Archive for July, 2014

My day 3 post-it:

postit3

I have beautiful eyes!

 

Or as a friend once described them-I have “expressive” eyes.

resized

ok, so the color is photoshopped here, but still.

I thought today I should go back to the original idea of the post-it challenge- positive things about your appearance. And I’ve always really liked my eyes overall. Though if I overthink it I start thinking “I with my eyes were bluer” or “I wish my eyes were greener” (my eyes are a shade in between blue and green that can look very blue or very green depending on the lighting), or “my eyes are too small”, or “my eyes get too squinty when I smile”, heck at one time I was frustrated because my eyelids  seemed too fat to me. Yeah, the thing Daria made fun of for being so ridiculous, but I honestly felt that way.

Despite having long felt my eyes are one of my best features, stopping the negative nitpicking in my brain is still hard.

That all said, writing this post-it, and especially posting it here, felt a bit awkward to me for a few reasons.

First off I feel vain. So I had to remind myself the point of this. This is about neuroplasticity. About retraining my brain to see the positive, to cultivate self love, to work to put a stop to all the negative thinking I mentioned above. And I’m posting these online, here on my blog, for two main reasons; the biggest reason is to hopefully inspire some other folks to try this out and come up with things you love about yourself, and the second is to keep me on track with doing this. If I have to post it here then I have to do it everyday.

Also I feel like it’s wrong to go with something about my eyes, since “pretty eyes” is such a stereotypical fat girl compliment, right? “She’s fat, but she has pretty eyes!” Pretty eyes feels like the go to thing to compliment, about other or ourselves, when we don’t find the body attractive. So it feels like a bullshit thing to do for this. But as I said above, even when it comes to my eyes I still find things to nitpick about how they aren’t perfect. So it should still be fair game to include in a challenge that is meant to focus on the positive and stop the negative thinking.

Also- I’m allowed to like my eyes, dammit! And I can like my eyes and my body too, so it’s not weaseling out.

Ok, Day 2 of my post-it challenge. I may have veered a little off the topic of things I like about myself, but this was something I was thinking about and wanted to remind myself of, because sometimes I forget.

post-it day 2

I have some amazing friends!

(Blurred out for the purposes of this post but I also wrote the names of some friends on there, to remind me of some of the awesome people around me.)

Ok, so I was watching The Militant Baker’s Ted Talk and she mentions a post-it challenge- posting something you like about yourself or an affirmation. So I’m basing this only her talk, I don’t know if there is already an established plan with a length to it, but right now I’m just going to do this everyday for an unspecified length of time.

I’m making a slight adjustment to this- I’m not limiting myself to things I like about my body, but things I like about myself and positive things about my life in general.

So here is my Day 1 Post-It:

20140722_003506

I love my curves!

And to add to this, going to throw in a photo that I particularly like in terms of my curves:

yeshomo2

 

Spilt Milk has an amazing blog post on queer mothering in a straight world, very worth a read. As I was reading through the blog post I found myself crying. And I wasn’t really sure why; this shouldn’t, to me, evoke such a strong emotional response.

But when I think about it, it should be totally reasonable for this to be an emotional topic for me. Reading that post I started crying thinking about what my future children might experience. Ideally my future involves meeting a woman who I will fall in love with and want to start a family with, and if that happens then my future children will have two mommies. Reading that also made me wonder and worry if my future kids in this scenario will be taught that that they have only one real mother, and what if I’m relegated to the role of unreal?

I notice this as a theme with queer issues and myself. I often find myself surprised by how emotional I feel about them, but more than the surprise at it I find that I often feel like I’m not “allowed” to have these feelings.

Coming out was one example. I was afraid of coming out- every time I have. Because I’ve never been 100% sure how people would react, if people would see me differently. And yet, I felt I wasn’t really allowed to be afraid of it. I’m very lucky to have friends and family who are supportive, and I knew they were ok with lgbtq people before coming out. The first people I came out to were close friends. And while I knew those friends had other friends who were queer and were allies, I couldn’t help but wonder if me being queer would change things between us. Would they feel differently about common friendly touches, or expressions now? If I tell a girl friend that I love her, as I’ve done many times, will she start to think I mean something other than friendship with that?

I had similar fears coming out to family. Yes, they’ve always been supportive of queer friends and family. But I also know that how we feel about things can be different in theory, or when it’s distanced from us, than how we feel when we are forced to confront it up close and personal. And sometimes we do not react according to our ideals when things hit close to home. I also know that things can look different when you are on the outside rather than inside- the degree of acceptance can seem different from an outsider perspective than an inside one. Actually the above blog post has an example of this- from the outside, to a straight parent the school may seem very accepting of queer parents and different families by including Tango Makes Three, whereas from the perspective of the author as a queer parent who met with the school and saw them reject 3 other books that represent queer parents the level of acceptance would seem a bit lower. There are a lot of aspects of prejudice and discrimination that we don’t see unless we are on the receiving end.

Even though queer issues are deeply personal ones to me, and ones that it’s reasonable for people to feel emotional about, I still often feel that I personally am not entitled to feel that way. That I am appropriating these feelings. That because I have been lucky to have people in my life who are supportive and because I have certain levels of passing privilege I’m appropriating these feelings that belong to people who really have to struggle with these things- people who have to face friends and family who are homophobic, people who are currently in same-sex relationships (compared to me being single and able to pass with no relationship that would out me), and queer parents who actually have to deal with those struggles (compared to me whose relationship to queer parenting is all based on a hypothetical future right now).

And the rational part of me knows this makes no sense, that as a queer person being emotional about queer issues is not appropriating anything. And yet I still found myself surprised when these issues have such an emotional impact one me.

Your Goals Are Not My Goals

Posted: July 20, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

So I actually meant to include this in my post All or Nothing Fitness and forgot, but that’s ok because this is a related, but slightly different issue. This post is about my frustration in fitness spaces with assumptions that everyone is aiming for the same goal- mainly to be “ripped”.

One of the things I loved when I first found fitocracy was that the focus seemed to be simply on fitness. It wasn’t set to track food intake and count calories, your weight is entered for the purpose of calculating points for exercises (because a 300lb person doing a pull up is pulling more weight than a 100lb person)- not in order to give achievements and stickers for losing weight.

Since then though I notice more and more about weight loss there. I have a feeling it’s always been there, and I just didn’t see it at first. But more and more I see threads about calories and going over calorie goals, or celebrating resisting eating cookies, more and more I notice people focused on weight loss over specific fitness goals.

Of course I know this isn’t new to the space, because when I was relatively new to the website I made a post about how annoyed I get when people act like I know nothing about fitness because I don’t look like the stereotypical image of someone who works out. And while I am far from an expert, I’ve been around long enough (even before joining that site) to know a lot of the basics.

The specific example I used was hanging out drinking with some friends when two friends start arguing over proper squat form and then each demonstrated. I agreed friend X had proper form. I was with my, at the time, girlfriend who looks at me and says “how would you know?” I think I responded by just looking at her with shock and said “really?” And she realized it was a kind of rude thing to say and apologized. But it’s not uncommon- how can you know anything about fitness if you don’t have visible abs? That’s certainly the mentality many have.

Some people took issue with this, saying there is no singular proper form for squats and so obviously I was wrong and they were right to assume I knew nothing. The funny thing about that argument is that it should apply equally to the two guys who were having the argument to begin with then. If no form is wrong, then they were both just as wrong as me by asserting that their style was correct. So that reasoning doesn’t really justify people in the room accepting that these two guys know what they are talking about but I wouldn’t.

On person though responded that since most people workout to lose weight, it’s fair to assume that if I’m fat I’m still too new to know anything. Because if most people workout to lose weight, then the only reason to workout is to lose weight, and the only valid measure of fitness knowledge is weight.

But that isn’t why I workout.

And the that everyone is trying to lose weight and look ripped with low body fat and visible abs has me feeling less and less comfortable in those places because those aren’t my goals. I joined for motivation and tracking for weight lifting and exercise separate from weight loss and calorie counting. Which isn’t to say there is anything wrong with others having goals of losing weight, looking ripped, having very low body fat, and/or having visible abs- it’s the assumptions that these are the only acceptable goals for someone who is working out that I take issue with and make me feel less comfortable in that space.

The truth is that if I lost some weight I’d be happy, though it’s not my primary goal. My primary goal is to get stronger and lift heavier weights. I know other fat acceptance bloggers who talk about how they wouldn’t want to lose weight, and I’m actually a bit envious of how happy they are with their weight. I work on cultivating a positive body image but I still wish I was thinner. But even if I was to lose weight to what I would view as ideal for me, that ideal in my mind does not have visible abs or a very ripped physique. I have absolutely no desire to look like that. Great for those who do want to look like that, good luck in achieving it, but that is not my goal, that isn’t something I want.

Most weight lifters would be annoyed at being told that working out only counts when you can run a marathon. Not everyone is training for that. Similarly many runners aren’t going to care about training to squat 400+lbs. Just like different people who engage in types of fitness have different performance goals, we can all have different goals related to body size as well. Fitness isn’t only being able to run a marathon, it’s also not only being able to squat 400+lbs, and it’s not any one singular body size or shape either.

I’ve been working on this post for a bit and it’s still a jumble and I’m having a very hard time organizing all my thoughts and feelings on this. Please take this as a rough draft, even though I am posting it.

So to start I hate the idea that is perpetuated by the media and weight loss industries that fat people just have no idea how much we eat, we have no concept of calories, and what we really need is to track everything we eat so we understand how much it is. As if fat people all just spend our time constantly shoveling whole cakes into out mouths with no concept that a whole cake is a lot of calories. Because if we are fat we must be eating a lot and if we eat a lot, obviously we just have no conception of that or else we wouldn’t eat so much!

Of course the reality is that most fat people have counted calories before. And speaking personally, I have on and off counted calories for years. I was in middle school when I started, I think. I counted calories in middle school, in high school, in college, in grad school, and after. I can more accurately estimate calories in things than many naturally thin folks who have never been in a position of paying very close attention to calories in everything they eat. Anecdote time- I had a thin doctor, who decided to ignore very serious health issues in favor of focusing solely on my weight, who asked what I ate regularly (at a time I was calorie counting) and she estimated the calories to be about 3x what they were (I knew, because I was measuring and tracking everything I ate). She then told me to eat less and gave me a sample meal plan that was slightly higher than what I was eating, along with telling me I needed to stop lifting weights because it was a waste of time and that I need to focus on cardio to lose weight (which is clearly the only reason, ever, to workout).

So having done the on again off again calorie counting- it’s fucking exhausting! It really is. I know people who do it try to downplay it and say it’s so easy. And it’s not really hard-hard, but after awhile I just get so sick of obsessing about everything I eat, and trying to hunt down nutritional info when I eat out, or feeling like I can never eat out or go to a party and eat there or just live my life because it all revolves around needing to know exactly how many calories I’m eating, and then spending time logging everything I eat, and measuring, and then writing down the nutritional info, or looking it up (this part is at least faster with online tracking, though if something isn’t int he database you have to add it. When I started for the first several years I did it all on my own without online databases though). The time does add up, but it’s more than the actual time that goes into it.

And so I’ve yo-yo-ed with it. Like so many other fat folks. I count calories and then I get exhausted with the process (and often not seeing any results or eventually plateauing or even regaining despite staying low on calories) so then I stop. And then after awhile of not I feel like I have to start calorie counting again. I have to try to lose weight. It’s pretty much a moral imperative in our culture if you are fat to try to lose weight and to count calories to do it.

This is why 2 years ago, I made a new years resolution to not go back to counting calories that year.

Instead during the time I was not counting calories I just focused on trying to eat healthier. Trying to eat foods high in nutrients, and follow my own natural hunger cues, but not really obsessing about certain foods being off limits or if I ate a lot when eating out on occasion or at a party.

Well, now I’m back to counting calories sort of. Macros started me on it. Hearing so much about macro ratios and the benefits this can have for lifting. So I started tracking to pay attention to macros and to increase my protein which, since I don’t eat a lot of meat, has not been very high.  Of course tracking macros has by default lead to tracking calories too. Which isn’t my focus, but its still there.

And I hate feeling like I’m just counting calories. I hate seeing the calories.

For myself, I also know that seeing calories tends to trigger negative mentalities and habits. Like the mentality that I should be eating very, very little. Even when I know that is counter to my current goals (build muscle! Hard to do if you eat nothing.) everytime I start counting calories it makes me start thinking I should barely eat anything.

So now I find myself in this frustrating place where I am trying to track stuff to focus on the macro and protein side of things to help make sure I have the best fuel for building muscle, balanced with the difficulties triggered by tracking what I eat and counting calories.

Trigger Warning for talk about Eating Disorders

One of my biggest pet peeves in diet spaces (which I don’t go out of my way to be a part of, but there is sadly a lot of overlap with fitness spaces) is the use of the term “binge” to mean just breaking one’s diet… or “lifestyle change”.

No.

A binge is not sitting down with a bag of chips and then realizing you ate the whole thing (as I saw one person define it online), it’s not mindless eating, it’s not eating a whole pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream because it’s sooo good, it’s not eating food because you like it and it tastes good and it’s not even synonymous with emotional eating.

Binging is uncontrollably eating a massive amount of food in one sitting, typically done in private with efforts made to hide this activity and behavior from others, it often involves eating past being full and past the point of being painfully full, and is accompanied by feelings of guilt and shame regarding what you ate. And no, not that slight guilt because you ate more than you know you should when you are supposed to be dieting, but a strong feeling of guilt, shame, self-hatred, and lack of control. Binging typically involves using food to cover up and try to drown out negative emotions.

People who actually engage in binge eating may eat literally everything in their fridge in one sitting. Many who engage in binging do not restrict the binge to food that tastes good- tasting good is not the point of the binge. Even when people do binge on sweet foods- it’s not eating that whole package of oreos, it looks more like eating that whole package of oreos, two pints of icecream, a whole cheesecake, and several bags of candy all in one sitting until you are physically ill from how much you ate.

Binging is not eating too much at a restaurant with friends because you got caught up in enjoying your food and a social situation and forgot you were supposed to be dieting and not allowed that much food. Binging is driving alone all over town to different drive-thrus or carryouts, ordering a relatively normal amount of food from each place (to cover up and hide how much you are really eating from the people you interact with at the restaurants) and then eating all those meals in one sitting.

Binging eating is not mindless eating, it’s not just emotional eating, it’s not just eating “too much”, it is disordered eating. 

If you are are binge eating, you have an eating disorder, and you should seek help from a mental health professional because eating disorders are a mental health issue. I’m not saying this as a judgement, or to put someone down, because there is actually nothing to be ashamed of in having an eating disorder or any other mental health issueI say this because you deserve to understand that this is a disorder, and because you deserve real help recovering from it.

Binging may happen alone as a part of a binge eating disorder or it may be followed by purging activities or other compensatory behaviors such as starving oneself or excessive exercising  as a part of bulimia or an eating disorder “not otherwise specified” (specified in the DSM. NOS is used for people who display disordered eating but are not an exact fit for any of the specifically mentioned and named eating disorders in the DSM.)

If you are not binging in a disordered eating sense, then you are not actually biging and you need to stop using the terminology of eating disorders to characterize non disordered eating. When people using the terminology of disordered eating to describe non disordered eating it minimizes actual eating disorders, it encourages people to think these behaviors are not disordered behaviors, and it means people may not seek out the help they really need for an eating disorder. Using the term “binge” when talking about breaking a diet suggests that actual eating disorders that cause binge eating need to be fixed through self-control and diets instead of treated through mental health care, which again, leads to people not getting the help they really need.

This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately both just in my own life as I spend time in front of my mirror putting on makeup, as well as in discussions with other folks on the topic of gender, appearances, and makeup.

I’ve always liked makeup and wearing it, but I didn’t use to wear it as often and wasn’t really as into make up as I have been the last couple of years. I learned more about makeup application and started wearing it more, along with learning more about hair style techniques as my health got worse. A lot of it has to do with looking healthier. With make-up I can cover up dark circles under my eyes, petechial hemorrhages, and any other discolorations. I’ve learned ways to help cover up hair loss- side parts, dry shampoo, and hair mousse.

I like wearing makeup, I like playing around with it and with different looks. I find it fun the ways you can change your look with makeup.

A close up from the first time I did rainbow eyeshadow

A close up from the first time I did rainbow eyeshadow

Wearing makeup and dressing up and the like also is a constant reminder and evidence to me of how much gender is an act. When I put on make up and dresses and the like I feel like gender is something I put on, play with, make a conscious choice to display in a certain way.

Full look with rainbow eyeshadow and my fedora.

Full look with rainbow eyeshadow and my fedora.

I don’t mean this in a gender identify sense though. Because I still 100% identify as a woman regardless of how I present myself. But it becomes clear that gender is largely a construct. I’ve said before on here that I am femme/hard femme. I’ve never really been very butch. But I can play with my gender in different ways. I can be very feminine and girly and put on make up and dresses and heels. Or I can choose to dress in a more masculine way, forgo makeup, and even cut my hair short.

Fuck your gender norms

Fuck your gender norms

Most of the time I prefer something in between. I like to combine things that are traditionally more masculine with things traditionally more feminine. Makeup and my fedora, a dress with combat boots, shaving my head and paring it with makeup and a feminine look, a blazer with an otherwise girly outfit, et cetera.

Of course there are other times these pairing were less a choice than something the felt required of me. In college I shaved my head- full on buzz cut as you can see up there. It drew a lot of attention. Some positive, some silly- people were always wanting to feel my head (not that I can blame them, it felt very cool :-P), but also a fair bit of negative attention too. I got asked why I was trying to look like a boy. Of course I was never trying to look like a boy. This very awesome article talks more too about how women who dress more masculine/butch are not trying to look like men. Of course I’ve never even been very masculine/butch either. But I felt even more pressure to wear dresses and skirts after accusations that I was trying to look like a man by shaving my head, like I had to prove my gender, or try to show I was still feminine girly. Which is really stupid.

But it drives home a lot, to me at least, how much gender in our society is just an act. I’m still a woman regardless, but whether I’m feminine, masculine, femme, butch, conforming to or violating norms all comes down to these very temporary and malleable things like makeup, clothing, and hair.

But while there are all these sides of makeup and fashion that are very interesting to me and I enjoy thinking about, and playing around with, there is another side that often is missing in a lot of discussions of this. One a day to day basis, I’m not thinking about any of those things when I wear makeup. I’m thinking about looking healthy. I’m thinking about trying to look in a way that avoids people telling me I look sick or tired or asking what’s wrong. Some days I can go without makeup. Other days, I look in the mirror without any make up on, or my hair done in any way, and I realize just how sick I look. I mentioned briefly in my post on the hardest part of having chronic health problems that I’m basically always exhausted and always in pain. In varies in severity, but it’s pretty much a constant. And that sucks. But if I can avoid it, I would rather not look as awful as I feel all the time. So for me, makeup and hair and all these things are very significantly impacted by my health and disabilities.

So if you haven’t seen yet, former Detroit Tigers baseball player Prince Fielder posed nude for ESPN magazine’s body issue. 

I feel like I should preface this to say that I don’t follow baseball at all, so prior to seeing this I didn’t know who Prince Fielder was even though he previously played for the baseball team in my area (The Detroit Tigers).

But I just thought I should share this because I love it. More than the image itself I love his comments:

You don’t have to look like an Under Armour mannequin to be an athlete. A lot of people probably think I’m not athletic or don’t even try to work out or whatever, but I do. Just because you’re big doesn’t mean you can’t be an athlete. And just because you work out doesn’t mean you’re going to have a 12-pack. I work out to make sure I can do my job to the best of my ability. Other than that, I’m not going up there trying to be a fitness model. (source for quote)

Love it!

Just to recap:

Just because you’re big doesn’t mean you can’t be an athlete.

Apparently this has lead a lot of people to freak out, because it’s still so inconceivable to some people that fit people don’t only look like fitness models.

Honestly the accusations that he doesn’t look athletic boggle my mind. Even if one was going by appearance alone, he looks pretty fit to me. I mean, he’s got serious muscle on his legs clearly. But just because he has a little bit of a beer belly instead of a 6 pack means he’s not athletic? Seriously?

Of course, that is not how it works. Fitness ability is not based on how visible your abs are!

Again- not all fit people look like fitness models!

This post is going to have to two parts. I workout at home, and I’ve had some folks ask about my home gym so I’m going to start with a little virtual tour of my home gym in it’s current state. After that, I am going to talk about some of my thoughts on working out at home vs a gym.

My Home Gym

7.8 (2)

A tidy looking view of my home gym

My home gym area is not particularly large and nothing really fancy about it. I don’t have a ton of equipment, just the basics mostly.

This is a photo of what it looks like when I'm working out though- set up for squats here.

This is a photo of what it looks like when I’m working out though- set up for squats here.

The space is just big enough, which also means that I’m constantly moving around my barbell and bench for each exercise. I would love if I could get another barbell so I could leave one in the squat rack and one outside it, but for now I have what I really need, and it’s not too much of  a problem to move the bar in and out of the rack as needed, along with moving the bench as needed.

So I also want to talk briefly about cost. I love my home gym for a number of reasons I will get into later, it did require  a fair bit of cost total. Though in the long run I think cheaper than gym membership for me. In total I think my gym cost around  $1,136 to me. That’s an estimate because I’m guessing at how much some of the older items cost me. That was not paid all at once, I got parts of my gym at different times.

Average gym membership cost according to my googling is $55/month. So a year gym membership is cheaper, mine works out cheaper after the 2 year mark. I expect my equipment will last me that long, though by then I will probably have more. A fair bit of my stuff is over a year old already. I’ve spent $895 about in the last year- and that was for all the big stuff.

Within the past year I have bought puzzle mat pieces for the floor which ended up costing me around $100 for the space covered here.  I bought my bench new on sale for $75 (it’s incline and decline adjustable if you can’t tell from the photos). My power rack was $370 new (actually as cheap as many second hand options I found, I might have been able to get it cheaper but my ceiling in the basement is low and most racks were too tall. This one just barely fits.) And I got my barbell set for I think it was $350 second hand off craigslist.

My weight plates, weight rack, and ez curl bar.

My weight plates, weight rack, and ez curl bar.

This was good deal since my barbell set included a standard 7ft olympic barbell, an ez curl bar, 435lbs worth of plates for the olympic bars, and of course the rack for the weights (which also can hold the barbells) as seen here.

To me those are the basic- barbell, plates, power rack and bench. Before having these it was hard to really do much real strength training. I consider these the basic necessities you need if you want to do weight training. The power rack is important for safety working out alone. I’ve had to explain this a number of times to people I know who acted like I was being frivolous in my spending when money is tight by buying the rack. But without it, I couldn’t really go heavy. Working to increase my bench I’ve several times failed that weight- a power rack means I have bars next to me that catch the barbell if I fail a lift instead of it coming down and crushing me. And the weight on my bench isn’t that heavy, it probably wouldn’t kill me if 95lbs fell on my chest, but I’d rather just avoid that injury. And the higher I get my weights, the worse those injuries could be without the safety of the rack. (plus for things like squats, it means I can do heavy weights. I can’t clean what I’m squatting right now and definitely can’t press it overhead. I could clean to a front squat but before my rack to get the bar on my back I would clean and press then lower to my back. That works for bar only or light weights- it doesn’t work for heavy squatting.)

I also have a weight cheat sheet telling me which plates I need to have a total weight number on the bar (counting the bar weight)

I also have index card cheat sheets telling me which plates I need to have a total weight number on the bar (counting the bar weight)

Prior to these main pieces of equipment I’d had some dumbbells, standard size plates, resistance bands and an exercise ball.

Dumbbells and exercise ball.

Dumbbells and exercise ball.

Resistance bands and extra plates for adjustable dumbbells.

Resistance bands and extra plates for adjustable dumbbells.

These were bought peice by peice years ago when I didn’t have the space for a full gym area.

The latest addition to my gym: a fan!

The latest addition to my gym: a fan!

Treadmill residing in a different, uncleaned-up area of my basement.

Treadmill residing in a different, uncleaned-up area of my basement.

I also have  treadmill. This was not factored into my prices above since it came free to me (it was my mom’s before). I have not gotten this set up to use yet though (mainly would like it for winter, until then I just run outside).

If I ever get the money for it next up on my wishlist for gym equipment would be kettlebells, foam rollers, and medicine balls (probably in that order) (I do have an actual home gym wishlist too! lol).

Home Gym vs Commercial Gym

There are a few things that go into this sections on my thoughts between a Home Gym vs Commercial Gym. For me, personal preference has me preferring a home gym hands down.

With a home gym I don’t have to worry about gym hours (great since I workout late at night and so I would otherwise need a 24/hr gym. I also don’t have to worry about limited holiday hours). I have no commute time to get to my gym. I can wear whatever I want to workout- now that it’s summer and it’s overly hot inside my home gym, I usually stick to a sports bra with no shirt which I would not be comfortable in at a gym. I’ve also been known to forgo pants, because hey- it’s just me. Sports bra and boy-short style undies and I’m good to go! I doubt a gym would be ok with that! A big one for me is not worrying about people watching me or judging me. I never have to wait for equipment either. And the newest thing I like about my home gym is that I can yell during heavy lifts, which I’d probably be too self-conscious to do in a gym.

There are some things I think gyms have as benefits. They more equipment available- if I was a member of a gym I would likely have access to a larger range of dumbbells and cardio equipment. I might have access to Kettlebells, medicine balls, and with some gyms even things like a pool. And while my home gym offers flexibility, on plus of a gym I’d have to go to is that I could go after work and tell myself I’m not going home until after the gym rather than currently when I go home, decide I should eat first, sit around for a bit, and then it’s later than I planned on it being to start a workout.

That’s all kind of basics though. In ranked order, the issues of feeling comfortable are probably top in reasons I prefer my home gym. I don’t have to worry about people judging my workouts, I don’t have to worry about people mocking me or even posting photos of me behind my back, I don’t have to deal with men in the weight room being condescending or acting like I don’t belong. Anecdote time- when I was working out at my University’s fitness center in undergrad one time I was doing bench presses when it was crowded- I usually tried to avoid crowded times when I would have to deal with waiting for equipment. I managed to get a bench and a bar though and I start a set. Some guy asks if he can work in- yeah, no problem. Well he stands there while I’m doing my sets acting annoyed at having to work in and share with me, and then starts telling me how the gym has chest machines I could use instead. I don’t want to use the machines- I prefer free weights. You can use the machines! Getting unsolicited advice from men and annoyed looks that I was using equipment they wanted as if they had more right to it that me was common. And I hear the same thing from women all the time in gyms- many men act like women do not belong in the weight room and can be downright rude and offensive as a result.

This is where I feel some internal conflict though. Individually, being able to avoid this is a huge plus. There are times though I feel like I should workout at a gym just for this reason. Because more women in the weight rooms will help make other women feel comfortable in them, and by choosing to avoid the issue by working out at home that’s one less woman in the weight room. Also more women in weight rooms I think can help teach men that weight rooms actually don’t belong to them alone.

There is also the fact that in the age of smartphones, it’s becoming more common for folks to take photos or videos of people at the gym and then posting them online to mock them. So glad I’m not in those by working out at home. Sometimes though I feel a similar conflict there, about taking the easy way out, but less so because I don’t feel like I owe it to anyone to have my body mocked online. And as a fat person if a photo or video of me at a gym made it online to a place were people make fun of people like that, my body size would almost certainly be a target.