Did you know that May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month? It showed up on one of my work-related news feeds. The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports has many resources and lots of information if you want to go take a look.
I’m not going to talk about this issue, though. But through this website, I ended up at the Weight-control Information Network, where something brought tears of joy to my eyes! The publication Active at Any Size caught my attention. It’s about healthy, safe exercise no matter how much a person weighs, and uses pictures of extremely heavy people to illustrate the points. So right off the bat, they’re using real people as positive role models, rather than the so-called ‘ideal’ body type.
The exercise information is pretty much what you’d expect: be kind to your joints, start slowly, do what you can, consult with your doctor. But what blew my socks off were the supportive comments in the margin. Things like “you have just as much right to be healthy and active as anyone else,” and “remember to appreciate what you can do, even if you think it’s a small amount.”
The kindly given, supportive information even extended to some guidelines for choosing a fitness center. The emphasis on making sure that the staff knows how to work with very overweight people seems so basic, yet how many of us hesitate to join a gym because we’re so ashamed? Putting the responsibility on the gym to take care of US is such a novel idea in our minds, but when you stop to think, it makes sense. After all, if we decide to do something positive, why would we waste our precious energy [and money!] in a place that didn’t wholeheartedly and kindly support our efforts? And has equipment that supports our weight.
While it may not seem like such a big step for those of you who have relatively few pounds to lose, for those of us who face the need to lose 100 pounds or more, the acknowledgement that we have special needs and limitations gives me hope, on both a personal and a society level. Offering practical exercise information to people who are confined to wheelchairs or bed because of their weight is a major step forward.
Seeing that someone has given this issue some thought, and offered some really concrete, supportive advice has actually motivated me to stop typing and take a little walk.