I never set out to be a size activist. I make a lousy one since I’m still fully engaged in a lifelong struggle to possess and maintain the lower body weight that I find aesthetically pleasing, and yet I seem to have stepped in it anyway.
I’ve mentioned before that I utilize a service that my company provides which assists with health care (rather than sick care) – providing advice and resources to achieve and maintain good health in day to day life. I genuinely think this benefit is a great thing.
Once a month, my health coach calls and checks in with me to see how I’m doing and provide me with advice, encouragement, and resources. I’ve mentioned her here before too and she’s very cool (and deserves a raise for putting up with me).
What happened is this…
I noticed that I was being called more than the other people around me who I knew were also participating in the program, and I got curious as to why. A lot of them told me they were contacted once and then were done for the year.
My first thought was that my coach called me once a month because I’m a cool health blogger and amateur nutritionist and she enjoyed talking to me and giving me some extra attention that I deserved!
Deep down though, even as I thought this, I knew it probably wasn’t true.
So at my last session – I asked. The truth is that yes, my coach does think I’m cool (score!) however, the number of calls received is based on a computer algorithm that classifies you according to a grading system. Since the computer classifies me as a “C” for health I get labeled as “high risk” and receive the maximum number of calls per year, which is twelve.
No offense was meant by this whatsoever, certainly not by a computer algorithm that can’t even think for itself. But when I found that my suspicion was true, my heart literally sank like a rock. Both my regular physician and the independent company’s biometric screeners had registered me as having textbook blood work (check out this post if you’d like to see the numbers for yourself). Which left me with the ugly truth that none of those numbers made a difference – the BMI registered me as obese, ergo I needed extra attention. The suspicion that this might be the case had been bugging me for some time, but as a bigger girl I’ve been taught to accept things like this as my due, I’ve earned being singled out by choosing to be overweight.
And then something in my brain simply said: “No. No, I won’t accept this. No I’m not okay with this.” So that’s exactly what I said.
Believe me, pushing back is not my normal behavior, normally I’m quite the mouse. There’s also the fact that I volunteered for this program of my own free will, a decision solely motivated by my cheapness and the fact that my company offered me a significant break on health insurance costs if I joined. So in a very literal sense, I really did ask for this.
However, I’ve dedicated the last three years to studying, cooking, exercising, and even teaching others about how to be a healthy person. Along the way, I’ve had to accept that although my education and hard work has indeed made me into a healthy person it has not (yet) made me thin.
It may seem like a small thing to some, but I danged well deserve to be classified by that stupid computer as “healthy”. I have earned it.
So I said all of this to my coach (okay, maybe I whined it but that’s besides the point) including letting go with both barrels about my disappointment that they as part of the medical community were still clinging to the useless BMI score as an indicator of good health.
And something happened that I didn’t expect: she agreed with me.
Apparently the system just isn’t set up to account for healthy fat people – whoever designed it didn’t compute for the possibility that we exist. I had, quite simply, fallen through the cracks in the system. In addition to this I admit I have a lousy perception filter, I was seeing myself as the only person who gets a monthly check in – and I was reassured that this is absolutely not the case.
So she agreed to go talk to her management about me and asked if I could be contacted to discuss this issue further at a later date. To which I think I may have stammered a bit, but ultimately I said yes, of course I would help – that’s the goal after all: to make the system optimally useful to the greatest number of people, even those of us who buck the norm.
All this being said, it still holds true that I quest to be thin. However, that quest is aesthetic at this point, not health based. I genuinely enjoy talking to my health coach and I want her advice – but her checking in on my weight at this time is the equivalent of her calling to inquire about whether or not I’ve yet gotten that nose job I’ve been wanting.
Maybe it’s my mental health about my body image that could use some assistance now? I can’t argue that this is a possibility.
Still, I feel hopeful and positive about what occurred. They seem to want to work with me, even use me to make the system better – not just for people like me but for everyone.
Maybe being an activist isn’t so bad?