To celebrate this Friday, let’s do some fat shaming! (Read: eye bleach warning.)
‘FOCUS ON DOING WHAT FEELS GOOD’: TIKTOKER SHARES HER JOURNEY TOWARD FINDING JOY IN MOVEMENT AMID EXERCISING DISORDER RECOVERY
By Alex Lasker
Had to fix the title for her. She’d accidentally called this an “eating disorder recovery” and as you will soon see, it’s nothing of the sort.
For Hannah Fuhlendorf, exercise used to be an excruciating endeavor.
For people of a certain size, breathing is an excruciating endeavor.
“[Exercise] was a tool that was used for self-punishment and bodily control,” the 29-year-old certified counselor, who has a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling, told In The Know. “There was no pleasure or joy in any part of it, and yet, it occupied a huge amount of space in my life and took up a lot of my time, energy and resources.”
Remember, kids, anything worth doing gives you a dopamine hit!
Fuhlendorf, who has struggled with eating disorders in “varying degrees of severity” from the time she was eight years old through the age of 25, says that for those 17 years of her life, exercise represented nothing to her “except a path to thinness.”
Exercise leads to thinness.
Thinness leads to a good husband.
A good husband leads to healthy children, a happy family life and a meal ticket through the imminent apocalypse.
Exercise: JUST DO IT!
“Like a lot of people, I grew up in a home and in a culture that expected thinness from me,” she shared. “But when it became clear during my childhood that my body sits at a higher weight than was expected of me or acceptable to those around me, disordered behaviors began.”
“Disordered behaviors began”? If the article hadn’t already admitted it, that phrase would be a smoking gun that Hannah got a psychology degree in making top-quality excuses for eating too much and exercising not enough. Look at her blue hair in that pic! She could be her own thesis!
Over the past four years, Fuhlendorf has been working toward recovery, which has allowed her to rediscover the joy in movement and to untangle exercise and its many benefits from toxic diet culture and the pursuit of thinness — and she has brought TikTok along for the journey, under the handle @hannahtalksbodies.
The relationship between diet culture and exercise is a notably complex one that can take those struggling with weight-loss-obsessed mindsets years to understand and break free from, even with the help of a medical professional.
Specifically, a medical professional with dyed-blue hair, an entitlement complex and Daddy issues that she manages with intentional morbid obesity.
I’d say that Hannah must have gotten that advanced degree in clinical mental health counseling from a box of Cracker Jacks but we all know that a quart of Haagen-Dazs is more likely.
Although a lot of people exercise for a multitude of positive reasons, some people, particularly those struggling with disordered eating habits, may use it as a means to punish themselves for eating “bad” or indulgent foods or as a potentially harmful bid to change their appearances, rather than a means to benefit their bodies, minds and overall health.
It’s true! I eat lots of pizza but stay thin via weight lifting, hiking, biking, swimming and more hiking. Okay, okay, ‘thin’ might be pushing it. I’m kinda ripped from all the weights.
Clearly, I am harming myself with body-image issues.
“People with eating disorders frequently only engage in the most exhausting, highest impact forms of exercise,” Fuhlendorf explained. “The word ‘exercise’ may as well have been swapped with ‘torture’ for me, and that’s true for a lot of folks in eating disorder recovery.”
Hannah, you’d break a sweat just getting through your front door. And I do mean “through”. Turning sideways won’t help you.
Fuhlendorf’s view toward exercise and movement started to change in 2017 when she began seeing a therapist who practiced Health at Every Size (HAES), an approach that aims to eliminate stigmas against weight, respect size diversity and improve access to health care for everyone.
Fuhlendorf is a waddling example of why socialized health care is a bad idea. Why is my tax money comforting that lardball in all of her ovoid glory?
Her new therapist’s focus on the idea that health can be attained separately from thinness, was game-changing for Fuhlendorf.
“She was a major part of my recovery journey,” the TikToker said of her therapist. “She helped me understand the reality of my eating disorder and provided an alternative perspective that I didn’t even know was possible. A life at peace with my body, not pursuing thinness was something I didn’t even think was an option for a fat person.”
Her therapist gave her permission to quit!
After discovering HAES, Fuhlendorf set out on the daunting path of mending her relationship with physical movement — a journey that began with a mental reset and some much-needed rest.
“What I knew for certain was that exercise, in the way I knew it, was not safe for me, and I needed to be very protective of my recovery,” she explained. “So for almost a year, I took a break; I abstained from doing anything I considered ‘formal exercise.’”
For Fuhlendorf, this meant canceling gym memberships, unfollowing nearly 100 fitness influencers on social media, and deleting diet and workout apps off of her phone. The experience, she says, was nothing short of liberating.
“For the first time in 17 years, I felt like I could breathe,” she recalled. “I felt like I was actually participating in my life rather than just enduring it.”
Except for the gym memberships, that was good. Her smartphone and social media habits were only enabling her sedentary lifestyle so getting rid of them was smart.
She DID get rid of the smartphone and social media, right?
As her recovery [from exercise] progressed, Fuhlendorf says she began to discover the types of movement that made her feel joy rather than pain — she began to fill her time with things like stretching, swimming, dancing, yoga and boxing, instead of the punishingly difficult high-intensity workouts that had left her scarred.
Only two of the five are actual exercise and even then, I’m not sure about swimming. Is it still exercise when you can’t sink and can’t feel cold?
Is it still exercise when you’re too fat to move? Exactly what were those high-intensity exercises? Was boxing not high-intensity?
Four years after first entering a period of recovery from her eating disorder, Fuhlendorf has successfully been able to adapt her exercise routine to include whatever feels good to her body at the moment.
But she’s still fat.
“To this day, I swim and box and dance and move my body however and whenever feels best,” she explained.
But she’s still fat.
“I have zero rules for frequency or intensity. It is all about my enjoyment. Period. I have found that to be the most impactful change in my relationship with movement. If I don’t like it, I don’t do it.”
Yo Mama’s so fat, there’s a half moon every night.
Fuhlendorf still finds herself staying out of conventional gyms as much as possible — finding that they tend to be “rife with fatphobia and disordered behaviors” — and avoiding workout machines that reveal the number of calories a user has burned, which can be triggering to those who are prone to feeling they need to earn their food by burning it off.
Fatphobia, yes. Disordered behavior, no. Gym rats aren’t the Fuhlendorfs who pay therapists to lie about the health benefits of bulging those bulging bulges of fatness. “You can be beautiful at any size!” no.
“The Peloton triggered me!”
“I don’t take classes where the instructors talk about weight loss or make fatphobic remarks,” she added. “I don’t put myself in any spaces in person or online where the intent is to change or shrink my body at all. I still have to be very protective of my mental health.”
The truly fun part of mocking Social Justice Warriors is that they can’t help but to mock themselves at the same time.
To anyone looking to improve their own toxic or harmful mindset surrounding physical movement, Fuhlendorf recommends taking a break from exercise and consulting a trusted therapist or physician. Most importantly, listen to your body and what it needs before diving into any new type of regimen.
Regimens such as biodiesel rendering! America’s fat population is like a second Strategic Oil Reserve.
“Focus on doing what feels good, not what you think makes a workout a ‘good workout.”
That’s what I just did. Shaming fat people feels good!