Tuesday, June 25, 2013
On a Spark Team I lead, a woman posted a concern about her feelings of fatigue when performing a certain kind of exercise. A bunch of us jumped in to say, oh yeah, that's really common when you first start out because you are not performing the exercise in an efficient way, and here are some tips for how you can make it much more effective and less likely to cause injury.
"Oh, thank you," she said. "I just figured it was happening because I'm fat."
I've also seen topics where women went to the doctor for a problem and only got a diagnosis of "it's because you're fat; lose weight." Even when the problem had nothing to do with their body size. And these women just accepted that answer.
I've done it myself. When I only had one bike and was riding a lot, I was continually needing to adjust the seat height. "Well," I thought, "that's because you're so heavy. You're just making the seat go down."
Then I got my hybrid bike, and I never had a problem with the seat height changing on it. Still, it didn't occur to me that the problem might be mechanical rather than my fault until my daughter Erin started riding that bike and had the same seat-slip issue. That was when we finally took it to the bike shop and found out that the seat stem was the wrong diameter for the bike. Because it was Erin, I thought of doing something to fix the situation. When it was just me? Well, I just had to settle for what I could manage.
When you're fat, there is a lot of assumption by society that anything wrong with you is wrong because you are fat. And that you should be ashamed of your body size and simply endure the failure state of whatever is wrong, because it's clearly being caused by your fatness.
So we settle. We assume the guilt for any failure is in ourselves, not in the product or service that failed. We are too ashamed to even ask whether the problem might not be our fault; we just assume the failure is personal and, silently and in deep embarrassment, endure it.
It's time to stop that. Yes, there are situations where weight is a contributing factor to a problem, but we need to stop just assuming that weight is the only possible factor. We need to ask questions and really look at the answers. Because the first answer may be predicated on weight assumptions made by the person we're asking. If the answer is "you just have to deal with it," it's time to ask about alternatives.
We may be on this journey with the goal of losing that weight and getting into better shape, but that doesn't mean that we should punish ourselves by settling for now.