Last night at the panel discussion after the screening of StrongI at the San Bernardino Valley College, I got asked a very common question. People assume, that if I did a marathon or if I ate healthy or if taught aerobics, I would have lost weight. And audience members were, as always, floored when I told them, yes I did those things and no I didn’t lose weight. They usually follow this question with a tentative, “well you lost inches, right?”. To which I usually respond, “well I didn’t get any shorter!” Seriously, it seems very hard for folks to believe that a person can do healthy things, even extraordinary physical things and not get thin. This seems to fly in the face of EVERYTHING that they’ve heard. And I’m sorry about that. But it’s still true.
When I started teaching fitness, I went from very little exercise to over 4 hours per week. Did I get svelte? Did I get slim? Nope! When I bumped my teaching up to 9 hours per week, I lost somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 pounds and ended up with a ligament tear in my knee. I gained one 3-pound pair of crutches for a net weight loss of 0.00. While training for the marathon, I routinely walked and ran 15 to 20 miles per week. Near the end it was well over 30. And you know how much weight I lost? Zero. Zip. Zilch. I felt better. I was stronger and healthier. And no doubt some of my weight shifted around a bit. But the fact is, I didn’t get thin.
And here’s why that’s important. Wouldn’t it have been a shame for me to have crossed the finish line of my first (and only) marathon feeling like a failure? Can you imagine? Going 26.2 miles in one day without dying and feeling like a FAILURE? Well that’s precisely what would have happened had I not learned to separate the concept of fitness from the concept of weight loss. Since I wasn’t worried about losing weight, I can tell you that crossing that finish line was one of the most amazing moments of my life.
So that’s it. That’s why I call myself The Fat Chick. Because I think it is so very important to let fitness stand on its own as an accomplishment. Because I want people to understand that not all folks who exercise look like fitness cover models. A lot of them look an awful lot like me. In fact, if you’d like to see some exercisers of size, don’t forget to hit the photo gallery of Fit Fatties which I developed in concert with the lovely and amazing Ms. Ragen Chastain.
And remember my little chicklettes, if you want to see what an athlete looks like, just check in the nearest mirror.
Jeanette, that is the most common question that I am asked by new members in my aerobics classes. After teaching various formats for 14 years, I am pretty much the same weight I started at. Go figure! Big Fat Hugs, Melissa
I think some of that is due to the enduring myth of the Calories-in/Calories-out model. If you subscribe to it, then it must be true that if you increase your activity by 200 calories burned a day, then you’d lose a pound every couple of weeks or so. As if a human is an algebra equation. It doesn’t work that way in real life, but that’s what most people have been taught for years and years.