Intersections at soccer
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.