NO ONE has to be subjected to such pathetic and negative health care in the future.

It’s MY body,

It’s MY choice

and it’s MY right to have positive health care with an accurate and educative approach.

Stay tuned for the details of how to submit your recommendations of body positive health professionals, and feel free to share your stories below.

Love your shape!

Janine x

**Thanks to Becca for coining the term “Bloody Meaningless Information” -she kindly allowed me to adopt the term – says it perfectly don’t you think?!

PS – For those that consider the above to be promoting obesity – you are WRONG. This is about healthcare delivered in a body positive and empowering manner – not to mention potentially life-saving. It’s what we ALL deserve.

The Anti-chaffing Solution has arrived!

Back in February I wrote about tips on how to prevent the dreaded chaffing. In my work with curvy women the question of how to prevent chafing comes up every spring/summer.  I’ve seen women in tears unable to walk for days due to the chaffing issue, it’s embarrassing, uncomfortable and downright not fair! Many women forego wearing skirts or dresses in Summer out of fear of this condition.

Suffer no more, the solution is at hand, and it’s the mother of all solutions! 

Back in February when I researched this issue, there were three solutions available on the market, Leggings/Bike Shorts, Powders & Creams or Bandelettes. Out of all these options, the Bandelettes were the most feasible as they didn’t compound the issue by adding extra bulk or heat to the area or in the case of powders & creams create other issues- and the bonus is they look gorgeous! I still highly recommend these as a great option.

TSTechnology

Sonsee Woman have utilised their incredible seamless technology to create THE perfect anti-chaffing short.  As you can see from the illustration above, they have thought of everything! I’ve been lucky enough to road test the shorts and they are simply luxury on my skin. These should NOT be confused with bike shorts or leggings – unlike bike shorts or leggings these purpose designed anti-chaffing shorts are lightweight and BREATHABLE that fit your curves like a glove without that feeling of restriction. They DO NOT add heat/warmth and are moisture wicking which keeps you cool and dry.

Sonsee Antichaffing ShortANTI-CHAFING-PLUS-SIZE-SHORT-LEG 3

It’s hard to tell from the campaign pic above the texture of the fabric, this smaller image on the left shows in more detail. I cannot stress enough how beautifully comfortable these are. They come in two lengths which gives you flexibility to wear shorter or longer leg length depending on your outfit or personal need.

These shorts are a game-changer, no longer do you need to sweat it out wearing an uncomfortable layer of lycra or sub-standard sweaty fabric to prevent chaffing, or worse still avoid wearing beautiful summer dresses and skirts because of the fear of chaffing.

Shorts available in size 14-28 and come in Black or Nude.

AVAILABLE IN-STORE AT AUTOGRAPH and ONLINE.

Embrace Summer and all that it brings.

Love your shape!

Janine x

 

Good-bye Chafing…

No. 1 RULE: To prevent chafing, you have to prevent moisture/sweating

Here’s some tips for you on how to prevent the dreaded chafing:

Leggings/Bike Shorts

A lot of women swear by wearing leggings or bike shorts under their dresses or skirts during summer. I personally find this too hot, too many layers. But, it does work as the fabric provides a barrier between your thighs that does prevent chafing – if you can stand feeling overheated. It also adds another layer and can create unwanted lines. For some women, a positive of wearing leggings or bike shorts is that it  adds a level of shaping assistance – holding curves in place. With some clothing styles, for example a tunic, leggings looks great and give you the added advantage of protecting your thighs.

Powders & Creams

A great, simple solution is to use a cream or powder to prevent the chafing. 3B Cream is a must have, I usually apply my moisturiser and then if I know it’s going to be a scorcher I add some 3B cream to my inner thighs – prevention is better than the cure! In fact, I find that a lot of body creams or mositurisers can be used in the same way. There are also a range of powders, like this one from Curash that you apply in the same way. Both these creams and powders can be used under your breasts to prevent sweating and chafing (especially if you’re wearing an underwire bra – arhggh).

Bandelettes

These babies are AWESOME. Think, sexy lingerie, think good-bye chafing!  I found these during a google search some years ago for a customer and have heard nothing but good things. Recently Julia at Bandelettes sent me a pair to try for myself and I couldn’t recommend them more highly. It feels so special to slide the lacy bandelette up your thigh, position it just where you need the protecting and off you go. All day I felt like I was wearing some gorgeous lingerie, instead of a chafing preventer! How luxe is that.

how-it-works

10954568_958286307517443_8325101475558065550_n

The Bandelettes come in Black, beige, red and chocolate, and come in 6 different sizes to from 21″ – 32″ sized thigh and are anti-slip, in fact they fit perfectly and feel so comfortable.

What works for you?

Love your shape!

Janine x

Melbourne Peeps – join me for some curvy yoga?

I find exercise a chore. There you go, I said it out loud…I know I shouldn’t, I DO exercise, but I seem to go in spits & spurts of committed exercising. I enjoy walking, dancing, bike riding and so much more, but when it comes to doing something regularly my mind always dreams of Yoga, Pilates or Zumba.

I’ve been procrastinating about these things for too long. You see, I have a knee injury (2 operations later 🙁 ) and it has fuelled my fear of injuring myself further, and my mobility is something I value highly.

A little while ago I started asking around my curvy friends and colleagues about what sort of exercise they do or don’t do, and about what motivates or stops them from exercising. There was a mixed response including fear, injury or lack of a buddy to do it with, as well as a host of ladies who DO regularly exercise and attend classes or a gym, and would love to expand their range further. By far the biggest response was that when it came to a gym, or regular class, nearly all of them wanted to attend, but felt too intimidated by a room of non-curvy members. Some even went so far as to say that they have given up exercising as they felt judged by others for even attempting to exercise. (VERY SAD FACE 🙁 ).

I’m not one to worry too much about others in a room, I love to loose myself in music, and find that if I’m exercising with music I don’t notice much of what’s going on around me. But speaking to so many other curvy ladies, I know that being in a room full of women dressed in Lorna Jane is a little confronting and overwhelming.

So I decided, it’s time to lead by example, conquering my own fear, might help someone else conquer their fear.

Body Positive Australia Logo

Sarah Body Positive Yoga

Enter, Sarah from Body Positive Australia. I’ve been following her for a while now, and we recently got in touch and talked about this exact topic. Sarah holds Curvy Yoga classes in her studio in Ashburton, Vic and after a very inspiring and encouraging discussion with Sarah where she dispelled all the myths and concerns (read: fears!) I had about my knee hindering my ability to do yoga, I’ve decided to bite the bullet and GO FOR IT.

I’ll be attending my 1st class ever on Wednesday 4th March 2015 at 8:00pm. Sarah’s offering an 8 week introduction course.

I’d LOVE it if you would join me? Go for it, bite the bullet too, get in early make the resolution today to move past your fear and TRY. I did, and I feel better already 🙂

I recently ran a competition via Facebook for a chance to win a 5 class free pass to attend courtesy of Sarah, I asked you to write in 200 words or less about your exercising phobias or successes, I received some amazing entries, but this one from Kate stood out, here’s her entry:

I’m so close to falling in love with my body all over again. I love my heart that is full of compassion. I love my brain, full of both silliness and wisdom. I like my legs, they are strong and take me to beautiful places. I like my arms, they allow me to hold the people I love. I like my big bottom that gives me a soft place to rest. I like my  tummy, a soft pillow for my cats. But I yearn to love my body, not just celebrate their respective parts and tasks. To find my curves, my heart, my wisdom and my body, whole. In yoga.

Kate

I look forward to seeing you on the yoga mat!

Love your shape!

Janine x

A Life Lesson…

This is my paternal Grandma, Doreen Iris Mison, she passed away in November 2013 and I miss her every day. She left us at the age of 91 years old – quite an innings. My Grandma was married for over 55 years (until my grandfather Ted passed away 9 years ago – she proudly wore her rings everyday of her life from the day she married).  She had 2 sons, 4 grandchildren, 5 great grandchildren and 3 GREAT great grandchildren!  She lived independently up until her 89th birthday when she fell and broke her leg. This happened the same week that my mum was diagnosed with stage 3 aggressive breast cancer and I took over care of my Grandmother from my mum.Grandma

I have so many fond memories of my relationship with my Grandma, and she’s always been extremely proud of her family.  She was always a positive role model. Of course, when my Granddad passed away she was very sad, they were best friends and after living with him for 55 years it must have been an incredible shock. Then just 5 years ago she lost her oldest son (my uncle) and 3 years ago my dad (her youngest son) passed away suddenly. The shock for her, and us all was indescribable. But she kept on keeping on, knitting for her family, knitting for local and oversea charities, doing her weekly “puzzles” and buying her weekly tattslotto ticket for that elusive big win that was going to save us all!  She knew everything about us all and “skited” to anyone who would listen.  She was a beautiful soul and I loved her dearly.

I was also very sad and frustrated with her. About 3 ½ years ago my parents received a call very early in the morning to say she had been taken by ambulance to the hospital – her blood sugar level was 1 – yes ONE!  By all rights she should have been in a coma. Grandma developed diabetes about 10 years ago and she was insulin dependent.  My mum, and the doctors spent HOURS explaining to Grandma what she needed to do to keep her diabetes under control.  Grandma listened, but there was one problem….

Grandma, for over 80 years, had a fear of getting fat!  The truth is, my grandma had always been a plus-size woman.  Right up til she was 89 she was a size 18-20, and had been for as long as I can remember!

Grandma was so conditioned to be conscious of her weight that she was actually killing herself.

As a diabetic it was CRUCIAL that she eat carbohydrates.  She MUST eat rice, bread, potato etc. etc. but she did everything in her power not to – in fact she had some birds that were regular visitors to her unit who came to eat the bread she threw out the door every day!  I’d often be visiting with her when her when her compulsory plate of sandwiches to eat before she went to bed (Dr’s Orders) arrived and I watched as she was almost physically ill eating them because her mind was telling her that she shouldn’t – but she knew I was watching and she didn’t dare not eat it!!

Obviously at 89 it was too late to change a person’s mind-set. If only that were possible. 

The fascinating thing was, we nearly lost Grandma twice before that year.  When I was very small, my Grandma had a massive brain tumour.  She survived what was likely to be a fatal tumour and then 20 years later she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She and I often giggled together over the prosthetic breast she had made to replace the breast she had removed, in fact she kept the prosthetic breast in a plastic bag in her cupboard, she always said she was too old to care about whether she had one breast missing… so why is it that that’s ok, but eating so she didn’t lapse into a coma due to a diabetic turn is so hard to accept?

When Grandma was moved to high-care in June 2012, she began to go downhill quite quickly. Her health was failing and her body was giving up on her. She insisted she did not wish to “know” what was “wrong” with her, so the many, many conversations I had with her doctor were not shared with her. The Doctor advised that she most definitely had recurring breast cancer and most likely liver cancer as well. This was quite clear as over the space of a few months Grandma rapidly lost about 30kgs.

Unfortunately, Grandma was absolutely thrilled! At every visit, she’d whip the blanket back from her legs and say “look how skinny my legs are now – I feel great!” I felt sad that she felt great when I knew that cancer was the culprit for her weight loss, but hey, if it made her happy to be “skinny” at 91 who was I to tell her otherwise.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this over the past few months since her passing and marveled at how interesting it is that as a parent or grandparent you are a role model for your offspring – they absorb EVERYTHING you think, do, feel… how is it that I came out with such positive body image and attitude to food?  My mum is a sensational role model, she eats well, leads a healthy lifestyle and always taught me to love myself the way I am TODAY.  It worked! Thanks Mum xox

I’m so grateful for this experience as I see it as a very important life lesson that I’ve been blessed to have been given by my Grandma.  I pledge to myself that I will not fall into the same trap and I urge you all to do the same.

Thanks for another wonderful life lesson Grandma, I miss you!

Love your shape!

Janine x