Being Fat and Moving
Prefacing this to say: your body, your rules. What I say might as well be a personal journey of experience with things that work for me, but definitely might not work for you. You might just not be someone that likes to exercise, and no one has a right to tell you what to do for yourself. In my own journey, moving in some capacity has given me confidence and energy and joy, and I would encourage you to try it, especially if your reason for not moving has been body insecurity. But, as I said before, your body, your rules.
We have all experienced the awkwardness of moving our bodies. It doesn't matter if you're fat or thin, cis or not, male or female or non-binary, abled or not, when you take a risk to join an exercise class or go for a solo run down a trail, there are moments of wondering if others notice the areas of your body that jiggle, if they think you're less in shape than them, if they see how red your face has gotten (me, to the max).
With all that in mind, we should know by now that no one gives a fuck about you because they are much too worried about themselves, and even the people that DO notice something about you are really so insecure in themselves and are projecting.
Specifically, it can be daunting to WOWF (work out while fat). You've been trying your whole life to make yourself smaller, and working out tries to get you to stretch your limbs, fill up space, push your breath and sweat into the world. But it can be important to try to do so for a couple of reasons.
The simplest is that working out can be fun. Sure, there are moments where you want to die, but overall, working out releases endorphins and as Elle Woods told us 'endorphins make you happy, and happy people don't just kill someone'.
The trick to making working out fun is finding your thing. Running on a track, biking, hiking, climbing, yoga, zumba toning (dancing with weights), playing lacrosse all really get me jazzed. But, weight lifting? Running on a treadmill? Crossfit? Those aren't my jam. But they might be yours! FIND YOUR THING.
Sometimes, it's a hit and miss. You go for a hike and realize you hate the outdoors, you don't feel that the view is worth the effort and also, where's my 30 minute workout with a mimosa at the end? So try something else. Go for a power walk with your friend, and an hour might go by and you didn't even realize time was passing. Or you go to a zumba class and let yourself just dance and have fun and realize that this is what you've been missing. Or you join a cross fit gym and the intimacy and competitiveness are exactly what you've been looking for! The possibilities are endless. If you don't have the money to join a gym, that's okay, there are plenty of things you can do for free to just get yourself moving!
A common complaint or excuse I hear is that you haven't found ANYTHING you've liked doing when it comes to working out. Firstly, you probably haven't tried everything. Secondly, you might just be focusing too much on what you don't like about it. You don't like to sweat. You don't like being hot. You don't like gyms. Start focusing on the positive, and give yourself a motivator. Not a 'I want my body to look like this' motivator (more on that later). More like, I enjoy hanging out with so-and-so and then invite them to do it with you. Ask a friend if they want to bike with you to a bookstore, or meet at the gym with the plan of going to lunch afterwards. Moving probably isn’t fun for you because your motivator is lame.
Another reason to consider trying to work out is that it can give you a community. As adults, it can be really hard to find like-minded people. Joining a class, finding a running group, asking friends to go on walks with you, can really expand your network. That might mean putting yourself out there, but that's the best part! You are ALREADY putting yourself out there by taking that first step to start working out, push yourself a little further to reach out to others and encourage them to do the same! My sister and I got so much closer once we started going to Zumba together, my husband and I always feel more intimate after we've taken yoga together. I have friends who joined a crossfit gym and now they spend their weekends hanging out with their fellow crossfitters.
The best part is, that working out DOES NOT HAVE TO BE ABOUT LOSING WEIGHT.
Honestly, all the fun was sucked out of working out as soon as it became about losing weight and wanting to look a certain way. Because then I had to just push myself as hard as I could and follow some routine someone gave me, and it never gave me the results I was looking for.
For most of us, working out won't give us the body we're advertised. And if you do achieve that body you will find something else about yourself that you don't like. Your world will be a vicious cycle of 'yay I reached my goal, but oh, I hate this about myself'. Because the media will find something else to sell to you so that they can keep making money off of your insecurities.
That's why I fight so hard for body positivity and radical self-love. Stop working out so that you can look a certain way, not only are you damaging yourself, but you're perpetuating the standard in our society that we all need to look a certain way to have any worth or happiness.
When I let go of that, and just started to move my body for fun, choosing WHEN and HOW I was going to work out, I was reminded of why I truly loved to do it.
And that’s just it, when moving is about fun, community, feeling good internally, then no one else has control over it but you. When it’s about appearance, the whole world BUT you has control over it. I can’t prove it to you, but if you were the only one in the world and there were no mirrors, you wouldn’t give a flying fuck what you looked like, you’d only care how you felt.
THEY DO NOT HAVE TO BE LINKED. You can be fat, moving, and happy. You can be skinny, moving and unhappy. Or vice versa.
So, here’s my challenge for you: whatever your size or shape, find some way to move this week. Perhaps a NEW way you’ve never moved before, or a way you liked before but stopped doing because of insecurity of ‘lack of results’.
This week, I’m going climbing again, which I haven’t done in over a year, partly because I didn’t have the money to stay at the gym, but also because I looked around and there were SO FEW fat climbers I felt like I didn’t belong.
I quit an activity I could do with my husband, that I LIKED, partly just because I was the only fat person in the room and felt others judging me.
But I’m going to stop limiting myself. I’m in control of how I want to feel.
What will you do this week?