When I was a kid, around 11 or 12, my dad decided I was fat and needed exercise. So, he began getting my fat ass up at 6 am and had me do a Christian aerobics video. In the dark, I stretched and flailed about, hating every minute of it.
I’ve always had a difficult relationship with my weight. I’m not the kid who always liked playing outside or sports. While I loved playing football or soccer in gym class,
running walking the mile and doing pull ups in front of everyone was an exercise in humiliation. Oh look, the chubby girl can’t pull herself up. What a surprise. By middle school I thinned out some, but I’ve always been several pounds overweight. I have, at various points, been able to use Weight Watchers and aerobics to shed the pounds. But now, 32, two kids, and a diagnosis of fibromyalgia later, it’s been really fucking hard.
That’s what has made the media circus surrounding Maria Kang’s What’s Your Excuse? meme difficult. Let me start off by saying that I don’t hate her. I think the meme is obnoxious and shows that she doesn’t have a clue as to how to encourage fitness in us “slammin’ body challenged” folks. (Oh em gee. The only thing that was stopping me from exercising until I look like you was a viral post of you guilting me into exercising. Thanks, Maria!) I think the language is confrontational, not inspirational. But I don’t think she was trying to communicate with our masses in one of the worst ways ever, it just worked out that way. (Perhaps she should take some notes from Drew Manning.)
I’m not the first to blog about this, (Janelle Hanchett of Renegade Mothering and Jezebel) and I’m sure I won’t be the last. But what I want to do with this post is to approach it from my struggle with fibromyalgia. The thing is, I do have reasons and excuses. I have fibro pain that made me limp through my walk today. I hate exercise. Sometimes I’m so fatigued that I can’t get up off the toilet or out of bed. Sometimes I’m just majorly lazy. I run out of hours in a day to accomplish everything that should have been done that day. I don’t make exercise a priority. Sometimes I don’t have the strength to cook a super healthy meal. I’d rather eat a burger and fries than grilled chicken and kale chips. I can’t help that my pain meds have added about 30 pounds to my body. I can’t/won’t stop myself from pounding down a bag of gumdrops or a bunch of cookies when I’m stressed/because they’re there. I have intrusive thoughts that torture me until I satisfy a craving. I give up easily because *whine* it’s really hard and I’m already fat. I might as well go for broke.
The thing is, it’s harder for those of us with an illness like this because we have to straddle that in between line of unable/forgiving oneself and able/making excuses. (Anyone else’s crotch hurt?) Maria Kang’s meme strikes a nerve because it’s both completely wrong and completely right for someone living with fibromyalgia and struggling with weight issues. Her flippant meme creates a false dichotomy of fitness gurus and lazy ass bums, irresponsibly ignoring those of us who actually do have legitimate reasons to not have six pack abs. But it also forces us to confront the excuses we could lay waste to if we were honest in confronting them.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a chocolate pie to make.