Bring a salad to work.
‘So sue me for loving vegetables, sparkling water, and half portions of soup’ Babe Walker.
There is a little known body of discrimination that could be happening right under your nose. At your place of work, at your school or college, it could even be happening in your own home. I call it healthaphobia. Healthaphobia encapsulates the characteristics displayed by judgemental, nosy people, who freely critique and ridicule your lifestyle and diet, without a hint of shame or embarrassment. Healthaphobia may also lead to exclusion, segregation and awkward silences. You may have experienced this reverse body-shaming when embarking on your own health-kick.
You suddenly swap your usual meal deal of pre-packaged sandwich, bottle of coke and a chocolate bar for a home-made salad, banana and some water. Your friends and colleagues recoil in horror, reacting with ‘Why are you eating that??’ or the ever sensitive ‘that looks horrible’.
You begin a gym membership, at £50 a month and you are told 176 times how much a waste of money it is.
You amp it up, perhaps getting up early to hit a class. Or you get changed at work and head straight to the gym. People begin to call you ‘obsessed’.
You shun takeaways, stop pounding jaeger bombs like an Olympic sport and your social invitations mysteriously begin to dry up as you are no longer deemed ‘fun’.
You are the victim of healthaphobia.
I have never been overweight, but I have had more than a passing interest in nutrition and fitness for the past 5 years and I have experienced this kind of bullshitery more times than I can remember.
I would NEVER look at someone else’s burger/chips/mayo pasta/other beige food item and ask them WHY they are eating it, or tell them it looks DISGUSTING. Why is it ok to say things like that to me just because I have sprouted my own mung beans and brought them in a box? Why is it that food, which is completely natural, grown from the ground, found in trees or fields, is fair game for this kind of judgement? Why has processed, refined crap become normalised? Why should I have to sheepishly explain my ancient grains, raw avocado dip and arugula salad when you can’t even pronounce half of the ingredients that make up your chemically charged lunch? Oh, your turkey has been ground down to a pulp, flavoured with additives and made in to the shape of an extinct dinosaur? That is totally not weird at all. Enjoy.
A gym membership is not a waste of money for someone who leads an otherwise sedentary lifestyle. Our bodies are designed to hunt and gather and, thanks to an evolutionary time lag and the abundance of food in the developed world, we no longer need to perform at this kind of calorie burning level. Anything that can mimic or replicate this kind of physical activity, for which we are designed, is not a waste of money – to some people. Some people find the idea of spending £50 a weekend on Vodka and a kebab, then spending the next day in bed a waste of time and money. So what if I got up at 6AM? So what if I get changed in to my yoga pants when I clock off? My lycra camel toe may offend you, but your camel EVERYTHING ELSE offends me.
People throw around the word ‘obsessed’ without any real concept of the fact that you might actually enjoy pushing yourself to your limits, this might be a hobby for you or that it might, shock horror, be fun. Do not even get me started on the insensitive nature of the term, which people are so free to implement, but rarely do they act on this ‘concern’. For the most part, much like other phobias, people are calling you out on repressed urges of their own.
Yes, there are people who take it too far, and a healthy habit becomes an unhealthy fixation. If you are concerned enough to accusingly call someone ‘obsessed’, you should probably implement that same presumptuous nature and ask them if they need some help. They might need your sympathy, not your criticism.
I am growing tired of hearing ‘Why are you on a diet, you’re tiny?’ Firstly, I’m not on a diet, I genuinely do not enjoy gorging on food that doesn’t have any nutritional value, makes me feel greasy, sweaty, bloated and constipated. Why is that our concept of fun/reward? Secondly, I am aware of my size, thank you. It is this acute awareness that has made me this size. I haven’t bought the secret to eternal slimness, no witchcraft is at work here. No, I can’t eat whatever I want. Yes, I do spend 5/6 nights a week in the gym. No, I don’t order exactly what I want in restaurants. Yes, I miss bread, sometimes. To me this isn’t a sacrifice. To some people it might be.
I would never profess to lead the ‘correct’ lifestyle, there are plenty of people more dedicated than me and there are those less so. There are those with no interested at all in what they eat or how they look and there are those who complain about it constantly and yet do nothing about it. Can we all just agree to one thing ‘You do YOU, I’ll do ME’. Stop looking at my salad, stop asking me where I am going and I will continue to not ask you why you eat and drink poison. You like to spend time and money on your car/season ticket/krispy kremes, I like to spend time and money on my ass.