Archive for October, 2014

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long time.

Awhile back I heard someone say something about the importance of being consistent but not perfectly consistent.

I don’t know what exactly was meant by that according to the person who said it, but it really stuck with me and I wanted to talk about what it means to me.

I especially was thinking of this recently seeing someone online frustrated at being ill and unable to do much exercise for the time being- something I’m far too familiar with.

There are two parts of this that are works in progress for me.

The first part is accepting that I will never be as perfectly consistent at all times that I want to be. It’s clear that a reality of living with my chronic health conditions is that I’m always going to have times when I’m ill and can’t do everything I want, including working out. Sometimes I’m going to have to take a little time off from it. And that’s been hard for me to admit to myself. Because I always want to think I can do everything. But the other side of this is that I am also working on remembering that this doesn’t mean it’s not worth it.

So that’s the second part- always getting back on the horse. Not getting discouraged when things don’t go perfectly and I have to take some time off, but instead just getting right back to it as soon as possible.

So in a nutshell, that’s what consistency means to me these days. It doesn’t mean that I will always be perfect with my consistency. I don’t always hit all my planned workouts. Things go off plan. But consistency, to me, right now, means always getting back to it. Which I have not been good about in the past. In the past I let my health constantly knocking me back a step become a reason to not even bother. I was sick of working out, getting too sick to, getting back at it, and repeat. It didn’t feel worth it.

Now- now I remind myself that it’s still worth it. That I still make improvements even if more slowly. If I can take 2 steps forward and then I get pushed back one, I’m still further ahead for it.

So I am consistently getting back up on the horse and getting back on track.

And I hope other folks in similar situations can learn to not get discouraged by it as well. Because I think often we are given this message that consistency is important and it’s interpreted to mean that it only matter, it only counts, if you are always perfectly consistent. You always make your planned workouts on time, every single week. We think consistency means that things never get in the way. And then we take that and think if we can’t achieve that type of consistency, there is no point in bothering.

Which isn’t true. Even if things don’t always go as planned, there is still value in moving forward and getting back on track as many times as you need to.

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I hate when people lie to try to make a point. I’ve been seeing a lot of claims recently that fitness costs nothing- just go outside and run! And really, as much as I love fitness and think it’s worth the cost, and I think it’s also an investment in myself, my well being, and my health. Financially speaking that will have pay-offs, more importantly it has non-financial pay-offs.

But yes- it costs money! How much will vary, but it does cost money.

Just go outside and run? Really? I have never hear actual advice regarding getting started running that suggests one should just go out in whatever footwear is closest and run in that. Everything I’ve read says that running in improper footwear can cause injuries and should be avoided. I’ve read over and over that people should expect to spend around $100 or more on a good pair of running shoes. Which is also what I spent on my first pair of running shoes that I got at a running store where I trusted the advice given on what kind of shoe I should wear based on watching me walk. After that I decided to try out the whole “barefoot” running thing. Except not literally barefoot, I bought vibrams which cost over $100 as well, because actually going barefoot would pose a different set of dangers. Just heading outside my house to run barefoot outside means running across areas with broken glass among other danger to one’s feet. Not to mention even if one was going to take such a risk, that would only be possible a few months out of the year after that you risk hypothermia and frostbite.

My new vibrams shoes, which I got for under $50

My new vibrams shoes

I just had to buy a new pair of vibrams for running and thankfully they were cheaper than my old ones. Though they also seem to be a somewhat cheaper quality so I am not sure they will last me as long as the old ones.

And as a woman with boobs, for running, I consider a good sports bra non-optional. All the good sports bras I have also ran me >$50 a piece (which is why I own only 3 good sport bras). I’m a D cup, and those basic little sports bras you can pick up at meijer or wherever do not provide the support needed for running. I have those types of sports bras too, they work for some lifting*, yoga, and other low impact activities, but I can’t wear them for running.

*depends on the lift. I prefer something better if I’m doing Clean and Jerks or similar which will result in bounce.

Aside from that, the rest is not as essential. I suppose I don’t really NEED designated workout clothing, though honestly anyone who is going to claim that what you wear doesn’t matter, I have to wonder how much exercise they are really doing. Running in my jeans will not be comfortable, and lifting and yoga I’m definitely going to have restricted range of motion in them. I have a few pairs of lounging around pants which could work for lifting or yoga- I’d be stopping every couple seconds to pull them up from falling off my ass if I tried running them. So yeah, I have specific running pants that are made for wearing while working out that I wear for running and lifting.

Totally gratuitous picture of me in my workout clothes

Totally gratuitous picture of me in my workout clothes

Aside from that for the most part my workout clothes aren’t really that workout specific. I find some t-shirts more uncomfortable to workout than others. The one pictures above, aside from loving the saying on it, is actually really comfortable for working out in- it doesn’t shift around too much or bunch up. But I don’t bother with shirts made for working out usually- my workout shirts are just standard t-shirts or tank top, and hoodies, that are comfortable to wear when working out.

But pretending like clothes don’t matter? No- clothes do matter! Physically speaking some are more comfortable than others and that matters.

Beside that, psychologically they can matter and that’s just as valid as the physical aspects as well. I actually care what I look like when I’m working out even thought typically I workout in my own home, alone, in my basement. So why do I care? Because I have more fun and more motivation working out if I feel a bit badass about it. Though it also matters what I’m wearing if I’m going to take form check videos that I might post online, because sometimes I lift in underwear and a sports bra… but I’m not posting a form check video of me squatting in just a bra and underwear.

Of course before I move entirely away from the topic of clothing, I also wear gloves when lifting and I have a lifting belt, so there are some more fitness specific clothing items I own and use that cost money. Though certainly both are matters of personal preference and not entirely required.

Aside from clothing though, not all fitness is running and even running outdoor depending on your location can not always be an option. I prefer running outside but it’s hard to do during Michigan winters- I don’t mind bundling up with the cold, the difficulty though comes when sidewalks and streets are not shoveled or plowed and we have several feet of snow. You ever try running through that? I have. It doesn’t work very well. So come winter if I want to keep running, realistically I’m going to have to find a way to do that indoors. So that means pay for a gym membership or treadmill… luckily for me the first part is actually covered in my tuition, so I just need to pay or parking to go to the on campus fitness center.

But what if running isn’t your thing? Every person isn’t interesting in all areas of fitness.

I posted before about how much my home gym cost me and how it relates to average gym membership costs, so I won’t bother going over all that again. But for most people, if you want to work out, there is some cost involved in it. For most people that means gym memberships fees. Or you workout at home and pay for any costs associated with that. Unless you only body weight stuff that requires no equipment- though even pullups will require a bar, but it’s certainly rather limiting if you go that route.

I think the cost is worth it and certainly there are ways to cut costs. And I would hope that people wouldn’t be pushed away from getting active because they think they need all the fanciest equipment. Heck, even though most places say to expect to spend $100+ on running shoes, you can find some that are cheaper if you know what you are looking for and shop around. Don’t be discouraged and give up. But also, let’s be honest about it- zero cost options are pretty limited. I don’t see any benefit being served by pretending this isn’t the case.

I want to take a minute to talk about my grandpa.

Not the most recent picture of me and my grandpa obviously, but one of my favorites!

In March 2012 my grandpa passed away. There were a number of issues that contributed to this, including that his doctors may have ignored a CT scan in 2007 that showed the pulmonary fibrosis that lead to his death. But what I want to talk about here is how he ignored the symptoms of it until it was too late.

It reminds me a little bit of a story by Thorn on Shapely Prose about her mother’s death from DVT, where she had shortness of breath and was told by a doctor not to come back until she lost weight. Taking that to heart, when it got worse she didn’t go back because she hadn’t lost weight.

There are a lot of differences of course. My grandpa, that I am aware of, was never told not to come back until he lost weight. That I’m aware of his weight never explicitly was related to him not going to the doctor sooner. But it reminds me of it because there is still a similar issue of blaming oneself for medical symptoms and not seeking medical treatment because of that.

My grandfather years back, around 2005, was working on getting more active. There was a community rec center right down the street from his house and he would go down there to walk on the treadmill and he would also take his bike and ride around. Around that time though is when my grandmother’s health started deteriorating. She had Parkinson’s and either Parkinson’s related dementia or Alzheimer’s. As the dementia got worse she would get anxious and upset whenever my grandfather wasn’t home and he slowly stopped leaving to walk or go for bike rides. He took care of my grandmother over the years as her health got worse. The dementia got worse and physically over time she was able to walk less and less and was able to do less for herself. Besides her getting anxious when he wasn’t home, and later even on even if he was just in a different room, taking care of her was a lot of work. She would only sleep a few hours a night and so he was getting less sleep too. And while others were around helping take care of her, he was always doing a lot of it himself.

As happens a lot with caretakers he was so busy taking care of her, taking care of himself took a backseat.

So when he first noticed that he was getting out of breath more easily, he chalked it up to being out of shape and thought he just needed to start exercising more again. Meanwhile his breathing just got worse. Eventually it got so bad that he went into the ER.

There was some back and forth diagnoses over this time, eventually he had to be intubated, and he passed away. By then the doctors had settled on the cause of his breathing difficulties- he had pulmonary fibrosis, likely caused by a medication he was taking for his heart.

And I still wonder though how much more time he could have had if he had gone to a doctor and been properly diagnosed when he first noticed he was getting out of breath more easily.

And that’s why I’m writing this. Because I also think that it incredibly common for people to do- we blame ourselves for things and can end up missing important medical issues. Especially when it comes to something like getting out of breath more easily.

Not only in ourselves, but we are also quick to always throw the blame of things of that nature on the person experiencing them. I see this a lot in how people talk about people who are overweight and obese. Trouble breathing? Obviously you just need to lose weight! And you are obviously out of shape. If you just got out and walked more you wouldn’t have that troubled.

And yes, physical inactivity can lead to becoming out of breath more easily. Unfortunately this can also be an effect of serious health problems such as DVT or pulmonary fibrosis. And those aren’t going to be cured by losing weight or getting out and walking more.

So please, let’s stop suggesting people are always to blame for these issues, because of their weight or activity levels.

And even more importantly, I hope others never let that kind of self-blame for not being as active as you feel you should be, or not being the weight you feel you should be, keep you from seeing a doctor when you notice a change in your health, whether it be that you are short of breath more often or any other symptom. (I also hope that doctors in these cases check all possibly causes instead of sending people away telling them to lose weight or exercise more without making sure it’s not something else causing the problem.)

Booming Stats!

Posted: October 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

So wordpress gave me a little notification today that my stats are booming- I had way more views today than is normal. Looked at stats but not really anything very helpful from there on what the cause would be.

Cool. But one thing I hate about blogging is never knowing these things, lol. I want to know how and why people find my blog and I want to know why so many people suddenly viewed my blog today. the majority of views seem to be of my most recent post but nothing to explain why so many people are finding their way to that post of any other.

I really need to stop reading things some people say. I read a discussion online about weight discrimination in employment, and the usual comments about how weight discrimination in employment is justified came up.

So for purposes of this posts let’s go ahead and assume you can tell from looking at someone exactly what they eat and how much they workout (which isn’t true).

So the argument some people have made is that they would rather hire someone who looks “fit” than someone who is fat because you can tell that a “fit” person is organized (because they are organized enough to get to the gym and keep their nutrition in check), they are dedicated (because they are dedicated to working out and eating well), they will always be on time (because… I really don’t know?), are more social, so they will get along with people at the office (because… again I don’t see the connection)et cetera.

But what bugs me about this is the idea that dedication (organized, timely, whatever) can only mean one thing- dedication to your appearance.

Really? Because unless your job is built around working out or physical appearance, what does that dedication mean?

Even if we assume that a fat person by virtue of being fat cannot be dedicated and organized in regards to working out and what they eat, that doesn’t mean they aren’t dedicated to anything- like idk, maybe their job!

I mean, let’s assume all of these assumptions are true- by that logic employers should discriminate against people who look fit. After all, that much dedication to never missing a workout and always making them means they will probably be less willing to come in early and stay late (encroaching on gym time), work extra hours, work from home (too busy at the gym instead), and since they spend so much time at the gym they probably don’t have as much experience socializing outside a gym environment. Unlike that fat job candidate who is obviously willing to put other things, like their work, over working on how their body looks, and is probably a lot better at socializing over food at office parties and events.

Obviously those arguments are bullshit, but they are logically consistent with the assumptions being made about people based on appearance.

Dedication comes in many forms. I’ve mentioned before the issue of priorities. Not everyone’s priorities are the same. And that’s ok. According to the logic of this person if I take time away from work, research, and/or writing to work out that shows dedication. Well it shows dedication to my workout. It doesn’t show dedication to my work or research though. But if I skip a workout (which frankly, I often do) because I prioritize that time on getting work, research, and writing done, according to this person I’m not showing dedication to my career, because the only dedication that matters is dedication to working out and maintaining low body fat.

Though I’m a bit backward in organization, I’ve had several people comment that my home gym is the most organized part of my house. Meanwhile my home office is covered in boxes. Organized in one area does not always translate into organization in all areas.

Frankly, I think employers should consider me skipping workouts to work on things that will advance my career a good quality rather than prioritizing a dedication to maintaining low body fat, which has nothing to do with my career, at the expense of other things.

There are only so many hours in a day. All people cannot do all things. it would be great if i could fit in everything I need to all the time without having to sacrifice somewhere, but that’s not possible. So sometimes that means workouts get skipped because I have other things on my plate that take priority. That is not a lack of dedication or organization, it’s just a matter of prioritization.

So I just came across this article titled: Weight Discrimination Is Surprisingly Rare, Study Finds. My typical reaction to news articles about studies though is “is that really what the study found?” because news articles are terrible at reporting such things.

In this case, going based solely on the information provided in this article- no, that really isn’t what the study found.

The biggest problem is that this study was based on self reports of discrimination.

The participants — nearly 3,000 men and women 50 and older — were asked how often they encounter five discriminatory situations: “In your day-to-day life, how often have any of the following things happened to you: (1) you are treated with less respect or courtesy; (2) you receive poorer service than other people in restaurants and stores; (3) people act as if they think you are not clever; (4) you are threatened or harassed; and (5) you receive poorer service or treatment than other people from doctors or hospitals. Responses ranged from ‘never’ to ‘almost every day’.”

But there are a lot of problems with this. How do you know if you are being treated more poorly than other people?  Sometimes you might know because a person treats you obviously rudely and you can see that they treat others differently.

But what if you can’t see how they treat others? If a doctor treats you rudely, are you going to assume you’re being treated more rudely than other patients or assume the doctor is just generally rude? Anecdotally, it’s my experience people are more likely to just assume the doctor is generally rude.

And that assumes behavior that is clearly rude and can be easily identified as such.

Look at studies of attitudes and behaviors of physicians and you can see that many do report bias against fat patients and treat them differently. “More than 50% of physicians viewed obese patients as awkward, unattractive, ugly, and noncompliant.” Along with having more negative views of overweight and obese patients, doctors have also been shown to have less emotional rapport with overweight and obese patients. When medical students were asked to provide recommendations for virtual patients, identical except for weight/BMI, “[s]tudents revealed more negative stereotyping, less anticipated patient adherence, worse perceived health, more responsibility attributed for potentially weight-related presenting complaints and less visual contact directed toward the obese version of a virtual patient than the non-obese version of the patient.” Weight has also shown to relate to what activities doctors spend time during visits on, with doctors spending less time educating obese patients about their health. And this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of research showing weight bias among health care providers.

But if you are a patient how will you know if your doctor is spending less time educating you on your health condition than their thin patients? How do you know your doctor has more emotional rapport with thin patients? If your doctor never explicitly states anything negative about you or your weight but in subtle ways treats you differently due to negative bias how would you know you are being treated that way because of weight? In fact- often they don’t even realize they are treating patients different or even that they posses these biases. We all typically have biases we are not consciously aware of, yet they still impact our actions.

So expecting to capture this all in self-reports is misleading.

If you go by self-report we would miss a lot of discrimination, not jut of weight, but lots of issues.

It reminds me of something that happened in high school that I will never forget. Me and a few friends were heading out to hang out in Canada, and crossing the border. After we got through the checkpoint area I commented on it being so ridiculous the way the officers at the border acted suspicious of us and our relationship to each other (friends). I’m white, one of my friends is Indian and another is black and Puerto Rican. They told me I was crazy, that’s just standard “dong their job” for people who work at the border. And it dawned on me the difference in our perception- it was ridiculous to me because I knew from experience that if I was in a car with only other white people, they would not have acted that way. My friends had never been with an all white group crossing the border, because their presence would have automatically made the group no longer all white. If the only experience we have is with our own identify present, we can’t always know how our identity influences it. That’s why studies that actually document the differences are helpful.

Look at any area of discrimination and you will find that. We don’t always know it’s happening or why it is. If I get passed over for a job I have no idea if it’s because there was someone more qualified than me, or I’m being discriminated against due to my gender, or I’m being discriminated against due to my sexual orientation (which an employer can learn from googling me, or can assume by seeing that I’ve work with lgbtq organizations on my resume), or I’m being discriminated against because of my weight, or any other reason actually! I just know I never got called back for the job.

You cannot expect to capture the true frequency of discrimination based on self-reports.

Even the study’s authors offer another potential issue with the self-report data:

Jackson added that “research suggests that many overweight people don’t perceive themselves to be overweight, perhaps due to normalization of carrying excess weight. If people do not perceive themselves to be overweight one might expect them to be less likely to attribute experiences of discrimination to their weight.”

As well, they did not only study overweight and obese patients so the results are also including individuals who are “normal weight”.

I also see no indication that they analyzed the data by gender, which is significant since women are more likely to experience discrimination due to weight than men.