I have been indirectly accused of fat-shaming twice this weekend. Once was in a response to a discussion about a blogger who lost 30 pounds and then was accused of fat-shaming because she answered questions about how she did it and posted before and after pictures. The second hurt more because it was a friend and came just days after I posted about losing 50 pounds so far because I stopped eating crap.
After fighting with my weight on and off for about 15 years, I finally learned that for me and my body, food choices are far more important than exercise. I worked out hard for years without making much difference. When I went vegan and then reduced my soda intake, I started slowly and surely seeing a change. The thing was, I didn’t make those changes in order to lose weight. I went vegan for ethical reasons and reduced soda for a variety of political, moral, and health-related reasons. The weight loss was a side effect and I refuse to be ashamed. Now, I am actively trying to make choices that will help me lose up to 30 more pounds (or get to the weight that will let me qualify for Boston.)
I try to be sensitive. I try to check my privilege. I am painfully aware that my life is better now because I am no longer obese and am only slightly overweight. Some things are easier because the world is designed for smaller people and some things are easier because my small frame was not designed to carry a lot of extra weight. A lot of things are easier for me now, including running, which I did even at my heaviest. I imagine they’ll be even easier when I finally reach racing weight. But to claim I have nothing useful to say about obesity, weight, or fat loss is both incorrect and unfair. Did a decade of my life disappear because I am now smaller? Am I less worthy? Why doesn’t health at every size respect those of us who feel healthier at smaller sizes?
There are people I love who have painful physical problems from being overweight. Their mobility is limited. They can’t try physical activities they might enjoy. Even if you take away the emotional issues from how society treats people who are overweight, their quality of life is worse because of their weight and they know it. I’m speaking of people I know and love– I would not presume to assume the same of anyone I don’t know– I tend to be oblivious to weight. But just my existence as a person who has lost a lot of weight is taken as a shaming thing by some people. Am I not supposed to talk about it? I’m hoping to get lots of support in my efforts to lose 30 more pounds, which will be hard, if not impossible. By asking for that support, though, I am a shamer. People feel okay making value judgments on my goals, as if my goals have any direct reflection on them. If I weren’t trying to qualify for Boston, I wouldn’t even be trying to lose weight. Is my attempt to qualify for Boston as a former obese person also an attempt to shame people who don’t try? (BTW, there are people my current weight or heavier who have qualified for and run Boston– I’m just not one of those who can run fast enough at this weight.)
Just because I’m trying to lose weight doesn’t mean you should. I think people should respect their bodies no matter what they look or feel like. My decisions about my body are not a value judgment on your decisions about your body.
Today was my ninth run in a row. Interestingly, I started to feel fatigue in my shoulders, triceps, and upper back. Legs and feet feel fine, hips feel pleasantly stretched, knees are good. It was hotter today (I dawdled getting ready because of my hurt feelings over the fat shaming thing) but it was my second fastest run of this streak. I can now run further up the hills before my heart rate gets too high. Yay progress!