"That's my fat body, which I have learned to love through exercise." So says Naomi Alderman, co-creator of the wildly successful running app Zombies, Run! (in which you get fit while pretending to be outrunning zombie hordes), in a new essay on Matter that made us want to stand up and cheer.
In There's No Morality in Exercise: I'm a Fat Person and Made a Successful Fitness App, Alderman talks about being overweight growing up, hating gym class, and always thinking that exercise was not for her—until she discovered that actually, yes, she loved to move.
This is the point in the story, I know, where I should say “and the pounds just fell off.” But that's not what happened. I have never, as far as I know, lost a single pound-through exercise. I know some people do—we get emails every day from people who are losing weight with our app, and if that's a goal they have, I’m very happy we’re helping them to achieve it. It's just never happened to me. No, what happened was better: I started to enjoy being in my body. I felt better. I felt good. It is a very different feeling to be in a fat body that is moving a lot to one that hardly moves at all. It feels like love. As simple and as joyful as that.
While there's been considerable debate lately (and probably will be forever) about whether it's possible to be overweight and healthy, the latest research suggests that being active may be more important than your weight when it comes to your overall health. And there's no doubt that exercise helps keep you happy.
As Alderman emphasizes, "You’re not a better person for [exercising] or a worse person for not." But no matter your size or shape, you deserve to enjoy your body: "I'm sick of the notion that having fun while exercising is something you have to earn; that, until you look a certain way, moving ought to be boring and unpleasant if not outright painful. Your body is there right now. You did not have to earn a thing. It is a gift. You are a hero every time you step out of your front door to do some exercise." Amen!
Read the rest of Alderman's essay on Matter.