I say it a lot – it’s okay. And it’s because I believe it is. We are all okay. Humans have an incredible capacity to both deal with suffering and get on with life – doesn’t mean there’s no trauma – but judging yourself for having to endure trauma – how helpful is that? Judging yourself to be damaged, or un-okay in some way – is that helping? And saying that it’s okay – does that invite procrastination? Or does it encourage convalescence? I don’t believe self-acceptance is the enemy of self-development. It’s a prerequisite.
I’ve got type one diabetes, I’ve had it for 20-plus years, and I’m okay. My kidney function is great, my eyesight is great – I’m sick, and I’m okay. And if I were sicker, is that okay? It might not be okay, I might not be okay with it, but I’m still okay. Being sick does not make you a failure as a human being. We fear it, but that’s something else. So is it okay for you to be obese and healthy? Or at least obese and not-sick? Absolutely. It’s okay, and you’re okay.
It’s okay because mortality and sickness is something everyone is going to have to face at some point. It’s okay, because it’s okay for humans to be human. And death and sickness are part of what we have to deal with in life. So it’s all okay. Bleak as it might sound, everything is as it should be.
And so when people say it’s not okay to be fat – what do they mean? It’s not okay because one day you might get sick? That’s the human condition. Being thin won’t stop that. Will being thin prolong health, and life? Maybe. Maybe.
Is it okay to “eat crappy food”? Because that’s something that happens, and saying it’s not okay doesn’t magically stop it from happening. But saying it is okay doesn’t magically help us to evolve and change our choices either – which begs the question – if we say it’s okay, in an attempt to change it, do we believe it’s okay? The thing is, it’s just okay. It’s okay to do whatever it is you’re doing.
But what if you’re hurting yourself? Well, does believing it’s not okay actually help you to stop? Or does it just make you feel worse about a situation you don’t feel empowered enough to change?
The fear of sickness is quite different from the reality. I’ve had many people tell me they wouldn’t be able to deal with diabetes – they wouldn’t be able to cope. But the reality is, they could. I was diagnosed at a young age, an age when I was adaptable. I didn’t ask “why me” – I just figured – okay, this is life now. People get on with things, as long as we don’t believe that our circumstances make us “damaged goods”. All people are “damaged goods”, so it’s the same as if none of us are. It’s an equaliser. We are equal, but not the same.
The question then isn’t “is it okay to be fat?” – if you are fat, that’s simply your reality. The question is “will it help me if I try to lose weight?” And I’m no longer convinced that the answer is yes. People think it couldn’t hurt, but actually it can. It really can.
As a diabetic, my life experiences have taught me that bad things happen to good people. And that’s okay. The world is chaotic, and trying to control it leads to heartache, but learning to accept and live with chaos delivers peace. If it sounds defeatist to you, there might not be much I can say. But I love the serenity prayer: grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. It contains the keys to growth and peace.
So is it worthwhile, trying to fight the inevitable? We can work for improved health, absolutely. But living life while making your choices based on the fear of inevitability isn’t the life I want. I want a life that’s enjoyable, satisfying and meaningful. I don’t want to spend it in fear of death and disease, and buying into the delusion that I can bullet-proof myself through training and exercise. I want to live it.
So what can we do to improve our circumstances? What is that? What’s practical? What can I change? What is worthwhile? And what choices can we make for our betterment, that aren’t merely built on a foundation of fear?
So do I believe it’s okay to be fat? Yeppo. Absolutely. Everything’s okay. So let’s get on with living, and not wait until we’re thin for our lives to start. That’s why it’s okay – because it’s okay to really live, without having to apologise for – or explain – the shape of your body.