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Intersections at soccer

January 14, 2010

Sometimes…ok a lot of times it gets confusing being a dieter who’s also pro-FA*. It can be confusing when I come across comments about how wanting to lose weight is anathema to self-acceptance (whether this means that self-acceptance is never possible while wishing to change certain things about oneself or that all weight loss must be the result of self-hate, I don’t know.) Likewise, it can be maddening to read books, blogs and articles that encourage the ‘life is absolutely terrible when you’re fat’ line of thinking. There are times when I think if I were a bit more honest or just more confrontational, this blog would be nothing but posts about people who say stupid crap that pisses me off.

Many people see the two world views (that of a fat activist and dieter) as being diametrically opposed. But you know, in my life they aren’t.

As I mentioned in this post, I’m taking soccer this semester at school. I was a little nervous as the first day approached. Would I be able to keep up? What if everyone else had played soccer before? What if people thought I looked gross when I ran? Walking in there the first day was hard, but I also knew that I had every right to be there no matter what kind of soccer skills I didn’t have. And I had the right to be in the class and enjoy myself even if I was the slowest. When, as part of our warm up, we had to run laps, I didn’t panic and I didn’t hold my breath or try to go faster than was comfortable in order to keep up with people. I jogged at a comfortable pace. When we learned basic dribbling skills, I had fun with everyone laughing at our incompetence. And when we played a game where we tried to kick other people’s ball out of bounds, I laughed and dodged and then didn’t beat myself up when I kicked my own ball out of bounds. I enjoyed what I was capable of doing and didn’t feel ashamed at what I couldn’t do.

And all of that? Totally a product of years of building myself a solid foundation of self-worth with ample help from the fat acceptance movement.

But I was also amazed that while I was in the back of the pack while doing laps, I was right at the back, not half a lap behind everyone else. And even after doing laps on the hard floor (indoor soccer), I didn’t even feel a twinge in my knees or any pain in my feet. I was breathing hard after laps, but it only took me a few moments to fully recover. And it turns out that I am capable of doing a full hour and fifteen minute class where I spend much of it running and hopping and chasing wayward soccer balls that I’ve accidentally kicked out of bounds.

These things were not possible for me at my highest weight even when I was exercising regularly. And those things are awesome and they are possible because of weight loss.

So for me it all fits together. It also comes together in the way I diet (listening to hunger cues, enjoying eating, not denying myself food that I like while still maintaining a deficit) and the fact that my goals aren’t a particular size or weight or even just ‘being thin.’ I may always be fat. And no matter my weight, I can celebrate my body – its beauty, its athleticism, its pure raw functionality. I can also love my body and say that my weight is still putting a strain on some parts and, if possible, I’d like that strain to ease a bit.

*I almost put FA in quotes. I am well aware that for some people weight loss is simply not something you can do while embracing fat acceptance principles. And I agree in that FA has historically highlighted the failure of most diets. However, the attitude of empowerment and kick assitude are absolutely something I got from FA (not to mention lots of agreement in terms of discrimination and not over-simplifying the relationship between fat and health) so it seems appropriate to use the term.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. January 14, 2010 5:47 pm

    Sounds like you found a way to work out /and/ have fun at the same time! I’m jealous. (And happy for you, at the same time.)

    • January 16, 2010 7:54 am

      Being in school again is really great for that. Having a big gym with all the amenities, tons of intramural sports, and literally hundreds of different PE’s means that my exercise options are basically endless.

      Although I’m also one of those very obnoxious people that really likes working out (and doesn’t that just sound so damn smug?) so that helps too.

  2. January 14, 2010 7:35 pm

    Hey Attrice, Your approach sounds more like HAES to me than a traditional diet… even if you are eating less than you were before (which I believe often occurs when people stop and listen to their hunger cues). I am glad you are feeling so positive about things!

    • January 17, 2010 7:50 pm

      Thanks. While I definitely feel like the HAES approach informs a lot of what I do, my eating less is intentional and I do keep a general count of calories as well as get on the scale once a week so I definitely fall outside of most definitions of HAES. That said, I make a point to structure my eating to increase satiety so I do end up eating healthier too…so it all gets muddled.

  3. stlwtr permalink
    January 15, 2010 9:29 am

    This is exactly where I am right now. I read a couple of FA blogs regularly and I have learned so much from them. They have really opened my eyes and helped me start making peace with my body. However, for me (and me only) part of that is being self aware enough to know that I have not been kind to or listened to my body. I am staying off the scale, moving around a lot (which I have come to love) and eating with self-awareness. I know this has and will probably lead to some further weight loss. I don’t have any goal though and I don’t care if I don’t loose more. As long as my body feels good and I have energy, nothing else, weight or size wise, matters.

    • January 17, 2010 7:56 pm

      I think that you sound like you’re in a really healthy place. Honestly, one of the reasons (one of many) that I keep up with FA blogs is to keep that perspective on the relative unimportance of the number on the scale or the size of my jeans. It can be so easy just in society, much less keeping up with health and fitness writing, to not be drawn into the crazy.

  4. January 15, 2010 8:19 pm

    What a great post. I feel like I could have written it myself (just not as well and replace soccer class with tennis or swim lessons or running)! 🙂

    Either way, I totally hear you and completely believe that FA and weight loss can co-exist. I am new to the FA/HAES movement but I 100% believe that once I have found true acceptance of my body as is, weight loss will come much easier for me. I guess what I am saying is that not only do I think that the two can co-exist, but I (in many ways) think they are inextricably linked.

    • January 18, 2010 7:06 pm

      Oh, I want to learn to swim (also to ice skate!) ‘luckily’ I have time enough to take both ice skating and swimming.

      I definitely believe weight loss and FA can co-exist especially when it comes to individuals. In fact, I think FA – in a somewhat counterintuitive way – can make someone ‘better’ at losing weight. However, I don’t think this means that all FA spaces must support and/or accept dieters/diet talk. OTOH, I also think FA reinforces disordered weight loss habits when people use terms like ‘starving’ to describe eating at a deficit. So basically I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s better all around to come together with FA on the common ideas, but otherwise keep myself apart. Happier for everyone involved.

      But yeah, I don’t think I would have had the weight loss I’ve had nor been able to do it so painlessly, if I hadn’t been so immersed in fat positivity. Because, in a totally oversimplified way, previous dieting failures had been the result of hating my fat self so thoroughly that I made ridiculously bad choices when it came to diet and exercise. Seeing weight loss, not as my rightful punishment for being fat, but as something positive I was doing for myself because I loved myself really did make a difference.

      • meerkat permalink
        July 9, 2010 7:00 am

        But does that mean you think that fat people who don’t try to lose weight don’t love themselves? Because if they did they would lose weight in this awesome new way you have so they could run faster and stuff. Maybe you don’t think that at all but the things you are saying I have heard before in that context.

  5. wriggles permalink
    January 16, 2010 4:29 am

    The issue is two fold, fat acceptance doesn’t guarantee you will abandon diets, if it did, people wouldn’t feel the need to insist it does. It would just follow as a matter of course without having to enforce it.

    We come to FA for different reasons that may on the surface seem the same. We are exhausted by the tying up of huge amounts of our energy on negativity about ourselves.

    The relase of some of that energy doesn’t indicate where you will invest it.

    The persistence of WLD is the persistence of the desire to lose weight, it’s the only thing that pays tribute to that desire.

    What I object to is claiming that the reasons you wish to diet is your disgust at the partiality and dishonesty of FA and people within it. Like WLD is somehow more truthful and objective.

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