In 2014 a GP took one look at me and made the assumption that running a marathon was beyond my capabilities. It didn't matter that I had run one before, or that I had recently run 20 miles in Hyde Park, all he saw was a fat woman with back pain (caused by picking my daughter up awkwardly at playgroup) and he came to the conclusion that I was "Too Fat to Run"...his words not mine.
That 15 minute consultation changed my life. I left that surgery with a prescription for pain killers and a determination like nothing I have ever felt before and three weeks later I ran the Brighton Marathon.
This week a report was commented on across a range of media relating to the concept of being Fat and Fit, which apparently a Swedish study has proved is impossible. Daily Mail went with the click bait headline of No, you CAN'T be fat and fit, say the experts: Doing lots of exercise while overweight 'does not prevent an early death'
It doesn't matter that they have also run a story recently on their news site entitled Why being fat but fit could save your life, hmmmm????
The thing that really pissed me off though was their choice of image, that of a headless fat person, no scrap that, a headless woman, despite the fact that the study was carried out on males, and in fact teenage men. So nothing about womens health at all.
This morning I did an interview with BBC Radio Scotland on the subject with professor Peter Nordtrom who headed up this research and even he seemed a bit bamboozled by the way the research was being tweaked to suit the "war on Obesity" agenda,
Presenter - So what this is saying is there is no point in doing exercise if you are fat as you are still going to die early
Peter - Erm, no thats not what I am saying at all. The study shows you are better to be slim and unfit, than fat and fit or better still slim and fit
No shit sherlock.
Are we not missing the point here?
People do not exercise just for fitness, or for weight loss or to look good in their jeans. We exercise for all kinds of reasons.
Weight gain and the inability to lose weight easily happens also for a range of complex reasons. Telling fat women that take regular exercise that they are doing this in vain, is nasty and vindictive and in my opinion dangerous.
I am obese.
I run marathons.
I do not for a minute think my marathon running makes me exempt from the possible health implications of being overweight. But it sure as hell makes me feel better about myself, and helps me move closer towards my goal of physical and mental health and happiness.
I am sick of all this scare mongering, the blaming and the shaming. I am not promoting weight gain, or staying at the weight you are, or encouraging people to stick their heads in the sand about nutrition or possible disordered eating.
I am just saying leave us the hell alone to work it out by ourselves.
On the radio interview this morning a fitness instructor said "Nobody wants to be fat" how the hell would he know what people want? How dare he speak on behalf of overweight women. I would rather be fat and happy, than slim and depressed because my life is not worth living.
Women tell me time and time again, its not slimness they seek but acceptance, balance, control, love even. Many of us are sick of the yoyo dieting, the being on, the being off, the being on again and the guilt and shame that comes with it.
Surely balance is what we should all be aspiring to?
Remember folks, this is one medical study amongst thousands which are done each year about the impacts, causes and implications of obesity and inactivity on our populations. It has been taken out of context and used as a rod to beat us women with. Yet again.
We don't need doctors to tell us when our lifestyles need to change, we know it within ourselves. Why not celebrate the small steps overweight women are taking to take back control of their bodies rather than shame us into diving head first back into the diet industries offering which got many of us here in the first place.
For a much broader discussion about the concept of fit and fat, health and happiness check out my ebook New Year, Same You - A guide to health and happiness at the size you are