Feelin’ Good

Published November 14, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

I have the most delicious feeling of weariness tonight.  Not so much tired, but the feeling of having spent some time this afternoon moving my body in a way that I enjoy, and getting delicious fresh air into my lungs and bloodstream.  I know that when I go to bed tonight, I’m going to sleep well, in a strong, deep sleep that refreshes me beautifully for the day tomorrow.  I’ve come home hungry for a good meal (I’ve got some beautiful home-made chilli con carne I whipped up in my Thermomix last night) and to stretch a little before quietly winding down for the night.

It’s a good feeling, one that I really relish.  And it comes from being physically active.  I won’t use the term “exercise”, because I think exercise is what people do as either punishment or penance.  Or because they feel they are supposed to.  To me, exercise is not something you do because it makes you feel good and because you enjoy it.

Enjoyable physical activity is routinely denied to fat people.  We’re told that we must exercise or we will die.  We’re told that we have to exercise to atone for our fatness.  We’re told that we’re only worthwhile if we exercise to diminish our bodies, to make them smaller.  We’re told it’s simply not possible, and it’s often disbelieved if we say we do it.  Physical activity becomes exercise which then becomes punishment or a chore.  Yet if we do find physical activity we enjoy, we are not given access to suitable equipment or clothing to fit our bodies, we are often patronised as if we are children “well done, keep it up”, (I’m surprised we don’t get a pat on the head) and on top of that we are regularly shamed if we dare to engage in physical activity in public.  The cowcalls and things thrown at us from passing cars, the sniggers over the clothing we wear to engage in that activity, the calls of “Keep going fat arse!”

Part of fat activism for me is engaging in the radical act of living my life to suit me, not because others say I should or must.  I reclaimed my right to engage in physical activity because it’s fun, it makes me feel good and helps me relax and sleep.  Because riding my bike by the sea, or walking through the shops for the afternoon, or going to the beach with a friend is something I love to do, not something I feel I should I must do.  It doesn’t make me a better person than those who don’t engage in physical activity, it doesn’t make me more worthy of respect and dignity, and it doesn’t act as penance or an excuse for my fat body.  Fuck that, who wants to carry that crap around.  It makes me feel good inside and out.  It makes me feel good.  When something makes me feel good, I want to do more of it.

But there’s a little bonus.  It really pisses off fat haters.  It really sticks in their craw to see a happy, positive fat person doing something and having fun at it and feeling good.  It messes with their imagined world where fat people just stay at home and sit.

And anything that messes with a fat hater’s world is something I want to be doing.

25 comments on “Feelin’ Good

  • All I could say while reading this post was: Yes, yes, TRIPLE YES!

    It was only when I learnt to disassociate physical activity and exercise that I actually started to enjoy doing things. I actually started to get in better health because of it – I had less bouts of insomnia, didn’t feel as stressed and just felt better for I enjoyed the feeling my body had when it had been worked hard. I definitely got the opinion from a lot of people that they didn’t like the fact I wasn’t using physical activity as a form of self-flagelllation .

    • Exactly C! The more we’re allowed to find the physical activities we love, and do them without ridicule and shame, the better we will feel. And we’ll be making ourselves feel better for OURSELVES, not for anyone else.

    • Ugh, could you be more patronising? Oh wait, you illustrated my point perfectly:

      “we are often patronised as if we are children “well done, keep it up”, (I’m surprised we don’t get a pat on the head)”

      Do you want to pat me on the head now?

      • What? No, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be patronizing at all, but supportive. Like you, you’re doing a great job, keep it up. You are awesome, your blog is awesome, and I love your message here.

    • I’m afraid it was patronising Ashley – this post is not about congratulating me for “getting some exercise”, it’s about fat people reclaiming their right to enjoy and participate in physical activity.

      • I don’t think patronising encouragement is exclusive to fat people. It’s a mainstay of most gyms (which is one of the reasons I don’t like them) and I get it all the time as a skinny person who loves to ride a bike.

      • No Steph, it’s not exclusive to fat people, but thin people have a privilege over fat people in that their bodies are not viewed as repulsive, dirty, lazy, greedy or disgusting. There is no assumption that thin people are exercising to lose weight, nor is there assumption that this is their first time exercising. Ask people like Ragen at Dances With Fat – she’s a professional athlete/dancer and people speak to her like she has never exercised before, simply because she is fat.

        For more information on thin privilege, go to:

        http://sugaredvenom.tumblr.com/post/1295697338/thin-privilege-checklist

  • It was the last time that I dieted and lost 100 lbs that I finally began to enjoy exercising and being active. I loved the feeling of being sweaty and hot and puffy and feeling stronger and powerful. I also found out I enjoy competitive sport! Now my weight is back to what it was before that big diet all those years ago, but I still have a love of exercise and being physically active. I’m trying to find the time to go to the gym in addition to the walking for an hour I do daily. It’s not because I want to lose weight, but because I feel better when I’m more active.
    I’ve never been abused or harassed for exercising in public. I understand you may have had this experience, but I would not want to give those people who are wanting to start doing so the impression that this will happen either.

    • The thing is that it DOES happen to lots of people and we need to talk about it. That’s not to say that it will definitely happen, but by pretending that it doesn’t we do more damage than good.

  • PS when I was this same weightpreviously I had awful indicators like bp of 160/100. Same weight now but nothing above the ‘normal’ zone when I’ve had tests done (bp 120/80). I think it’s to do with being more active.

  • I have recently found that I quite like the gym. I never thought I would-after all fat people don’t go to the gym do they? It’s only for people who “care” about their bodies!! I’ve done pilates and discovered that I am surprisingly flexible. I’ve spent time on a treadmill and discovered (much to my surprise) that I can walk fast and I can even run. I haven’t run since I was a child! I get the odd look from a snarky b!tch or two, I find it’s mainly other women who glare at me as though I am an intruder. The personal trainer was pretty patronising (“just walk at a slow leisurely pace like 4km an hour so you don’t wear yourself out”…) so I ignored him and did what I felt like doing to see what I am capable of.
    I used to love playing sports as a child but once I stacked on the weight as a teen I stopped being as active. I’m starting to rediscover how good it feels to move, build up a sweat, and do things I thought my body couldn’t do. My next challenge is learning to ride a bike-I never did as a child and I am looking forward to my dh teaching me this christmas holidays and to hell with anyone who thinks I’m too fat.
    I find it ironic that we are told we need to exercise more, but then are so judged when we do start to move as though our ability is somehow upsetting their views of what we are and what we represent to them.

    • Melhoneybee I went back to the gym a while back to see if I really liked it. When I was in my manic weight loss panic, I spent hours and hours and hours at the gym, in this kind of desperate fervour. I went back and discovered that mostly it bored me, and I hated the way the trainers treated me, as if I was a good fatty trying to do something about her weight. I much prefer to get out in the great outdoors and spend time being active with friends.

      And good luck with learning to ride a bike – it’s AWESOME!

  • I ride my bike to work every day and at first I did get that ‘good for you’ stuff from people. But now after 3 years of doing it and waving to everyone with a big fat smile on my big fat face, I get more of the ‘if you can do it, maybe I can too’ kind of comments.

    • I’m starting to get those too Elvie. I think resisting that kind of patronising stuff and saying “Don’t patronise me!” is part of getting people changing their thinking.

      • I know, somehow they think they are complimenting me but why shouldn’ I be able to do it, I am fat, not unfit. I am more understanding when I fat person says it to me because I know that it comes from a place of being so beaten down that self esteem is sometimes non-existent.

  • Like!

    I still wonder what “I” did today to bring on weight loss advice from one of my fat clients today. When he said, “oh yeah. stay away from the whites,” I paired that with a previous comment about something I do for fibromyalgia self-care so I replied, “Yeah… I’ve heard a lot of ppl say that, stay away from white flour to reduce pain.” He was “kind” enough to clarify, “And it’ll help you lose weight….” Maybe it was a delayed response to me commenting that he lost weight and asking if that was a good thing? Since it was, maybe he felt the need to dole out advice? Nevermind me telling him I scaled down to a diet of non-processed meat, fruit, & vegetables for a while (allergen elimination diet) but didn’t lose a pound. As is always the advice for fat ppl with healthy habits– try harder. Surely you can lose weight. Uh, yeah…..

    Keep pissing off fat haters😀

  • This puts me in mind of an experience I had, twice, actually, while participating in something called the MS150. It is an event staged in different places in the US to raise funds for research into multiple sclerosis and it involves a 150 mile bike ride for which you court sponsors and raise money, usually as part of a team. A co-worker’s husband had MS so we formed a team, got custom jerseys, raised money, and rode. I was a shade under 300 pounds at the time; I have strong legs and more than adequate endurance and a ride of this distance was not a problem for me. People kept coming alongside me and telling me how ‘proud they were of me’ for participating and to ‘keep it up’. Keep what up? They asked me all sorts of rude questions about my diet and exercise and assumed that because I am fat was that I was doing this for the “all-holy pursuit of weight loss”, which was untrue. I was there for the same reason everyone else was there. I never knew what to do with the things they said but I started to feel like some kind of disabled person who overcame a set of difficult odds to ride. I wasn’t, and I’m not.
    Sometimes I wish I had a t-shirt to wear while I’m out moving my body that says “Doing what I want, in the body that I have, without apology or desire to change it.” (The “So fuck off” is implied.)

  • I used to exercise six days a week before the kids got up. The current toddler, however, is not only an early riser, but unready to give up his lengthy morning nursing and cuddle session. This morning he slept late–for the first time in months–and I got to lift weights–for the first time in months. I had forgotten how good it felt!

    In the intervening months, I got lots of practice in not beating myself up for being the bad, bad fatty who doesn’t exercise. I knew what I could do and when I could do it and what had to happen in order for me to be able to do it. And beating myself up for not being able to magically wedge an extra hour into my day just wasted time and stomach acid.

  • I found your blog from mencallmethings.
    I appreciate your blog because I used to think Fat was a bad word and I am slowly changing my idea and appreciating that fat or not we are all wonderful and different and that is true beauty. Being overweight all my life and having people call me names and put me down and make me feel like I was not deserving …well what can I say…they are wrong.
    I was led to believe physical activity was not for me. This is something that I need to change within myself so I can enjoy my life more fully.

    • You’ll get there Free – it’s hard work and takes a lot of support – but here in the Fatosphere, as we fat activist bloggers are known, there is a lot of support and community. You are not alone.

      I’m so glad you found me!

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