Fatty Footwork

There is a lot of talk out there about the effects of walking for obese people, most of it focusing on joint injuries or what is the best speed to walk at for the maximum weightless ‘efficiency’. However I’d like to talk about the effect on a personality, on the perception of self that the walking gait and posture can have.

As you know, I’ve always been big. As a 12 year old I was wearing clothes meant for 16 year olds. As a 16 year old I was crying in the levi store because nothing they had in the womens section would fit me. I was healthy and otherwise happy. I remember one of my class mates saying to me

“You do realise you’re waddling like the science teacher, right?”

I had male friends when I was 16 until I left university. I had some female friends, but I was essentially a ladette, preferring the riduculous conversation had over a pint to girly chats and make up. And these lads really strode out, and walked everywhere. So I strode out and walked everywhere to keep up with them. This striding gait remained with me through university, and I remember an online acquiantence making a comment about how I walked in my early twenties (21/22).

“Wow, you really stride out with a lot of confidence, it’s awesome.”

I own a full length grey coat, and whatever I wore and whereever I was, I would swing my hips and and it would billow out behind me. I didn’t even notice that I did it, so the comment has stayed with me.

More recently, I have put on a lot of weight. I now hover between a UK 22 and a UK 24, after spending years at a size 18/20.  And I noticed, last year before an exercise frenzy, that I no longer stride. Fed up of arriving at places sweaty and out of breath, I stroll. I place my feet carefully for fear of twisting my ankle (something I make a habit of) and I practically waddle along again. I walk like a woman who is much older. This has nothing to do with my size, but the more I thought about it, the more I noticed that I walked along looking at the ground, my shoulders slumped. Like I was ashamed of my belly and thighs. Like I was ashamed of my back fat and my boobs.

So today, sun shining, I lifted my head and walked like I did as a teenager. I lifted my head, and started swinging my hips. That tiny little change and I felt so much better.  Not only that, but I got where I was going faster, and didn’t arrive all sweaty and icky. I engaged some muscles I hadn’t even tried to use, and I felt the benefits immediately.

Try it.


~ by Pewter on June 2, 2009.

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