House Rule #3

The word “fat” is not an insult. When using this word at Paragon, refrain from using it with negative intent. If you find yourself using it in this manner, redirect the conversation to ways your body allows you to enjoy life.

This rule seems to confuse people the most because in our society, your body is automatically associated with a perceived health status. For example, people assume someone in a smaller body must be healthier than a person in a larger body. But, body weight alone does not tell us anything about a person’s health!

Studies show that individuals who are overweight or moderately obese live just as long as those at a “normal” weight, if not longer (Bacon & Aphramor, 2011). The stereotype that larger individuals are automatically more unhealthy is fueled by body mass index measurements (BMI), which are an inaccurate and faulty measurement of health. In 2016, 54 million Americans had BMIs that were labeled as overweight or obese but were actually healthy (Tomiyama et al., 2016)! Some studies have tried to show the correlation between being overweight and increased disease risk; however, this is yet to be solidified. There are often confounding variables present that impact our health at greater levels than body weight, such as socioeconomic status, access to food, fitness levels, and diet history (Flegal et al., 2013).

A 2011 systematic review stated, “that weight loss will improve health over the long-term for obese people is, in fact, an untested hypothesis” (Bacon & Aphramor, 2011). Many studies actually suggest that “weight loss increases risk of premature death in obese individuals” (Bacon & Aphramor, 2011).

What matters to us at Paragon is making behavior changes that truly positively improve your health: weight loss is not a behavior. Meaningful behavior changes include eating more vegetables each day, getting enough sleep per night, strength training numerous times per week, prioritizing self-care, and eating enough. These all impact our health in ways that benefit us long term, and may or may not lead to weight loss.

The word fat can be used as a noun and adjective. You can use the word as an adjective, but your intentions behind it determine its meaning. 

In our gym, someone can be fat and it isn’t bad. It’s not wrong, it’s not less than a smaller body.

I have a client who reframes it this way: “I have fat is different from saying ‘I’m fat.’” 

It’s important to our team that every body is welcomed in our gym by the entire community, and you get to determine your goals.

References

  1. Bacon, L., & Aphramor, L. (2011). Weight science: Evaluating the evidence for a paradigm shift. Nutrition Journal, 10(9).
  2. Tomiyama, A. J., Hunger, J. M., Nguyen-Cuu, J., & Wells, C. (2016). Misclassification of cardiometabolic health when using body mass index categories in NHANES 2005-2012. International Journal of Obesity, 40, 883–886. 
  3. Flegal, K. M., Kit, B. K., Orpana, H., & Graubard, B. I. (2013). Association of all-cause mortality with overweight and obesity using standard body mass index categories: A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA, 309(1), 71-82.

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