Saturday morning, I found myself watching the U.S. men’s archery team play the Italian team.
I’m not all that interested in archery (or the Olympics, if I’m really honest), but once I started watching, I noticed something kind of interesting.
The U.S. archery team had stereotypically athletic bodies. They were slim and muscular. If you saw a picture of any of them you might think they were tennis players or volleyball players or baseball players.
The Italian team, on the other hand, were more of a mixed bag. A few of them looked, well, kind of adorably fat. And so I ended up watching pretty much the whole thing, rooting for the Italian team and getting very excited when they (spoiler alert) won the gold.
It makes me really happy to see fat Olympians. These folks are at the top of their game, and when you see them compete, no one would think that weight loss would make them better athletes. As you may know, this year the U.S. team has fat (and incredibly strong and talented) weightlifters Sarah Robles and Holley Mangold, and in past years, we had Cheryl Haworth, who is the subject of a documentary called Strong! that you can catch on PBS and elsewhere.
What Fat Olympians Have Got To Do (Got To Do) With It
The reason I bring up these fabulous, fat Olympians is not because I think that you should start training for 2016 right now (unless you want to). I’m bringing them up because, if you’re fat like me, you probably have made a lot of assumptions about the ways in which your weight is holding you back in life. (For example, before you heard about these fat Olympians, you probably thought your fat would basically keep you out of high-level athletics, right?)
So I want you to take a moment to think about some areas of your life where you feel like your weight is holding you back. Maybe you have health concerns that have been blamed on weight. Maybe you think you’d have an easier time dating if you lost weight. Just take a moment to think about these things that seem to be affected negatively by your weight.
The Two Assumption-Busting Questions You Need To Ask Yourself
Now that you have those problems in mind that seem to be affected by your weight, ask yourself these questions:
Question 1: “Do thin people ever encounter this problem?”
Question 2: “If my weight weren’t an issue, how would I handle it?” (Another way to ask it is, “If I were thin, how would I handle it?”)
Why am I asking you to ask this question? Because very few problems in the world are fat-people-only problems. Thin people have joint issues, dating woes, poor self-esteem, diabetes (types I and II), difficult relationships with their family, trouble finding clothes that look good on them, etc.
For the record, I’m in no way trying to invalidate your pain or the difficulties of your experience. I’m only asking you to ask yourself these questions to show you that (a) losing weight is not a magic bullet and (b) when you stop blaming your weight for problems, you can actually begin to find solutions.
How This Works In Real Life
Here’s a very recent example from my own life. Ever since I got the cast off my wrist after I fractured it, I noticed that my back was feeling really tight and out of whack. I would particularly notice it in my lower back whenever I walked more than a few blocks.
Now, I could very easily blame my weight for this problem, right? If I were thinner, the argument goes, then there would be less pressure on my lower back and so I would have no pain. So, following that logic, I would have to try to lose weight and hope that I could both achieve weight loss and that it would have the desired effect of lessening my back pain.
That already sounds like a terrible idea.
Instead, I realized that I hadn’t been to the chiropractor in a really long time. I checked in with my body and felt intuitively that it would help. And I’ve found that after a mere two sessions with the chiropractor, my back feels about 85% better.
You see, if I had just kept blaming my weight, I would have never had the near immediate relief that I experienced. I would have been stuck blaming myself and my size and waiting for the unpredictable and nearly always temporary hope that weight loss would fix the problem.
Golda is a certified holistic health counselor and founder of Body Love Wellness, a program designed for plus-sized women who are fed up with dieting and want support to stop obsessing about food and weight. Golda’s live body image/writing workshop starts THIS SATURDAY IN NYC. Check it out here!