You’re not just fat

I’ve been fat almost all of my life.  So being fat is a large part (d’oh) of who I am; however, I’m not JUST fat.  I am a lot of other things too.  And those other things play into how being fat affects me physically and mentally.

The point I want to make is I get so tired of hearing people say that they are dieting/trying to lose weight, not because there is anything wrong with being fat, but for their health or because they think they will “feel better” or because they can move better if they are thinner.

Except most health benefits don’t come from weight loss, per se.  The health benefits come from being more fit and making healthy food choices (if you have food allergies or intolerances).  Weighing less does not magically make you enjoy exercise if you have always hated it.  Weighing less does not make you more fit, either.  It just means you weigh less.

If you diet, and don’t take into consideration the specific allergies and/or intolerances to food that you have, you may be thinner, but you won’t feel any better.  And not providing your body with the fuel it needs is not going to make you feel any better either – in fact, your body is going to start fighting back – hard.

Part of “feeling better” comes from that self-righteous glow of “succeeding” on your diet; you know, that honeymoon period before the plateau (if it is simply calories in, calories out – then why do we plateau?), before your body says enough.  Then the crash of guilt and self-hatred for your “failure” sets in – because if you just had more willpower, or if you weren’t such a horrible person, you would be able to lose weight and keep it off.  No.  95% of diets fail.  It is the diet that fails, not you.  So while you may “feel better” for a bit, it’s illusory.  You are doing yourself mental, emotional and/or physical damage.  Like drinking or drugs, in the long run, the high is not worth the misery and damage of the crash.

You will also be putting your body through the stresses of yo-yo dieting, which is going to make you feel less better.

Ditto with WLS.

And the other thing I hear is, “I used to be able to run everywhere”, “I used to have so much energy”, etc.  Okay.  Well, here’s the thing.  You used to be a lot younger too.  So many people seem to think that losing weight will somehow bring back how they felt when they were young.  Sorry.  Your age is part of who you are too, and losing weight is not going to turn you into a 12 year old climbing a tree.  Get a grip.

You want to be able to do more?  You can’t get younger, but you can get stronger!  In fact walking around carrying your own weight, you’re already pretty strong.  Be proud of that.  It may not be easy, but it can be easier if you want to work at it.

And fitness does not mean that you can (or have to be able to) do 100 sit-ups, or chin-ups, etc.  You can have a goal of being more fit — just a little more fit than you are right now.  You don’t (and you can’t) magically become Super Fit Fat Person by killing yourself at the gym.  You don’t have to hurt yourself to become more fit.  In fact, I strongly agree with the concept of “No pain, means no pain”.

So if you feel your fat is keeping you from doing something or making you to feel a certain way.  Take inventory of all of yourself; be realistic about what you want to be able to achieve, figure out what you truly want to do – if you hate it, it isn’t going to work for you, and then do what you feel is right for you – all of you.

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4 thoughts on “You’re not just fat

  1. Excellent post, full of common sense. I am a person who has struggled with compulsive exercise all my life & I have gone through several periods of around four years each exercising 3-4 hours daily (which, btw, only made a difference, over 3-4 YEARS, of about 15 pounds in my weight). After the last one, as I went back to my usual 35-90 minutes daily of walking, I was also in my 50’s & going through menopause, so I have not only regained the 15 pounds I lost through compulsive exercise, but another 15-20 to keep it company. I just turned 60 & now I try to walk every day, sometimes, if I have time from doing other things, I might walk twicem but I seldom walk more than an hour per day & some days only walk 35-40 minutes. I feel fine, I function fine, & I actually feel better than I did while pushing myself to work out four hours per day, & study after study has shown that the health benefits of exercise are only shown for 20-30 minutes daily of moderate activity; exercise operates on a law of diminishing returns, so up to a point, it is good for you. After that, it is harmful & causes more injuries & faster disintegration of the body. I should add that I also have cerebral palsy & now have arthritis & I know that I have almost certain accelerated the progress of the arthritis because I pushed myself so hard all those years (& by ALL, I mean I have been from moderately to excessively active for over 50 years.) Now I am learning that I have to listen to my body, accept & love it as it is, & stop punishing it for not being perfect…either as ‘perfectly thin’ as our culture demands OR as perfectly able-bodied. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone anymore &, regardless of what the fat bigots say or prefer to believe, I am more than active enough for my health & my eating habits are normal, thank you…as well as none of anyone’s damn business. It’s taken 60 years, but I think I finally understand that I DO have the right to live in my body in a way that is right for ME & that I do not have to kill myself to earn the right to live as a fat, disabled & now older woman. I am fine, my body is fine, & it will be if & when the day comes when I can no longer exercise at all.

  2. In fact, I strongly agree with the concept of “No pain, means no pain”.

    YES. This is something I’m struggling with right now– I’ve just gotten new orthotics and simultaneously began walking about 100% more than I was over the summer (not an exaggeration– I was very sedentary this summer and then transitioned back to my college, which considers itself a “walking campus”) and I’ve been thinking I should get back in the habit of going to the gym, because I do genuinely like the way exercise makes me feel, especially lifting.

    But at the same time I’m getting severe foot and ankle pain from walking the quarter-mile from my dorm to the dining hall, so I know that going to the gym is a terrible idea. I immediately become defensive, mostly with myself, whenever I see anyone en route to or from the gym, because the fact of the matter is, I can’t handle going right now.

    I know that pain is my body’s way of telling me that something is wrong. But it’s nice to have that validated externally.

  3. I am glad that you know that you need to listen to your body & back off because of the pain. It is something which I have been unable to do most of my life; I usually push through the pain.

    As I said, I have cerebral palsy & have had since birth & because it is hemiplegic CP & mostly affects the left side of my body, all my life, especially since I began walking nearly 59 years ago, I have depended on the right side of my body to do at least 75% of the work & carry most of the load &, as I described, I have generally pushed my body hard & demanded a lot of it. I have done many thousands of stomach crunches, lifted weights quite a bit, worn out two different exercise machines after putting nearly 4,000 miles on each one, & conservatively speaking, I have walked between 50,000 & 55,000 miles. Since I have never had a car or a license, I walk not only for exercise, but as my basic mode of transportation.

    Well, now at 60, I think my body is staging a protest. I do have some arthritis, though it usually is worst in my hands, & I don’t walk on those. My balance has always been poor & it is getting worse; I stumble more & often one of my knees or ankles will wobble under me & threaten to collapse. I have pretth chronic pain through the right knee, the back of it, in the thigh, the calf & down the leg, which gets worse usually the more I stand or walk. One type of advice I have received is to do exercises to strengthen my quadriceps, as well as walking, which I already do more than enough of. I wonder now, especially after reading this post, is that really the best answer to an aging body wearing out & breaking down…to try to offset the effects of a lifetime of too much exercise by doing still MORE exercise? There really is a lot to be said, I guess, for ‘no pain means no pain’, for accepting my body’s limitations, & for giving up the lifelong quest to make my body into something it is not supposed to be & to prove (to whom?) that I am as good as an able-bodied person.

  4. Many people forget that compulsive exercising is a problem on the order of anorexia or bulemia.

    Thank you for sharing your journey.

    I think it is so important for us all to hear of everyone’s journey, because so often we see some of ourself therein.

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