There are people, in this brave new world of instant online media, who are employed stir up trouble and web hits. They are generally best ignored. But I have been pondering this old weight loss business, from the perspective of someone who has lost and gained a small elephant’s worth of poundage, and I think there are some uncomfortable truths that would behove us to acknowledge, otherwise making meaningful changes are just not possible.

Before I found crossfit, I used to do zumba a couple of times a week. I was usually the biggest person in the class, but I was also usually the fittest, in terms of how much effort I put in all the way through. And I thought that, while I was clearly fat, I was fit enough. Any Crossfit London people reading might want to pause here to stop laughing.

Anyway, point being, sometimes the bar is set low. If I can digress for a moment, I recently bought a fitbit pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps a day. I thought this would be tough, after all, I work in an office and commute on the tube, so don’t really get a lot of walking in, but actually, I walk to the station, then to the tube, and if I get off one stop early, in one direction, I can rack up the 10k with no bother at all. So ‘official guidelines’ seem to suggest that if you walk 10k steps a day, you are fit enough. And I’m here to say, that’s a freaking crock. That is not enough. It doesn’t make you strong, it doesn’t improve your stamina. It’s lowest-common-denominator fitness and actually makes me a bit cross. But it’s achievable, it doesn’t stretch you and it’s better than doing nothing, right? Hmm.

Here’s the thing – you can be fat and walk 10k steps a day. You can be fat and do zumba. You can be fat and swim every day. And I’m happy for you if you’re happy for yourself, it’s a free country. But can you be fat and haul yourself up in a pull up. Unlikely. Can you be fat and do good push ups. Unlikely. Can you be fat and run away from a rapist. Again, unlikely. So, let’s not kid ourselves, fellow plumpsters. Fat isn’t good. It’s bad for your heart, for your joints and it stops you/me getting better.

2) Fat isn’t just your problem

I’m a live and let live kinda girl. I try not to judge other people’s lifestyle choices, contents of their shopping basket etc. If you want to stand in the rain smoking, that’s your business, etc. But sometimes, actually, it’s everyone’s business. What sparked this thought was overhearing a convo recently – an oldish man was talking on his phone about how his doctor said he had high blood pressure and had put him on tablets. Now I know that, untreated, high blood pressure can cause a stroke which is terrible for the person involved and highly expensive for the health service to treat. I also know that blood pressure meds are cheap as chips. So no problem there, sort of. But it did make me think – at what point do we start taking responsibility for our health and at what point does it become someone else’s problem to fix? I once asked my (chubby) doctor for help in losing weight. He, hypocrite of all hypocrites, harangued me about how my inability to stop shoving food in my face was not anyone else’s problem but mine, and why should the NHS fork out for me? And, while he was clearly an ass-hat with a heart attack waiting in the wings, he kind of had a point. Surely meds are last resort? Or is it that, if you’re told you have high blood pressure, you just think meds will solve the problem with no input from you? After all, they’re cheap, effective, and easier than changing what you eat and being more active. Also, change takes a while to take effect, so you wouldn’t want to have a stroke in the meantime. But these sorts of conditions do affect us all – from the way health services are designed and paid for, to the fact that GPs are overloaded. If everyone who has a niggly health worry that may be tackled by better lifestyles changed one thing, wouldn’t that be amazing?

3) Making changes is really scary

Sometimes, if you’ve been fat for a long time, being not-fat or less-fat is really weird. I realised this week that while I am clearly delighted to have ditched over 3 stone so far, I don’t really know how to get to grips with it. It’s been the reason for doing or not doing stuff for so long, I feel slightly like I’ve lost part of my identify. Now I know this is mental, and I should be out buying new clothes, but I’m feeling a bit unable to, a bit ‘untethered’ by it. So it’s not just doing it that stops people losing weight, it’s the not knowing what will be waiting for them at the other end…

Hmm, it’s a complicated old business. Calorie in versus calorie our my arse.



Rachael Parkman

Rachael is a late 30s south Londoner, who’s always been bigger than she wants but thinks she’s found the solution. Lives with her husband and cat, and enjoys cooking, gin and tonic and wearing nice shoes.

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