Body positivity and a heart attack… not exactly two phrases you would think go hand in hand. In my case, they do. And it's because of the heart attack I started rethinking all this body positivity movement stuff. Now, before you go throwing stones my way… please hear me out, it's probably not what you are expecting or thinking. Let me explain.
The Heart Attack
I recently suffered a mild heart attack. So mild, I didn't even know it was happening at the time. Except, I think I did – I had been feeling really weird on and off but that week it was worse than it had been. Finally, Thursday morning December 19th 2019, as the boyfriend was getting ready for work I said “I think I need to see a doctor” and off we went.
The day was a bit of a blur. First test was an EKG. It had to be done a few times because first reading was off and they wanted to make sure the wires weren't causing a wacky reading. Nope, the second reading was the same – showing signs of a heart attack. Then it was off for blood work, or a certain blood test. One that would tell if the heart attack had happened within the last 24 hours. At this point, I didn't understand why it mattered if it was within the last 24 hours or not… I had a heart attack!
Test came back with a normal reading meaning the heart attack was ‘old'. I was also have some blood clot symptoms in my leg so off to an ultrasound next. No blood clot. Great… but what the hell was causing the mysterious pain in my leg? Anyway, the day was long. I was scared shit less. I was tired of being poked and prodded.
Blah Blah Blah… Fast Forward to Today
I'm going through a bunch of emotional and mental turmoil. How the hell am I supposed to continue spreading the message that I believe:
- We don't have to diet to lose weight to fit in.
- Dieting & losing weight doesn't solve everything.
- All bodies are beautiful… even fat ones like mine!
- It's ok to take up space just as you are… big and all!
- It's ok to be confident and comfortable in your skin… even as a fat person!
… when I'm now having to make changes in my life that go against some of those things I believe.
Why the Heart Attack Is Making Me Rethink This Whole Body Positivity Thing…
When I jumped into this whole body positivity, fat acceptance, movement I went about it the wrong way. At least the wrong way for ME. Do I still believe in body positivity and fat acceptance? HELL YES! It's just taking on a new meaning for me.
I say I went about it the wrong way, here's what I mean:
- I decided it meant if I was done dieting and accepting/loving my body the way it was then it was a free for all with eating – I could eat whatever I wanted all day long every day.
- I did eat whatever I wanted all day long every day…
- fast food (at least 3 times a week if not more)
- ice cream
- candy bars
- bags (not the little bag you can get in the checkout line) of M&Ms, reese peanut butter cups & more
- bags of licorice
- I HID food all the time. Once, I went to Krispy Kreme Donuts and it was their get 1 dozen of their original glazed for $1.00 if you bought another dozen. So I happily bought the 2 dozen and left the original glazed out on the counter for the roommates. The other dozen? Hid them in my office and ate them in TWO days.
- I told some people “I'm following intuitive eating, listening to my body and eating what I want.” Truth be told, I don't even really know what the hell intuitive eating means!
- I stopped being active. As in when it was time to walk the dog so he would do his business, I stepped outside with him on his leash and walked about 20-30 steps in front of the house so he could do his biz. Once it was over, back in the house for more sitting.
- I stopped LISTENING to my body and all the things it was telling me. Like all the swelling in my feet telling me too much sitting, not enough water and no movement. All the headaches telling me I'm starving for more water and less Diet Coke. Like the blood pressure getting higher and higher and higher begging me to stop what I was doing.
The list goes on and on.
I Distorted What Body Positivity Really Meant to Me
And I stopped caring about the other part of what I believed…
that we all know our own bodies and know what is healthy for us
Before heart attack, I knew what I was doing wasn't what my body wanted or needed. I knew I was putting things into my body that weren't very nutritious and I knew the risk I was taking being pre-diabetic, having high blood pressure and borderline high cholesterol. I wasn't taking care of myself and I knew it but continued to do it anyway because damnit I was loving my body, fat rolls and all, and embracing the fact I didn't have to diet any longer to fit in. I was showing others I could love my body as it was. I was saying body positive this and body positive that.
Now in the aftermath of the heart attack I am still a huge hell yes to the body positivity movement… I've just had to take a new approach to how I view it and share my message.
Body positivity & what I want to leave you with today…
Everybody has a different opinion, view and definition of what it means to them. That's ok. I've decided that it's an individual and personal journey to each and every one of us. But please, don't take after me and let embarking on the body positivity movement turn into “permission” to say F*CK it to listening to your body and taking care of you. Love yourself enough to do what is healthy for you and suits your body and your needs!
The moral of the story – don't be willing to put your life at risk for the sake of a ‘movement' you believe in… like I did!
And last but not least, I am still 250% all about the body positivity movement and the importance of sharing my message and helping other women to see and learn that they can take up space confidently, comfortably and apologetically… just as they are! Look at this group of body positive babes doing just that!
Thank you for listening to your body and thank you for telling this story!
I’ve struggled with the body positivity but I do want to be comfortable in my own skin. I know I am much better thanks to your influence.
The fact that being the weight I am and more unhealthy as time goes on will kill me is why I tell myself I’m not truly body positive. Which leads me to struggling because I don’t feel skinny people are healthy because they are skinny so I don’t have that ideal in my head of health, but I know my numbers and how my body felt were much better at a lower weight.
So then I just overthink the body positivity movement and think I’m a fake.
BTW I did the same thing last year that you did when I thought I was embracing body positivity. Hubby and I went crazy on eating out and making insane food choices daily. Days he was on shift and I had the house to myself for 24+ hours I would go to the store and end up eating a crazy amount of unhealthy food which of course didn’t make me feel good physically or emotionally 🙁
Val, thank you for taking the time to leave a comment and share your struggle with it too.
Isn’t it crazy how we can use something good (like the body positivity movement) to give ourselves ‘permission’ to not take care of ourselves?
I too don’t have the ideal in my head that skinny people are healthy because they’re skinny. I’ve seen firsthand a few thin people dealing with some of the same things people tend to say are fat people diseases – diabetes & high blood pressure.
It’s so important that doctors, especially, STOP fat shaming people and making everything about weight. There is such a thing as HAES (health at every size).
I feel like it’s such a struggle sometimes to believe in HAES, fat acceptance, body positivity, etc. when I know for my own body and my own needs I am having to make changes.
The struggle is real and something I seem to be debating and going back and forth with myself a lot lately…
Kudos for being so open & transparent, Tishia!!
I think you can still be positive about your body while trying to make healthier choices because you’re not focused on being skinny, you’re focused on being HEALTHY.
Keep up the good work! I love hearing your stories <3
Exactly Christina! We can still be body positive while we’re following what we know we need to do to lead the best, healthiest lifestyles for us.
This right here makes me smile!
You’re speaking some powerful things here Tishia!
I am in this place where I both love my body in a fierce way AND look for ways to take care of it better.
This is important because having been as heavy as 369, even as I’ve lost weight – my body is not getting any ‘prettier’ with all the saggy skin.
I’m choosing to love and appreciate and bless my body in whatever state it is in on my journey.
Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment Kelly! I love what you said “I’m choosing to love & appreciate & bless my body in whatever state it is in on my journey.” I think that’s the KEY for all of us! Wherever we are in our personal journeys, we can choose to love & appreciate our bodies 🙂
Thanks for sharing Tishia… Glad that you are now going to eat healthier so you will be around to share your gifts for a long time.
Hi there Fran! thanks so much for swinging by and taking the time to comment – I appreciate it 🙂 Yes, I want to be around as long as possible and what I was doing before definitely won’t help with that goal!
I’m so glad you posted this, and that you are taking better care of yourself. As you’ve discovered, body positivity doesn’t mean you don’t take care of yourself. In fact, it should mean taking care of yourself as best as you can, so you can help those who need your help.
Being ok with being big and taking care of yourself aren’t mutually exclusive. 😉
Suzanne, thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. You hit the nail on the head – “being ok with being big & taking care of yourself aren’t mutually exclusive.” YES!
Tishia, I am so inspired by your post and talking about this topic that I am sending it out to my community today. You are so transparent, and in the few years that I have known you, you have helped me to be more open about my body and learn to love how I am. Thank you.
Thank you for the kind words Elizabeth! I think it’s an important topic! And thank you for sharing it with your peeps – that means the world to me, too.
Thanks for sharing your powerful story. I am not a woman but I am overweight. I’ve always had a negative body image but still put the weight on. I think for me it was a defence mechanism.
I always feared rejection and needed an excuse to keep people away in the first place.
I have come to terms with myself but I’ve noticed I am having breathing problems especially when I sleep.
I’d love to balance acceptance for my own body on top of losing weight if that makes sense. And I’m not doing it for others (as I once would have). I’m doing it so I can breath easily again and gain more mobility 🙂
I just don’t know where to start because every day is “going to be different” but it never is.
Hi Mark! Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. I love hearing a man’s perspective about this topic, too! Because it’s definitely NOT just women that struggle with body acceptance/body image issues. It definitely makes sense what you said about balancing body acceptance with losing weight – that’s very similar to where I’m at in my own journey right now. You want to do it for the right reasons – health related issues that will help you live a fuller life if you do something about them now. The hardest part is definitely getting started and I can so relate to that whole every day is going to be different but it never is… until it is! I’d suggest looking at it from the point of ok, what’s ONE small step I take today to do something healthy for my body? It doesn’t have to be something big – it could simply be you choose to get up and move around for 10 minutes once today. Or you choose to drink water today instead of pop (soda as some call it) if pop is something you normally drink. Baby steps 🙂