Thoughtful Conversation with Dr. Linda Bacon of Health at Every Size

Posted by on June 4, 2012

I’m excited that Dr. Linda Bacon is sharing her thoughts with us today about perseverance. I really admire her career and accomplishments. I recommend you check out her site (http://www.lindabacon.org) after you read her interview.  Thank you, Linda, for taking part! I’m so glad I first connected with you on Twitter.

Linda Bacon, PhD, is a researcher on the inside track of weight regulation science – a scientist whose three graduate degrees, research, and clinical expertise uniquely prepare her to understand and translate the physiological, psychological, and socio-cultural underpinnings of weight control. An internationally recognized authority on weight and health, Dr. Bacon has published her work in top scientific journals as well as the highly acclaimed popular press book, Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight. Read Linda’s interview below!

Image (c) Linda Bacon

(c) Linda Bacon

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? Who did you receive it from?

“Follow your passion.” I hate to reinforce stereotypes of the mystical, spiritual East but in this case, the stereotype proves true. I was 21 years old, in a monastery in Nepal, preparing to end the time I had spent in India and Nepal as part of my junior year of college abroad. Scared to return to the U.S. without career direction, feeling family/cultural pressure to do things that didn’t interest me but may have given me opportunity for better financial security/social prestige,  I asked a monk for advice. Glad I took it and didn’t follow the expected path. It’s wonderful to feel very passionate about what I do.

How important is mentorship in terms of your success?

Critical. Mentors/role models have been very instrumental in helping to inspire me, to identify what’s important and how to achieve it, and to make connections with others.  Now that I’ve reached a level of confidence in my field, I do feel more reciprocity: People I previously viewed as mentors, I now appreciate more as collaborators.

What has been the best moment in your life so far?

Family is big for me, keeps me grounded so that everything else is possible. So while I’m not sure I can identify a moment, I can say I appreciate their ongoing love and support.

What tips would you have for living a healthy life?

It also starts from self-love.  Appreciate who you are and you desire the best for yourself and make it happen. Part two is to have compassion for yourself; self-acceptance isn’t so easy to achieve!

How do you motivate yourself to persist despite setbacks?

I turn to friends and family for support.

What has been your biggest setback? How did you deal with it? What did you learn from it?

My mother, father, and mother-in-law all died within a few months of one another. It was hard enough to handle my own emotions, but then to feel the pain my partner and our son were going through made it even more intense. But it was feeling their pain along with mine that was so valuable. It made us all more closer to have gone through that. And now, because of our shared history, we can keep the memories alive. I also learned how important it was to share my pain with my friends; it made us closer to share my vulnerability.

Photo Credit: Linda Bacon

How do you deal with critics?

My work is all about supporting people in loving their bodies, which meets up with a lot of resistance in our weight-obsessed, fat-phobic culture. Many people believe, for example, that fat is bad and hatred of body fat is necessary and valuable motivation for change.  So I do have a lot of critics. It’s not easy confronting the antagonism, and sometimes I wish I had better defenses. Relying on my community is what helps me. I do what I can, know that others have my back, and try my best to accept that I don’t have the power to change everyone.

How important is social support in overcoming obstacles?

Absolutely critical!

What advice would you give others about goal setting?

Goal-setting isn’t such a huge emphasis for me. I’d rather do things because they’re the right things to do, rather than to accomplish an outcome.

What life lesson have you learned that you would like to pass along to others?

I’m a strong advocate for “Health at Every Size.”  I’d love to encourage everyone to lighten up about weight angst, challenge status quo ideas about weight and its relationship to health and beauty, and take special care to appreciate and take care of their amazing bodies.  Opening up to appreciating weight diversity has expanded my world tremendously.

Thank you so much Linda for sharing your thoughts on perseverance with us! Keep up the amazing work you are doing!

Thank you for reading and your presence at this beach retreat. You Rock! I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below.

See you at the beach!

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