“Tell me about your weight?” my doctor asked. I knew where this was going.
“The problem is you are just too unfit to run this marathon,” he continued. If rolling your eyes was a more acceptable way of showing your contempt I would have done so, but instead I simply replied, “What you mean is I am too fat?”
He just smiled and sat back in his chair.
You see, despite my size 18 frame I am a runner. I have, in fact, been a runner for the last ten years, running everything from 5k fun runs to full marathons. I run because I love the feeling of running and I love the community of runners in which I have made many friends. But I admit I also run to keep control of my weight, and to help me lead a healthier and happier life.
As an obese woman - and that is what I am according to my doctor - I of course have concerns about my weight. Most women these days do, what with our cultural obsession with 'thin'. But after years of yoyo dieting and obsessing about my weight I am now at the point where I will not let my sense of worth be based purely on my physical appearance.
I had pulled a muscle in my back while picking up my young daughter three weeks before I was due to run a marathon. However, the trip to the doctor to sort it out left me absolutely enraged, because as far as I am aware fitness is not something that can be assessed via a quick look at me. Despite me trying to convince him that I was someone who exercised regularly, my doctor was adamant about his original diagnosis.
When members of the medical profession make inaccurate assumptions like this about what an overweight patient is capable of, what hope do we have? I am sick of doctors telling overweight patients to try swimming or walking for weight loss when they are capable of so much more. I did go on to run that marathon just three weeks later, but his comments and the way I was treated in that consultation room will stay with me for a while.