I’ve recently joined some forums online about marathons, running etc. just to see what conventional forums are like and if there’s some benefit for me there. I chose forums whose policies are cool with me lurking first. I want to understand the conventions and community and gauge the level of fat hate/fat bashing etc. before I decide whether or not I want to actually engage. One of the things I’ve noticed is that the reasons for running that people often talk about in these forums are very different than my reasons.
The first idea is running to eat – people talk about how they run so that they can eat what they want, so they can eat a specific thing, so they can eat a specific amount of [insert food here], so they can “be bad” so they can eat “something sinful.” etc.
The cousin of running to eat is running to drink. Typicaly beer, though margaritas also factor highly.
Of course people of all sizes are allowed to choose to run for these or any other reasons, it’s interesting to me because there was a time when these were my reasons for exercising, and they are so far from my reasons now (predominantly cross finish line, get medal). It makes me grateful that I no longer moralize food, that I practice intuitive eating rather than calorie calculus, and that my ability to nourish myself or enjoy food or drink isn’t dependent on my run.
Next, as you might imagine, is the goal of running for body manipulation. The first incarnation of this is running for weight loss. Again as you might imagine, the boards are full of people who are having the “success” that we would expect in the first year, and those who are having the failure that we know is the most likely outcome 3-5 years out. It seems that as long as you aren’t happy with your body and you’re trying to lose weight you’ll be supported. I’ve not yet seen a not thin person in the forums who doesn’t talk about wanting/trying to lose weight.
The second body manipulation is for the attainment of a “runner’s body.” I’ve discussed before my frustration with the idea of a the dancer’s body, runner’s body, swimmer’s body etc. Again, these are choices that people are allowed to make. I definitely spent a lot of time, energy and money trying to use food and exercise to pull and stretch and manipulate my body into the way I thought it “should” look and reading these posts helped me realize just how grateful I am not to be there anymore.
Ever since I chose to be a Fat Activist and a Health at Every Size practitioner I’ve noticed that I have different dreams than a lot of people and that people have different dreams for me than I have for myself – I get e-mails and comments all the time about this, in one I got today the person said that she “understands where [I’m] coming from with health for every size” but that “my wish for you is that your marathon training will lead to weight loss.”
I’m going to go ahead and assume that if you wish I lose weight then you don’t understand where I’m coming from because I’m coming from a place where we don’t wish weight loss on people who don’t want it. (And if Buffy the Vampire Slayer taught us anything wasn’t it that you shouldn’t make wishes to strangers?)
I don’t know if I’ll interact on the forums I’m currently checking out but this whole thing has made me super grateful for the Fit Fatties Forum and the people there who make sure that I always have a place to talk about my fitness goals from a weight neutral perspective, and very grateful for my hard-won relationships with food, exercise, and my body.
It’s here! Today is the last day of the Fat Activism Conference You can still register and listen to the live workshops today, as well as accessing recordings of anything that you missed, only $39 with a pay-what-you-can-afford option to make it accessible to as many people as possible. Check it out!
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