Category Archives: moving

It starts so early

Yes, I haven’t blogged since April of 2012. Let’s just call that out and then move on. Hoping to change it, but can’t promise anything because my life has been work work work since then, and I don’t see that changing for a little bit.

I have a friend who is a nanny. She is an awesome nanny. I couldn’t come close to being as awesome at it as she is. She looks after four kiddos, all girls. The oldest girl is starting to get shit from her dad about being fat. SHE IS EIGHT. And she looked in the mirror the other day and asked my friend, “Do I look fat?” When my friend told me this, my heart just broke. Broke. This sweet little peanut hears from her dad that she isn’t wonderful the way she is. She hears that there is something inherently wrong with her and that she needs to actively try and change that thing every day. What the ever loving fresh hell. I know most folks have probably read the studies (or read about the studies) , and we don’t need to be reminded, but we can’t ignore the fact that girls as young as THREE worry about being fat. When their biggest worry should be whether they’ll have enough time to color that day. Or build tree forts. Or run in sprinklers. Whatever kids do these days. Probably Facebook and snapchat?

I think part of what tore me up when I heard the story was just how familiar the story was. My own Dad asking me, “are you sure you want that second [fill in the blank]?” as he looked at me with disapproving eyes. “Let’s just run another 1/2 mile!” as we were out for a jog. I’m not saying my Dad didn’t love me. I think he loved me (and loves me still) so much that he just cannot shut up. That may sound twisted, and yes, it is. But understanding that has helped me to recognize that problems he has with my weight are just that. HIS problems.

He came for a visit a little over a week ago specifically to talk to me about things that were bothering him over the holiday break when I was home. I knew what he wanted to talk about; it was pretty clear most of the time I was home that he was a bit uncomfortable and that he wanted to say something but just couldn’t. I wasn’t particularly excited about re-hashing our problems/his concerns with my weight (we’ve had the talk before), but it turned out to be one of the best conversations we’ve ever had. And I think it was mostly due to the fact that I was 100% honest with him, which meant being vulnerable. For so long, I have refused to show him even a hint of vulnerability, for fear it would mean that “he won” (whatever that means). If I voiced my concern over my knee aches, or told him that I was hoping to move my body more this year, it would prove that he knew what was best for me all of those years. So giving that fear up was, for me, one of the toughest and most amazing things I’ve done in this fat activism journey. I’m hopeful that my pops is coming along for the journey as well.

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my first 5k

So I did my first 5K on saturday! My one goal (well, apart from finishing it) was to run it more than i walked it. I met that goal, walking about 1/3 of it and running the other 2/3. My sister did it with me and it was a really fun experience. People cheering and yelling and banging cow bells, little kids and old folks and fat men and women, all just out enjoying the sunset and the awesome views. We finished in probably the last third and I gotta say, I knew there would be some competitive thoughts running through my head but it wasn’t as hard to work through them as I thought it would be. “eek, there are only like 50 people behind you” and “what if you’re the last one crossing the finish line?” popped in to my head but I was able to just calm down, breathe, and remind myself that I’ve never done anything like this before and that the point isn’t to blitz by everyone, it’s to focus internally and be present. Like yoga while jogging! Yogging?

I keep coming back to just how far I’ve come in a couple years. Not that long ago, i would have NEVER thought to do something like this, for fear of looking like a total asshole. A fatty who had no business whatsoever running in public. I would have been completely shredded the first time someone looked me up and down. I would have felt like a total poser in dry-fit and running shoes. It is, simply put, absolutely mind-blowing how we can interact with the world in a totally different manner when we decide we don’t give a single fuck about how we “should” do something and what is “appropriate.” I’m not saying there aren’t fucks I give every now and then, but on Saturday, those went away and it was delightful. I am thankful for a body that allows me to do these kinds of things, and I am thankful for a wonderful 5K partner, and I am thankful for my health. And so ends one of the sappiest entries I’ve had in a long time.

the fat body and running

I’ve had a bit of a relationship with running. We’ve been on and off (ok, mostly off) for a long time. I think, “running seems so fabulous. so…effortless, so…just me and the road, so tranquil” and then i do it and think, “what the ever loving fresh hell?! this hurts! i quit.” And then I go, “but it’s free! and so many of your friends do it! maybe if you just kept at it a little longer you would find the runner inside yourself!” So i do it some more. But then I get frustrated because if you’re fat and want to run, your choices for running clothes are, um, zero. It’s cotton for all fatties! We want you to lose weight and stop being a burden on society, what with all your health and your obesity and your OMGDEATHZ, but we’ll be damned if we’re going to make it easier on you by offering, I don’t know, cute yet functional and breathable running clothes in your size? please. (athleta, I’m looking at YOU)

So, yes, that is the relationship in a nutshell. Of course it’s more complicated than that, but those are the cliffs notes. I started running (and I should say by “running” i mean jogging and sometimes walking/jogging, not, like, sprinting with the speed of the wind or anything) after I graduated from college a little over 12 years ago. The purpose was losing weight. And I actually enjoyed it for the most part. I had no idea what I was doing (other than putting one foot in front of the other in a speedy manner and propelling myself forward, I mean), but it was a nice way to see and learn the neighborhood a few times a week. But then I stopped, for whatever reason I don’t remember, and I gained all the weight I had lost back (apparently that’s how diets work? /sarcasm). So the next time I picked up running, it was really really hard. It hurt because I didn’t have the proper gear and because, newsflash, when you have jiggly bouncy parts they tend to both jiggle and bounce more when you’re running. But I pushed myself because I was raised with the old “no pain, no gain” adage. This, of course, made me hate running because it came to represent yet another way I was failing – failing to lose weight, failing to have the better body, failing to enjoy a sport that so many do, etc etc. So I didn’t start running again for a long time.

Fast forward to grad school and I’m surrounded by, like, tons of wonderful friends who love to run! They do marathons, even! So I think “ok, this can’t be that bad.” In the Northwestern United States it’s like a damn rule that you run and love it and exclaim it to the world. I didn’t stop much to think about what I felt about running, and that was because I hadn’t yet started the mental heavy lifting and FA work that I did toward the end of grad school. So I started running again, doing the Couch to 5K training program that I had heard such wonderful things about. I quit that after about a month, not necessarily because I didn’t like the program, but because it’s hard to stay motivated when you’re running by yourself and I always felt awful running with other people because I, inevitably, would be much slower than anyone else and dragging people down to my level felt like shit. I had one friend I would run with that was awesome – she repeatedly told me that it didn’t matter the pace I ran, she just liked hanging out and she could always run ahead and then come back. And I believed her, but it didn’t matter. I still felt like a slow fatty mc slowpoke and I hated being that.

Now we’re here at this evening, where I just finished my second run under the Couch to 5K program with my sister. And I feel awesome. And this is the heaviest I’ve been in my whole life (i think, i don’t own a scale). This is certainly the “worst” shape I’ve been in in my life, but I feel pretty good! Part of that is because I finally get to look the part and however silly that sounds, it’s huge (pun intended). Nike carries extended sizes (granted, only up to a 3X, so I know that leaves out a big ‘ol portion of folks) and I purchased my first ever pair of dri-fit pants (hah, i wrote that as “dry-fat” pants at first). Anyway, dri-fit! That shit is magic! Does the rest of the world know about this? Anyway, yes, I get to wear cute clothes that are performance driven, which means that it makes it more comfortable to run. Which is awesome. The other awesome piece in all of this? I’ve decided to be nicer to myself and just go with the flow in terms of pacing. My sister runs ahead of me and I just plod along, not really giving a shit. And? There’s less pain associated with the jiggly bouncy parts because I’m not running super fast! genius! Last night when we went for our first run, I was really struggling with those old thoughts, “man, if you hadn’t let yourself get this bad, this wouldn’t be as hard right now” and “look how slow you’re going, does this even count as running?” and on and on. And I imagine I’ll still struggle with those thoughts now and then. But in the in-between moments, I’ve decided to be kind to my body. And look around and enjoy the actual ACT of running. It’s been kind of rainy the last couple nights, and running with a little mist blowing around, and twinkly lights around the lake, and the smell of bbq and weed and fresh cut grass? Not too shabby. And this time around, I’m not running to lose weight. I’m running to move my body more and enjoy the fresh air and spend more time with my sister. I also realize that i have a body that allows me to do this, so this is an ableist post. There are others that can’t do what I’m doing and I want to recognize that, while also celebrating this new piece of FA for me.

the gym – yikes

So i’ve been thinking lately about joining a gym. For the most part I hate gyms. I hate how many of them feel like a place to pick up dudes and chicks, I hate how you’re constantly bombarded with flyers about their BRAND! NEW! WEIGHT! LOSS! PROGRAM!, I hate how the entire purpose of the building seems to be to promote losing weight over getting healthier and feeling better, and I hate how I feel all guilty and horrible if i skip going several days in a row. I also hate how fat people don’t have as many options for cute (and functional!) work out clothes. Lululemon? please. Athleta? next.

And yet.

And yet there are parts about the gym that I love. I love that it’s practical. I live in a city now where I feel a little scared to run outside by myself when it’s super dark. With a gym membership, I can go move my body as late as I damn well please! I also love it when I can get in that good space – you know the one, where you’re just moving and gettin’ a good sweat on, listening to the perfect music, in the zone. I grew up as an athlete. I played three sports in high school and I was damn good at at least one of them. I love the feeling of moving. Equally importantly, I love the feeling I get when I move my body more. I tend to sleep better, feel better, and have more energy.

Now though?

Now it feels more like a chore. And it feels intimidating. It feels intimidating because I’m no where near the athlete I once was, but my brain still thinks I am. So if I do 20 minutes on the elliptical and want to leave, i’m a big ol failure. You’ll notice I’m talking about “moving my body,” not “working out.” This is very much a conscious choice to shift the framework of (and charge around) the word exercise or phrase “working out.” They carry serious baggage for me. Because I’m not physically able at this point to work out in the ways I have done in the past, I feel ashamed. Like, how did I let myself get this far? Will I ever get “it” back? Is it worth even trying when I have so far to go? If I go on a hike or a run with friends, I’m constantly concerned about holding them back. But that is some harmful shit. For our health (seriously for our health, not “oh you’re so fat but i’m just worried about your health!”), moving is better than not moving. And my job can result in a pretty sedentary day. So, I’m hoping to move more. Plain and simple.

I recently read a blog about the blogger’s relationship with her new personal trainer that brought up all sorts of emotions. More on that later.