Let’s talk about the stereotype that all fat people are unmotivated slobs who are too lazy to care about their health. Here’s what I say to that stereotype: In your face! I got my lab results in from my physical almost two weeks ago. All results were great. My doctor even wrote “Great!” on my results before mailing them to me. This is a step up from the “Good” I got last year. I’ve gotten a clean bill of health every year for the past 3 years (that’s when I started getting physicals). I am a healthy, 31-year-old woman who happens to be fat. I am also aware that I currently have youth on my side. It won’t be this way forever which is why I am trying to lead a healthier lifestyle that involves losing some weight. Diabetes, high-blood pressure, stroke, and cancer are in my family history. I know this. Armed with this knowledge, I am trying to set in motion habits now that will benefit me for years to come.
Even though I don’t always make the best food choices, I am a very active person. It still amazes me that people are so shocked to see that I’m in pretty decent shape and have pretty good stamina, you know for a fat person. When I joined my gym last year, I got a free personal training session and fitness assessment. We took my fat percentage and weight and calculated my BMI. The trainer viewed all those numbers and made a determination on my physical abilities based upon them. As we were working out, (well I was working out, he was telling me what to do), he kept making comments (with a very surprised tone) about how good I was at cardio. I even fell during one exercise, but I jumped right back up and kept going. He expressed his shock at my ability to do this because “most people” would quit from embarrassment. He was kind of an asshole. I should have predicted that. He was wearing dress shoes during our workout. I’m sorry, but my new philosophy is to never trust a personal trainer who is wearing dress shoes in the gym.
I was told once, by a “friend” that another “friend” expressed her concern that I had quit coming to a bootcamp class. Said “friend” was questioning if I had substituted other classes. She was worried because 1) I couldn’t stick to anything, and 2) I really needed the cardio. That was two years ago, and I am still at a loss as to how my exercise habits were any of her business. The last time I checked, she was not my doctor. How did she know whether or not I needed cardio?
I bring all this up because I was once the self-conscious, fat girl who was too embarrassed to go to the gym and workout because I thought everyone would judge me. At that time in my life, I thought that I was beyond help, and was too embarrassingly fat to do something about it. I didn’t have confidence in my own power. I didn’t yet know what a strong, kick-ass woman I would turn out to be. Sometimes life is intimidating as hell. Sometimes we are hanging on by a thread. There may be someone out there who is trying to change themselves for the better, and your judgment of them, based upon a stereotype can do a lot of damage. Don’t underestimate me and my health solely based upon how I look.
I say all this to myself as well. For years, I underestimated myself because of how I looked. I would be too scared to try something because I just knew that I was too fat to do it. I tell you what, I’ve done a lot of things now that I never thought I would do – run 5ks, burpees, lift weights, lead Zumba songs, spinning classes, bootcamp classes, have fun at the gym, push-ups, planks, etc. Talk to your doctor about what is best for you based upon your health. Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing or what unsolicited advice someone is giving you (unless it’s maybe, “hey you’re likely to snap your neck if you keep lifting that barbell like that, let me help”). So stop judging yourself! Stop underestimating yourself! Challenge yourself and know yourself. (Yes I know, this is the unsolicited advice that I just told you to ignore but maybe listen to that last part). -K
“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” – Mother Teresa