I saw a woman jogging along one of Vermont’s main roads near Green Mountain at Fox Run and I started to laugh.
The laughter was a combination of flash backs to a time when I’d see a fit woman exercising, and immediately be annoyed and exclaim through my guffaws, “what is she doing exercising, she doesn’t need it.” For those of you that have struggled with excess weight in your life, you already recognize my cognitive distortion, for the rest here is the thought process that leads to that kind of statement…
“normal” people (read: “thin women”) just are “like that”…I’m like this because of (pick one that fits overall mood at the time) #1 I’m different #2 I’m plagued #3 I’m a failure.
Based on those options above, exercise is a means of torture only for those that are fat. Exercise defined was: forcing oneself to move one’s fat body in an unnatural way, guaranteed to degrade the spirit while the body contorts abnormally and painfully. Exercise will reform the fat body but only if one joins the cult of the Sweat god, and are willing to worship at the Temple 3 hours a day, seven days a week. Those that do not maintain their perfect worship schedule and aren’t transformed into “thin” are obviously also failures.
The warped thinking there is pretty obvious in this context, but lets look at some of the thinking of the people that don’t struggle with their weight.
“Since my weight is “normal” those fat women are obviously doing something wrong. They are either gluttons, or lazy, or slovenly, or worse – haven’t they ever heard of a diet?
This base thought pattern (fat can be made thin by a little discipline – the kind that the fatty in question is ignorant of) then transform into these helpful kinds of suggestions, “Why don’t you just cut back, dear? You know, I quit using cream and sugar in my coffee and I lot 10 pounds in one week?” Of course this wisdom is being dispensed to a woman that has been on 300 calories a day diets – where brushing her teeth before bed would put her caloric intake a little over for the day. I won’t go on, because I know you’ve heard many, many more such helpful tips.
Test this out….ask someone you know fairly well that struggles with her weight how many diets she’s been on (the answer will be “thousands”), then ask how much weight she’s lost collectively on these diets (the answer will be “hundreds”) then ask her weight her net weight loss/gain is between her first diet weight and her present weight (depending on how long she’s been dieting, the answer will be 10 to 150 lbs overall gain).
I’ve grown to see the errors of my thinking – fit women are fit because they exercise – I’d like to world’s thinking to also mature…that fit women come in all sizes, and fat is more than the erroneous “equation” of ‘calories in, calories out.’ Or more simply, can’t we just be a little kinder to ourselves and others?