Thursday 18 December 2014

The Other F Word

Fat. When did being fat or saying the word become such a nasty thing?

Everyone has seen someone with a few extra kilos yet out of decency or whatever, we don't point it out. But when it comes to someone who's skinny, it's considered completely acceptable to exclaim "wow, you're so skinny!".

Being the daughter of two obese parents, I'm no stranger to the other F word. I myself was an obese child and only lost weight after undergoing spinal surgery, and then again several years later due to emotional turmoil. I'm part of the seeming minority who eats less when they're sad.

I read a post somewhere earlier that pointed out for women that when it comes to clothing sizes there's the 'regular' section then the plus size section, yet for men, the sizes are all in the same area mixed in together. It may be the residual insecurity of my youth talking, but it seems to me that the discrepancy between the two sections for women is subconsciously pointing out that yes, certain women have 'more to love' or 'more to carry' and need to purchase suitable clothes for their body type which aren't the 'average' size.

It reminds me of my days as a newbie in high school. I was the fattest (doesn't that just hurt to read) person in my class and felt incredibly insecure for it, not just because I had started developing in late primary school so, in the words of a close friend, I 'had a woman's body but was still a child'.

When I'd play games with kids in primary school, more so when it was mandated because I'd never willingly participate in sport, any kind of tag game saw me as 'it' because they knew, although few of them dared to point out, that because I was fat and a slow runner, I'd never catch them so they'd always win.

Kids, what bastards.

Then hitting high school got so much worse when we had set sports lessons. For 90 minutes on usually a Wednesday, we'd have to participate in whatever chosen sport the teacher had decided on. Needless to say I hated it. There were only so many times I could get mum to scribble a note excusing me from sport for some reason or another before the teacher insisted I actually participate.

One of the best things about having my spinal surgery was that I wasn't allowed to do anything sport related for a year following the operation. The teacher insisted I walk laps around the oval which I was more than happy to do. The flip side of it was that I had to stop dancing which I'd been overjoyed to start doing before I had surgery.

Basically, I was the easiest target for kids to pick on, so they did. Yes it sucked immeasurably and I'm still dealing with the scars from it, but it's all part of my story and made me who I am today. I've also learnt that people picking on you is about them, not you.

I know people have mixed opinions about the fat issue, some say that it's genetic, others say that it's a choice, we should gently encourage people to choose healthier options when it comes to food and do whatever exercise they can, or that we should take the 'tough love' approach as seen on shows like 'The Biggest Loser'. Not everything is applicable to everyone. My mum's weight gain is due to her medication, lack of self control especially when it comes to chocolate, and the fairly limited amount of exercise she does. Having said that, she's been doing quite well the past few months losing a few kilos here and there which I'm immensely proud of her for. Dad's weight gain is due to his emotional turmoil, appreciation for food and again, lack of exercise. My brother is a similar case to dad and possibly mum.

I was watching a Ricky Gervais video the other day where he was pointing out that he'd lost weight but also how bad the obesity epidemic is getting. He was right to say that junk food is too prominent when you walk into grocery stores and it's quite often cheaper than healthy stuff and something really needs to be done in order to help people.

I also remember reading the headline of an article a few months ago where a young mum of 2 said she can't afford healthy food or a gym membership. When this came up in discussion with friends, one stated that it was all excuses and she lost a heap of weight by walking around her local park and sticking to a strict diet of fruit and veggies. Another agreed with her.

I also agree. It comes back to being about excuses and on occasion, finding other people to blame because we don't want to take responsibility for our actions, maybe because others don't either.

I started a gym membership just before Christmas last year and managed to negotiate the price down, even then it was fairly expensive but I wanted to do something productive and good for myself for the new year. I went as often as I could during my work holidays and found that only when I'd started uni and was struggling to pay for everything that it was my membership that had to go. I was always intending to start back since I did enjoy the classes and haven't found another one that offers as much variety, but the monthly cost is around 4x the cost of my phone bill and just less than a therapy session.

When I went back to negotiate with the customer consultant person, he advised that the price was already a great deal given how qualified the trainers were. I was more inclined to interpret that as 'we pay our trainers who are skilled and qualified as high price and make up for it by pretty much extorting our customers'. Granted the dressing rooms were fitted with showers, lockers, a sauna and hair straighteners, but since I only ever used the locker and avoided the weights room, it didn't seem worth the price.

Despite my dislike of exercise and sweating in general, I've noticed that I've put on a bit more weight than I'm happy with and am looking into the option of getting a gaming console with exercise games to assist with this problem since it seems to be the cheapest and most weather-friendly alternative.

The problem with going to classes is the cost, motivation and time factors. When I get home from work the last thing I want to do is get dressed for the gym which I used to when I went to my local gym and eventually cancelled because there wasn't enough to keep me interested. It's also fairly dark when I get home so wandering around the local park isn't really the safest option either.

At the end of the day it's entirely up to the individual what they want to do with their weight. Keeping in mind that any extreme weight loss or gain is usually psychological, so demeaning and belittling the person about it is only making it worse. I liked the Swap campaign which  was advertised in Australia a few years ago. Instead of picking junk food, try something healthy just occasionally to start with. I think any effort no matter how minimal that's put towards being healthier is fantastic and should be encouraged as much as possible.

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