Archive for June, 2014

I actually was never a big fan of zombie fiction. I liked some zombie movies and all, but I really didn’t get the obsession some folks had with zombies and the zombie apocalypse.

Then someone told me about Zombies, Run!

For those unfamiliar, Zombies, Run! is a running app. Set after the zombie apocalypse you run missions for Abel Township and try to outrun zombies.

It’s a very fun, compelling storyline that makes walking or running a lot more fun.

After doing this for a bit, I’ve wanted to incorporate zombie related storylines into other areas of fitness for me. I just joined a group that has zombie training challenges and stories for running, weightlifting, yoga and some other activities. I’m excited to actually start it up.

I know there are some other zombie survival training guides out there, though I’ve yet to explore any much more.

But so far, I’m loving how fun it makes working out. There is something really fun about imaging the reason you are doing what you are is to survive in some apocalyptic future, lol.

I like fitness but giving it a little extra fun and storyline to it is even better!

Anyone else have any zombie related training plans they like? Non-zombie related stories that make working out more fun?

 

 

So this post is most recently inspired by Dances with Fat’s post by the same title, though something that I’ve thought about and talked about before (just not on this blog yet).

I decided to add my own post on the topic when I realized my reply to that post was going to get very long and ranty and it seemed that perhaps I was better leaving a shorter comment and saving most of my ranting for my own blog. While I write up my own post, some of this will be repetitive if you’ve read the Dances with Fat post, and some will be different based on my own thoughts, anecdotes, and experiences.

I hate when people say something about how being fat is fine “as long as you’re healthy”, or often “as long as you are happy and healthy”. People saying this think they are being supportive. And they think what they are saying is “it’s fine to be fat as long as it’s not hurting your health”, which isn’t even what that statement is actually saying though. Of course even if that were the statement, there are a lot of problems with that too.

You can’t assume fat is a cause or weight loss is a solution.

As mentioned in by Dances with Fat the first problem is that “as long as you’re healthy” assumes that if one is not healthy it is the result of being fat. This is not true. This may come as a shock to fat concern trolls out there, but not all health problems are the result of being fat! Some health problems are even things people are born with, and thus have long before they could seriously be considered fat. Not to mention numerous health issues that can come up later in life that are not correlated with obesity whatsoever.

There is also the assumption that losing weight will fix whatever health issues, which is most of the time not accurate.

Why is fat and unhealthy not ok, but thin and unhealthy is ok? 

I’m fat and not healthy- I have numerous health problems that would exclude me from that. Being fat and healthy is not an option for me, but neither is being thin and healthy! Even if I lost weight and wasn’t fat, I still would have all the same health problems and still be just as unhealthy (and based on how I lost that weight, possibly even more unhealthy for it). So basically what you are saying if you say that it’s only ok for me to be fat if I’m healthy is that it’s fine with you if I’m thin and unhealthy. Fat and unhealthy is bad, but thin and unhealthy is ok.

That’s certainly what is implied by expecting me and other fat folks to prove some minimum level of health in order to justify our existence when thin folks are not expected the same thing. I’ve never heard anyone say “it’s ok to be thin as long as you’re healthy”. We don’t say that thin folks are only justified in existing based on meeting certain health criteria.

But an even bigger issue here is who the hell are you to get to decide whether I’m allowed to be anything?

Who the hell put you in charge of determining if it’s acceptable for me to be fat or not? Or to be unhealthy or not? It’s my body, my life, my health, I’m the only one who gets a say in that.

My right to existence is not subject to your approval.

You are not entitled to information about my health

To say that being fat is ok as long as you are healthy suggests that fat folks like myself owe you some sort of commentary on our health. That we should have to answer as to whether we are healthy or not. And for me, with the answer being no, it really pisses me off that it puts me on the defensive of feeling that I need to explain in what ways I’m not healthy and how it’s not because I’m fat, when I should not have to. It’s none of your business. Whether my health problems are not any that are associated with obesity or whether they are the dreaded so-called “obesity related” disorders, it’s no one’s damn business! The only people entitled to that information are myself and those involved in my medical treatment, and maybe I choose to share some information about my health with others at times but I will do so only on my terms when I want, because no one else has a right to that information.

I do not owe complete strangers a justification for my health. You are not entitled to any information about, even a simple yes or no to the question “are you healthy?” Whether you demand details or even just a small yes or not, it’s still not your business and you have no right to expect a stranger to provide you that.

It’s not just offensive to fat people, it’s offensive to people with chronic health problems.

Another issue I have with this is not just from a fat perspective, but I have a problem with the way health is treated as a moral imperative period. The implication is that people with chronic health problems are lesser people, less worthy of dignity, respect, or even life. This is also a disability issue. And sadly, there are a lot of people who really do think this. When arguing this online before I’ve had people chime in that people who are sick and have chronic health problems are bad people because they cost other, morally superior by being healthy, people more money in pooled health systems because sick people cost more.

There is a very real problem with people suggesting that those who are not in perfect health have less right to life, to healthcare, to happiness than others. That we should be denied care and left to die in order to possibly save someone else a few dollars.

And if you are not one of those people who thinks that the lives of people with chronic health issues are worth less- great, but also don’t use language then that feeds into the notion that our disabilities make us morally inferior people.

Happy is not a valid requirement either.

At the beginning of this post I mentioned that I’ve seen this often phrased as healthy and happy. Happy sounds like a fine thing on the surface, but there are several reasons it’s not. First off, fat people can have mental health challenges just the same as thin people. Suffering from depression doesn’t mean a person owes it to anyone to lose weight. And again, weight loss is not a magic cure for depression.

Even if we aren’t talking about clinical depression but just generally whether or not one is ok with their body- poor body image still doesn’t mean one is obligated to lose weight. Losing weight is not guarantee that one will be happier with their body. Women are often taught to have very unrealistic expectations of what we should look like. I think most folks are better off learning to love their bodies than thinking that they can change their body to something they will love when they don’t. Because for many women, even if you successfully lose that weight, there will still be something you will find to dislike. Maybe it’s the stretch marks, or the excess loose skin you have no that you’ve lost weight, or just your shape isn’t what you wanted it to be, or you still aren’t thin enough, or don’t have enough muscle definition, or… or… or… When we look for flaws in our bodies, we are always going to be able to find something. What needs to change is how we look at ourselves, not our bodies.

How do you define health?

Lastly, there is also a problem with this in terms of how one defines health. The question, “are you healthy” assumes one simple definition of that. In reality, many different people have many different ideas of what that means.

In  a previous discussion online about this, someone responded to me that I was not unhealthy based on my exercising. They thought being unhealthy here would only mean people who don’t bother to exercise. Which I suppose is their prerogative to define health that way. But to me, I don’t think that makes me healthy. Because when I’m in the hospital and a doctor (who for some reason doesn’t check my records they have access to on their computers) asks if prior to what brought me in the hospital I was totally healthy, I’m going to say no. As a person who has health problems, and takes medications everyday for them, and has to followup regularly with several different specialists, medically speaking that’s not considered totally healthy, even if I workout regularly and eat well. And if the problem that lead me to coming into the hospital was related to a known disorder of mine, it would be a significant hindrance to my diagnosis and treatment if I tell the doctor I was totally healthy prior, on the basis that I exercise.

But on the other side of things someone else could have no diagnosed health problems, be completely sedentary and eat fast food everyday and they may say they are totally healthy on the basis that they have no diagnosed health problems.

Or maybe they do have health problems but they don’t see those as meaning they aren’t overall healthy. I mean, when does one move from healthy to unhealthy? This seems to vary a lot from person to person. A lot of people will have some health problem but will not see themselves as overall unhealthy, especially if that health problem causes few or no difficulties to that person in day to day life.

And when we ask if a person is healthy or not, do we mean at that moment or in a long term sense? If you go to donate blood you will probably be asked if you are feeling healthy that day- in this context a temporary illness would mean a person is no longer in the healthy to donate category. But in general, when we talk about health, we consider people with temporary illnesses to still be overall healthy. When we talk about who is at the most danger of a particular virus going around we will say that the illness does not pose a serious risk to healthy adults. Of course as soon as you contract the virus by some definition you are no longer healthy. Because “healthy” doesn’t really have one standard,clear definition.

 

This is common to hear in a lot of fitness spaces. And often the message is plastered across photos of women who look like fitness models, or are fitness models.

Such at this:

Or this:

Strong is the new skinny! Of course the woman wearing that is very thin. Strong too, I’m sure, but she’s also very thin.

The message from these seems to be that “strong” looks only one way- and that one way to look strong is the be thin and conventionally attractive. I already talked about this a little in my post on being muscular vs having low body fat: strong is not one singular look. There are a lot of different ways to look and still be strong.

And it’s interesting the claim is that strong is sexy, yet all the images associated with it are of women who are thin and still meet the standard conventions of what is attractive. But if strong is sexy, then sexy would not be limited to these body types.

Where are my strong is sexy memes with Kristin Rhodes,  who won the United Strongmen Women’s World Championships in 2012?

If strong is sexy, Kristin is very sexy.

Or Holley Mangold, and olympic athlete who competed in the 2012 olympics in weightlifting?

Yet the message strong is sexy does not seem to encompass the wide range of body sizes and shapes that strong bodies come in, rather focusing on a very limited subset of strong bodies that are also thin and conventionally attractive.

So the message is actually less that strong is sexy, than that sexy can also be strong. That you can be conventionally attractive and still lift heavy and have muscles. But not that lifting heavy and having muscles necessarily makes you sexy.

It’s a pretty big difference. It’s a difference between celebrating women’s physical  strength and the beauty of that strength in all it’s body types, vs celebrating a very specific and restricted body type but saying you can still be strong with that body type.

 

I’d love to get behind the message that strong is sexy, I think it’s a great message. But I can’t get behind it right now because that phrase is not being used with a message that actually says strong is sexy.

This is something I’ve been thinking about for awhile, though I’ve been struggling with how to phrase this.

Often these days when I am working out, trying to build muscle, and being thrilled when I see more muscle on me, I also feel a liberation in that in being queer.

This comes mainly from not giving a fuck if men find me attractive. Because as women, there is a pretty strong message that being muscular is not attractive. Not to mention that muscular gets conflated with looking like a man. Most weight lifting advice aimed at women that I’ve seen spends a good deal of time dealing with the issue of bulking and how women are physiologically incapable of building bulky muscle like that. Which isn’t actually true, relying on a very narrow view of sex and gender and failing to recognize that many folks fall out of the “norm” for their sex/gender in various ways- some they may not even be aware of. Including the fact that hormone levels, which most of this “women can’t get bulky” stuff relies on, vary vastly among cis gendered women, and you don’t even really know where you fall in the normative spectrum with that unless you’ve had those tested which most folks haven’t.

But I’m getting a little off track, my point is, even when advocating weight lifting, there is still this common fear for women of getting too bulky. Because building muscle and being strong does cause one to veer off traditional gender norms a bit for women. And we are often told that men find muscles on women gross and/or intimidating. Men are supposed to be stronger and protect women, and women fail if we are stronger and don’t make them feel needed- How I Met Your Mother addresses this once with Robin when Ted comments on how it’s nice to feel needed and Robin never made him feel that way because she could take care of things herself.

Now obviously these are generalities and stereotypes, and plenty of men do find women with muscle, who are strong and capable very attractive, it’s just not really the dominate message in our culture. So there is a sense of relief that I don’t have to think about or worry about that.

Because being queer, there is a lot more acceptance of breaking gender norms. Because queer sexualities are already viewed as somewhat gender deviant. And it seems much more normal among queer women than straight women to break other gender norms and social roles- androgynous looks are well accepted typically with many queer women choosing to wear men’s clothing.

For me, I’m pretty much on the femme side of things, yet still I feel that I can go a bit more masculine in small ways and still potentially be attractive to other women rather than feeling I have to be totally girly. In fact, with a slight issue of femme invisibility butching my look up a little I feel like I’m probably more inclined to be read as gay/queer and more likely then to attract attention from other queer women.

And I think building muscle goes into this.

Which is odd in a way because there is no guarantee of such things. When I was dating my ex I was not working out due to health issues and whenever I mentioned missing it and wanting to be well enough to work out, she would say things discouraging it. I didn’t need to workout. She worked out, and also wore almost exclusively men’s clothing, but she clearly was attracted to me being more girly and being “softer”- not hard and muscled.  So it’s very clear to me that queer women can find muscles a turn off just as much add straight men.

Which leave me just finding it very hard to explain why I feel this way. Because there is a contradiction there, yet I still feel like I have more freedom, in a way, to break gender norms as a queer woman than I did when I identified as straight, or even bi, when I still thought about being attractive to men.

All or Nothing Fitness

Posted: June 25, 2014 in Problems
Tags: , ,

Hanging around a fitness website I’ve noticed among some people this sort of all or nothing mentality to fitness. And by that I mean, there is this idea that either people be completely dedicated to being completely ripped or you are wasting your time and don’t really belong.

Of course I suspect that most people actually fall somewhere in the middle of that- people like working out and/or do it for health benefits, but don’t really want it to be a focal point of their life. And that’s where I fall. I love working out! But it’s not the focal point of my life, my life does not revolve around working out. And, personally, I think that’s ok!

I’ve heard it said sometimes that “it’s a matter of priorities”- typically meant to mean that you need to make working out a priority. But I think “yeah, it is a matter of priorities”, and at the end of the day working out is not my top priority. My first priority is my education right now. Getting through my PhD program successfully- which means not just passively moving through it going to classes. Actually that’s the biggest difference I would say about a PhD compared to other degree levels, the actual “school” part of school is minor. I’ve been told this by faculty many times, classes aren’t that important it’s what you do outside classes that matters. Which is hard when classes take up a large portion of your time while you are in them (though only the first part involves taking classes) , and you are expected to get straight As in those courses because anything less is not ok at the PhD level. But outside of classes and qualifying exams, there is also the research. You better be working on research. You should be reading, talking to faculty, getting on their research, going to conferences, presenting at conferences and writing journal articles. It takes time and dedication. And right now that is my top priority. I mean, there is work-life balance. So I try to juggle those obligations with obligations to my health, and working out, and working, and fun (a mental health obligation), along with all the other parts of life like still working on getting unpacked at my house, and painting and cleaning and so on.  But working out gets balanced around my school demands, not the other way around.

It’s unrealistic to expect that working out be everyone’s top priority- that’s not life for most people.

Another thing I saw recently was someone mentioning that if you are not taking training seriously, then it’s just a pastime and so, basically, why bother at that point? Which just makes me go o.0 This may make sense if working out isn’t just a pastime for you, such as you are a competitive powerlifter or something. I’m not. Training is just a pastime for me. It’s a hobby. Why bother to do it if it’s just a pastime? Because I enjoy it. Because there are plenty of health benefits to working out. What more reason than those do I need?

And this is my problem with all or nothing- it’s missing a lot of people. And then the message become,s ‘don’t bother working out’. Which isn’t true. You can workout and see health benefits from it without needing it to be your top priority. If life gets in the way sometimes, that’s ok, take break and come back. It’s better if you can avoid taking a break, but sometimes life does get in the way of things. It does not have to be all or nothing. There is no reason to give up entirely because something happened and you missed a few workouts. Even if it sets you back and you can’t run as far or fast, or lift as much or do as much at whatever you were doing, coming back is worth it!

And if you can only fit in working out sporadically, a little at a time, around your life- it’s still worth it! You do not have to be at the gym an hour a day, everyday, without fail in order to workout. There is middle ground for shorter, less frequent, even sporadic, workouts.

Will you get the same results as long, harder, or more consistent workouts? No. But as long as your expectations are reasonable, what’s the problem?

I really don’t get why certain people seem very bothered by the fact that other people might like working out, without it being as important in their lives- and then react to that feeling by seeking to make those people feel unwelcome in fitness based spaces. And should you feel unwelcome, and by into this belief that if you aren’t going super hardcore at your workouts, it’s not worth doing at all, the same people will still mock you for being such an inferior human being for not working out.

Working out has tons of great impacts on health. There is really no denying this. So why should anyone seek to push others away from a great healthy activity just because they are doing it in a way that fits their life and their needs instead of yours?

 

I’ve also noticed a trend though, that people who do make working out their top priority end up going to work in jobs related to it. Which is fine, nothing wrong with that. And it makes sense! Because if part of your job is working out, or at the very least at the gym were you can fit in workouts in you breaks and such, then it is easier to workout daily and keep that as a top priority for you. But obviously not everyone can lead group fitness classes or be a personal trainer- you would have no costumers if everyone was, not to mention not having people doing all the other jobs we rely on as a society. So among the rest of us, fitness will be a pastime,  a hobby, and not the #1 priority in our lives for many of us. And that’s ok. And it doesn’t mean we should just quit working out, or that we don’t belong in the gym, or participating in fitness websites, or anything of that nature.

So I mentioned before that I am following stronglifts 5×5.

I’m fairly early on but so far love it and would definitely recommend it. So far I am liking having specific guidelines for increasing weights. And just used the app for the first time and like the timer for rests between sets.

This post really though is mainly for me, I realized I should keep track of my starting point so I can see better how far I’ve come with it later on, and figured I would post here to help me keep track and let others in on my eventual progress as well!

Starting weights:

Squat: 100lbs

Bench Press: 75lbs

Barbell Row: 95lbs

Overhead Press: 55lbs

Deadlift: 180lbs

One thing I really, really hate out of the fitness world is the “what’s your excuse?” memes.

There are a lot of things wrong with this message. One I think, right off the bat, is the idea that one needs an “excuse”. As if the only correct body (because frankly, this message is usually associated with a particular look rather than a particular activity) is a super toned one, and having any other body needs an excuse for failing to have the right body type. Even if you shift the focus to activities it still is problematic to suggest people need an excuse for not engaging in any particular activity. Why does one need an excuse to expend their energy elsewhere?

They also serve to boost up those sharing it rather than help to support others. I think Molly Galbraith does a good job at explaining how the statement “what’s your excuse?”  isn’t motivating. As she points out these tend to be inspiring to people who are already like those saying it, whereas to those who are not the message is not really uplifting, empowering, or saying you can do it, so much as just shaming for not doing it.

This isn’t about that “what’s your excuse?” image though, but rather I’ve noticed recently several folks with certain disabilities using this “what’s your excuse” message, and it really annoys me because it suggests that disabilities are either one size fits all, or can be hierarchically ranked with their disability as the worst imaginable.

Interestingly I’ve yet to see this come from any person with a disability that causes severe fatigue. Rather, thus far, I’ve seen it from people who’ve had some sort of terrible injury, broken bones, had to have pins put in, and still workout and are in great shape.

And honestly, I have no idea what that’s like! I’ve never so much as broken a bone in my life. That kind of injury and recovery and the long term effects of it? Totally foreign to me!

But I do know what it’s like to live with chronic pain and I do know what extreme fatigue is like. I know what it means to have to ration your spoons. (Spoon theory for those unfamiliar.)

Yeah, I know that feeling! Been there.

Which is the point though. I know my experience with disabilities. And my experience has also been that my fatigue is typically far more limiting, particularly in terms of physical activity, than my pain. But my experience with disabilities is not a universal one.

Disabilities are not one size fits all, nor are they even easily categorized by what is worse.  Because what is “worse” really depends on the context of what you are talking about. For the most part different disabilities are just different. Accommodations for someone who is deaf are going to be very different than for someone who is blind- it’s not necessarily that one is worse or harder than the other, but they are different.

It also reminds me of a guy I dated in college, a little person who uses a wheelchair- also a pretty awesome disabilities advocate. At the time I dated him I actually didn’t identify at all as a person with disabilities. I’ve had chronic, severe migraines since I was about 10 which some consider a disability, but I never used to think of it that way. But most of my health issues are much more recent. It was actually right around when me and him dated that I developed Meniere’s Disease- but it wasn’t for several more years before it was diagnosed as such. At the time we dated, I just knew I kept getting severe vertigo and up to that point doctors didn’t know why (actually around that time they thought it might be MS). Due to that, and it coming on very suddenly without warning, I was trying not to drive because I couldn’t drive with the vertigo and I had no way of knowing if I would have an attack while driving. I remember once he made a comment about disability being relative and how he was able to drive and I wasn’t at the time, so in that context of driving I was more disabled than him. Certainly if you looked at the two of us, I’m sure you would consider him more disabled, particularly given I don’t look like I have disabilities at all actually. Yet as he pointed out, within certain context my health was more disabling. In other context though, it would be different- for example at the same time I lived in an apartment that could only be accessed by stairs, which would not be an option for someone who uses a wheelchair. Disability is very context specific.

So this whole idea that if one has a disability and they can do x then everyone else must be able to as well is just total crap! It’s not even a matter of worse or better, because so much of it is context or activity specific. Two different disabilities will have different limitations/accessibility needs.

Hell, different disabilities will impact how we see having disabilities, or if we even identify it as a disability. I often think that “people with disabilities” is such a wide category that it becomes very hard to make much of any generalizations across that group.

There a physical disabilities, mental disabilities, developmental disabilities, and physical disabilities can be visible or invisible, sometimes conditions are lifelong, other times it’s possible to move out of being disabled after successful treatment, some folks were born with disabilities, others of us developed them later in life, and for some symptoms can flare and dissipate at times (this is true for me certainly, working out would not be an option at all if everyday were like my worst days).

“Disability” is not the uniform grouping people often like to make it out to be.  So my ability, or another person’s ability to do certain things, with our respective disabilities does not justify suggesting that there are no legitimate barriers to doing that thing.

I saw something recently talking about very muscular body types, and I realized the person seemed to actually mean low body fat (and muscular) body types. At the same time I realized that we often talk about these things as if they are the same and I know I have before too.

But the truth is, they aren’t. Being very muscular doesn’t always mean having a very low body fat percentage. And I think this is important to keep in mind for a few reasons. One of which being that when we conflate these two things the result is dismissing the muscle mass of those who aren’t very lean. When we see a person who looks larger sized, we don’t think of them as muscular. To the extreme this can lead some to outright denying that such a person has much muscle mass. I remember reading an anecdote on a fat acceptance blog from a fat woman who was going through a fitness test and did not get any credit for ab exercises she did because the person administering the test said she couldn’t feel her abs under her abdominal fat and thus couldn’t verify she was engaging them in the movements. I wish I could properly source who this anecdote came from but it was years ago and at the time didn’t seem something worth bookmarking.

The truth is that you can have a lot of muscle and still have body fat over it. When someone uses a descriptive of someone as very muscular I think a lot of folks think of bodybuilder physiques. Yet, at least from what I understand of bodybuilding, even bodybuilders don’t look like that most of the time- bodybuilders typically get down to a very low body fat percentage for their competitions and do significant “cutting” before the competition. When in between competitions they frequently, from my understanding, do not maintain such low body fat percentages. A competitive bodybuilder probably still looks fairly lean and muscular between competitions, but not the extreme of what is seen in competition.

And when you start talking about folks who are not bodybuilders, many people can have lots of strength and muscle and not fit the idea of what we think of as a muscular look because they still have more body fat over that.

Spending a deal of time on a fitness based social media website, fitocracy, I see folks posting on there often about cutting and getting body fat down, particularly in order to get those visible abs. This requires specific weight loss effort beyond strength training because building muscle in and of itself does not get most people down to very low body fat levels.

Also keeping in mind that bodybuilding is about physique. When you start looking at competitive powerlifters or strongmen/strongwomen you still see a lot more variety in what competitors body’s look like than with bodybuilder competitions because those competitions  are not based around appearance.

Googling for strongmen photos brought up dudes like this:

And in my googlings web results brought up people all over various forums asking why stongmen don’t look “muscly” but just big or even fat.

And here, fyi, is a strongwoman from google results:

Well, they don’t look “muscly” the way bodybuilders do because strongmen competitions are not physique competitions like bodybuilder and so the training and diets for each are going to be different. These competitors are without a doubt very strong, requiring a lot of muscle, yet they don’t fit the common image of what we think of as a very muscular person looking like, because we conflate that with very low body fat, and perhaps even more specifically with bodybuilder physiques.

 

Ok, so I figured that maybe I should go ahead and give some background info on me when it comes to fitness stuff and what I’m doing now.

 

Ya know, I started writing out a long thing about the past years and what exercises I focused on when as best I could remember. And realized that there has been one overarching theme for the past about 7 years- I exercise for awhile, then health gets really bad and I have to take a break, then once I’m feeling better I exercise again and the cycle repeats. Making it very hard to see lasting improvements.

But I have been on an off working out for awhile. I’m not really brand new to it. I’ve done lots of cardio in the past, some yoga.

I’ve done the couch to 5K program several times. For awhile every time I would get toward the end I would become anemic again (which when severe bring with it tachycardia and chest pain and does not make running or exercise in general a safe plan). So again- hard to see consistent improvement, after I’d feel safe running again, I’d be back to starting at the beginning.

A few years back in college when I had access to the gym there I learned about New Rules of Lifting for Women by Lou Schuler. Bought that book, read it, and started the workout plan in it. That was my first real introduction to lifting. By now you should know the story there- health issue got in the way and I never finished the plan all the way through.

And after college I didn’t have access to a gym for lifting anymore, and no money to join one, so I was limited to a few dumbbells I had at home at that was it. Throughout that time one of my goals was to have access to barbells and weights again to get back into lifting because I loved it when I was doing it.

In November I moved into a house that has enough space to set up a home gym. It took me a few months to get all my basics covered. First I got a bench. Then I found someone on craigslist selling a olympic barbell set- olympic barbell, ez curl bar, 435lbs worth of weight plates, and a rack for the plates. It was still awhile then before I could get together the money for my power rack. But now I have a nice little home gym. I’d love to add some more to it-especially kettlebells. But I have the basics I need. So now I’m able to get back into lifting- woohoo!

For the first while back at lifting I was basically making up my own workouts. I just now decided to give stronglifts 5×5 a try. Of course my goal is to work in a few other exercises too and I’m also working on running in between lifting days. So that is kind of the plan I am trying to follow right now. We’ll see how it works.

 

I figured I should maybe give some info into that. If I talk about my current plan it kind of sounds like I just started all this, but I don’t feel brand new to things like lifting, even if I am far from an expert, because I did start years ago, I just ended up having to stop and just started back.

 

I’ll talk more about my experiences with these plans in upcoming posts I’m planning. Including a post on how different plans have worked out for me in terms of time commitment and with health issues- since that is obviously an ongoing struggle for me is how to stay consistent with workouts even when my health problems flair up.

So I’m going to go a little off topic from the fitness and body image stuff here. I saw this post “I have to come out as a lesbian everyday, and it’s exhausting” and wanted to share that as well as some of my own thoughts.

The constant coming out is one thing I think most straight folks just don’t get. As the author of that piece says, we think about and talk about coming out as one big event that happens and is done. And we tend to think that queer people are either in the closet, or out. It’s all or nothing. Of course it’s not that simple.

Even the big reveals aren’t always. I first came out to my friends as bi in early college. But between then and a little over a year ago I was not out to my family. Around the time I came out to my family I then “came out” to some friends as a lesbian.

Changing identities can make this all the more complicated! I currently prefer “queer” as an ID, though lesbian or gay are ok with me. My primary attraction is toward women but it’s not impossible that I could be attracted to a man.  Quantified I’d say I’m probably 90-95% gay.

I’ve had similar experiences to the author. Being femme (I like the term “hard femme” and feel it’s fairly accurate for me) I don’t typically set off people’s gaydar. Even within lgbtq spaces I’m used to being assumed to be a straight ally. I’ve also had friends I’ve had to come out to multiple times because it just never seemed to stick that i’m queer. “Well you’re straight…” NO! Not only have I told you, many times now, that I’m not- you hung out with me and my ex-girlfriend when we were together numerous times, how do you still think I’m straight!?!

And there is the constant coming out in daily life… and again not fitting neatly into one of the lgb boxes can make that more complicated though. I think of when I’ve met new people and they started talking about karaoke, I start to talk about how I used to go out to karaoke a lot when I was with my ex and I realize that in order to finish what I’m saying I have to either use the correct feminine pronouns and out myself to people I don’t know well enough yet to know how they will react (and while the vast majority of folks will not react to that violently, I still have to worry about the minority of folks who would, because I don’t know if someone I just met is in that minority) or I  just outright lie by using masculine pronouns, or I try to really awkwardly reword what I’m saying to avoid any pronoun usage, or names, or labels like “girlfriend”/”boyfriend”.

And while I’d say I’m semi-out at work (there are some people who know, most folks it’s never come up with), at every new job it becomes a question of if I should out myself there, and the risks if I do (particularly when employers can openly discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation if they choose under current law).

The closeted/out dichotomy isn’t really a dichotomy at all because many queer folks are simultaneously both just in different situations. For some folks that means only being “out” to a small number of people, while for others it may mean being out but not wanting to bother correcting an assumption on the part of a stranger, and for many something else in between there.

But “coming out” isn’t so much one big event as it is a process that never really ends.