Let’s address the proverbial elephant in the room…my weight. It’s pretty obvious from my twitter and blog name that I’m overweight. As I said in my first ever blog post, I really am fat. And I’m not using the word ‘fat’ as a derogatory term either. It’s just that ‘This fat girl runs’ is an easier mouthful than ‘this overweight girl runs’. The thing is, as an overweight runner I know the two things are NOT mutually exclusive. This is, of course, mostly contrary to popular belief.
I’ve been thinking over this post for ages, trying to write it objectively and without sounding too whiny or complaining or defensive. It’s a tough subject though and my personal feelings are obviously going to show. Just trust me when I say I’m not complaining or defensive, I’m guess I’m just feeling helpless and thus venting some frustration.
I’m a fat girl, and I’ll be the first to put my hand up and say I got this way from a combination of bad choices and laziness. Over a period of about 13 years I gradually gained weight and yet I did nothing about it. Ok, I accept the consequences. I’m fat.
Over the last couple of years I’ve made some pretty drastic changes in my lifestyle and eating habits. The result is I’m a lot healthier than I look. Aye but there’s the rub. According to most people, (including close friends), I’m fat, therefore I must be unhealthy. It’s an assumption that a lot of people have without even really thinking about it. Fat=unhealthy. Fat person=unhealthy person. End of story. But that’s not always the case, and these assumptions can be hurtful.
Yes, I’m fat, but I have pretty low cholesterol. I’m fat, but I can run 4km non-stop. I’m fat, but my doctor is happy with my eating habits. I’m fat, but I don’t eat chocolate, cakes or potato chips/crisps. I’m fat, but I don’t drink soda or caffeine. I’m fat, but I don’t eat fried foods.
I’m fat, but I’m healthier than I look. But I can hardly wear that as a sign around my neck can I? What frustrates me is how public a person’s weight is. Everyone feels free to comment on it, and their comments are based on those assumptions made because of my weight. I get told that it’s easy to lose weight: the formula goes less calories + more exercise = weight loss. But it doesn’t always work like that. I average around 1200 calories per day but I’m still fat. I walk (briskly!) at least 4km per day, and I run 3 to 4km three times a week but I’m still fat. I’ve had blood tests and thyroid checks and everything is normal but I’m still fat. I don’t smoke and only occasionally drink alcohol but I’m still fat.
But despite the math not adding up for me, I still get those comments. “It must be what you’re eating.” “You should exercise more.” “You should join a gym/try spinning/do kettlebells etc.”…and so on and so on. It feels like everyone from friends to acquaintances to co-workers all want to weigh in on the subject of my weight. Everyone and anyone has a suggestion on how I can lose weight as if being skinny is the ultimate goal instead of being healthy and making healthy choices.
For example, I was talking about this with a good friend recently. She mentioned that since I do a lot of walking (and this was before I started running), that “it must be what you’re eating”. I had to explain that I had shown my food diary to my doctor, and the only comment my doctor had was that I should eat more fish. This friend knows I don’t eat chocolate, she knows about the foods I don’t eat, and the foods I do. But even after explaining that, months later this same friend keeps asking me if I eat this or that, because this or that is high in fat you know.
While it is highly frustrating to be the brunt of these well-meaning comments and suggestions it’s even worse to be the target of a bully’s taunts. And I get taunted. I get comments made when I’m in a shop, or just walking down the street. I get called ‘Fat B….h’ (which I’ve never understood how those two go together. Am I a b….h because I’m fat, or am I fat because I’m a b….h? Anyway, I digress), I get barked at and laughed at and pointed at. I once heard a sales girl tell another sales girl that I wouldn’t fit into the changing room never mind the item I wanted to try on. I once heard a man tell the woman he was with that he’d kill himself if she got ‘that fat’.
Honestly, it got to the point where I don’t go out without my earbuds in and music playing.
I even got comments at the 5k I ran in November. I just chose not to talk or blog about them at the time because I didn’t want to rain on my own parade. But I got comments, mean ones, based on my weight. Luckily, I got more pats on the back and encouragement than I did mean comments so I focused on the good stuff instead. It helped and I did feel like a million dollars when I crossed that finish line!
My point is; well meaning friends, or mean spirited bullies, they are both making assumptions about me based on my appearance. And they both feel free to make comments based on those assumptions. I just…I wish people would stop it Stop making assumptions. Stop making comments. It’s frustrating, saddening, annoying and frankly, it’s not right.
I’d like to end this rather sad post on a more positive note. I really do appreciate my fellow runners on twitter. It has been a pretty big part of my motivation to run and keep running. Everyone on twitter knows that I’m fat…no one seems to care. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the acceptance and respect I’ve received from the running community on twitter has been a breath of fresh air. Thank you!