One of the blogs which really got me to thinking about fat, body shape and healthy living irregardless of those first two; Shapely Prose; fairly recently had a post about new shirts available in their store of fat-positive clothing and knick-knacks.
In the comments thread for this post, folks were trying to offer up a slogan for a new shirt which would embody the spirit of HAES (Health At Every Size) and the idea of excersizing for fun and health, rather than to shed those extra pounds. The line I came up with, “I exercize to Move It, not to Lose It” received a general applause. The last few days, especially hearing the complaints of fellow co-workers who bemoan the need to run an extra mile or two to “work off” that piece of cake at lunch, I’ve been pondering this thought more and more. You might say that the need to write about this is what spurred my launch of this blog!
What it comes down to is simply this: your body is NOT some sort of fat or calorie teleportation device; not an abacus of weight gain/loss directly correlated to movement. Excercising until that elliptical machine shows “250 calories burned” does not somehow magically lift that 250 calorie slice of cake you ate and, for some reason, feel so damned guilty about, OUT of your body. Despite the pervasive “Common Knowledge” myth that 3,500 calories= 1 pound of weight, studies have shown the drastically increasing your activity, simply to lose weight, does not work (and may even have the reverse effect!).
So why are you exercising so hard, for so long, in a manner you HATE, in the vain attempt to somehow remove the guilt and the weight of having eaten something? Why not find an activity you LOVE to do and enjoy it for the simple pleasure it brings? Rather than count the calories burned or the heart rate reached, take time to feel the joy in what you are doing and the healthier body it might help develop?
Love swimming? Then feel the power of your muscles as you slice through the water across the pool. Marvel at how your body, that body you dismiss and feel disgust over for its small imperfections so often, manages to move you so fluidly. Don’t count the laps to ascertain how many calories you “burned”.
Enjoy running? Then feel the strength in your legs as you get up that next hill. Feel the wonder of your body moving in a solid pace and feel your lungs enjoy each breath. Don’t track each mile as another 200 calories you are “allowed” to now consume.
Me? I dance. I swim. I walk. All because I LOVE to! When I dance I amaze myself with the way my body can move; the way I can put in motion the feeling of a piece of music. When I swim I close my eyes and feel the water lapping over my skin, glorying in the strength of my muscles moving me along. And when I walk I look around and feel the ground beneath my feet and feel my lungs getting stronger. I know that my next session on my trumpet will have even more power thanks to my stronger breathing. Through it all, I just amaze at my wonderful body. This amazing, fat, powerful body; which not only gets me through the mundania of the regular movements required of it, but also manages to astound me every day with the other wonderous motions it can make. Not in any of those thoughts is the count of how many calories I’ve burned away and how much potential weight loss that might translate into.
So my advice to you? Find an activity you LOVE. I personally found that running an elliptical machine in the gym is not for me. However, dancing and swimming? Perfect! So, find what you love and are able to do, to whatever level you are capable. Then, do it. Exercise for fun, for strength, for the more powerful lungs and a lower-stress mind that it may bring. Don’t worry about reaching some weight goal or redeeming some snack by running another mile. Stop when you are tired and ready to rest. Your size does not matter (you CAN be fit and fat). Your level of ability does not matter. How you look while DOING it does not matter. Be kind to your body and just move for the love of Moving It! Not…for the love of Losing It.