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Fathletics

Study: Being Fit and Fat isn't Rare

Jezebel recently posted a link to a Science Daily article: Making the Move to Exercise for Overweight and Obese People, which - ironically, given the title - discusses a recent study indicating that many people who are classified as overweight and obese are (shock! surprise!) long-term regular exercisers.

Researchers surveyed the activities and intensions of 175 overweight and obese people who visited clinics run or owned by nurse practitioners in Spokane, Wash. Those individuals, who answered questions on several behavior tests, were 40 years old or older and had a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or higher -- the range for overweight and obese.

The investigators found that 29 percent had been exercising for six months, 39 percent regularly exercised and 25 percent contemplated exercising. Only 12 percent had no desire or thoughts of getting active.

Since this study didn't use a representative sample (a relatively small number of women over 40 with 25+ BMIs who had visited one of a few clinics in Spokane, Washington?) and relied on self-reporting, I think it's safe to say that it's not a gold-standard piece of science. And, because of the study's limitations, it's not possible to make a meaningful comparison between the exercise habits of people in different BMI ranges.

However, it busts some myths and it does correspond to what we see here in the fatosphere: that many people who are quite heavy are also quite physically active, and that it doesn't make us thin. Even more shockingly, we don't necessarily stay active in hope of becoming thin.

We're active because we have interests and hobbies that involve movement. We're active because it makes us stronger and more capable. We're active because it gives us energy. We're active because it helps control depression. We're active because walking and biking are cheap, environmentally friendly forms of transport (yes, many fat people are greenies). We're active because of the social benefits. We're active because it can bring us closer to nature. We're active because types of exercise like yoga, tai chi and dance can be spiritual practices. We're active because we're competitive and enjoy playing sports. We're active because it feels good to connect with and revel in our bodies. Hell, we may even do it a little bit out of vanity. It makes out bodies firmer and more shapely and improves posture and ease of movement.

In other words, we're active for the same reasons that thin people are active.

One of the worst things that the diet-and-exercise juggernaut does to us is turn us against physical movement, making us think of it as punishment for being fat; almost a form of torture.

We deserve to have joyful movement in our lives! When disability, a lack of time, or a lack opportunity stands in the way, it's not something to feel guilty about. It's just a damn shame. Now, some of us have been scarred by obsessive exercise that's been tied to weight loss attempts and/or would just rather read in their spare time - and that's fine. Exercise isn't some kind of duty or requirement. However, there's no doubt in my mind that regular movement that we enjoy can help us to lead longer and better lives.

So... I'll end by linking to a kind of silly, kind of helpful, HAES-friendly CBS News slideshow, 12 fitness tips for fat folks.

Fat Athletes! part deux

Okay, I forwarded your feedback on to my athletic wear contact and he asked for more specifics. So let's talk about exactly what features we would like to see in certain items, like sports bras, shorts and t-shirts. Obviously fit is a big deal for all of us, but what specifically needs to be different about the fit? It's entirely possible that we may be able to get this company to make us exactly what we need, so really think about what that would be and let me know.

PS: If any of you are members of other fathlete groups, please either get their feedback and post it here or have them email me at carrie at fatrights dot org so we can include their needs as well.

Thanks!

Fat Athletes! What do you need?

Close your eyes for a moment, and imagine a world where athletes of all sizes are taken seriously and provided for. What would that look like? What kinds of athletic gear would be available for us? What would you like to see? I'm asking because a small athletic clothing company asked me, but I think it's also important for us to start visualizing and talking about what kinds of changes we would like to see in the world. So let's have it! What frustrates you about being a fat athlete today? What athletic clothing, equipment, etc do you find inadequate or lacking? What would you create or change about the current world to make it a friendlier place for fat athletes?

Fat people exercising!!

I am in love with this photo gallery at Newsweek.com. I would like to squeeze it all over and marry it and have little blogger/photo gallery babies. Check it out!

Also here's Athletes of Every Size which is the same basic idea but, you know, not on Newsweek.com.

Fat and the Fear of Movement

I want to direct your attention to this fantastic post at Fatshionista about how we as fat people cut ourselves off from sports and other physical activities because we see them as things fat people aren't supposed to do. I have experienced this a million times in my fat life and I'm betting some of you out there can relate. I can come up with a whole list of physical things I have avoided at times in my life because fat people "don't" or "shouldn't" do them:

Riding my bike (this is a big one that still gives me trouble...I have an irrational fear of being mocked on my bike)
Walking around my neighborhood
Running in my neighborhood
Swimming
Going to the gym
Joining a community sports team
Rock-climbing
Yoga
Learning to salsa dance

I'd like to say I've consistently ignored the fear and accomplished all of these things, but there are a few on the list I'm still a little reluctant to try because of those irrational thoughts. It's a process.

Are there things you have avoided or flat out not done because you are fat? Let us know in the comments!

HAES is blowin up

Hey BFBers, this is sort of an interim post, but there is some crazy-good HAES stuff going on lately.

First, if you haven't already joined Linda Bacon's HAES community, you should totally do it! And sign the pledge! For those of you who don't know, Linda will be speaking at the NAAFA conference in Washington D.C. this year.

Second, this article by Lucy Aphamor in The Guardian rocks my socks! Thanks to Beanietude for bringing it up in the forums. Lucy says:

The hardest leap for practitioner and client alike can be the idea that all bodies are worthy of respect; that it is permissible and important to appreciate and care for the body you live in, whatever size you are; that bodies should not be disliked or despised for their lack of conformity to a particular size or shape.

This is a "HAES 101" that kicks ass and takes names. It's nothing most of you haven't heard before, but that's okay. If it's too 101 for you, post it on Facebook/Twitter/whatever or keep it in your file to send to someone if you get a chance to educate someone on HAES. I do wish that general HAES articles would do a little more to address class and race issues because they are, let's be honest, very central to the way that fatness/nutrition gets discussed and anti-fat arguments get deployed.

Also, Charlotte Cooper gives us the news that HAES UK was launched this weekend! (Lucy Aphramor also links to it in her Guardian article.) Did anyone go to the event? If so, please report!

Finally, how should we react to all this HAES stuff becomming more mainstream? Are you seeing this reflected in your every day lives?

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