Top 5 Reasons Fat Folks Don't Exercise

I am the type of person who can only juggle so many balls. With school out for summer, I've been full-time parenting my needy son (curse you, ADHD!) while also working on a full slate of freelance jobs and trying to build a solid base for my little local blog.

As if that wasn't enough, I've also redoubled my weight loss efforts, which I've never really talked about. I am overweight and my natural inclination is laziness. Like, hardcore laziness. Like, I could lay on the couch all day long watching tv laziness. Ehem. Now that that's clear, I am proud that I'm trying to change my life-long habits by eating more healthfully and purposefully. We buy lots of local produce from either our Farmers' Market or the local CSA. We grill/bake/stirfry and never fry our foods. We have limited processed foods available to either the adults or the kids. I feel pretty good about our food intake.

It's the caloric output that gets me. Not only am I lazy, but I've lived my whole life -- as has every other fat person in the United States and other Western cultures -- under the self-righteous and disgusted gaze of non-fat people. They judge and assume and speak openly and loudly of their fear of being just like me. I can't begin to number all the blog posts I've read about the horror of being fat or a blogger's hatred/scorn of her overweight body (even when the body in question isn't really overweight at all).

The problem is not that the gaze is there. It's there for every women in one way or another. The problem is that this nasty gaze keeps many of us fat folks from doing what it will take to be healthier. With that in mind, I present these top five reasons fat folks would rather endure scorn than walk a few miles:

#1. The dreaded upside down V. Fat people know the V. You're geared out in a loose shirt and some type of cotton shorts, ready to get your walk on. You get going and your thighs rub rub rub and suddenly your inner thighs are naked to the world because the shorts' material is sitting up in your crotch. You try multiple ways to keep the material where it belongs -- the hip twist, the subtle squat, holding the material in bunches at your outer thigh -- until you eventually give up and dig the material out. Over and over and over again. I've considered just duct taping the legs to keep them in place. You could wear biker shorts -- and maybe you will if you're walking in the dark -- but the humiliation of walking with the upside down V is searing.

#2. Gawkers. You already have the upside down V. Now you have an audience. People in vehicles slow down and stare at you as they pass. People sitting out on their porches watch you as you come and then stare at you as you leave. You try desperately to keep the V out, but they're watching you. This is especially frustrating when you've gotten a really good pace up and your breathing is labored. You're trying to keep your V out while also trying not to be mouth breather. Fantastic.

#3. Encouragers. While gawkers are annoying, encouragers are just ridiculous. I'd honestly rather be stared at like a huge circus freak than have some out-of-shape old person congratulating me for having enough brain cells to know how to put one foot in front of the other. Fat people are just minding their own business trying to get a little walk in, but our society of thin(ner) busybodies feel they are justified in telling us how great it is that we're actually exercising, how more people "your size" should take that initiative, and a rundown on the health benefits of exercise. And, yes, I've experienced all of these and more.

#4. Chatters. There are some people smart enough to know that fat people know exercise might make them not-fat and there are plenty of people who know enough not to stare at one walking by, but then they go and mess it up by trying to hold a conversation with someone who's struggling to keep her shorts out of her crotch while breathing with her mouth closed after being stared at by morons and told she's an asset to fat people everywhere. Seriously? Does now really seem like the right time to discuss that new decision the HOA made? Could we wait to chit chat about how hot it is? Because I'm sweating profusely and my glasses keep fogging up and I think there's spittle in the corners of my mouth. Rain check, okay?

#5. Chafe and blisters. You gave up on the V, so your thighs are seriously chafed from rubbing together for the last 15 minutes. Your shoes don't fit right because your feet are over-pronated or flat or wide and so the resulting ill fit has rubbed blisters into your ankles, soles, and toes. You're hobbled from physical pain and feeling over-exposed from constant run-ins with busybodies. You want nothing more than a shower to get the nasty sweat off, bandaids to protect your sensitive spots, and the damn couch to lay on. Because that's where your ass belongs. And that is where you'll likely stay because damn if it's worth it.

So now you know. And, hopefully, next time you see a fat girl huffing while hoofing it through your neighborhood, you'll leave her the hell alone and realize she wants nothing more than to go about her business without either your pity or your input. Fat folks around the world will thank you.


  • Heather of the EO

    I've honestly neither gawked nor cheered. Seems to me that those are two really ridiculously cruel things to do. But we all know how cruel people can be...or at least, clueless.

    We all have our upside down V's to carry. We should really stop judging each other. That would be so nice, eh? :)

  • Kelly

    I lean toward clueless. Surely it's not on purpose. Frustrating, but not purposeful. Well, at least for the encouragers.

    No more judging would be so wonderful. In the meantime, I'm working on getting up before the sun to avoid people at all. I can't even imagine what it would be like for someone carrying more weight than I am.

  • ShannonL

    This is awesome! :-)
    It's much better if you can find someone to walk with (preferably also overweight). Then you don't feel like all eyes are on you. But it can't be someone too chatty either or then you get into Reason #4.
    I honestly don't even own a pair of shorts. OK one pair. But they are only for the pool. I only have capris. Mostly to avoid the dreaded V.

    Loved this, and I'm right there with ya, chicky!

  • allison

    I hear ya. I wear capri sweat pants in the fall and bike shorts with a skirt over top in the summer -- I haven't suffered the upside down V in years. Seriously, try it, it's magic. Also, I go to a woman-only gym and there are really all shapes and sizes there and everyone's either polite or just ignores each other. Crap, am I being an encourager? Good walking, Kelly -- you're just a fabulous little walker! :)

  • Kelly

    @Shannon - I get really difficult to be around when I'm hot so I have to wear shorts. And I do enjoy a walking partner, but I can't find anyone who'll commit to walking with me at 7 am. Go figure. :)

    @Allison - I've never considered the biker shorts with a skirt on top. That's pretty damn awesome. I have two pairs of biker shorts, so now I just need a skirt!

    You would only be an encourager if you said, "You're walking? That's so good for you! Keep it up and you'll lose all that weight you're carrying!"

  • Amber

    I can't believe that these things have happened to you! How awful!

  • suzannah @ so much shouting/laughter

    man, people suck sometimes.

    i need to get my butt off the couch, too. damn all the hurdles!

  • Life with Kaishon

    I am so fat.
    Fat. Fat. FAT!
    I try and try.
    and fail and fail.
    and to tell you the truth,
    i can't bear to go to the gym!
    because of all the things you just said.
    and when I walk I feel funny.
    like the neighbors are looking/
    and of course they are looking at this huge fat freak.
    I bought a scale but am so afraid to get on it.
    I feel hopeless.
    and yet I start the diet again and again.
    and again.
    Praying that someday I will succeed.

  • Kelly

    Oh, darlin'. I know that feeling. Here's the mantra I use to get past it so that I don't stay in a body that doesn't make me happy: "The world doesn't revolve around me."

    It sounds mean, right? But I need to remind myself that. It's hard to be fat in this world because people do say mean and hurtful things, and people do hand out unsolicited advice ... but the truth is, they aren't thinking about you as much as you think they are.

    The world doesn't revolve around me, so I can lace up my sneakers and walk around the neighborhood. The world doesn't revolve around me so when the old Pakistani man offers me advice on how to get my heart rate up, I know it's about him wanting to feel smart and useful, not me being a big ol' fat girl. Also, the world doesn't revolve around me, so when these people look at me, they forget about me after it's over while I obsess over it for hours. See? It's not really about me at all ... except when I allow it to be.

    Of course knowing it and feeling it are two different things.

  • { L }

    Okay, this is SERIOUSLY the BEST stuff I've read in a long time...I just love you! lol :D Your writing style always gets me. I LOVE LOVE the way you just said you're lazy. Haha. That's priceless. I'm full of excuses for myself but I should just be straight up and honest and say I'm too lazy. And your list of reasons was hilarious. I can SO relate! You're right on. But that upside down V....I've had that even when I was skinny. My thick thighs have always rubbed.

    Thank you for this post Kelly.

  • Xmas Dolly

    FAN-FREEKIN'- TASTIC!!! AMEN SISTA! I couldn't have said it better myself! You are good! I mean really good! This should be put on the front page of the Sun Times! I mean dam, you hit the nail right on the head! I applaud you. Talk about read my mind! Hey, wanna go walkin' some day together?!!! Just you & me! We'll take em' all on together! I SO got your back girl! lol Love it! Absolutely love it!

  • Katie Jones

    I have been experiencing the "V" for a few months now, and a parapro at my school had the nerve to call me out on it in the middle of the hallway when I finally had to stop and dig it out. When I ignored her, she walked up to me and asked if I knew what she was talking about (she didn't call it the "V"... she had her own term which I've successfully blocked out - but it wasn't a wedge either - but the phrase began with, "Pick it!"). Grrr!

    I noticed that you mentioned in your second comment about walking early - that's the best thing. I live in the same neighborhood as my parents (same one I grew up in), so I've walked this neighborhood as a fat teenager, jogged it as an average teenager, ran it as a prideful early-twenties girl in the sports bra and short shorts, huffed along periodically as a steadily-weight-gaining twenty-something, struggled up and down hills as a pregnant girl, avoided walking as the post-pregnancy weight continued to climb, and all variations in between. Now, my parents and I are meeting and walking very early in the morning - we actually are walking at 6:00 am! No one is out to encourage, stare, or comment, and you can pick your "V" as often as you like. However, when that alarm goes off at 5:45 and I know I could sleep a lot later, it is hard to get out of bed.

    Wish we could walk together!!!

  • Kelly

    6:10 is about when I get out onto the street, Katie. I set my alarm for 6 am and then slosh through the next 10 minutes. I may need to go even earlier because I wind up walking against the leaving-for-work traffic at the end of the walk.

    @Lori - I am soooo lazy. I used to get mad when people would call me a couch potato, etc, but now I claim it. I mean, there are many ways in which I am an overachiever, but when it comes to free time? Find me a couch!


    What a great topic! In our extended family we have the bikini people, the Gastric bypass people and the in-between folks. It is such an awkward thing because when the subject is brought up...swimming, eating, just walking from the car to the house for some, no one quite knows what is okay to say. We fumble through it, but I always worry that we could handle it better...especially for the kids. We want them to strive for a healthy goal without cultivating hate or judgment of themselves or others. It's not an easy topic, but an important one.

  • Cheri

    I think the "V" is the bane of my existence. I have yet to find a pair of shorts that don't ride up. Why haven't the designers of shorts figured this one out? Maybe putting a metal "stay" in the inside leg seam... or something! And while I HATE being hot, I've gotten to the point of not wearing shorts outside the house for just this reason! You go Kelly!

  • Katie

    Oh how I sympahtize!!! Thus my new dedication to workout DVD's in the privacy of my own living room right in front of the Air Conditioner!


    I actually started a blog about my weight loss...and have listed many a reason behind my hatred for exercise. Sweating is on the top for me. I sweat like a man - horrid - horrid - huge quantities of sweat drenching my clothes - yep - that's me. So - inside-air conditioning - only way to go!

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