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In a society that focuses so much on being thin, and produces extremely high obesity rates, it’s no surprise that the determining factors for a healthy life are often overlooked.

Many misinterpret weight as a primary indicator of health, when it is only one factor and, indeed, one that is often over-emphasized. A healthy weight actually exists in a wider range than what shows up on those old fashioned insurance charts used by your doctor – and certainly the newer BMI is similarly ridiculous with strong people who carry a lot of muscle falling into the “obese” category on them!


Heredity and excess dieting often hinder people from achieving those numbers on the charts but that doesn’t exclude a healthy life.

I’m not talking about throwing all caution to the wind and protecting an excessive overweight stage; I’m talking about finding the best health you can inside the body you have.

Here are eight indicators of health I use to help my clients determine an appropriate weight and get healthy.

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I cringe when I see her tiny hard body.  I’m filled with disgust for her negative influence.  She may be unaware, but she has many robotic ambassadors roaming the world in influential places – movies, media, fashion, music.

And she’s at it again.  She’s a perpetual iconic figure who continues to regenerate, and live in our brains, and make us very fat.

I’m talking about Barbie.

The doll.

Yes, the doll.

Here’s the latest Barbie to hit the market, ripe for holiday buying by moms, dads, aunts, uncles, cousins and substitute Santas everywhere.

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In a week that saw Karl Lagerfeld attack singer Adele for her weight, and Golden Globe winning actress Octavia Spencer announce she didn’t feel healthy at her weight, I had four clients encounter the madness of the medical profession about weight issues.

There’s never been a time when there seems to be more controversy about weight.  Is it really “bad” or unhealthy to be overweight?  Although it’s a common part of the entertainment industry, does it serve any purpose to call someone out for their size, shape or appearance?

Is Your Doctor Helping or Hurting You?

On one hand, it makes sense that there’s a wide range of healthy but, on the other, does the HAES (Health At Every Size) movement help?  EVERY SIZE?  Yes, we can all get healthier, no matter what our size, but it’s simply not true that you can be healthy at ANY size.

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One of the primary reasons the American woman’s body image is distorted is the virtual lack of REAL role models in our society.

Most of our role models come from the fashion industry and Hollywood films.  If we only viewed French or Italian films, we’d see a wide range of sizes, shapes and ages among the actresses looming on the big screen.  (We’d also see less cookie cutter beauty and much more interesting types of beauty.)

But, time after time, I find myself watching an American movie and wondering “Why does she have to be so thin?”

She looked like this, primarily due to bulimia.

What We’re Comparing Against Example 1: Boomer women are reeling over Jane Fonda’s admission that she was bulimic when she starred in Hollywood films and exercise videos of the 70s.  Nice of her to admit it now, I guess, but millions of women did those stupid videos until they were blue in the face and then beat themselves all the way to the bakery because they didn’t wind up looking like her.

What We’re Comparing Against Example 2: Actresses in two current hit films have admitted using body doubles in their nude scenes.

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No, I’m not talking about her skimpy outfits or the skinny half-naked dancers flanking her live shows.

Lady Gaga is the most famous woman in music/culture right now, and I don’t think it’s because of her music (although it’s quite good) – it’s because of her message. Music is only part of her life played out as performance art.

Her deeper message to her “little monsters” (her fans) is screw everyone if they don’t like you, be who you are, because, no matter what that might be, that’s perfect.

Lady Gaga at the 2011 Grammy Awards

Lady Gaga at the 2011 Grammy Awards

What’s the connection to weight loss? Listen to

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The more I study the obesity epidemic, the more I am convinced we are an overweight nation (and growing more so) because we do not know or practice the truth.

Look at our politicians.
Look at our television programs.
And advertising.



It’s so easy to bend the foul pole.

It’s even easier to blame the other guy or gal.

And to pretend.

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Having traveled my own quite complicated journey out of body hatred and losing over 70 lbs permanently, I’ve come to believe every body is different and unique, though we’re led by society/culture to believe their is a “standard.” I’ve had the experience of coaching hundreds of women towards their own unique “optimal” weight, and discovered we all lose weight at different rates (and, yes, in different places!).


Loving and appreciating our own distinctiveness isn’t the easy road in our society, but it can be done.

I once had a client lose weight at a rate of a pound a month, and be upset

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As I travel, spreading the word about permanent weight loss, I often speak to middle and high school girls about health, body image, and the negative impact of dieting on weight. It’s always very touching for me to look out over the classroom and see the young women as I speak. Many of them (according to some statistics, about 50%) are already dieting and associating being thin with deprivation.

Thin = Deprivation


Most of them can’t look ahead to see how their current behavior and stringent dieting will lead to frustration, anger and excess weight in their twenties and thirties. It takes many years to see the real equation:

Dieting and Food Avoidance = More Fat

If I could do one thing for these girls, who deserve a healthy future free from disordered eating, it would be to freeze them right where they are.


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