How to love your body when it’s broken

At the beginning of September I sprained my knee (did you know knees could be sprained? I didn’t. It was very educational). The nurse told me it would take at least 6 weeks to heal, which turned out to be seriously optimistic;  12 weeks later and I’m now counting the days since it last hurt, although not quite daring to call it healed.

strapped-up-knee
At least the KT tape was pretty.

 

Because I’ve been out of action for 3 months, my fitness level has pretty much reset to zero. Absolute zero. I can’t describe the feeling of looking at all my running medals while I gasp for breath after climbing one flight of stairs, but trust me when I say it’s not a good one.

I suspect my knee is only better now because I was forced to rest completely last week by the worst case of tonsillitis I’ve ever had. Swallowing hurt so much I couldn’t even take water, and solid food was so out of the question I was actually glad my appetite had vanished. The antibiotics are finished, but my throat is still sore and my glands are still swollen.

Then I woke up at 3am on Monday with a cracking headache, and ran to the bathroom to be sick. I’ve caught a bug that’s making the rounds at work.

And of course my knackered kidneys meant I couldn’t take ibuprofen for my knee, had to lower the dose of antibiotics for my tonsils, and tried to get rid of my headache by drinking a lot of water and leaving the lights off when I was at home. Is it bad that I sometimes daydream of taking nurofen?

It can be difficult to love your body when it feels like it’s broken.

I confess over the last few months I’ve cursed my body several times, for taking so long, for letting me down, for turning against me. As though ‘me’ and ‘my body’ are separate entities that can be at war. As though either one would be anything without the other.

That’s how I’m working at still loving my body, even though I’m so, so tired of being ill. I remind myself that it’s as much a part of me as the voice that moans about it. That it isn’t some malevolent thing that wants to be ill; my tonsils didn’t get infected just to annoy me, my stomach didn’t decide to make me sick just to see how I would react, and I’m positive my kidneys would really rather be whole.

Rather than being against me, it is me. And one thing I’m getting better at is looking after myself. So I’m taking my sore throat to the doctor again, even though I don’t like going. I’m resisting the urge to jump back into running and salsa and ceroc and pole, even though my knee feels fine, because I know I need time to get well again. I’m even taking naps if I need them, much to the horror of my must-always-be-doing-something-useful brain.

Of course I’m more than just my body, but it is a part of me, and I’m working on giving it the love and care that every bit of me deserves.

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They Want Fat People To Eat Poop Now

I said I would stop re-blogging things so much and write more in my own words, but in this case words fail me.
What the actual hell?

Dances With Fat

You Cannot Be SeriousElaine Yu, an assistant professor and clinical researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital, will be conducting a clinical trial to see if taking pills containing the freeze dried fecal matter of thin people will make fat people thin.  If you’re thinking “How the everlovingcrap did this happen?”  let me assure you, you are not alone.

Here is how the everlovingcrap this happened:

A series of studies (of mice and humans) found that thin and fat subjects had differences in their gut microbes. Then in a 2013 study, microbes were taken from four sets of human twins. In each set of twins, one was thin and one was fat.  Those microbes were then transplanted into mice.  Those mice who received microbes from the fat twin gained weight regardless of which of three diets they were fed (my favorite part of this study may be the use of the phrase “mouse chow” but that’s obviously…

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I’ll be over here, glorifying obesity.

Anyone who has spent any time around body positive spaces will be familiar with the phrase ‘glorifying obesity’. As in ‘you should hate everything about your body and I get to bully you into that, because not doing so is glorifying obesity’.

It was eye-roll-worthy the first time I saw it, has not become any less eye-roll-worthy since then, and is now starting to make me cross. Ah who am I kidding, I’m blogging about it – I’m absolutely raging.

So here are just some of the many issues I have with this argument:

1.I am not obese, so how does loving my body glorify obesity?

In fact, scratch that. How does anyone loving their body glorify anything aside from the aforementioned body?

That’s like me saying “I really love this cake I made.” and some troll running up screaming, “Stop glorifying diabetes!!”.

Except that diabetes is a real thing, and not a made-up label for a made-up category on a made-up scale that assumes all humans have the exact same body composition (spoiler: we don’t).

I don’t see my body as the blueprint for the entire human race. If I love my brown hair, that doesn’t mean I’m holding up brown hair as the paragon of beauty and telling every non-brunette that they must dye their hair immediately so it looks like mine. I just really love the colour of my hair.

Body positivity is not declaring that this body is the best kind of body so everybody should try to look like this, it’s not saying ‘this is perfection’, or ‘this is the only right way to be’. It’s deciding that I have already wasted far too much of my life and energy on hating the only body I will ever have, with absolutely no positive results.

2. Nobody has any idea what ‘obese’ actually is.

Because the BMI scale assumes all humans have the exact same body composition (spoiler: we don’t), it can give some inaccurate results if we try to use it as a measure of health.

Back when I used to measure these things, I started strength training for the first time ever. Over a few months my muscles got bigger, my body fat got smaller, and I felt fitter and healthier. But my weight, and therefore my BMI, went up. Dem muscles be heavy.

According to the Being Massively Inaccurate scale my new, healthy behaviours juuuust tipped me into the ‘obese’ category, so I should  immediately contact my doctor to discuss weight loss strategies before I die of obeseness.

Oh, and guess which of these people are classed as overweight or obese according to the Blatantly Made-up Information scale:

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Tom Cruise

Michael Jordan

Sylvester Stallone

George Clooney

 

Answer: all of them.

Dunno about you, but I’d glorify the heck out of that obesity.

Around 10% of results from the scale are incorrect, which doesn’t sound like a lot until you consider that, just in the UK, that means around 6.4 million people get the wrong label.

In 1998 the ranges were lowered, so you had to be a lower weight to fit into the same category you were in the day before they changed it. And now, ignoring all the studies showing that people in the ‘overweight’ category are generally quite a bit healthier than those in the ‘normal’ or ‘underweight’ category, there’s talk of lowering the ranges again.

In conclusion, nobody has any idea what ‘obese’ actually looks like or really is, so how can it be glorified?

3. We’ve been glorifying thinness for ages. It’s obesity’s turn.

Except nobody knows what obesity is, so let’s say it’s fat’s turn to be glorified. And why not?

Fat is not inherently unhealthy; there are fit and healthy fat people (hi there!) as well as unfit and unhealthy thin people.

Most people only believe thin looks better because we’ve been brainwashed for generations to think that. If we glorified fat then people would believe fat looks better.

Fat is not expensive. I suggest reading Ragen Chastain’s danceswithfat blog for many, many explanations of how the But Muh Tax Dollarz! argument is just yet another cover-up for bigotry and bullying.

OR here’s a radical suggestion: how about we stop glorifying any body type/shape/colour/gender, get rid of fat-shaming, skinny-shaming, body policing, racism, sexism, ableism, judgement, and all forms of bullying, and just accept that everyone is an incredibly complex and awesome human being as they are?

Eh, I can dream.

And while I’m dreaming, I’m going to continue sharing and liking body positive stuff every chance I get. If that’s glorifying obesity then fine – I’ll just be over here, pointing out the gloriousness of obesity.