|Me, fat and healthy, oh and happy|
Maybe you've only heard the words fat and healthy together when describing a baby, or maybe you've never heard them at all. In either case, it's time you heard that they can be liberally applied. I'm no anomaly, there are lots of fat and healthy people on this planet.
Even though I've been healthy for most of my life, the sizeism that is almost inherent in the medical community had me believing otherwise for many years. That same sizeism left me with a deep and abiding shame when I left the medical office of almost every doctor I saw. Ironically, it also often left me with no help for the symptoms I was experiencing. Symptoms that, guess what, thin people also experienced.
Not today. Today, I walked out feeling good about my choices and my life.
At the tender age of 3 before putting my toothbrush into my mouth, I looked up at my mother with my big brown eyes and asked, "How many calories is toothpaste?" This moment is a sad foretelling of my relationship to food and my body for my childhood, adolescence and young adulthood.
In the sixth grade before a 5" spurt in height, I gained significant poundage. I remember trying to sneak makeup in to school to disguise my face on picture day, and not being able to look at that photo after it was taken, (even asking my mother to burn every copy), because I couldn't bear to look at that fat cheeked pre teen.
By 7th grade I had visited a nutritionist, who said to me "You wear or rather hide your weight well, I would never have guessed you weighed this much." Which I understood was supposed to be a compliment, and I also understood that my weight was something to be deeply ashamed of.
I spent the early years of my marriage prudishly withholding sex from the man I adored and found sexy as hell because I didn't want him to see my body.
As a new mother I agonized over every bite, dismayed that I may become the lady that got fat after the kids. And I did, I did get fat after the kids, which caused great shame and disappointment in myself and my body.
All of my adult life as I've sought treatment for maladies the first thing a doctor would say before asking me about my diet or exercise or lifestyle at all was, "Well if you'd lose the weight..."
And did I try.... I ate more cabbage soup, limited my fat, increased my "good" fat and watched my carbs, STEP AEROBICed, DANCE AEROBICed, POWER 90ed, ZUMBAed, YOGAed, ran miles and miles, and still... I was fat.
While I was running, I got a pain in the top of my foot. It hurt so badly I thought it might be broken. I mentioned it to my doctor multiple times, at one point even insisting on an x-ray. I told him "I started running a while back and this pain developed after that. It's worse when I run." He looked me up and down (the look said, "you're a size 18, no way you're running everyday."), looked in my chart (I'm assuming at my weight), and said, "I don't know what to tell you, there's nothing wrong with your foot." Knowing he was wrong, (I couldn't even tie my shoe at that point from the swelling), I sought out a second opinion.
My world changed. I went to the new doc, told him about the pain, and the running. He examined my foot, and said, "This is a really common sports injury, definitely caused by your running. I'll get you some anti inflammatories, you make sure to take a week off of running, and it'll will heal beautifully." He never asked or mentioned my weight. Never told me my injury was caused by my fat, and I realized that I could have interactions with doctors that were not full of shame, and where they actually helped me.
Fast forward 6 years or so, I hooked up with some ladies who were actively talking about body positivity, and I learned that I had to seek out body positive doctors. That sizeism and fat bias were extraordinarily prevalent in the medical community, and that I would have to work to find a doctor that was right for me.
I did. Much like a Bridget Jones novel, I went through a lot of Mr/Ms. Wrongs before I found Ms. Right, but I'm so glad I did.
I'm glad I can go to my doc, have an honest conversation, evaluate my health with her in a judgement free way, and walk out more often than not feeling great about my health and my body.
There is a lot of information about being healthy at any size, and I urge you to seek it out. As for me, I'm just going to skip along on this sunny day, whistling a merry tune, and loving myself.