Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, May/June 2011. Copyright 2011. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.
The radio program's topic was obesity. A woman had written a letter complaining about overweight health-care professionals. "Don't doctors, nurses, and registered massage therapists know the message they send" being overweight? She concluded the diatribe saying such professionals are "simply unacceptable."
She specifically named "registered massage therapists" in her rant. This is the downside nobody talks about. When you're taken seriously alongside mainstream medical workers, you're also taping a target to your back.
Let's examine the underlying assumptions. The subtext is that people who work in the field of health should not be overweight. You may accept that in principle, but the nitty gritty gets in the way.
By the letter's unsympathetic tone, I'd guess that the person complaining doesn't have a weight problem.
Regardless, diets do not work. Fat people go on lots of diets. It's far more difficult to fight biology than the genetically blessed imagine. In fact, many doctors say gastric bypass surgery is the only
successful long-term solution.
The frustrations of yo-yoing up and down confound everyone--even doctors, nurses, and massage therapists. Of course, weight loss industry representatives counter that if only we all got up off our lazy flab and educated ourselves or loved ourselves, had any discipline...blah-de-blah.
In other words, if we were better people, we'd be better people--as if it's a moral problem. Denying biology denies reality.
I've read therapists opine that if only fat people were confronted, they'd finally know the risks they run. News flash: we know. We know lots about dieting. We've lost a lot of weight and gained it back. We're hungrier than you! It's an ongoing struggle we have to fight our entire lives. If Oprah, one of the most successful and driven women on the planet can't keep it off, what hope is there for mere mortals?
Yeah, that trip on the reality train sucks, but I know the difference between an "ought" and an "is." In the meantime, I'm exercising every day. I'm eating fruits and vegetables. I've lost 48 pounds in the last year. It will always be a struggle. No matter what anyone tries to sell you, losing it and keeping it off will never be easy because biology is a cruel mistress.
We are massage therapists. We are human. We strive to do the best we can, just like everybody else. Our standards must be our own standards. I'm not necessarily here to radiate perfect health at all times. I'm here to give you a massage treatment. I can do that very well. Robert Chute lost weight by adhering to
The Zone Diet and using Fitday.com daily. The struggle continues. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.