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The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness - Stop Settling [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
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Stop Settling [Jun. 25th, 2013|10:58 am]
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n a Spark Team I lead, a woman posted a concern about her feelings of fatigue when performing a certain kind of exercise. A bunch of us jumped in to say, oh yeah, that's really common when you first start out because you are not performing the exercise in an efficient way, and here are some tips for how you can make it much more effective and less likely to cause injury.

"Oh, thank you," she said. "I just figured it was happening because I'm fat."

I've also seen topics where women went to the doctor for a problem and only got a diagnosis of "it's because you're fat; lose weight." Even when the problem had nothing to do with their body size. And these women just accepted that answer.

I've done it myself. When I only had one bike and was riding a lot, I was continually needing to adjust the seat height. "Well," I thought, "that's because you're so heavy. You're just making the seat go down."

Then I got my hybrid bike, and I never had a problem with the seat height changing on it. Still, it didn't occur to me that the problem might be mechanical rather than my fault until Erin started riding that bike and had the same seat-slip issue. That was when we finally took it to the bike shop and found out that the seat stem was the wrong diameter for the bike. Because it was Erin, I thought of doing something to fix the situation. When it was just me? Well, I just had to settle for what I could manage.

When you're fat, there is a lot of assumption by society that anything wrong with you is wrong because you are fat. And that you should be ashamed of your body size and simply endure the failure state of whatever is wrong, because it's clearly being caused by your fatness.

So we settle. We assume the guilt for any failure is in ourselves, not in the product or service that failed. We are too ashamed to even ask whether the problem might not be our fault; we just assume the failure is personal and, silently and in deep embarrassment, endure it.

It's time to stop that. Yes, there are situations where weight is a contributing factor to a problem, but we need to stop just assuming that weight is the only possible factor. We need to ask questions and really look at the answers. Because the first answer may be predicated on weight assumptions made by the person we're asking. If the answer is "you just have to deal with it," it's time to ask about alternatives.

I may be on the journey with the goal of losing that weight and getting into better shape, but that doesn't mean that I should punish myself by settling for now.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2013-06-25 03:07 pm (UTC)

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oh so VERY well said. Thank you for this, on a day I really needed to hear it.
[User Picture]From: teaa
2013-06-25 03:22 pm (UTC)

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Beautifully put!
[User Picture]From: rustymarble
2013-06-25 03:24 pm (UTC)

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Well written and an important message. Thank you!
And I want to add, if you don't agree withe person saying "get used to it", get a 2nd opinion!
[User Picture]From: sylphon
2013-06-25 03:25 pm (UTC)

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Wonderfully put, and oh so right!
[User Picture]From: wilhelmina_d
2013-06-25 03:25 pm (UTC)

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I had a doctor tell me the fix for a sprained ankle was to lose weight. As in, I tripped over something, sprained it and was just looking for some prescription Motrin and to make sure it wasn't broken, but she told me that losing weight would fix it. Ugh.
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2013-06-25 07:29 pm (UTC)

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*stab stab stab*
[User Picture]From: custardfairy
2013-06-25 03:33 pm (UTC)

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Yesssssss.

Especially with the doctor thing. Folks, if your doctor tells you to lose weight when you go in complaining of a cold, or sore fingers, or double vision, then FIND ANOTHER DOCTOR. Their assumptions and prejudices could literally be killing you.
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2013-06-25 07:28 pm (UTC)

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But fat people internalize the message that they are wrong and undeserving, and then they don't change doctors.
[User Picture]From: roniliquidity
2013-06-25 04:00 pm (UTC)

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I would still be stuck with worsening back pain, because it would have never, ever, gotten fixed by strengthening my core.
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2013-06-25 07:27 pm (UTC)

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Glad you got fixed!
[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2013-06-25 05:40 pm (UTC)

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when I was much younger - and indeed a bit heavier - I had to change doctors. My 'new' internist was probably around the same age as I was, and outweighed me by a good 50+ pounds. She and I sat down together and looked at my medical records. "So..." she said "Your first problem is that you need to learn to exercise, and the best exercise for you is to push yourself away from the table."

I never went back to her.
[User Picture]From: custardfairy
2013-06-25 06:50 pm (UTC)

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I literally gasped! Wow, what bullshit and what harmful "advice" from a medical professional!
[User Picture]From: sapphirescarlet
2013-06-25 05:48 pm (UTC)

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Yep. Had a gyn tell me my endometriosis could be cured by diet and exercise. *headdesk* and that's only the most prominent example in my head right now.

But I still do it. I do it all the time, I'm doing it right now. "How much chronic pain should I have before I expect a doctor do do something about it?" I don't know how to answer that question.
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2013-06-25 07:27 pm (UTC)

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I hope you can find a doctor who focuses properly.
[User Picture]From: okoshun
2013-06-25 05:58 pm (UTC)

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I must apologize - I shared your post elsenet with some others who I thought would really resonate with what you have said. I hope you don't mind. I normally ask permission first!
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2013-06-25 06:57 pm (UTC)

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Sharing is always welcome!
From: (Anonymous)
2013-06-25 06:18 pm (UTC)

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THIS. I thought, for most of my childhood and adolescence, that my asthma was just a side effect of being out of shape. So when the time came yearly to "run the mile" in high school, I would every other day run until I had an attack. Despite the obvious loud squeaky wheezing, my gym teachers would, without fail, *yell at me for not continuing to run.* My chest would ache viciously for the rest of the day. I didn't tell my parents or doctor, believing this to be simple evidence of my lack of physical fitness. It wasn't until I ran to avoid being late for an appointment with another teacher, and had an attack in front of him, that anyone told me this was odd. I got an inhaler, but it took about four years for me to stop fearing exercise, and learn that if I paced myself and used my inhaler as needed, I could actually do whatever I wanted. (Which is definitely not the case for everyone! But I, personally, can run around as I like provided I heed warning signs and respond appropriately instead of just charging ahead until my lungs rebel because I'm afraid someone will yell at me if I pause and rest.)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2013-06-25 07:26 pm (UTC)

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This is exactly the kind of thing that makes me sad. It's a habit that sneaks up on us.
[User Picture]From: custardfairy
2013-06-25 06:58 pm (UTC)

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As an aside, I keep an activity journal on Sparkpeople. On one of my recent posts that was about having a great evening out, playing games, enjoying being outdoors, and NOTHING to do with food or eating other than saying my partner and I picked up sandwiches at Subway that we could enjoy at a park, a member left the following comment:

"Have protein with every meal to curb hunger!"

I am unsure if this account is something to do with spamming, or this person is making some seriously annoying assumptions about my focus and goals. I don't give a good goddamn about your nutritional "advice," thanks. I know how it all works. *stabby*
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2013-06-25 07:24 pm (UTC)

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I think there are people over there who just paste the same comment into blog entries to get their points.
[User Picture]From: tinhuviel
2013-06-25 07:17 pm (UTC)

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Yeah, I've always told people that I could go to the doctor with my head partially decapitated, and he'd tell me to go home and lose weight, and my head would reattach.
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2013-06-25 07:22 pm (UTC)

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I feel very fortunate that my doctor has never, ever taken that kind of approach.
[User Picture]From: sterling_raptor
2013-06-25 10:22 pm (UTC)

Rant ahead!

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I don't normally comment without reading the other comments but this post...just...yes. So much yes.

A few years ago, I went to the doctor for a regular fibro checkup. I was working out doing aqua aerobics at the pool 3-5 times a week and I noticed I was having trouble catching my breath during exercise that never bothered me before. I brought it up to my doc and he said, "Let's be frank. You aren't in the best of shape and you are overweight. It's no surprise exercise is hard."

Yeah, it stung, but he WAS right...but no, he wasn't. I had been exercising for three months. I had lost 40lbs and the issue with losing my wind had just started.

Two months later I hurt my back and went to the ER. The doc noticed I seemed to lose my breath quickly and my lips and nailbeds were blue. Turns out I wasn't out of breath because I was fat. I was losing my breath because my lungs were FILLED with blood clots and I was dying. I spent 2 weeks in ICU on three monitors and had 2 emergency surgeries. I was told I got blood clots because I was fat. I believed my doctor for about a week and then started asking questions. Lo and Behold! I have a clotting disorder that causes THIS exact thing, often at THAT exact age.

None of this happened because I was fat. None of it. I'm so tired of doctors looking at me and blaming all my problems on being fat. MAYBE some shit just isn't related or I'm fat because everything hurts so much it is hard to get out of bed some days and MAYBE if we dealt with that I could exercise more.

Yeah there is shit I could be doing better, I recognize that and I will do it, but I hate when docs just disregard my concerns because all they see is 185lbs on a slight frame of 5'6".
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2013-06-26 01:00 am (UTC)

Re: Rant ahead!

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My god, that just makes me livid. Did you ever confront the doctor about his misdiagnosis?
[User Picture]From: wrendragon
2013-06-25 11:36 pm (UTC)

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My husband got that when he started having stomach trouble. :| Yes, he's very fat, but being fat doesn't generally cause terrible cramping diarrhea at random (well, random until we started to figure out his new food sensitivities) times!

It started like a year ago and he's only now getting appointments with specialists.
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2013-06-26 12:57 am (UTC)

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That's appalling. At least you kept trying.
[User Picture]From: cynic51
2013-06-26 12:08 am (UTC)

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Have you ever actually had a doctor who didn't suck? The main reason I gave up on doctors is that regardless of what I went in for, they never paid attention to my concerns, answered my questions or gave a flying fuck. And I'm not even big enough to get the "too fat" reason (yet, anyway). Seriously, outside of a few ER docs I have never personally had a doctor who wasn't a useless waste of space. Which, given the med students I knew in college, is not actually much of a surprise.
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2013-06-26 12:55 am (UTC)

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Wow. I have had a number of really good doctors, including our current doc.
[User Picture]From: cyan_blue
2013-06-26 05:01 am (UTC)

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Well said!
[User Picture]From: fluffydescent
2013-06-26 08:16 am (UTC)

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Hear! Hear!

I started losing weight when the doctor thought I had had an aneurysm. I was told all my problems (back issues, head, etc) had to do with my weight. </p>

I have since lost 35 kilos, run 4-7kms every second day, completed my first 10km run last weekend, am in the gym 2-3 times a week, am the fittest and strongest I have been in my life... ever! To a point that my running coach has moved me onto an elite training program.

I am still 6foot tall and weigh 115 kilos.

Last week i went to the doctor for unusual fatigue. In that conversation I advised him of my exercise routine (being a good patient) and his response to me was 'some people are just not built for that much exercise'. And that was it.

I nearly lost my shit.

The doctors are always telling me to lose weight and exercise. Now I've lost weight and am exercising, I'm told I'm too big to exercise.

He did not say to me we should look at your nutrition to match your output, or whatever, he just told me to back off the exercise.

Every time I go to the doctors for whatever ailment I'm am told my weight is the issue. It's frustrating, disheartening and soul destroying. All they see is a 'morbidly obese' person whose weight is the only factor for whatever problem I have.

Some friends have suggested finding a doctor who sidelines in sports medicine, which I think is a good idea... Because all the other doctors see is a 'fat chick'.

While I have small way to go to get to *my* goal weight, it's still well above that recommended by the medical profession (would still be seen as obese). But I am not someone who wants to be thin... I want to be fit.

If only the medical profession and society would look beyond weight... Not every fat person is a lazy, unfit slob.


[User Picture]From: zoethe
2013-06-26 12:39 pm (UTC)

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Wow, that sucks. The assumption that fat = inactive makes me crazy.

You should definitely talk to your doctor about this. Losing your shit would not be inappropriate, but if we just fume silently, these doctors think we are accepting their advice and their views never get challenged.
[User Picture]From: ccr1138
2013-06-26 03:36 pm (UTC)

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There were two separate episodes of House where patients were fat and everybody was blaming them for their problems. In both cases, of course, it turned out wrong. In one case, the fat was actually a symptom of a brain tumor, and in the other, it really had nothing to do with it.

The older I get, the more I realize doctors don't really know what's going on with my body or how to fix it. I have several mysterious maladies that have defied diagnosis. But at least they didn't blame my temporary blindness on my fat! :D
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2013-06-26 03:52 pm (UTC)

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I'm surprised that they didn't!
[User Picture]From: celticdragonfly
2013-06-27 02:00 am (UTC)

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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2013-07-03 12:22 am (UTC)

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I have it sitting on my computer, waiting to be watched. I hope to get to it sometime soon!
[User Picture]From: fitfool
2013-06-28 11:15 pm (UTC)

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hear hear! The message to stop settling applies to lots of different scenarios too.
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2013-06-30 03:32 am (UTC)

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It really does.