From Jonnie

Want to Explore the Gabriel Method Together?


Jon Gabriel spells out an approach to health and a step-by-step program, which I find pretty compelling and exciting. Many of his points share in the principles we are learning about in the DIFO group, such as:


·         Diets are bad for you

·         Satisfy your various hungers

·         Eat more fresh foods

·         Get quality protein in your diet

·         Get enough omega 3 fatty acids

·         Find pleasurable ways to move

·         Your emotional, physical and spiritual needs all matter


However, unlike many size-positive anti-diet authors, Gabriel believes that he has found ways to reset the set point that determines how fat or thin your body wants to be. His thesis is that an ancient part of our body understands survival in just two ways: if there is famine or cold the body will find ways to make you fatter. If it trusts that nourishment is plentiful it will want to make you thinner, especially if it thinks that you have to occasionally run away from a tiger.


According to Gabriel, all physical, mental and social stressors in your environment are perceived by this ancient part of the body through one of these two filters. Chronic stressors, physical hunger, nutritional deprivation, stored emotional trauma, chronic exhaustion and a feeling of scarcity of all sorts are perceived as famine or cold, so the hormones and mechanisms that make you fatter spring into action.


On the other hand, a sense of abundance and ease is associated by the body with an environment where food is plentiful. If possible, short intense bursts of exercise also give the body a message that it’s in an environment where it occasionally needs to run away from a tiger. In response the body activates the mechanisms to make us thinner and faster. The Gabriel method works on a nutritional, emotional and other levels to convince the body that it is living in just such an environment.


If Gabriel is right in his assertion that he has discovered a mechanism for shifting the set point, I find that pretty exciting news. Improving our lives and embracing ourselves just as we are is surely the most important step, but for some of us it would be welcome news to learn that the body is capable of resetting its weight down as well as up. (That is something most health-at-any-size advocates say can’t be done.) In any case Gabriel’s program is bound to improve health and wellbeing, regardless of any weight shift.


There is just one downside, which is that the program and the community Jon Gabriel has organized around it is very centered on weight loss. Even though he constantly repeats that being fat is not your fault, the emphasis on weight loss itself is toxic to some of us.


However, I have been thinking for a long time that his program is very easily adaptable to a health-at-any-size model. What if we simply implement his advice for making the body healthier and create the room for it to lose weight if it needs to, but keep our focus on health instead of weight loss? For example, Gabriel’s visualization exercises of the body as healthy and thin could easily be reworked to be healthy and strong, fast, whole – or whatever images you want to use. Then why not let the body interpret that message however it needs to?  To me this would be like the best advice of the health-at-any-size movement, but taken one step further.


I have been trying to do this exploration alone, but it’s harder to do in isolation. Doing it with a peer group is much easier and more likely to generate success. So, that’s what I’m looking for – a few people who are committed to a size-positive vision and want to support each other in exploring the Gabriel Method together.


Interested? Write to me at if you are.



More from Lupa: Do media images trigger eating disorders?

Do Media Images Trigger Eating Disorders?

by M. E. Wood
at BellaOnline – Voice of Women

National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) is the largest nonprofit organization dedicated to the elimination of eating disorders and body dissatisfaction. They have an interesting press release on a study in 2003 on the impact of media images on people who are already prone to eating disorders. They found “that viewing ‘plus-size’ models decreased young women’s body dissatisfaction, thereby reducing a critical risk factor for eating disorders.” This seems like common sense to me.

According to the press release the year-long study randomly assigned undergraduate college women to one of three groups. One group viewed images of “plus-size” professional models, one viewed “super-thin” professional models and the control group viewed images of non-human objects.

They concluded that “viewing thin images has a negative effect while viewing plus-size images has a demonstrably positive effect on young women,” Wiseman said. “Based on this research and given the scarcity of plus-size models in magazines and television shows targeting the adolescent audience, we can conclude that the media may inadvertently increase the risk of pathological dieting and eating disorders among adolescent females.”

Not surprisingly their recommendation is to increase the number of plus size models in the media.

In a recent issue of Ms. Magazine, writer Catherine Orenstein’s article, The Dialectic of Fat sites a 90s study by Harvard Medical School regarding Fiji girls and television, “Between 1995 and 1998, the islanders watched Melrose Place and Beverly Hills 90210, and 11 percent of the girls surveyed developed bulimia–a disease previously unknown to them.”

The studies have been done, the results are in. It’s time to stop wasting money on studies and start spending money on doing something about it. It’s time we had a fair representation of women in all forms of media.

Another contribution from Lupa

Marilyn Wann on Weight Diversity

Marilyn Wann is a fat activist, author (Fat!So?), and weight diversity speaker who resides in San Francisco. Recently I was able to ask her about the importance of weight diversity and the evolution of fat acceptance in our society.

Moe: How long have you been an activist?

Marilyn Wann: I started being a fat activist in the mid-nineties, when I was denied health insurance based solely on my weight. I created and published a print ‘zine called FAT!SO?, and then wrote the FAT!SO? book. I started speaking when I learned about young fat people who committed suicide because of being bullied and teased about their weight. My first talk was in a junior high health education class taught by a friend.

Moe: Why is weight diversity important?

Marilyn Wann: Weight diversity is a fact about human beings. People have always come in different shapes and sizes and weights. There have always been fat people. There will always be fat people. If fat people are not welcome and encouraged to participate fully in our lives and in our society, then we all lose out on the precious contributions and talents of so many of us! And we’re losing out on the full life and full participation of thin people, too, who waste time and money worrying about getting fat. Weight diversity is crucial for the survival of human beings and for the flourishing of our communities. Weight diversity intersects in powerful ways with ethnicity, gender, age, sexuality, physical ability, and class in ways that afford us a wonderful opportunity to undo other oppressions when we welcome weight diversity, too.

Moe: You have been championing fat acceptance for over a decade now? Did you ever think you would still be doing this now?

Marilyn Wann: I never imagined I would be so lucky as to find an endeavor that uses all of my talents and that is endlessly worthwhile, even in the most discouraging moments (say, when I hear First Lady Michelle Obama promising there will be no fat children in 25 years, or when people blame everything from global warming to healthcare costs on fat people). Because I have been a fat activist since the mid-90s and because I’m lucky to know about the history of fat activists who came before me, I can tell that we’re winning, that fat hate is going to be very unpopular very soon. It can happen even sooner, the more of us refuse to go along with fat jokes, fat-bashing, fat discrimination… as soon as we make it uncool, inconvenient, and unconscionable.

Moe: Do you see/feel there have been strides made in fat acceptance since you started?

Marilyn Wann: Definitely! When I came out as a proud fat person, I would never have imagined that I would not only be invited to speak about weight discrimination and the need for social justice, but be paid to do so. I’m just one person in a whole fat pride community that is growing in numbers and righteousness. I have been so excited to see people online using the power of their voices and their connections with each other to create the fatosphere. I also think it’s necessary for us to be with each other in person, where we can mirror fat pride back to each other, which helps everyone really live our ideals. Fat hate comes from a social message, so we need to experience social settings where we can appreciate our fabulousness and resistance and pride. These community spaces are happening more and more. (And I hope fat gatherings that have not yet been political or activist will become more so!) I’m also hugely heartened by the successes of Health At Every Size experts, who are publishing more and writing more forcefully about the dangers of a weight-based approach to health and the benefits of a weight-neutral approach. Also, since 2004, the interdisciplinary field of fat studies has come together and there have been historic accomplishments. There is a significant shelf of fat studies articles and books, a community of undergraduate students, grad students, recent PhDs, and professors whose careers are all expanding this new field, and this year, we saw “The Fat Studies Reader” get published by NYU Press. These are exciting times to be a fat freedom fighter. In the future, when people look back on the early, scary days of our liberation efforts, you will be able to say that you were one of the cool kids, the early adopters, that you dared to stand up for yourself when it was a risky, influential thing to do.

To Label or Not to Label

That is the question

In Session 1 of DIFO we explored the concept of sexual identities, and we found that as a group, we use lots of diverse labels to describe our sexuality: lesbian, gay, dyke, bisexual, queer, butch lesbian, and many more. Some of us said that we were uncomfortable with labels and did not use them. Our little community reflects the debates in the larger world of non-heterosexual theorizing. More than a century ago, when the sexologists like Havelock Ellis and Sigmund Freud were busy labeling people as different types according to their sexual practices, this newfound labeling allowed people to find each other and start creating community. We would not have a lesbian or an LGBT community without labels. We would not have had a Stonewall or a gay rights movement without labels. There would have been no Lavender Menace to shake up the National Organization of Women, or Lesbian Avengers to march in gay pride parades. There would have been no lesbian brunch. But in the 1990s, many academic activists declared that identity politics was dead, because sexual identities are social constructions that change and evolve, not fixed identities on which we should base community building or political organizing. So my question in this blog is, “Is it healthier to label or not label one’s sexuality?” This also begs the question, “Should we label our communities?”

Let’s start with the individual level. How did you feel when other DIFO group members announced the terms that they preferred, or you read the Session 1 box with all the labels? No doubt some women were concerned that the group is so different, and others were overjoyed by the diversity. What accounts for these different reactions? Some research shows that coming out (which implies adopting a label for oneself…no one says, “Mom, Dad, I’m fluid”) results in better mental health and psychological well-being. Also, lots of research shows that belonging to a community or feeling an affiliation to lesbian or LGBT community is good for one’s health. It has been linked to better relationships, better mental health, more social support, and less drinking and smoking. We do not know whether women fare better if they have a lesbian or a lesbian/bisexual women’s community versus an LGBT community. And I don’t know of any research that focuses on the effects of adopting a queer identity. Does saying that one is queer have the same effects as using labels like lesbian or bisexual?

So does the label for the community matter? Can you feel a sense of belonging to a community without a label? Could we organize potlucks and picket City Hall without putting some name to our groups? What would it say on the t-shirts?

I guess I’m arguing for labels. We cannot band together, organize, or feel a strong sense of ourselves without using some labels. But we should not get too hung up on the specifics of the words we use and we should not police the boundaries of the community too fiercely. Sometimes we need the broadest possible community of LGBTs and allies for political campaigning such as marriage equality and ENDA. Other times, we might want more narrow and limited groups, like a butch lesbian support group, a bisexual women’s bowling league, or an older lesbian-feminist discussion group. These are smaller social networks that make up the broader LGBT community. Lesbian communities or lesbian/bisexual women’s communities are also a subset of the LGBT or queer community. DIFO is one narrow group, defined by the regulations imposed on us by the federal funder to limit our services to people who identify as women, lesbian, bisexual, queer, over 40, and of size. If we find that this program is beneficial, we can only say that it works for this narrow subgroup of non-heterosexual women.

So what’s your opinion on labeling of individuals and communities?