Fat and Healthy

Fat and Healthy

How is it possible?  I mean, really.  These two things do not go together in our heads.  If you are fat, you are most certainly not healthy.  If you are healthy, you aren’t fat.  We have massive government programs to reduce obesity and increase health.  It is certainly proven that being overweight/obese can absolutely contribute to a multitude of diseases and health problems – I am not contesting that.  But I am contesting the idea that someone’s waist size is the primary indicator of their wellbeing.  All my life, I have seen overweight people eat vegetables or riding a bike and think “Good for them, they really need it.”  And I have seen thin people eating junk food and not thought twice.  This week, I was challenged to think differently.

End of All Things

May 2009 Sunrise with friends in Spokane

I remember the first time someone implied that I weighed more than I should.  When I was eleven and getting fitted for a dance costume at some fancy parlor, the woman at the store looked down at my stomach and said “You’ve got a little pooch there, don’t you?”  I felt so uncomfortable, and I didn’t know what to say.  My mom had a tummy, my dad is overweight, I figured that’s what “normal” people looked like.  I’ve always been a “big” girl, and therefore always believed I was unhealthy.  Health wasn’t ever a big priority for me, it was just one of the things that defined me.  In fact, never once in my twelve years in grade school did I ever have a PE teacher force me to run an entire mile.  I always walked part of it, and they never bothered me about it.  Running a mile seemed like something fat people couldn’t do and apparently my teachers agreed.  I didn’t understand nutrition.  I didn’t do sports.  I assumed I would continue to live like the majority of Americans:  drinking soda, eating fast food, sedentary, and overweight.  For all eternity.

Butte Challenge

May 2012 Butte Challenge: My first 5k

Then, in January of 2012, I ran my first mile of my life.  I weighed about 190lbs and my BMI classified me as obese.  It was such a major accomplishment for me.  I lost some weight that year, but mostly I learned that I am so much more capable than I ever thought I was.  That year I did my first 5k and I ran the whole thing (number 66, in case you hadn’t worked that out).  As Tyler and I got settled into our married life, we intentionally but very naturally incorporated scratch cooking into our lifestyle.  We bought BPA free water bottles and started drinking more and more water.  Still only ever barely dipped into the “overweight” category of my BMI, but we were taking care of our bodies.

The past year or so has been challenging for weight for both Tyler and I.  Tyler had just started a job that took him away from always being on his feet at a retail store and put him primarily sedentary behind a desk.  I worked at a few camps over the summer and got incredibly carried away with camp food and very little activity at home during my teacher summer.  Our scale broke in our move to Kennewick and it took us about three months to replace it.  Lack of monitoring meant that when we did eventually weigh in again, we both ended up surprised and alarmed.  We started going to the gym, adding more vegetables into our diet, increasing water intake again – all the things you do when you want to be healthy.  Here’s the infuriating thing, though:  My weight has not gone down dramatically.  Not at all.  Only seven pounds since the beginning of the year.  Every time I stepped on a scale or looked in a mirror I feltlike an utter and complete failure.  Nothing has truly changed.  My “thin” clothes still don’t fit.  And I don’t want to buy more “fat” clothes.  So I was unhappy with myself every single day, and working out to punish myself for every poor food choice I ever made to make myself look like this.

Brickyard

Spring Break 2014 in Boise with girlfriends

This week, I got some additional insight into my health.  In the past 12 months I have had a full metabolic panel taken three times. Nothing big, just checking in.  A year ago, my labs looked pretty good.  This week my labs looked AMAZING.  My doctor raved for five full minutes about how much she loved my labs.  My cholesterol is phenomenal.  She said it looked like I was on medication to lower it, it was so good.  “Better than mine!” she said with a grin.  Did I mention what a petite human my doctor is?  She said my kidney and liver functions look like I’m a teenager.  And while I’m not that far past my teenage years, I feel like  that is still an accomplishment. I beamed widely for a moment, but then I was puzzled.  I looked at my doctor and said “You know, technically, I am obese according to my BMI.  I am really quite overweight still.”  She looked right back and said, “But your labs show that you are doing everything right to take care of your body.  Everybody’s built differently.  You are healthy.  Your body is working on the inside exactly how it is supposed to.  Keep up the great work!”  It was by far the best doctor’s appointment of my life.  What could be better than your doctor looking at you square in the face and giving you a complete and total approval of all the choices you are making?  I was over the moon.  And my paradigm was busted.

There are many thin people who are unhealthy.  Lots of thin people eat terrible foods, drink only beverages packed with high fructose corn syrup and never work out.  And plenty of overweight people eat great food, hydrate like crazy, and exercise several times a week.  Everyone is on a journey.  Some people are on a journey from thick to thin, others from thin to thick.  Some people will stay the same size their whole lives.  Here’s my headline here:  it doesn’t matter.  How much you weigh does not impact the fact that eating vegetables is good for you and eating processed junk food is bad for you.  Whether an obese person is on a walk or a body builder is doing dead lifts, both of them are making positive choices for their bodies and their lives.  If I see someone on the street, the fact that I can see what their body looks like and guess at how much they weigh gives me a teeny tiny little piece of the puzzle of what that person’s health is, not to mention what their story is.  I know just as much about the inner workings of their body as they know about mine.  We are all humans making the best of our situations, and what we see is truly skin deep.

Palm Selfie

March 2014: Palm tree selfie with my mom in SoCal

So I’ve decided to see myself differently.  Even now, looking at these recent pictures, I don’t see an obese girl.  I see a happy girl.  Just this week, the girl in those pictures ran a 5k on Monday, biked 10 miles on Tuesday and is hiking Badger Mountain over the weekend.  I may not be the most thin girl you’ve ever met.  And you know something?  I never will be the thinnest thing on two legs.  But that doesn’t keep me from being healthy.  And I certainly won’t let it keep me from being happy.

Comments
6 Responses to “Fat and Healthy”
  1. Margaret Wetterling says:

    Very we’ll said. Makes me feel like crying for some reason. I think it is because in so many ways I can relate. Keep up the great physical work.

  2. This is such a great post! I’m the type of person who obssesses over excersize and eating right for a month and then totally forgets about it for the next 6 months. Sometimes because I’m not getting the results I wanted, sometimes because I get lazy or busy. This is really motivating to take care of myself for myself, not what others are going to see on the outside!

  3. Aggie Mowry says:

    My girrrrl! You are amazing, and have perspective that so many don’t have at the age of just about a quarter century 🙂
    Thank you for sharing this great piece of wisdom and personal testimony!
    Love you forever…

  4. Kim says:

    Beautifully written and such a fantastic message! I hope that your generation really takes this one on, we are all so hard on ourselves and my generation was so busy getting equal opportunity for girls on the sports field we became obsessed with keeping up and getting fit, that we forgot the real message-our bodies are such a gift and we should just take care of them! I so appreciate your words, so many if us have struggled with body image all our our lives-thank you for breaking the barriers and leading the charge! Well be behind you all the way, and be grateful for your leadership!

    Great things may come from this!!!!!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  5. Kate Danvers says:

    If all of us were thin, we would all look the same. It would be boring. 🙂 I am running a half-marathon next month at 160 lbs. Technically overweight but quite healthy. 😀

  6. Marshall says:

    Eating and exercising is great! I have been adding healthier options into our lives for years and I think it is a good way to slowly change your old bad habits and make new good habits. This year I have been trying to loose weight because I want to lower my odds of health problems. I know that even if it is only a pound a month, at the end of the year I am thinner that when I started. Good job on eating healthier, exercising, and loosing weight.

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