8/29/2014

Fat Bottomed Girls They'll Be Riding Today - Cycling, Being Happy And Stopping The Apologies

Yesterday I did something which even a month ago I wouldn't have thought possible. I cycled 20k - almost 12 and a half miles or a half a marathon depending which way you want to look at it. It was completed on my exercise bike in one go at a fairly vigorous pace and felt like a massive war cry to the latest range of box ticking health professionals I've had to endure looking down their nose at me.

I started running back in January after signing up to do a 5K with one of my friends. It was something which I knew wouldn't come easily to me, but felt that starting slowly and building up my endurance would be the best way forward. I'm not a natural athlete but I am fairly fit with low cholesterol and good blood pressure and have had a decent vegetarian diet since I was 12. However I've spent more than half my life being blighted with what I now know to be PCOS and glucose intolerance which has allowed my weight to slowly creep up over the years to where I'm now struggling to keep myself between a UK size 18 - 22.

Jogging leggings and trainers from F&F. Full details here.
Over the last few years, I've learnt to accept and actually quite like my body. My diet isn't perfect - I enjoy the odd slice of pizza and cake, but like most people, for the most part keep everything in moderation. However I spent most of my adult life making apologies for how my size makes other people feel and felt guilty for making strangers feel uncomfortable. I felt self conscious eating in public. I felt judged when shopping in a supermarket. I even felt worried if the coffee shop queue was taking too long as it meant being stood next to the cake counter. I'd worry about the horror which my coffee shop companions were feeling as I imagined them imagining me contemplating which tasty calorie laden treat to gorge myself upon.

Never did I think I'd find myself in a situation where I was running in public with my k-cup boobs and wobbly bits flapping away in spandex, but felt I owed it to myself to the be the healthiest and best that I could be, no matter what size my clothing label said. So I did. I put the effort in. I ran in rain, hail and blistering heat. I ran over grass, I ran over hills, I sometimes ran to the point where I was moments away from throwing up (although I wouldn't recommend that last one).

A few months in, I was continuing to push on but was surprised to find myself still struggling with shorter distances when in theory, the 5k training I was following was complete. It didn't make sense until I had some blood tests confirm dangerously low levels of iron and vitamins b and d. My GP couldn't understand how I was still standing let along keeping up with the exercise, but sheer determination was pushing me on. Sometimes that isn't enough though, and I knew I needed to reign things in, even if just for a little while.

During this running break, I met with a PCOS specialist who I'd been seeing for the best part of a year. She was someone who had very little interest in me as a patient because she clearly didn't believe a word of what I was saying and took great pleasure in exclaiming that I hadn't lost any weight in the past year - "not even a single kilo gram!" She then proceeded to tell me that my only hope was weight loss surgery. Yep. The only thing for an active and healthy person to do is take on an expensive, dangerous and debilitating surgery so they can in their eyes "look normal". I was horrified and angry at this treatment and immediately argued that this wasn't acceptable.

I'm lucky that I have a GP who is on my side because I can see how people could easily get bullied into going down routes they don't wish to. I asked her what benefit weight loss surgery would be for someone who doesn't over eat and her response was "it's your last resort." I was too furious to argue, but would love to have questioned her over what it was my last resort from. My low cholesterol? My healthy heart rate? Or is it that my chubby arms and tummy are so revolting to her that I'm best swept away to be put under the knife, stat?

Sequin Dress from Yours Clothing. Full details here.
Coming away from the appointment, I was struck by the realisation that I've finally accepted who I am. Even a few years ago, I probably would have caved in and agreed that surgery was something I should consider whereas now, I don't feel the need to conform to someone elses idea of what normal and healthy is.

Since I've been struggling to run, I instead purchased a second hand exercise bike and in three weeks have gone from a puffed out 5k to a sweat drenched 20k and I feel proud. Slaving away to exercise is no longer about getting down to a goal weight or dream size. It's about continuing to be healthy and happy and wearing whatever the hell I want, vbl and all.

Of course I have days where I feel frumpy, but then show me a person who doesn't have an off-day. I'm hoping to have my iron and vitamin levels sorted soon and would love to be running again by the Autumn. But that's because I miss being on Hampstead Heath more than anything to do with a training program.

My vbl outside doesn't mean that I'm falling apart inside and if strangers want to make assumptions, that's their problem. If you're going to sit across from me on a bus and judge me, chances are you're probably not the sort of person I want to hang out with anyway.

Medical professionals are important, but they are not always right. I'm lucky that my GP is great, but I've learned to not be afraid of pushing for alternative solutions, and certainly it's good to ask as many questions as you can. But above all, don't let yourself be body shamed or bullied. You wouldn't accept it anywhere else in your life, and your health - both mental and physical - are of the utmost important.

I am fat, healthy and happy. Am I perfect? Of course not. But I've learned to have fun as me rather than punishing myself in an attempt to be someone else.

Until next time,

Diana xx

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(All photos (c) Diana Thompson / Fashion Loves Photos unless otherwise stated. Please do not reproduce without written permission.)

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