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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Body Fat is not Magic

There is an idea in the fat movement that body acceptance means simply saying ‘I’m fat, ah well, there’s nothing I can do, and there’s no point trying anyway’.

A more extreme example of this attitude is ‘I’m fat, there’s nothing I can do, and you can’t either. There’s no point trying, and if you do it means you hate yourself. And not only yourself but ALL fat people. If you don’t want to stay like us then you are bad, think we are bad and hate us. You are a sell-out. You are giving in to society’.

Well for a start body fat is not magic (you will find I write this a lot, simply because its true). It is not. It is created. And it is created from what we give it. Bodyfat is stored energy. Our bodies use energy to live, to function, to be. What is given to the body, but not needed is stored away for later.

Endomorphic body types have a tendency towards storing more bodyfat, but this doesn’t make obesity for this body type inevitable. It means that more effort needs to be put forward to watch weight gain.

But at the same time, there are far too many overweight people in todays world to be able to say ‘They are all just endomorphs’, just like there are too many to say ‘it’s all due to medical conditions/unlucky genes’ etc. And though small amounts of people have medical conditions that result in weight gain due to changes in the body, there is no shortage of overweight people all trying to lump themselves into this category.

But back to the issue of body acceptance.

I think that the fat movements view of what constitutes ‘body acceptance’ is very skewed.

Of course we should all accept our bodies and our body shapes. This is our body and the only one we are going to get, so yes!! Enjoy it.

Accepting your body means accepting that maybe ‘Hey I’ve got short legs, I’ll have to accept that, nothing is going to make them longer’, or ‘I have narrow shoulders/wider hips’ or things like ‘I notice I have a tendency to store body fat more easily, so I’ll be more careful with my nutritional choices', or ‘I see that I have a hard time putting on muscle, I’ll do some research on nutrition and sensible resistance training programmes to help’ etc.

Accepting your body is a good thing, and we are all different, with different features etc.
The problem with the fat acceptance movement however is that they also seem to believe that accepting your body means, you can’t then do anything to improve it.

Or to go deeper into it ‘You can do things to improve it……..just don’t you dare go losing bodyfat whilst you do!!’.

For instance if a person is overweight and they choose to exercise then ‘fine’ say the fat movement and ‘well done’. But that changes in a flash if they then find out that this persons goal is to lose bodyfat.

That is strictly not allowed.

By doing this, they see it as calling them bad, ugly or not as good, because surely a person couldn’t want to lose bodyfat if they think that fat people aren’t worth less then others.
But this is no different then someone saying ‘If you try to improve your education beyond us, then that means you think we aren’t as good. There is no way that you can want to become smarter if you don’t think that uneducated people are worth less’.

And its nonsense.

One of the main reasons this happens is because the fat movement do not believe that being overweight can cause problems (many don’t believe this no matter how overweight/obese the person is). So in their mind, the only reason a person could possibly want to lose weight is because this person doesn’t want to look like them. Therefore they must hate them (the word hate gets thrown around a lot in the fat movement, no matter what is said or how nicely its put. Any criticism at all seems to be deemed ‘hate speech’).

But lowering your bodyfat is self improvement, just like adding on muscle, improving your cardiovascular systems and heart functioning, and everything else that comes from a well rounded fitness programme.

What ‘body acceptance’ really means is accepting your basic shape and bone structure, whether you are an ectomorph, mesomorph, or endomorph (people are usually mixtures of these rather then just one, but they often lean towards one of these more then the others) and the basic things that make up you.

But it does NOT mean that you hate yourself if you decide to improve everything about yourself that you can.

Just like a person may have a learning disorder, and they will need to accept that. But that doesn’t mean that this person should also ‘accept’ that they will never know anything, and will never be academic or clever.

They may not become a super genius (just like people with their bodies don’t all get to become built like Greek gods) but they can still make great improvements in themselves.
And does improving your mind mean you ‘hate’ those who are less academic then you?
Does wanting to improve athletic ability mean you hate those without it?

Of course not. And wanting to lower your body fat is no different.

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