This week, someone had posed a question:
“What is the #1 issue you're most passionate about?”
Gah. I'm one of those people who wants to be super educated about a topic before I start spouting things about it or asserting a strong opinion. So while I have issues I'm concerned about, there's nothing that I stand on the rooftop and shout about on a super regular basis.
Then, a few things happened.
First, I saw this headline:
Why the heck does anyone need a headline that says they look slim? Why can't you say she looked beautiful and radiant? Do you have to add “slim” in there to get clicks? It really made me sick and so frustrated that this is such a prevalent part of mass media.
Then later in the day, I learned I was listed in a post on Shape Magazine's website written by the amazing Brandi of DietsinReview.com: “Weight Loss Bloggers We Love.” I had the complete opposite reaction than that from the “slim” news article headline: I was so excited that someone in the mainstream media in such a fitness-oriented publication would actually list bloggers that weren't all at their goals or who haven't lost weight in a completely linear fashion. Before/afters be damned.
It's exactly what we need – stories of people seeking fitness who aren't at their goal weights and that show real struggles in the search for health. (Notice I say “health” and not “skinny” or “slim”)
I'm also in the April issue of Health Magazine sharing a couple of my favorite fit tips in “Bloggers' Best Feel-Great Moves.”
Again, another instance of a mainstream media fitness publication being inclusive of the atypical success stories. My Ladies' Home Journal piece from Dec/Jan 2014 blew my mind because again, it wasn't the neat before/after story that we're accustomed to seeing in every major news outlet.
Now, all of these media outlets mentioned still have a lot of the same before/after, thin-is-successful sorts of stories. But I see this as HUGE progress.
I was feeling pretty good yesterday with all of these happy things, and I came across something in my closet that made me post this on Facebook:
When I was heading into my freshman year of college, I was a counselor at fat camp where I was a camper the previous few summers. I was teaching 3 classes per day, and felt like a huge, unhealthy blob.
This is one of my schedules for a week. Monday-Friday:
- Pre-breakfast: Do a 1 mile walk/jog
- 9-10am: Teach cardio kickboxing
- 10:30-11:30am: Teach step aerobics
- 2-3pm: Teach tennis
All while eating a 1,200 calorie diet (though some days I went up to the boys' diet allowance of 1,600 calories.) The lowest my weight got this summer was 240 lbs. That's the ONLY thing that mattered to me. I never even considered how amazing it was that I could teach these classes with vigor and enjoy it so damn much. I thought I was unhealthy and flawed. I didn't look like everyone else who taught those classes. I was “supposed” to weigh 160-175. I was an impostor.
Looking back, I am so mad at myself that I wasn't proud of that. That I saw myself as a failure instead of a healthy, active, vibrant 18 year old. So this little bit of recognition is me celebrating that I was awesome, and that I am still awesome, even at a much heavier weight.
At the gym this week, I did deadlifts with a 106lb kettlebell. I used to be able to do much more, but right now with my ankle and just getting back into regular workouts, I am choosing to be really happy with that. Just last week I could only use an 80lb kettlebell and it was done off a plate to limit my range. So when I get on the scale and see a number I don't want to see, why do I completely erase the joy I felt? I immediately invalidate my work because as much as I want to shout from the rooftops that weight does not equal worth, something in my mind always brings me crashing back down.
So what is the #1 issue I'm passionate about?
Removing weight stigma and embracing and demonstrating that fitness and health is attainable at all sizes. Also trying to motivate people of all sizes and abilities to recognize and celebrate their accomplishments independent of anything else. This is something I certainly struggle with on a daily basis. Hopefully the more we discuss it, the more we can unlock the power and joy we already have instead of destroying ourselves trying to find it externally.