Fat vs healthy

Image: me taking a photo of Jesse (who took this photo of me) at the Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco. 

I’d always thought of myself as body-positive – self-aware, realistic, and kind to myself (mostly), but I’m experiencing some weird, conflicting feelings of late.

I’m almost fully recovered from CFS, and capable of more physical activity than I have been for a really, really long time. This is an amazing feeling. I can hike, participate in yoga and ballet classes – do (almost) anything without getting sick as a result. My diet is generally good, I crave junk less and less often, and I’m pumping my body full of amazing produce as often as I can.

Thanks to this, I’ve been on cloud nine over the last few weeks; blissfully re-learning all the things my body is capable of, confident, happy…

Then I weighed myself.

Right now, I’m the heaviest I’ve been in, what, five years? Maybe more? I’m not the heaviest I’ve ever been, but I’m within a 10kg range of it.

As soon as I realized this, suddenly, things felt different. I still FEEL amazing – but now there’s a subconscious internal battle raging inside me.

Inner voice #1: You’re healthier than you’ve ever been. Good work. Keep taking care of yourself.
Inner voice #2 (after weighing myself): No you’re not. Look at yourself in the mirror. You’re fatter than you’ve been in years. You cannot possibly be healthy right now. How you feel doesn’t matter – the proof is in how you look.

Boy, that’s some social conditioning right there. 32 years of seeing advertising, magazines, watching people gain or lose weight and listening to the way they talk about it. Thanks to all of that, I (subconsciously) cannot reconcile being fat with being healthy.

On an conscious level, I can reconcile it, because I’m living proof that you can be fat and feel healthy. And I’m happy. But every time I look in the mirror or see myself in a photo, there’s a part of me that only sees an unhealthy, overweight person, and tells me that I should be unhappy.

It’s weird. And sad. And confusing.

Fortunately, I’m fine, and I’m not in a rush to lose weight – but I guess my point is this: be careful what you tell your kids. Even though I was taught from a very young age that the women shown in the media weren’t representative of real people, and encouraged to do whatever made me happiest, I’ve now realized that outside society (and its insistence on thinness as an indicator of health) still managed to have an effect on me.

Fat doesn’t always equal poor health. I’m still trying to learn and accept that, even though I’ve just proven it to myself.