Have you ever walked into an event, a meeting or a group and felt like everyone was looking at you as if you don’t fit in? No matter how much you do fit there, it stinks to have others look at you like you don’t or couldn’t. For me, that has been the case on a number of occasions in my life from church groups, to cheer leading in junior high school and now when I am working so hard to change my eating habits an become a healthier individual. Being Fat Doesn’t Mean I Am Not Trying To Be Healthy. Quite simply, it is the very reason I am trying to change how and what I eat, my exercise level and my overall health. Yet, I walk into places all the time, or have conversations with individuals who appear healthier and seem to be looked down upon because of my existing weight.
BEING FAT DOESN’T MEAN I AM NOT TRYING TO BE HEALTHY
Let’s face the facts. Society in general frowns upon those who don’t meet a certain aesthetic criteria. The biggest example of that in my own life has been during my dating years and the lack of dates. In the region of the county I come from, you are lucky if you find a man who isn’t shallow regarding your physical appearance. Funny how in the supposed Bible Belt I have felt more judgement about my weight than I ever do or have when in seemingly healthier parts of the country. Not every person out there will look down on you because you don’t fit the mold. Sadly, however, many will and that has been my experience in life all too often.
Being fat doesn’t mean you aren’t or haven’t been already working hard to become healthier. The judgement of others often comes with assumptions. Okay, honestly isn’t that the case always? When you judge someone else, you truly rarely know the full details so you can’t make a proper judgement. When people see me limping due to sciatica pain in my hip and say to themselves, “if only she would lose weight that wouldn’t be a problem”, they don’t know nor understand that I am already 25 pounds lighter than I was 6 month ago and the pain sill exists. They don’t know that I have drastically changed my eating habits already. They don’t know that my diet consists of portion controlled healthy organic fruits and vegetables, grass fed beef, free range antibiotic free chicken and very few processed foods of any kind. They don’t know that most exercise typically leaves me unable to walk the following day due to excruciating pain. Nor do they know that the mere fact that I am walking, limp or not, is a huge accomplishment every time it happens. A man or woman may be 300 pounds today and appear to be fat and unhealthy, but you don’t know that last year they were 600 pounds and unable to move from their home.
Fat people can’t get healthy if you won’t let them into the gym. I have joined gyms in the past many times. I have paid membership due for months after I stopped going. While many times my lack of follow through had to do with location, cost and childcare – there have been more times than I can count where it mostly had to do with fat shaming. Walking in, stretching and getting started on an elliptical or treadmill was difficult. Why? Because of the fit people who stared at me and made faces, or who ignored me when I had questions about how to use the equipment. If you aren’t willing to help me learn, then how will I ever make progress and change?
Fat people deserve to eat healthy options too. Most recently I have struggled with shopping in our area for healthy food options. With our family that isn’t just eating more fruits and veggies. It has become a goal to eliminate as much processed food from our diet as we can, as well as eat only organic if at all possible. Shopping at our 2 local health foods groceries has become the habit for our family. Yet, walking through the store and making choices often leaves me feeling frustrated and singled out. Not only do people stare and make faces as if we/I don’t belong, but I have literally heard comments from people a few feet away. When a fit person in the local Whole Foods says to their partner, “Buying that isn’t going to make her less fat”, it certainly discourages you from even trying. Reality is, we are making much healthier choices than we did 6 months ago. That means we choose organic low fat cheeses versus whatever is on sale at the grocery store. We are avoiding breads, but occasionally will buy a loaf of organic whole grain for toast or sandwiches as we have a 6 year old who enjoys that and needs a well rounded diet. Because my grocery cart has a single package of cheese and loaf of bread in it, doesn’t mean I have no other healthier options in my cart or my home.
There are dozens of things I can speak first hand about in regards to being a fat woman who is trying to become healthy. There are equally as many encouraging people out there in my life as there are discouraging people. I am, no we are as a family, blessed to have had such great support from our friends and family. Yet at times, I get frustrated by the fact that there is so much pre-judgement in the world regarding those who are overweight. We don’t know what other people have already done to improve their health. We equally don’t know what medical condition may be there that prevent them from being at an ideal weight.
While there is almost always a way to improve your health, we must as fellow human beings use understanding and compassion when viewing each other. What you may see as you look at me, could be far from the truth. No, I can’t physically run a marathon, jog daily or even get on a treadmill for very long at a time. It doesn’t always mean I am unwilling. It simply means I have other medical conditions in place that prevent that from happening without exasperating my pain issues further. Yes, I am still technically morbidly obese, but that doesn’t mean my diet consists of chocolate cake, ice cream and deep fried foods at every meal. n fact, you would likely be surprised at how healthy my eating habits have been for some time.
Remember no matter who you come in contact with, a number on a scale nor a size in an article of clothing doesn’t not define their health nor their desire to be healthy. While being overweight typically means you are more unhealthy than healthy, being thin doesn’t mean you are healthy either. Overall health involves a multitude of factors including heredity, eating habits, overall exercise and physical fitness level and underlying medical conditions. Can we stop judging each other on appearances and begin saving our judgements for character instead?