Whilst training my clients I often hear the phrase “I’d rather be fat and happy” (usually when we get to the burpee part of the workout). It’s such a simple phrase, but one that should be explored. The people that I hear this from are people who have spent the time to book, pay for, and attend either Personal Training Sessions or Classes. But that is the major difference between them and other people. They have made an active effort to change or make an improvement in their current lifestyle. So regardless of whether they hate working out or whether they temporarily (I hope!) hate me at that moment in time because of what I have programmed for them, they are still physically there putting the work in to achieve a desired outcome, whether that be fat loss, increased fitness or improved health.
But then you have other people who say “I’d rather be fat and happy” and put this into action by not exercising. Now there is nothing wrong with this if that is their personal preference. I literally don’t care what size they are and whether they train or not. Their life, their choice.
What I do care about though, is peoples perception of exercise and its importance in every day life. Because, people should not hear the word ‘exercise’ and only associate it with being ‘thin’ ‘slim’ ‘skinny’ or any other mentally detrimental word. Because, exercise is so much more than that.
‘…running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression by 26%’ [helpguide.org].
For me personally, mental health is the biggest driving force behind my desire to exercise. Anyone who knows me will know that my life is not straightforward and filled with sunshine and flowers. I work ridiculous hours to run my own business, I raise a small human alone (and that human is nocturnal for the majority of the hours that I wish to sleep), and I generally just have to be an adult and deal with bills and food shopping and all those annoying adulting things that sends every persons stress levels through the roof. The kind of stress which makes them want to binge eat cake and drink all the gin. But exercise gets me through all of that. It is the one thing I will always make time for because actually, it’s the only time I get FOR ME. Exercise boosts energy levels, it improves your physical health, and I don’t know about you guys, but it is quite often my go to for stress relief when punching someone in the face is frowned upon (annoying).
Exercise has so many huge benefits including improved cardiovascular health, increased mobility, reduced risks of chronic diseases, improved sleep, enhanced self-esteem etc etc (the list really is endless).
So again, if you want to be someone that does absolutely no exercise because you would rather be ‘fat and happy’, then please be my guest, because it is your life and not mine. But take a moment to sit back and think about all of the great improvements that exercise could bring to your life. And, if you are as you say, ‘fat’ (for the purpose of this discussion, let’s please word this correctly and say overweight/obese) – are you actually happy about that? Will you still be happy about that in 2, 5 or even 10 years time when you’re suffering the possible side effects of obesity coupled with an inactive lifestyle?
It isn’t easy. NO ONE is saying it is easy. Finding the motivation, determination, willpower and even time to exercise and eat well is bloody hard work. For some people there are huge barriers in the way, for example things like socio-economic status, chronic disease or mental health issues; we cannot ignore the fact that it is considerably harder for these people to actively pursue a healthier lifestyle. There are other people though, however, who simply choose to not exercise because ‘they don’t like it’. I wonder if these people actually just don’t like ‘the gym’, but haven’t found an alternative yet that they do like? That’s cool, we can work with that. Maybe joining a club like netball or tennis, walking to work or the shops instead of driving, walking the dog (or if you don’t have a dog, borrow someones dog?!), gardening, or maybe even a home workout dvd?
If we took our focus away from our body image, and turned our attention to our health, maybe it would seem a whole lot easier/more important.