As a personal trainer I am expected to promote healthy lifestyle and fight against obesity. You might find what I say here quite surprising, but I encourage you to open your mind.
I am sure that pretty much every single person who has even a slight access to media is bombarded by unrealistic beauty ideal images, fat-shaming and fat-phobic messages and loads of before-after pictures of people who promise that their life had changed significantly since they lost weight and became smaller versions of themselves. Combine this, with all the fat-phobic rubbish that overweight people have to deal with on a daily basis like: people telling you to lose weight, strangers who suddenly start caring about your health, people shaming you for taking more space in the world, shaming you if you expose too much skin (try a big lady wearing a bikini and then try a slim lady wearing the same bikini and see the difference in the comments), doctors who don’t treat your real health problems because they think you have pneumonia (or any other health problem you can think of) because you’re overweight, employers who are sceptical about you because they think fat people are lazy. All those things that heavier people have to deal with ON A DAILY BASIS, combined with skinny-glorification and a photoshopped beauty ideal that less than 5% of the world can get close to – and voila! You hate the fact you’re fat and want to lose weight, truly believing that it is going to magically change your life for the better.
Well, I am here to tell you the truth. And it is probably not even close to what you expected from me as a PT or generally as a human being, who lost 100lbs. Here are some claims that weight-loss advocates try to make, all explained.
People will like you more:
Well, that’s a tough one. They won’t like you more. Let me explain: some people will like you more because they’re fat-phobic and shallow. I used to have a few friends that told me that they now truly see how awesome I am, but they used to think I am a b**** when I was bigger. The funny thing is that they were pretending to be my friends even then. Needless to say they are not my friends anymore. I remained the same person (obviously I grew as a person, but it doesn’t matter here), and I don’t need people in my life that form their opinion of me by my size, especially if they are my “friends” and supposed to know me a tiny little bit deeper.
On the other hand there are people who actually like you less. Funny enough, some people envy that you’ve succeeded at something (in that case it is weight-loss, but it can be any other goal you set and achieved) and either see you as a threat for some weird reason, or just don’t like you because they think they are less worthy, or they believe that you think they are less worthy. Weird, I know, but people who are lacking self-confidence tend to dislike others’ successes. (*when I refer to weight-loss as a success I mean it just like any other goal that someone sets and reaches, I don’t define weight-loss itself as a success and, more important, I don’t define not losing weight as a failure.)
Finally, there will always be people who like you no matter how you look like, because they care about who you are, which cannot be defined by your size or weight. So, are you looking for people who like YOU or those who like the way you look?
You will be more attractive to your partners:
No, no and NO! The only thing that is important is how YOU find yourself attractive. People are generally drawn towards confident partners who know their worth. And trust me, people have different taste, some will be attracted to you when you’re bigger, some when you’re smaller and some no matter what. I never had any complaints regarding my romantic life, no matter what size I was.
But what about the health?
What I say might seem a little controversial to you, but your health is not defined by your weight. The connection of excess body fat to certain health problems that was found in several researches is not a direct connection, most of the researches were purely statistical and didn’t consider other important factors. A more direct influence on your health is actually what you consume as food and how physically active you are. So if you care about your health, I would focus on eating better and moving more (this will very likely lead to a natural change in body shape and size, but it will only mean that your body is finding its own healthy balance). Maybe it is a good time to remind you that smaller people aren’t necessarily healthy as well. Do stuff to improve your health directly like eating well and staying active. The weight is a different story.
Being a certain size will help you to improve your self-confidence:
Nope. Self-confidence will help you to improve your self-confidence. You can be confident and absolutely love yourself no matter the size. I do have to mention that actually being active, especially weight-training or other performance training will boost your confidence and improve the way you see your body. Trust me, nothing feels better than being able to pull your own body weight or more, do that complicated dance move or anything else that makes you feel like a ninja!
It will make you happier:
No. Actually when I was at my smallest I had a really severe depression, which I managed to overcome only a year ago. Life doesn’t magically change with your size. But more on that in another post.
It is easier to find a job, you will get proper medical care and generally have to deal with less rubbish from society:
Unfortunately this is true. So I can’t blame anyone for wanting to become smaller, it gets really tough sometimes, because of all those misconceptions and standards we have to comply with. But changing yourself for the world to accept you, won’t change the world. Just think about it. You deserve to be accepted regardless of your size and looks.
So do I still help people to lose weight?
Yes and no. I don’t market weight-loss as part of my services, I don’t use before-after weight-loss pictures and I don’t promise happy life to people if they lose weight. I definitely do not preach anyone to lose weight or judge anyone for not doing so. But I am also aware that everyone has the right to choose what to do with their bodies, and if someone decides that they do want to be lighter or work towards a certain look, I do help them achieve that as long as it is a healthy goal, but I provide them with tools for doing it the healthy way, by making them stronger, faster, improving their movement patterns and fitness levels, teaching them to love movement and their bodies. Teaching healthy relationship with food and how to fuel our bodies properly and give them enough rest to recover. I like to teach people to be happy and enjoy life.
We are all part of a change. Those fat-phobic myths need to end. No one needs to wait to live their life to the fullest until they look a certain way. Your life is here and now and it is about time the world learns to accept that and stop defining people by their size.
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