A story about my heart.
Recently, the brand Athleta posted this photo on their Instagram, and the comment section was set ablaze with cringeworthy commentary and HEALTHISM. I won’t repeat it, go see them if you want, the comments are still there as of publishing this blog.
As a mid-size, or small-fat person, I admit, that I haven’t been trolled much online. While my body is bigger than what is typically represented in the fitness industry, I realize that I am still in a relatively “acceptable” body. That’s why it’s important for me to share my stories. If I can be someone’s entry point to un-learning diet culture, and shifting their anti-fat bias, I’m here to use my privilege to it’s fullest.
So, before Valentine’s day, here is a story that was first posted on my Instagram account on July 21 2020. Let’s get to the heart of the matter shall we?
What can you tell about a person’s health by a person’s size?
In September 2019, I called my doctor, worried about a spot I had on my face. I came in, he briefly checked my face, and referred me to a dermatologist. He looked at me and said “let’s book you for a physical”.
I’ve lived in a body that’s been deemed not quite right my whole life. Weighed, told to eat low fat, forced to move in ways I didn’t want to. I’ve drank the slim fast shakes… you know the story. I’ve also had a history of anxiety, I’m not medicated but I always tell my doctors I am an anxious person. Do you know what makes me anxious because of my past experiences? Going to the doctor.
So I booked the physical. I was weighed, first of course, my blood pressure was taken, high of course… my doctor skirted around mentioning I had gained weight. Told me to try and stop eating fatty food and booked me in with a Cardiologist.
This shook me a bit, heart disease does run in my family, my father used to deal with high blood pressure, and my grandfather also had a history of heart disease. Also, I’m a fat babe promoting joyful movement… am I not a HEALTHY fat babe?
So I got an EKG, and wore a heart rate monitor for a few days. Nothing abnormal showed up in those tests. My BP was still high in the doctor’s office, and my doctor prescribed me some medication to lower it. I took it for a few months, and it made me feel REALLY weird. My scalp tingled and I felt like I was floating around, always a little fuzzy.
Next was the stress test. (which let me tell you, speed walking topless with size D boobs on a treadmill on a steep incline hooked up to machines is SO FUN, and not anxiety inducing at all) passed that. The tech seemed confused “Do you play sports?” He asked me. The cardiologist pulled me off the BP medication, saying it was probably not a good idea that my doctor put me on it.
Last step was a portable blood pressure monitor. I had to wear it for 24 hrs, and every hour it would squeeze the shit out of my arm. Also, very fun.
And guess what…. my heart, fine, my cardio test, fine, my blood pressure… not high when I’m not at the doctor.
WHITE COAT SYNDROME. I wonder how many folks in bigger bodies carry this kind of stress around doctors. I am so grateful for our health care system in Canada. For all of this stuff, I paid $30 for pills that I didn’t need and $70 for the Blood Pressure Monitor. I’m glad that I’ve been doing WORK around healing my trauma around my body, because years ago this experience would have ripped me right open.
But also, this blew open some of MY biases about how it’s ok that I’m in a big body, because I am HEALTHY.
Really, what does that even mean? And why does that make me good, or better? Guess what… it doesn’t.
The amount of time and attention you have to devote to moving your body or eating a certain way, does not make you morally superior. YOUR BODY IS NOT A REPRESENTATION OF HOW YOU EXIST IN THIS WORLD. It’s a container, for what really matters. It’s a container for how you love, how you care, how you show up, how you progress. And the way our bodies look, is not a representation of health.