I’m a bit riled up today after reading a blog post by Joni Edelman on Ravishly yesterday that’s gone viral. We’re talking Today show viral. The title alone is an attention grabber- “Being Thin Didn’t Make Me Happy, But Being Fat Does”. Ah, here we go again in the fat vs. fit war. Whether it’s the Fit Mom or a proud plus-size lingerie creator, we just love to pit women against each other. Either you’re pro-fat or pro-thin. There is no middle ground. You have to choose a side- or maybe I should say size.
Let me be clear before really digging into why I’ve gotten so riled up: I don’t think that fat people should live in shame, sadness or a general state of malaise. I sure didn’t back when I weighed 240 pounds. I don’t think that one’s state of health can be assessed in a quick visual assessment or just by looking at their weight or BMI. I may be a part of the whole big bad “weight loss industry machine” as a fitness professional- but that doesn’t mean I want you to be a certain size or weight or that I want to prey on your insecurities to make a sale. Many of us in the “machine” have pure intentions & kind hearts. We’re not gunning to make you look like a supermodel or “hot”- we’re trying our best to show you the way to a healthier lifestyle.
Joni’s post really struck a chord for me because even though I did experience the whole spectrum of human emotion as a fat woman 10 years ago (and yes, that included LOTS of moments of joy), well, to be honest I was generally unhappier. Self-awareness has come over the years and I know that this nagging sense of unhappiness had less to do with my weight & more to do with my overall state of health (and I believe it’s all connected- your mental, emotional, spiritual & physical health). I had little energy. I was constantly battling sinus infections. I would drive around a parking lot for 30 minutes just to find the closest spot so I wouldn’t have to walk for too long. I was both comforted and resentful of my status as the “funny fat friend.” I am generally happier now lighter- and undoubtedly MUCH healthier in all respects.
What bothered me the most about Joni’s piece was her confession that her state of “physical hotness” was pretty much due to her starving herself on a 1,000 calories a day diet & a crazy cardio regimen (well, crazy if you’re not training for a marathon)- she was running 35 miles a week. She was living on little sleep all the while weighing herself daily and obsessing over calories.It’s no wonder she was unhappy thin.
I think it’s a pretty safe bet that her improved state of happiness has more to do with letting go of these terribly unhealthy habits than it has to do with her weight. For the record, I think she’s beautiful in BOTH her before and after pictures. I completely agree with her assertion that thinness doesn’t serve as either a cure to sadness or a happiness guarantee. I too have lived in both worlds.
You don’t need to be a size 4 to be happy OR healthy. But, make no mistake, veer too far outside of a healthy weight range and you ARE impacting your health. You may not feel the impact for a number of years but there IS an impact. Coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cancer, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, reproductive problems, gallstone- your risk increases with obesity.
I’m proof positive that you don’t have to resort to crazy measures to get into a healthy weight range.
You don’t need to starve yourself.
You don’t need to survive on rice cakes & spray butter and foods you ate.
You don’t need to bust your ass at a gym or on the road for lengthy cardio sessions.
You don’t need to sacrifice your sleep or your sanity.
Joni may want you to blow people’s minds by being fat and happy. I want you to blow your own mind by finally learning you don’t have to do all these CRAZY things to lose weight & get healthier ~ and that yes, you can even eat pizza and ice cream every so often.
You know what blows my clients’ minds when they start focusing on clean eating rather than convenience foods? How much better and more energetic they feel. And conversely, how crappy they feel when go back to eating crap food. And I’m not talking the whole gamut of guilt & shame (I coach them to kick those feelings to the curb & move on) – I’m talking the “Geesh, after I ate it I felt so lethargic & bloated” kind of crappy. It makes a powerful impression.
I eat well over 1200 calories a day. I typically spend just a half hour working out. I enjoy a good slice (or 2 or 3!) of pizza and a Gigi’s Cupcake every now and again. While I don’t believe there’s a true “happy” weight (or, more aptly, that you should deny yourself happiness until you hit a certain number on the scale or fit into a certain size of jeans), there is a healthy weight range ~ and it’s a good thing to strive to get into that range.
And yes, you can be happy at all stages of the process (from your fat beginning to your “oh this is taking so long!” middle to your healthy end)…if you choose a path that doesn’t require starvation, rice cakes, endless sweat sessions and little sleep. That kind of madness would make anyone miserable.