The notion that all fat people do not exercise is incorrect. I was never a couch potato. I have always been an active person despite my being over weight for the majority of my life. My body thrives on being physical, and I love to indulge it. Admittedly, at moments in my life I did use exercise as a form of punishment to my body. I will talk about the abuse in another entry. This entry is about focusing on the stigma that fat equals lazy.
I present a summary of my some of my physical activities from a young age up to when I reached 300 pounds:
In elementary school I would roller skate in my grandmothers unfinished basement. I would roller skate for hours. I then took my skills to the rink every weekend and went around in circles until the music turned off and they told everyone to go home. I was also on the field hockey team and volley ball team. In middle school I rode my bike until the sun set. My friend and I would go up and down hills over and over for hours. I also walked to and from the bus stop, not a short walk, until I started driving. I could also be found flying into the sky on a trampoline almost every weekend. In high school I walked all over my neighborhood with my dog. I knew a place way out in a field near my house that had a stream surrounded by a wooded area and I would walk around it all day. I started running my junior year of high school. Every morning on the track before school I would meet a friend and we ran a mile. I also attempted Irish dance for a while. I would meet a friend to play basketball. I always did work out videos. My favorite activity was dancing my butt off almost every night in my room, music blasting. In college I joined modern dance and continued running. In my twenties I walked around the neighborhood and talked on the phone for hours. I even had a gym membership and a personal trainer.
Hard to believe someone who enjoys that much physical activity could be heavy. Even with my physical activity I was over weight and managed to get to 300 pounds by the time I was 25. The problem was never that I was lazy - the problem was my relationship with food. I would hike Red Rock all day and come home and eat an entire large extra cheese pizza, bread sticks, and cake. Then I would hate myself for having cancelled out all my hard work and I would eat again. After a long day of working, school, and whatever physical activity I had done I would end my night with an entire container of Ben and Jerry's Phish Food. I understand now why I was eating the way I was and it had nothing to do with hunger and everything to do with being unhappy.
When I reached my breaking point and signed up for Weight Watchers it wasn't hard for me to exercise. I added more activity to my regime and took control of my eating. I took the stairs when I could, parked far away, walked the long way, hiked, roller skated, and I did my work out videos. None of it felt like torture. I enjoy putting my body to work. I found the weight falling off and within 16 months I had lost 125 pounds. My body was ready to do all the physical activities I could not when I was overweight. I no longer had knee and lower back pain. I could push myself harder and longer. I reached a life long goal of running a 5K. I ran it in 33 minutes and could not have been happier.
Today I workout 5 days a week. I do it because I love it, I need it, and my body responds to it. I used Groupon to find new classes without a long commitment or ridiculous prices. I have tried a vast variety of classes. My favorite is ballet and my least favorite is Birkam yoga. A lot of places will let you try a class for free to see if it is a fit for you. Exercise is more than jumping-jacks and sit-ups. I am a card carrying gym member. I love Zumba! It's my new addiction. Exercise can be fun and an escape from stress. There are options to fit everyone. Exercise is for everyone regardless of size, age, and ability.
Being over weight can run much deeper than being lazy. Before we point fingers and place judgement on those that carry extra weight let us try to remember that we do not know what their life is like and what stresses they carry. Let us encourage each other to move more simply because it is good for us and let the weight take care of itself.