By Cynthia Ayeza, Uganda:
About a week ago, I decided to join a fitness club near where I live. My reason was and is still simple: I have gained weight; also the nature of my work is such that I sit at the computer all day and only leave to eat, drink water or use the lavatory. I have not gone swimming in over a year because I felt the fitness club close by was unnecessarily expensive and the other swimming pool was simply too far to get to.
So, a few weeks ago, I joined the club and only resumed swimming a week later. I measured my weight and got 63kgs and according to the machine, this is pretty ok for my height (172metres). Two days later, I went to swim again and weighed myself, and this time I was 64Kgs. Another two days and I was 65kgs. Here's the thing – for some people, 65 is nothing. In fact, it may very well be their ideal weight. I must confess that I like the slightly fuller shape that my body has taken on, and for the first time in my life, something tight will reveal that I too have curves. Hooray! I am a full-figured woman – right? No comment.
I do not mind the curves. I love them. I did, however, notice the discomfort I felt in my clothes. I also noticed increased hot flashes – early menopause perhaps? Nope. Research shows that inactive people (and I mean people who do not really do any exercise) are likely to experience hot flashes a couple of times a day. Then the back aches – I know it is only 65 Kgs but the back aches are real. I could go on with this “trivial” list but it is not necessary. It is my load, which I hope to shed one day at a time or three times a week in the swimming pool. The point is that when I say I am fat, I am not looking for people to say that I am not – that would be false affirmation to a certain extent, especially if the weight is not healthy. I cannot stand flab and the infamous orange peel on me as a woman. I want to feel good about my body even if men think that the way I look is great, now that I am “fuller”. I want to be able to go up the stairs and enjoy it, instead of feeling like someone just turned on the furnace beneath my skin, and that the valves in my heart are being torn up.
When I say that I feel fat, and in fact have gained some weight, I am not trying to mock or spite those who weigh more than I do. I do in fact mean what I am saying and expressing the discomfort I am experiencing is no crime at all. Let me put it this way: your weight is not my business even if I care desperately for you. My weight is my business, however much you may love me to the moon and back. And if my business is making me unhappy and I say so, it is not supposed to reflect on your weight, which you may or may not be comfortable with. I have met overweight people that are completely comfortable with their weight, and are seemingly healthy. If I am uncomfortable about my 65Kgs, it should be okay to say so, with the hope that this will challenge me to do something about it – and I am. I also hope that people would encourage me to get health(ier).
I realise that for many people, being skinny is the real deal. For me, it is a 50/50 thing. If you are healthily skinny or thin, that is okay. If you are comfortable and happy that way, that is great. The same goes for overweight people. I know I am overweight because I do not need a machine to tell me that this is hurting my body. I am uncomfortable. I catch a taxi to the fitness club that is literally 800metres away from where I live. I used to be able to walk this distance without any trouble. Now I am plainly lazy, and find every excuse to not walk there.
We are dying before we are even living. We jump out of bed, hit the shower, have a great breakfast with all the bacon and eggs daily, maybe some bran flakes to not feel too guilty, then jump into cars or taxis to get to wherever we work, and then sit ALL day long. I tell you, we are dying way before we live at all.
Am I influenced by the media? Perhaps. People? Maybe. Friends? Probably. Do I care that people appreciate my fuller body? Hmm, let me put it this way: I am lazy to walk up a ten-step stair case to my bedroom. I believe that it matters how you as person or individual feel about your body. And how you feel about your body should be from a health-conscious mind-set. I am uncomfortable not because I do not want to have a fuller body but because of the discomfort I am feeling – the hot flashes, the clothes that do not fit (I could buy bigger and bigger sizes but then I would keep buying bigger sizes for the rest of my life), the aching back etc.
During a phone call with my grandfather who is about 90 years old, he revealed about himself that, “I am growing so old that it is becoming increasingly hard to walk the full four miles now”.
I am struggling to walk 800 metres. When I am 90 years old, and I hope I can make it that far, I hope to have a similar complaint, and the only way to achieve that is to keep within a comfortable weight – one that does not discourage me or make me lazy to walk 800 miles. Health is life.
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