August 15, 2017
I think I have got myself a bit of a reputation.
Let me explain….
Whenever an obesity story hits in the UK, a new bit of research or some kind of incident that has got the medias attention…my phone starts to go.
When this first started happening I got all excited and would spend days doing interviews with radio stations, and being whisked to TV studios in the early hours of the morning…it was all very exciting, being able to share my take on it all and getting publicity for The Fat Girls Guide to Running.
But recently I have got a little bit bored by it all.
I feel like I am fighting a losing battle, and to be quite honest it is not a battle I am willing to be the figure head for anyway anymore.
Today is one of those days….I have spent most of the day avoiding writing this post.
This morning a friend gave me a heads up that a TV channel was “Debunking the Fit but Fat Myth”, then I started to be tagged into all kinds of articles, my favourite of course from that wonderful publication that is the Daily Mail….if you want to see how vile people can be, just read the comments on any of their online articles.
I am done with trying to fight against the way the media reports on this stuff, and if I see the same fat stock images being used again I am seriously going to scream.
So why this blog post? Well, I can’t just ignore this one…and I am scheduled to appear on Radio Scotland later this week on the topic, so why not give my 2 pence worth. I don’t expect my views to change anyones opinions per say, but at least I might equip the women who follow my blog to cope better when these kind of media stories break.
But to be quite honest the women in my community are just as pissed off as me with this kind of reporting
Picking on the fatties again!!! Had a heated debate with a colleague about this last week. She has a healthy BMI but smokes 20 cigarettes per day and drinks a bottle of wine most nights. I’m not dissing her, its up to her how she leads her life but she claimed to be healthy because she’s not overweight. Most of the world have risk factors be it lifestyle or genetic. I don’t think this is new information and I’m all for education but I personally don’t find headlines like this very helpful
The latest research was led by Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge who examined data from half a million people to disprove the idea that people can be fat but medically fit. What does medically fit even mean? I don’t know about anyone else but I am more interested in being fit for life..able to do the things I need to do in my life with ease. Able to run up stairs, run for a bus, run after my child…you know that kind of thing?
In a nut shell the study has discovered that people who are overweight or obese still carry a higher risk of coronary heart disease despite having healthy blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
OK…I will take their word for that.
But I think you will find most of the people who are in support of the fit and fat movement are not disputing that overweight people may or may not have a range of health conditions associated with their weight, but are actually just saying that it is better to be overweight and active than overweight and sedentary, just like it is better to be slim and active than slim and not.
I think the way this research is being reported is just not helpful, and here are 3 reasons why
1. Fitness is a form of self care
Many overweight women start fitness as a way of losing or maintaining their weight, but later find it to be a way of coping with the stresses of life irrespective of any weight loss that occurs. With headlines like “No…you can’t be fat and fit” being bounded around, the overwhelming message is, you might as well not bother.
Dr William Bird a leading expert on physical activity and hero of mine has said it many times that there are overwhelming health benefits for people being active wether they lose weight or not. Something to do with telomeres and chromosomes or something, don’t ask me…he’s the doctor.
2. The focus on fixing the overweight population is misleading
All of this media attention gives slim folk cart blanche to live unhealthy lives unchallenged. We all know of people who only eat junk food, never eat vegetables, drink excessively, smoke and take no exercise at all, but because of their thin bodies are not shamed or seen as a ticking time bomb.
A comment from a Doctor who happens to be in our running club today helped us gain some perspective,
Of the people who die in ICU smoking is the single biggest risk factor which often goes hand in hand with low socioeconomic status.
Shouldn’t the message be to strive for a healthy balanced life regardless of weight? Shouldn’t we be looking at all of the contributing factors and behaviours that lead to bad health, let’s start with stress and overwhelm for example, the reason that many of us self medicate with food and alcohol. Come on we have all done it.
3. Aren’t we just highlighting the symptoms instead of the cause?
I have spent 20 years of my life trying not to be fat…shit at some points in my life it has been a full time job. My weight goes up and down according to a number of factors, all things I am aware of but struggle to stay on top of at times. I also have the added challenge of dealing with the impact of early menopause which has stalled all weight loss even when I have been on top of my nutrition and exercise.
I am not alone in thinking about the impact of age in this debate, most of the women in my groups are 40+, and as one pointed out today,
As people get older they naturally put on weight as their metabolism slows down. Does that mean we should be bitching at all the sixty-five year olds to lose weight? That would be interesting.
I work with thousands of women who struggle with their weight, women who have spent decades dieting and desperately searching for something which works, something which resembles balance. It is not through lack of effort or heart ache that these women are still overweight.
Weight gain is just one of the symptoms that has emerged from our modern way of living…it is a big complex ugly can of worms that needs opening and dealing with for us to crack this. Maybe these academics should be focussing on solutions rather than debunking so called myths.
I know one thing though….
EXERCISE SAVED MY LIFE
It saved me from being really inactive in my partying twenties, it saved me from debilitating depression in my thirties, and it saved me from a whole heap worse when I found myself unemployed and a newly single parent a few years back.
Running gave me a focus.
It gave me a chance to be a winner….because you know us fatties are losers right?
It gave me hope.
A chance to make peace with my body, to do my best with it.
I don’t know for sure if you can be fit and fat…I know for sure I can be fat and fitter than a whole heap of other people of all shapes and sizes and fitter than I was in the past.
Could I do with losing some weight right now…yes probably…am I going to do that at any cost…em no!!!
Right, can I get back to writing about running 40 miles in one go in my size 18 body…and how the hell to stop the chaffing of your lady bits?
The image from this blog post is of me completing a Spartan Race with my sister last year. She is a size 12 and normally does no exercise. This was clear on the day. She would be the first to admit that her lifestyle is not the healthiest, but people always assume I am the lazy, glutenous, stupid one out of the two of us.
If you are a larger lady who would like to join a community of women who achieve incredible things at a range of body sizes, check out The Clubhouse our online running club, where you will receive weekly coaching, inspiration, accountability and a whole heap more.