Meet Tiana the Fat Health Coach
Due to the recent departures of Angela and Deah, we are bypassing the typical voting regimen to encourage new bloggers to join us. Tiana is our latest blogger. If you’re interested in participating, please check out our Join Us page.
Trigger warning: Discussion of weight loss.
My name is Tiana, pronounced like Diana with a T. I am originally from Colorado, but through some interesting life choices, I’ve ended up married to a French guy and living in Germany. If you were to ask me if this is how I envisioned my life would turn out, my answer would be “no” — mostly because I’m not this creative.
Before hopping the pond and getting hitched, I was a fat mechanical engineer working on fusion energy research experiments. Now I’m The Fat Health Coach, working to help other fat folks figure out that they can live the lives they want, love their bodies, and even be healthy with their fat.
I learned to feel ashamed of my body early on when a boy called me fat in first grade, which began my journey of trying out diet pills, shots, gums, exercise, and starvation. My mother’s own struggle with weight and my stepfather’s assurances that no one wanted a fat woman reinforced my commitment to the low-fat, fat-free, sugar-free cult of eating and diet soda drinking. I soon learned how to binge and watched my weight steadily increase.
After college, I decided to make a real effort to become healthy (meaning thin). I did what every fat girl who has tried diets and starvation without success does: I joined Weight Watchers. I had some modest success, but found the whole routine of weighing, measuring, and counting far more confining than my ever-tightening pants.
I then stumbled upon a Health Coach. She was a thin, raw, vegan, with a butt that was a testament to her love of yoga and devotion to Pilates. To me, she looked like the very definition of healthy. She seemed like the real answer to all my weight problems with her promises of easy weight loss, health and, ultimately, happiness.
Through our work together, I surprised myself when I uncovered a passion for nutrition that melded well with my enjoyment of helping others, though I lost no weight. This timely revelation set a new path for me: to become a health coach. In spite of my good intention, during training I found myself immersed in a group of people who railed against the obesity epidemic in the US and the standard American diet (SAD), preaching how losing weight is the answer and the truth. I felt like a fish out of water because I was a fat person, a product of said SAD diet, and I found myself hiding my fatness in order to go forth and sell the weight loss “truth” to others, despite the fact that it had never worked for me.
So I searched for other practicing, fat health coaches. I needed to find a community of people like me. I had to see how they navigated the minefield of preaching health in spite of not fitting into the healthy paradigm. I wanted to know that I was not alone because I was ready to give up my dream before it bore fruit.
But the internet bore the fruit that I needed: the Health at Every Size® (HAES) principles. After reading the book, doing the research, and finding other fat folks who were shining examples of how HAES can spell success, I knew I had found the real answer. This was the key to how I could continue as a health coach and be authentic to myself.
Practicing HAES principles helped me to find the message that I was looking for; the message that I could be healthy without losing weight, that I did not have to buy into the healthy paradigm, in all its flawed glory. I started to focus more on taking care of myself, listening to and trusting my body. I began to love myself and found new representations of beauty in the wider world that encompassed larger bodies.
Shortly thereafter, I found that I was enjoying my life more than I ever had before.
Who knew that the simple choice to stop chasing weight loss could have done that for me?
So here I am, a lover of her own fat. Healthy and fat, and winning all the way.