top of page
Search

Fat and "Fit" Can Coexist!



In today's world of fitness and health, there's this big myth hanging around - the idea that you can't be fat and fit at the same time. It's caused a lot of bias, spread misinformation, and set up unrealistic body standards. But hey, recent studies and a whole movement towards fat liberation and health at every size (HAES) are shaking up these old-school beliefs. So, here I am, sharing my own story of embracing being both fat and fit, and how I've changed how I see health and fitness.


Understanding Fitness Beyond Appearance

Growing up in a culture that idolizes thinness as the epitome of health, I grappled with body image insecurities early on. My fitness journey revolved around shedding pounds to conform to a specific body ideal rather than prioritizing my holistic well-being. However, delving into the Health at Every Size (HAES) movement prompted me to challenge society's narrow definition of "fitness." I came to understand that true fitness transcends mere aesthetics or the digits on a scale—it encompasses strength, stamina, flexibility, and mental wellness.


Combatting diet culture, fat stigma, and weight discrimination unveiled the detrimental impact of these societal norms. Despite experimenting with various trendy diets and exercise regimens, the weight persisted. Presently, I collaborate with a dietician, lift 4-5 times weekly, and ensure proper nourishment for my body. This transformative voyage has instilled in me the ethos of cherishing my body, regardless of its size, leading me to embrace the tenets of Health at Every Size (HAES) and actively support the fat liberation movement.


Both movements defy the notion that an individual's value or entitlement to rights and dignity hinges on their weight or physique. They challenge the prevailing weight-centric health doctrines and advocate for inclusivity and reverence for diverse body types. Emphasizing personal agency and empowerment in matters of health and well-being, these movements champion autonomy and self-determination.


The Science Behind Fat and Fit

So, as I dug deeper into things, you know, based on my own experiences, I stumbled upon a bunch of studies talking about how you can actually be pretty healthy even if you're carrying some extra weight. Like, this study from the European Heart Journal back in 2012 followed around 43,000 folks for ten years - turns out, almost half of the obese ones had normal blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. That's like, being metabolically healthy despite the weight. And there was this other study in 2013 from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that said people called "overweight" by BMI had a lower risk of kicking the bucket compared to those in the "normal" range.


In my case, with all my check-ups showing good stuff, including 178 lbs of muscle according to a dexa scan, and staying active daily, my doctors keep saying everything looks A-OK while also telling me to think about losing "that 20 pounds".


The Role of Physical Activity in My Life

Regular physical activity has been a vital part of my health journey. I began by engaging in activities I found enjoyable, such as playing Wii Fit, and then gradually introduced more challenging exercises like circuit training, boxing, and strength training. A 2014 study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition highlighted that physical activity significantly decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease, irrespective of BMI. This reinforced my belief that consistency and finding pleasure in movement are key. Regardless of my body size, I have felt the positive impacts of exercise — improved cardiovascular health, uplifted mood, strengthened muscles and bones, and a lowered risk of chronic illnesses. Considering the obstacles I have faced, I am committed to living my mission and creating an inclusive space that welcomes individuals of all sizes and abilities.


Nutrition and Health: My Approach

Balanced nutrition has been pivotal in my journey. Rather than fixating on restrictive diets solely for weight loss, I opted for nutrient-dense foods that nourished my body. A study featured in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2008 underscored the advantages of foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats for overall health and lowered risk of chronic diseases. This approach boosted my energy levels and left me feeling satisfied. Although it took time to view food as fuel, weightlifting has been instrumental in my healing journey, allowing me to truly understand the impact of food on my well-being.


The Psychological Aspect

Making mental well-being a priority is super important for staying healthy overall, and it really hit home for me. Dealing with bias and judgment because of my body size often left me feeling stressed, anxious, and down. A study from 2015 in the International Journal of Obesity showed how discrimination based on weight can mess with your mental health and even make weight struggles worse. Choosing to embrace a more inclusive view of fitness really helped me fight this bias, build self-acceptance, and feel good about my body, which did wonders for my mental well-being. Sure, tough days still pop up, but I've found that just showing up can totally change how the day goes.


Embracing FAT Liberation and Health at Every Size (HAES)

The Fat Liberation and HAES movement have been like a guiding light for me personally. Fat liberation is all about standing up for the rights, dignity, and fair treatment of people in larger bodies. It challenges society's norms and fights against discrimination based on body size, aiming for acceptance, equality, and celebrating all body shapes. The goal is to tackle fatphobia, promote body positivity, and support everyone's autonomy and well-being, no matter their size.


On the flip side, HAES takes a whole-person approach to health, valuing well-being over just losing weight. It encourages folks to listen to their bodies, eat intuitively, and enjoy physical activities that make them happy. This perspective shifted my focus from obsessing over weight-related stats to prioritizing my overall quality of life, making my journey more fulfilling.


A 2014 review in the Nutrition Journal gave a big thumbs up to the HAES philosophy, highlighting how it boosts both physical and mental well-being without fixating on shedding pounds.


My Story: Fat and Fit

My personal journey exemplifies the balance between being both curvy and athletic. While I may carry a bit more weight around the middle, I've made significant strides in the realm of weightlifting. I take pride in ranking third nationally in Olympic weightlifting for my age group and being a member of the NorCal Weightlifting Team. These accomplishments showcase my strength, determination, and potential.


Moreover, kayaking has become a source of delight and challenge, testing my endurance and fostering a deep connection with nature. These experiences defy conventional norms and inspire those around me to pursue their well-being on their own terms.



Moving Forward: A Call to Action

To truly embrace the coexistence of fat and fit, we need to shift our perspective on health and fitness. This involves:

  • Educating: Spreading awareness about the scientific evidence supporting health at every size.

  • Supporting: Encouraging inclusive fitness environments where people of all sizes feel welcome.

  • Advocating: Challenging weight bias and discrimination in healthcare, media, and everyday life.

  • Celebrating: Recognizing and celebrating the achievements and capabilities of individuals of all body sizes.


Conclusion

The idea that fat and fit cannot coexist is a myth that deserves to be debunked. By embracing a more inclusive and evidence-based approach to health and fitness, we can promote well-being for everyone, regardless of body size. My journey has taught me that fitness is not a one-size-fits-all journey—it’s about finding what works for you and celebrating the body you have. If my story can inspire even one person to see the beauty in their own fitness journey, then it’s a story worth telling.


References

  1. European Heart Journal, 2012. "Metabolically healthy obesity and risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and mortality."

  2. JAMA, 2013. "Association of All-Cause Mortality With Overweight and Obesity Using Standard Body Mass Index Categories: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis."

  3. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2014. "Physical activity, irrespective of body weight, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease."

  4. New England Journal of Medicine, 2008. "Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet."

  5. International Journal of Obesity, 2015. "Weight stigma and health behaviors: evidence from a 10-year longitudinal study."

  6. Nutrition Journal, 2014. "Health at every size approach: evidence and applications."

19 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page