I have been a huge fan of multiple blogs that speak out against the ridiculous messages that are perpetuated by the fitness industry, bad gym culture, and society as a whole. (See list of blogs I follow.) The false messages that tell us that fat is bad and will lead to the end of world as we know it. I read every post these bloggers post. They make me think about and re-examine all the residual silly thoughts floating around my head that still resurface periodically.
It is very difficult to stay completely free of thoughts like “if only I was thinner” or “I don’t have a six pack. I can’t call myself a body builder or an athlete”. I began my fitness journey in the typical gym environment that touted that we must all loose weight, that our generation was going to be the first to watch its children die because DEATH FAT and NO MOVEMENT. I was trained to wage war against body fat. Fat was the enemy of all that was healthy. To do anything else was to have your dedication towards living a healthy, worth while, valuable life called into question. Your dedication to eradication of fat and your success at loosing it were barometers of worthiness. The good fatty/bad fatty dichotomy could be seen everywhere. (These things were so prevalent yet I did not even know what to call them or how to call them out or that I even could call them out because it was just simply never done.) Being strong was a stated goal also. So was fueling the body. But these things always fell second to being thin. As though being strong was meaningless unless you were also skinny. All the “heath” magazines and even the information put out by our university employeed dietitions all supported the same anti-fat “there is something wrong with you if you are not skinny or at least trying to be skinny” mentality.
This bad gym culture was so ingrained in me that the first time I read about HAES I felt relieved for finally finding something that made sense and would let me live my life NOW (rather than later after I was thin) and simultaneously guilty for daring to think my body, with its body fat covering the muscle I worked to build, was just fine the way it was. I honestly felt I could not call myself an athlete because I did not have the tiny frames of the girls on most of the varsity teams (and becasue I was not part of an organised sport). I called myself a weight lifter, but would not call myself a bodybuilder because I was not skinny enough to look like what people would expect from a bodybuilder. I thought people would think me presumptous if I dared to apply the term bodybuilder to myself.
I know now how stupid and plain wrong this thinking is, but I still catch myself in the act every so often.