Today I’m here to talk to you about a rather personal and sensitive topic that has been shadowing me for many, many years. I think it is time to share my thoughts. Today I want to talk to you all about what may just be my own paranoid thoughts but how I believe that people take one look at me and my size and instantly judge my lifestyle and how I live.
And the first thing I want to let you all know, because it bugs me to no end is this;
Fat and Fit are not mutually connected
It is quite possible to be fat and fit or thin and unfit. Just because you are one, does not mean that you are automatically the other. And the reason I know this is because I am fat and fit, and have been for most of my life.
But when people see me, I am certain that they believe I;
a) need more exercise
b) should eat less
c) eat more of the “right” food
And I’m a little bit fed up of how damaging these thoughts and comments can be, especially when I already feel like I am trying my hardest to “look better”.
This is me. This is what I look like. It is more or less, how I have always looked – with a little bit of extra padding. Yes, I have had moments in my life where I’ve been slimmer and moments in my life when I’ve been bigger but for the most part, this is a good average representation of how I have always looked. I have not, and doubt I will ever be, incredibly skinny. The best I have to hope for is to fit into a size 12. But that is totally okay. Because even at the size I am now, I know that I am fit and active and that makes me incredibly happy with myself.
I have always been active
Ever since I was a young girl, I liked to run around. From what I’m told, I would run around the playground, ride my bike, going for long walks and get involved with sports. I didn’t care that I wasn’t any good or very fast because I enjoyed it. And I still do. I have this slight problem wherein I can find it very difficult to sit still for long periods of time. (Anyone who has sat next to me in the cinema will know this for certain and often hates me for all my fidgeting!)
What this essentially means is that I rather enjoy being physically active and find it hard to not do some sort of exercise from time to time. In fact, I know there is a link to my moods and how often I exercise. Whenever I get too low, I try and force myself to go and be active for a little while.
So, when I was in primary school, I was always running around at breaktime, playing hopscotch, doing handstands over and over, playing football and even participating in gymnastics. At secondary school I walked thirty (eventually twenty when I kept waking up late) to school every morning, loved PE and was on the school rounders and netball team. I went to Guides where at camp we did Kayaking, Rockclimbing, Absailing, Hiking, and various other activities that I enjoyed. At fourteen I got a paper-round where every morning I would cycle for thirty minutes with heavy bags of papers. Then when I went to college I would walk fourty-five minutes to the train station and then walk up the largest hill for another twenty minutes (and back again in the evening). I would play badminton in the evenings, went swimming every Friday afternoon and I also joined a ten pin bowling club on Saturday mornings. (You may not think ten pin bowling is a lot of effort but it is when you do it for three hours without stopping and you’re the only one in your lane).
Then I went to Canada for six months and went skiing twice a week, every week. It was during this part of my life that I lost the most weight I ever have. The problem being that I did so because I got the flu. On my return, I went to university and one of the first things I did was sign up to the Waterpolo team. This was also the year that I first started running for charity so I started training to run my first 5K. I did another 5K run a year later and stayed with the Waterpolo team which included vigorous training three times a week. Admittedly in my third year of university I stopped doing Waterpolo training but I did keep my running up and still went swimming regularly. While finishing university has been tough as I haven’t found another team to join, I do have an active job which involves going up and down four flights of stairs, shelving books, carrying heavy items and generally almost always being on the go. And now I’m running and swimming again too.
Looking at all of that, would you believe that I’m a size 18-22 dress size?
But what about food?
Obviously, you are thinking, well, if she’s THAT active then she must be eating very badly. I will admit that I have moments in time when I do eat badly. I know growing up we did eat a fair amount of junk food because it was a lot cheaper to feed six kids at McDonalds than at a posh restaurant (cheaper and easier), but as I’ve gotten older, my diet has changed dramatically. I now cook all of my own foods, although, I am only just starting to cook everything from scratch after finding out about all the hidden sugars in ready-made sauces like Dolmio. But I still occasionally like to have cake, and ice cream and chocolate. I don’t think this should ever be denied to me just because I’m a little chunky round the middle. And I honestly want to stop feeling guilty every time I eat these comfort foods.
Food is probably the reason I’ve never fully lost weight and is probably the reason I will never go past being a size 12 but food will never be the reason that I am not a fit individual. I am learning a lot of new things about food lately and sharing my new recipes on this very blog, recipes that are low in sugar, carbs and fat. I’ve learnt that some fats are good for you (the right fats) and sugar is only bad if you don’t use the energy it provides. And I’m finding everything I am learning fascinating and definitely noticing changes in my body and my cravings, but even with all these changes, I still allow myself the cake, ice cream and chocolate on occasion without feeling guilty or judged because I know that I am fit and well on my way to being healthy too.
Think Before You Speak
My story is one of being fat and fit without knowing a true underlying cause for it, aside from potentially the years of eating slightly badly, but there are many others out there who are fat and fit because of medical issues. There are many illnesses out there that cause people to gain weight, those who may be on steroids, people who have bodies that refuse to ingest nutrients correctly, people with other underlying causes. So the next time you see someone with a few extra pounds, don’t instantly judge them for it.
But it’s also a two-way street. Just because someone is thin, does not mean that they are necessarily fit. There are many reasons why they may be thin such as illnesses that make it difficult to absorb food correctly, high metabolisms and hidden dangers. They also could just be naturally thin, unfit and completely healthy. But just as I don’t want people telling me I need to lose weight, it’s not fair to tell skinny people that a) they should put on weight or b) they don’t need to diet/get fit because they look great. Everyone has their own personal reasons for what they do and just because you may not think they look fat, does not mean they don’t feel that way and want to do something about it. It may be difficult to understand, and this is something I personally struggle with and am trying to work on, but it is their body not yours. I would never tell anyone not to diet or gain fitness or vice versa, but I will admit to feeling jealous sometimes but I am only human, afterall.
Personally, I think everyone should just stop telling other people what to do but most importantly can we please stop judging people on their size? If you don’t know, don’t judge/speak.
Everyone is beautiful, unique, and will live how ever they want whether you open your mouth to intrude or not.
I’m really hoping this doesn’t sound like I’m moaning about my weight and how there are people skinnier than me who are less active than me because I’m really not. I’m just fed up of society placing me in a stereotypical pigeon hole and always looking at me incredulously when I tell them that I’m an active person. (I swear my doctor thought I was lying to her and that is so not okay).
I don’t want to live in a world where, when I tell people I ran 10K without stopping, they think, “I’ll believe that when I see it.”. And maybe they aren’t thinking this, maybe this is just my paranoid brain but it feels like they do because that is how society has trained my brain with their constant diet advertisements and television programs like “You are What you Eat.”