Why I Don’t Talk About Weight Loss
I do not care about your weight. Even when you care, I don’t. If I ask you about your workout plan or for a recipe, I am only interested in those specific things. I don’t want to talk about you plan, you progress, how awesome some program was…it’s none of my business how you want to alter your body and, in my opinion, it’s the least important thing about you.
But so many people want to talk about it and the talk they have is fucked up and wrong. People stay hardcore mainlining the marketing kool-aid on the topic of weight loss. More than half the shit they say is from the nationally recognized but remaining unnamed weight loss program play book and it's wrong. But I get it. We live in a superficial society that equates attractiveness with success on every level. But they have fed you bullshit information on body image and size and so many of you cannot discern truth from marketing that it is absolutely a waste of my time to talk about it.
You want to believe that obesity is a disease. It isn’t.
You want to think that fat equals bad. It doesn’t.
You want to think that dieting/lifestyle changes will result in weight loss. It might. It might not. And if it doesn’t, that doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong.
Intentional weight loss is unhealthy. Yeah, I said it. This is not the same as proper nutrition. Getting all your required nutrients isn’t the same thing as trying to lose weight. Stop equating the two.
Exercise doesn’t need to be a weight loss tool. In fact, it shouldn’t be. Physical activity keeps the body mobile, but this looks different for everybody. For some people it’s walking across the room. For others, it’s doing a 3-mile jog. We’re all different with different abilities and none of those abilities need to be geared for weight loss.
Weight loss does not equal better health. Sometimes weight loss is an indicator of illness.
I’m gonna say this again cuz I know y’all don’t listen: WEIGHT LOSS CAN BE AN INDICATOR OF ILLNESS. The number of people with cancer who have been congratulated on their weight loss is fucking embarrassing.
Size is not the same as health.
Size Is Not The Same As Health.
SIZE IS NOT THE SAME AS HEALTH!
Your size is how you look. Your health is how you feel and how your body functions. They are not the same and how this works for people isn’t the same so stop saying that weight loss will improve your health when you don’t know. If you aren’t their doctor and actually collecting and interpreting their health behavior and test results, you don’t know shit about what’s good for them. And that’s before getting into medicine’s embedded racism and sexism, cuz that’s part of it, too.
Fat is not a disease. Stop saying it. Stop promoting it. This is a lie. Fat is just fat. Hair is just hair. Skin is just skin. They look different, may require different types of care, but they are just part of who you are. Stop pathologizing shit you don’t like. It makes you a problem. It makes you into a size bigot. It makes you into an oppressor.
You know what sizeism does to fat people? It kills them. It kills them because doctors and health care professionals will refuse them care until they lose weight. It kills them because people don’t listen to their physical ailments and instead blame their health issues on their weight. It kills them because rather than take them seriously doctors and health care professionals ignore their problems, prescribe shit like weight-loss, and will actually refuse to do diagnostic testing claiming shit like “we can’t accommodate you” or “it would be too hard to figure out what’s wrong because you’re so fat.” There are people who will restrict food and starveg their infants out of fear of them becoming fat.
The amount of insulting shit people will say to justify their disgust of fat people is outrageous. It’s mind-boggling. And I’m over it. The intentional, willful ignorance makes my head ache and frankly, while I’d rather people spread accurate information about weight loss, they are going to believe what they want to believe. It’s just amazing when it’s fat people spreading this bullshit. But I can’t talk…ten years ago, that was me.
I was on the weight loss bandwagon. I’d had some success with a nationally-known program, but I wanted more. After about six-months, my weight loss stalled. I was already eating 1400 calories and exercising 3 times a day, but I wanted more. I started running. I tried cutting back more on my food. And I started getting injuries every few weeks – injuries I ignored because I was more worried about stalling my weight loss than recovering. I am paying for that decision now in multiple parts of my body.
My first real clue that shit wasn’t what it seemed was when I decided to make some of the snack bars at home. I bought the ingredients and the natural sweeteners and then realized that to make something under 200 calories, it would need to be the size of a quarter.
This was using actual food ingredients. Realizing that caused me to look at the ingredients in the ore-packaged stuff the program sold. That was when I finally understood that I was being sold a lie. After that, I started paying more attention to what I was being told in meetings. I listened with a critical ear, questioning the rhetoric being spouted. What I found was that we often talked about how much we could love ourselves if they weren’t fat. How our lives would really begin or restart and improve once we weren’t fat. Everything was geared to convince us that our fat was holding us back.
I thought I knew better than that. I was active. I lived my life. I did all the things people in the meetings said they wanted to do once they accomplished this goal. But really, I’d been telling myself that I wasn’t worthy of love and respect from others because I was fat. And the more I thought about it, the more I understood that my drive to lose weight wasn’t internal. It was fully driven by this environment that reveled in making shit harder for fat people. This environment that constantly tells fat people like me that we aren’t worth accommodating. That we needed to conform to their standards and if we couldn’t, we deserved to be excluded from everything.
I told myself that I should hate myself because I was fat.
I told myself that I didn’t deserve pretty clothing because I was fat.
I told myself that I didn’t deserve respect because I was fat.
I heard the message and I tried to lose weight. I lost some, but I could see where this was going. Food and exercise became the complete focus of my day, and I refused to do any activities that wouldn’t help me burn hella calories in some way. I stopped going to dinners. I arranged all social interaction around physical activity. If some food item wasn’t on plan, I wouldn’t eat. And I spent years proving to anybody who’d listen that I was better than my fat. I was still athletic. I ate healthy. My bloodwork was great. I was doing everything right, so I was a good fat person who should be exempt from the stigma and shame that the bad, lazy fat people deserve. Right? Right?
At one point, I thought I wanted to be a personal trainer because then I could continue to focus on eating right and exercising and keep from gaining weight. I believed that if I built my life around fitness, then I would be successful. Fit at any cost.
Then I had a pulmonary embolism.
It wasn’t weight related. I was on birth control and that coupled with a 14-hour drive created the perfect storm for a blood clot. I didn’t know the symptoms and walked around with a huge clot in my leg that was breaking apart and traveling to my lungs. Because I was so conditioned to ignore physical discomfort, I attributed my leg pain and diminished breathing to poor stretching and fitness. It wasn’t until I blacked out several times and had to be transported to the hospital that I understood something was really wrong, and even then, I was in denial.
Fortunately, it was caught in time, but I was put on blood thinners which affected my ability to eat leafy green vegetables, a core staple of my diet. I argued with my doctor. I asked when I could start exercising again…all this while I was still in the ICU. I was more concerned with possibly gaining weight or compromising my “fitness” than I was with the fact that I’d almost died.
I was more concerned with getting fatter than I was with staying alive.
My heart had enlarged to adjust to the strain of not getting enough oxygen. I was advised to rest but decided to go on a 2-mile walk the day I was released from the hospital because I needed to make up for being on bed-rest for a week while I was treated.
I tried to maintain my eating, but it fucked with my medicine so much that I was hospitalized again because my blood was too thin and I was at risk of bleeding to death from bumping into a door.
And still I worried more about my inability to exercise while in the hospital than possibly dying.
It took another month for me to start to see how fucked up my priorities were. It took another few years for me to stop having panic attacks at the thought of eating. I still have trouble figuring out when I’m hungry. I usually start yawning and get a headache before I understand that my body needs energy. I am so used to ignoring it that it doesn’t register.
I have a negative relationship with food. I often don’t like eating and resent that I have to do it to stay alive. I resent that I have to do it multiple times a day. The less I have to think about it, the better I feel about it. It’s something I’m still working on, but I’m much better than I was.
I’ve had to learn that I am worthy and I matter regardless of my fitness. Regardless of my weight. I don’t need to prove shit about my worth to anyone. Still easier said than done because I find myself validating my right to exist for many of my transgressions – being an intelligent, vocal, unapologetic, proud, confident, fat, Black femme is loaded with transgressions of which other people feel the need to remind you. People have a lot of issues with me being me.
But my issues with food? While those formed from external messaging, I’ve had to do a lot of internal work to find my balance with it and the main way is to not talk about this shit with people. They want to believe diets are good for you. They want to believe that fat is the worst possible thing that can happen to a person. They want to emotionally beat on and ostracize people who are fat. They want to believe they have some kind of power, either over themselves or how others see them, and fat isn’t part of that equation.
To be honest, I don’t know why people have such a hard time with fat – their own or other people’s except that it’s an easy entry point to oppress someone else. And as I view the world through power dynamics, that’s where I think the answer is…power and self-importance.
I broke free when I stopped caring about what strangers thought of my weight and I really don’t care what those close to me think about it. Because if you’re close to me, you’ve already passed the ugly test. I don’t fuck with ugly people, so, if you are in my life and I’m sharing my time and energy with you, if I’m inviting you into my world, if I’m trying to be a part of yours, then I already think you’re beautiful. I just wish I knew how to get some of you to believe that, too.
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