Archive for August, 2015

I at least thought about writing this awhile ago and couldn’t remember if I actually did or not, but I tried looking and didn’t see any post about this, so I’m assuming it was one of those things I thought “I should write a blog post about that” and never did.

I’m fat. It would make perfect sense in dating for me to want to date people who have a preference for people with my body type. Yet whenever I come across someone who self-identifies as a “chubby chaser”, or says they want a big girl, a bbw, or whatever else, I tend to avoid pursuing anything with that person. I actually have the same reaction to women who say they are only looking for femmes/lipstick lesbians/girly girls/”a real girl/woman” despite the fact that I am also femme, and the reasons are actually very similar.

Finding Someone Sexually Attractive Does Not Equal Respect

Ok, this probably isn’t really a “reason” so much as a side problem- but it is bizarre to me how many people have a preference for something in a sexual/romantic partner without having respect for people with that characteristic.

I’m starting with this because this post was largely inspired by a woman I met from Tinder not long ago. The fat issue was actually one of the least offensive things during the date, yet it still was offensive.

I met this woman from tinder and almost immediately she starts complaining about how fat her ex was, and how she was so fat because she ate all the time, and she complained about getting fatter, and so she just needed to stop shoving food in her mouth then, and on and on about how fat her ex was as a negative thing. Which was really awkward for me as I’m sitting there quite obviously fat, yet wanting to avoid any confrontation over this because that’s the last thing I want when meeting someone from a dating app. When I meet someone from a dating app/website and things do not go well, I just want to be able to be polite until it’s over and then never talk to you again.

This would have been bad enough, but was actually worse to me given that right toward the end of our meeting she starts telling me how attractive she finds big girls, like me, and has always dated big girls except once she dated a thin girl but did not enjoy it or find her attractive.

… You prefer big girls like me, yet still use fat as an insult after breaking up with your ex? It’s a good thing up until things go bad and then you will have no problem using it as an insult?

This seems to be a not uncommon problem. I suspect coming in part from treating fat women as a fetish, and objectifying us with that, and not seeing us as real, full people because of that.

I said a lot of this applies to me aversion to women who say they only want a femme and the same does apply with that too. Just as some butch women may prefer dating a femme, they still can internalize negative ideas about traditional feminine characteristics.

I’d rather date someone who sees me and respects me as a person first and foremost rather than a sexual object.

They Tend to be Attracted to a Specific Stereotype

I obviously cannot speak for all “chubby chasers” or women who say they only date femmes, I can only speak to my experience with people who identify this way that has caused me to have a negative reaction to people identifying as such.

Also, in both cases my reaction is not to the preference, but the sort of person who states front and center- and there does seem to be a difference (in my experience) between people who just have a preference and are more likely to pursue dating/sexual relationships with people with those characteristics, and those who go out of there way to announce such, typically on a dating profile.

In my experience people who have that strong of a “bbws only!!!!!” or “femmes only!!!!” preference tend to have a very specific stereotype of what that means, and I don’t often fit it, and I don’t want to.

For example, from the times I have dated someone who preferred “big girls” they would often discourage me from working out, because part of the appeal of a “big girl” was being soft, not having hard muscle under the fat. There is nothing wrong with having that preference, but I don’t fit it, and more importantly I don’t want to and I don’t want to be with someone who tries to push me into fitting the stereotype they have of a big girl that they are attracted to.

The same goes for femmes. While I’m certainly more femme than androgynous or butch, I will not always fit the “girly girl” stereotype, I don’t want to always fit that stereotype and I am so incredibly not interested in a queer relationship with strict gender roles around the butch vs the femme in the relationship.

It seems I always run into these strict stereotypes with people who identify as “chubby chasers” or make a big deal about only wanting to date femmes, which is the main reason I tend to avoid wanting to get involved with people who identify that way.

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Finally wearing one of my Fat Girls’ Guide to Running shirts for a run. Also Blake thinks stretching time is play time. And he tried attacking my yoga mat and some paper towels in addition to me while I was stretching!

So this was a Week 5, Workout 2 Run with the Zombies 5K app. Having been over a week since my Week 5, Workout 1 Run. I was pretty much totally inactive this past week 😦

A factor of fatigue, moreso depression, and a little side of other things to focus on- the last one being a good thing! I got a call Tuesday for a job interview Thursday, which meant running out Wednesday night with my mom who bought me some new interview clothes. Cross your fingers for me (pray, send good vibes, whatever) that something works out job wise soon! I need the income!

So despite the fact that it’s been a week since I did any running, I only got a few hours of sleep today and was exhausted, ate dinner at a birthday party for my uncle where my “dinner” was potato chips and a tiny bit of fruit* so not the most nutritious meal, and my even before I started out for a run my feet were very sore- actually my Plantar fasciitis has been particularly bad pretty much all week, despite all this I had pretty high aspirations for this run.

Side note about my dinner: *somehow I don’t like pretty much any of the main foods my family has for these types of things. You would think growing up with these foods I would, but no. Almost every family get together my whole life has involved things like potato salad, macaroni salad, and some weird jello dishes- though none of that last today- and I have never liked any of them.

I feel like a lot of the time I am limited more by my mind and thinking than I am by my physical abilities. For running and lifting, I know often the biggest hurdle for a lifting PR is getting over the “omg, that is so heavy, I can’t do that!” thoughts. So I had it in my head that sticking to the run, walk intervals is probably holding me back to less than I am capable of so why not just go out with a plan to run the whole time (minus warm up and cool down), and see how long I can do it if I’m not thinking ahead to “when is my next walking interval?”

But I decided to still play the Week 5 Run 2 program and I would try to just keep running through instead of slowing down after the 5 minute warm up walk.

Yeah, so that definitely didn’t happen! I started my 5 minute run and was just feeling miserable. Barely moving and stopped a few times because I kept getting tangled in my headphone cords, and then my ankles are itching a ton for some reason. I barely make it through the 5 minute run so I give up on my idea that I’m running the whole time. Do my intervals, which started at with the first few running minutes so slowly dragging myself, but I felt like I could move better by the latter ones. This seems to be a trend for me recently, is instead of getting progressively worse as I get more tired and sore as I would expect I actually get a big better as I adjust back into it I guess.

Oh, I almost forgot about the rats! So according to my one neighbor and the local facebook group I’m in, we have a huge rat problem here. Prior to tonight though I had seen one dead rat a few houses down on a previous run once and that’s it. And I wonder how much people exaggerate the problem, especially after facebook posts with dead animals that are likely gophers or other larger rodents who are posted as evidence of how bad the rats are because look how huge they get!

But today I saw another dead rat on the sidewalk, right about the same place as I had previously. Poor rat 😦

Then later one during my walk/run intervals I saw what looked like two rats running between trash bins.

Anyways, back to the running. Was really not feeling good about how the run was going through when it came time for the first 10 minute run. One thing I decided to do this time was not look at the time on my phone and try to pay as little attention to the time as possible. Though in this case I found the zombies storyline demotivating. I’m trying to get into it and Dr. Myers mentions how I should be able to see my destination ahead up that hill. Trying to visualize that I was just like “fuck that, I can’t make it!” then I decided to stop thinking about the zombies run story and realized that I think the main issue is I don’t run on a very hilly route, so when I’m not feeling good about my running as is, imagining that I’m actually heading up hill for the 10 minutes was not helping.

Instead though, last run I paid more attention to landmarks and were I ended up at each point. So I focused on the approximate distance, since it was the same route, rather than thinking about the storyline or the time goals.

And it was a lot easier focusing on distance! Because time creeps by so slow when I’m running, 1 minute feels like an hour! But distance feels more concrete. I don’t feel like I’ve gone several blocks when I am only halfway down one. So focusing on the restaurant I was probably going to hit the 10 minutes at instead made it a bit easier.

Then was stretching and back to running. I actually felt like I got into a groove with it in the last 10 minute run. Like I was incredibly slow, but I just felt like I was in a groove and not having to think about and force each step. Again, distance felt more concrete to me than time. When Dr. Myers interrupts to say I’m 5 minutes I started thinking “are you friggin kidding me!? How could that have only been 5 minutes!?” Even though I was blocks from where I was expecting to end the 10 minutes and knowing that hadn’t been thinking prior to the time update that I was closer than a few blocks from finishing the 10 minutes. Though I got distracted and stopped a few times toward the end of the second run because I saw what I think were bats in the sky and I stopped to see if I could tell if they were bats or not. I mean- it was night and dark out, birds don’t fly at night right? But then, they way they were flying looked more like birds to me. Though I’m no expert and I can’t recall every having clearly seen bats fly in person before, so what the heck do I know!

They were flying around one of the big billboards here with lights so I could see them- I’ve read bats will tend to be around bright lights because the light attracts bugs, bats eat bugs. Whatever they were the undersides of their wings looked almost reflective from my angle, was cool.

I like bats personally, they are cute and they eat bugs, and I hate bugs. The more bats the better imo.

So then walked back home. My feet hurt so bad by the time I got in the house!

Stretched, made some fries, and then drew this picture for this post:

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Inspired by the rats I saw and the possible bats here is a rat who is supposed to be jogging, with bats flying in the background. I’m not good at cartoony drawings, nor am I great with rat physiology. Still I like it and think it’s cute! 🙂

She can be my own personally running mascot! And with those hairy legs she should be right at home for a feminist blog, right?

Now I’m going to celebrate by watching the premiere of Fear the Walking Dead! Which I only ever started liking zombie stuff because of the zombies, Run! app. I always found zombies boring and gross before. Still not a huge zombie fan, but Zombies, Run! definitely makes it more interesting than other zombie stories imo.

Comic shows a man and woman getting married. In the first panel the priest asks “Do you promise to love him in sickness and in health?” The bride answers “Yes.” Second panel the priest asks “Do you promise to love him ’till death do you part?” The bride answers “Yes.” Third panel the priest asks “Do you promise to order your OWN fries if you want them, instead of saying you DON’T want fries, then requesting a ‘taste’ of his, and helping yourself to roughly half of them?” Fourth Panel the bride says, “Wha… who wrote these vows?!” The Groom says, “Just answer the question”.

I saw this the other day, shared on a website, and honestly didn’t think too much into it at the time. Yet it’s been stuck in my head a bit since then, bugging me a bit more over time.

The thing that bugs me about this comic strip is that it plays on a pretty common trope- women want something like fries but don’t order them instead eating a large portion of their (typically male) partner’s serving of that food.

If you want fries, just order your own fries, right?

Why is it apparently so common for women to not just order their own fries?

I feel pretty sure the issue is mostly related to pressure women feel to not be seen ordering too much food or the “wrong” kinds of food. That is the part that bugs me. Makes me mad actually. That we worry, that there is any cause to worry, about being judged if we did just order what we want.

Which to be clear- I order what I want when I eat out. Still, I can certainly relate to worrying about being judged for ordering what I want. Especially because of my size, but also certainly because I’m a woman. Because femininity is associated with daintiness and being small- and so we should be eating small, dainty portions right? Or better yet just not eating those foods at all because food is for some reason very gendered in our society! Burgers and fries? Those are guy foods. Women should order a salad. There is also this social image of women as dieters, where in it almost feels like an expectation that women be dieting, and trying to eat better (and less). Even if we don’t, how normal is it to preface such things with comments about how bad we are being for eating this or ordering that? It’s not the slightest big out of place to hear “I really should get the salad but that burger just looks so good!” To the point that it starts to feel like a social obligation to make it clear we know we aren’t supposed to be eating the burger and fries.

I certainly fall into this. Especially because I do tend to eat a lot in one sitting, particularly since I practice intermittent fasting. When I eat out at a restaurant, that’s often the only meal I eat that day, so yeah, it’s going to be big. It’s just common sense it will be bigger than someone for whom that is one of 3 (or more) meals they eat that day. Because of that I do find myself thinking “I really want to order this, but what are the people I’m with/the server going to think of me ordering that much?” I think more often than not these days I end up at “well fuck what they think, I’m ordering the food I want”, but it’s also pretty clear that this is something a lot of women, myself included, struggle with thinking. I also find myself making comments about it sometimes, like I need to acknowledge to someone that I know it’s a lot of food, or even apologize for that. I remember for instance going to a Coney Island restaurant with a friend who was visiting from out of state, who had never been to a Coney before. Looking at the menu, I really wanted a chili dog. I also really wanted a greek salad. And also chili cheese fries. So what did I order? All of the above. (Also ate all of the above plus half of a big dessert dish split with my friend after. And it was good.) I also remember making some comment to my friend essentially apologizing and saying that I was about to order a whole lot of food for myself.  Which is of course completely ridiculous. I don’t need to apologize to my friend because I’m eating a  lot of food. If I want to eat it, I don’t need to justify it, or apologize for it to someone else.

I suspect though that this is the underlying reason why it is, according to popular culture at least, so common for women to say they don’t want something like fries, and then eat part of their partners. This eliminates some judgement about what the woman orders for herself- not just from her partner, but the (often imagined) judgement from other random people, as well as from herself. “I’m bad for eating this” isn’t just something people say far too often, but also something far too common for women to feel. Yes, we want the fries, but we have years of programming telling us we are bad if we give in and order them or eat them. So you don’t order them, you just eat a few of your partner’s, which maybe ends up being more than a few because damn it you did actually really want the fries.

So, I absolutely agree that if you want fries, go ahead and order fries for yourself! But also, while we laugh about this phenomena of women who won’t order their own fries, why don’t we also consider what we are doing as a culture to make women feel bad for ordering fries?

(Also, I have some frozen fries in my freezer that I am definitely thinking of digging out and cooking later tonight thanks to this post! lol.)

vibrams2Been awhile since I’ve been running, but back at it today.

Since my last time running I’ve been doing some reading about Pose Running as well as more about Chi Running. I did a Tai Chi group fitness thing at the fitness center in undergrad way back when in undergrad and looking into Chi Running more I’ve been thinking it might help to start doing more Tai Chi again. I’ve been doing a little bit of what I could remember recently, though I don’t remember too much of the little bit I learned.

Maybe helped a little bit because as I started out on my warm up walk, after 10 minutes of Yoga, and felt more than before the feeling of being pulled forward some. So that was good. Then after the 5 minute warm up walk, I moved into 5 minutes of running. But I had trouble controlling my speed with the pulling forward feeling, and couldn’t maintain the speed it had me at, so I ended up not being able to keep that feeling either.

I also still suck at telling how long I’ve been running. 2 minutes into the run Dr. Myers says “good job…” and I’m like ‘cool, 5 minutes done…’ until she continues with saying I have done 2 out of the 5 minutes. Not until after that that I realized how stupid I am- I’ve been running the same route recently and the 5 minute warm up walk then 5 minutes running takes me past the cemetery  and I still had a ways to go before I was past it so due, it hadn’t been that long.

Super slow jogging from the start.

After that was 30 seconds walking, 1 minute running, and 6 heel lifts repeated 8 times. First interval set where the walking didn’t feel long enough for me to really feel fully ‘recovered’ from the running. My last 3 sets of running intervals were the most pathetic “jogging” attempts.

Then it was a 10 minute free form run. Though the first 15-30 seconds of the run was spent just standing/dancing because it started when I was waiting for traffic to clear to cross the street. Other than that I managed to run the 10 minutes, albeit very, very slowly. I was about 8 minutes in when my calves and side were cramping up and my feet hurting, but I kept going. Also came close to injuring myself when I didn’t notice a whole on the ground and rolled my ankle- somehow managed to not injure it though.

Bad timing for when it stopped though, because I ended right in front of Tim Horton’s/Cold Stone, which smelled so good. Walked a little bit away before I started stretching. Still really want some Cold Stone, mmm.

After that was another 10 minute free form run, which was even slower, but still managed it barely. The hardest part through the last 10 minutes was trying to ignore the blisters forming on my feet :-\ I definitely need to get new vibrams. I also definitely am currently too broke for new vibrams though. So, for now, I’ll just need to deal with the blisters from them.

Cool down walk and stretching when I got home.

Actually in the end it was a relatively uneventful run.

TFTR-Official-Blogger-Badge-1I am very excited to announce that I am partnering with Julie from http://toofattorun.co.uk/

Starting September I will be a part of the virtual running group/clubhouse she offers through her site, and will be posting running blog posts here about the experience.

There are 7 other bloggers besides me who will be a part of this, and you can check out who they are and their blogs at Julie’s announcement post.

And if you found me through that post- Hi! Glad you stopped by 🙂

Julie already gave a little overview about me and my blog, but for a bit more information about me: I consider myself primarily a lifter, but I’ve also been running as well. I was running last summer, then stopped over the winter, and have been using the Zombies 5K app now to slowly get back into running.

I know I haven’t had any running blog posts in awhile- because I haven’t been running in awhile. (Hopefully that changes tonight). I will still be posting my zombies 5K running blog posts this month though, and starting September will be blogging about running with the clubhouse 🙂

A lot of people have been talking about Ronda Rousey recently, especially her response to people saying she looks too masculine. Her statement was:

I have this one term for the kind of woman my mother raised me to not be, and I call it a do nothing bitch. A DNB. The kind of chick that just tries to be pretty and be taken care of by someone else. That’s why I think it’s hilarious if my body looks masculine or something like that. Listen, just because my body was developed for a purpose other than fucking millionaires doesn’t mean it’s masculine. I think it’s femininely badass as fuck because there’s not a single muscle on my body that isn’t for a purpose, because I’m not a do nothing bitch. It’s not very eloquently said but it’s to the point and maybe that’s just what I am. I’m not that eloquent but I’m to the point.

The Not-So-Feminist Message of “Do Nothing Bitches”

Now, I’m not interested in saying what has already been said, so this post is mostly just pointing folks toward what others have said already. First a guest post to Fit is a Feminist Issue: Ronda Rousey is Not Your Feminist Hero (and that’s ok) really addresses a lot of the things I thought about Rousey’s statement when I first heard it. Mainly that on one hand I think “go her!” for defending her body from people trying to tear her down. Yet also, really bothered that she does so by attacking other women, who are just “do nothing bitches”. Even more troubled too by the way this was cast as the ultimate feminist comment- calling other women “do nothing bitches”.

As Audrey says:

Yes, she is femininely baddass as fuck, and yes, she should be proud as hell of every single muscle on her body. But also, fuck throwing other women under the bus. Fuck the category of “do nothing bitch,” because it doesn’t help any of us to put other women down.

Of course, knowing the very ignorant things that Rousey has said about Fallon Fox also had me feeling a bit uncomfortable with the idea that she is a feminist idol.

And while Rousey’s been silent about her lately, one woman who’s suffered a lot of discrimination in her MMA career is Ashley Fallon Fox, who came out publicly as a trans woman in an interview with Outsports. She was almost immediately subjected to a transphobic rant from UFC heavyweight Matt Mitrione, who later apologized.Mostly. (Though I thought Fallon Fox’s public acceptance of his apology was quite the display of understanding and class.) So I’m not really as concerned about Rousey putting down some unspecified DNBs as I am about her public statements about Fallon Fox, stating that she would have an unfair advantage and that having a trans woman as a UFC champion would be a socially difficult situation.

The whole issue of unfair advantage is one that many people seem happy to weigh in on, regardless of whether they have any actual medical expertise in the area. But if you’re looking for a place to start, there are some nice summaries of some of the empirical evidence that’s out there having to do with testosterone levels, bone density, muscle mass, etc.

If you don’t feel like clicking the link for the full description of how medically inaccurate it is to say that Fallon Fox has an advantage because she is trans- to sum it up, the actual experts on this agree that after a year of estrogen or testosterone suppressing therapy, trans women would not have any benefit. In fact, trans women who have had their testicles removed will typically have lower testosterone levels, and thus a disadvantage in building muscle, than cis women with ovaries which produce testosterone.

But as Audrey says on Fit is a Feminist Issue:

The point here is that none of us should be putting Rousey on a feminist pedestal. But why should we need to? Thankfully, we are not short on badass women heroes as a society, nor are we short on feminist writing. There’s no need to try and read Rousey as delivering a perfect feminist message, and there seems to be no conflict between celebrating the positive things she brings while being critical of the ways in which her messages still fall short.

So I think Rousey is pretty badass and awesome at what she does, and I’m happy to see her fighting back (verbally) against those who feel the need to insult her body, but I’m not thrilled with the way she did so by throwing other women under the bus, and we shouldn’t overlook the way she has advocated against trans women’s inclusion in her sport, despite what the medical evidence shows.

Strong is not the New Skinny

I wanted to start with pointing to that blog entry first, to start with how it is not a feminist or empowering message to tear down other women for being do nothing bitches. Also found through Fit is a Feminist Issue, though a share on their facebook page, is this article about Ronda Rousey and the “Strong is the New Skinny” saying. I’ve written a bit before about my thoughts on the inaccuracies of the saying “Strong is the New Skinny”– in short, this message does not ever seem to include women who are strong but not also thin with low body fat.

Now I feel very similar about the Arkitect Fitness article linked above as I do about Ronda Rousey and her comments. Lots of awesome, and also lots of not. In fact, the biggest problem with the article is that it does a lot of tearing down other women, apparently in an effort to empower other women. I started with something calling out the “do nothing bitches” because one thing I dislike about the Arkitect Fitness article is the way the author apparently agrees with how awful do nothing bitches are, but then accuses many women who say they aren’t “do nothing bitches” of actually being “do nothing bitches”. Specifically, he seems to have a huge problem with photos of women with fitness hashtags who aren’t actually doing anything in the photo. First off- I think if your only goal for a photo is looking attractive, that’s fine! I’m hardly one to judge, because I’ve taken and shared photos for no other reason that I think I look good.

I also am hardly in a place to judge fitness photos that don’t have any fitness activities in them- I post these a lot! I try to get photos sometimes of me actually doing things- but it’s a hassle. I don’t have a photographer with me when I workout snapping photos for me. Instead I have to try to set up my phone on a tripod, and set a timer to hopefully catch a photo of me during a lift, which will probably turn out terrible anyways because the lighting is shit in my home gym, and the places were I can put my little tripod that can wrap around stuff is pretty limited so it’s not going to be a great angle or distance. And I usually play music on my phone, but can’t take photos or videos while playing the music, so for that set I have to give up having any music playing.

So instead, my fitness photos are usually me standing in front of my mirror in running clothes before I go for a run, or random selfies between sets or after a workout. When I have time to mess around with my phone and taking photos because I’m not doing something else. And sometimes after a good workout I just want to take a selfie of me being all sweaty but feeling good from the workout, and express that sentiment with it on instagram. And personally, I see no harm in that.

That said, I really like a lot of the things the author says there:

When you’ve been in this industry as long as I have, you can tell the difference between purpose built bodies, and bodies shaped for an aesthetic ideal. Sometimes the difference are minor but what lies underneath the surface is massively different. I’ve seen people with sub 10% body fat struggle to do a handful of pull-ups. I’ve seen “fitness pros” who can’t even put their hands over their head because they’re so immobile. It’s been said that “Strong is the new skinny,” but that’s simply not true. What’s true is that there’s been a shift from thin women being the sexual ideal, to more muscular women being the new sexual ideal, and being muscular and being strong are not the same thing, not even close.

Let me be clear, there is nothing wrong with wanting to feel sexy. Everyone wants to be wanted. The problem is when people sacrifice their physical capability or even well being for the sake of fitting some visual standard. Many times that standard isn’t their own, but one shaped by culture. Take the irony of women’s bodybuilding where you have to be extremely lean to be successful, but since the absurdly low levels of body fat decrease chest size (breasts are mostly fat, afterall), many women get breast implants, because being “feminine” is one of the judging citeria.

(emphasis mine)

I can relate so much to the part about feeling compelled to fit a visual standard that isn’t even my own. It’s something I have to actively fight against a lot of the time. Whether it be looking feminine enough, thin enough, et cetera- I do feel a pressure that I am supposed to look a certain way that very often does not match up with what I want or what I like. And it’s still hard sometimes to let go of the social message about how I am supposed to look and just focus on what my goals are, or what I like about my body.

I am a bit disappointed though that in this article to demonstrate how different athletes have different bodies comparing two weight lifters, he used a super heavy weight male weightlifter with a 48kg weight class female lifter, rather than highlighting any super heavy weight female weightlifters. I mean, when we are talking about the negative effects of equating leanness with strength or health, which is far more prevalent for women, sparked by a woman talking about her body looking how it does because she trains for a purpose not appearance, why not use a woman as an example of someone who can be very strong without a low body fast percentage? They exist!

How about Zhou Lulu, gold medalist in the super heavy weight class at the London olympics:

Or Jang Mi-Ran who took the gold for women’s super heavy weight at Beijing

Or what about Sarah Robles, described as the strongest woman in America, yet while preparing for the 2012 Olympics she was living in poverty, due in part to the lack of sponsorship for women whose bodies are outside the conventional beauty ideal (thin, low body fat).

But back to the Arkitect article:

Strong is not the new skinny, strong is and always was, just that, strong. Your value is not determined by your body fat percentage. It’s not determined by your body weight. It’s not determined by how much you can lift either. Your value isn’t based on how far you can run, or how high you can jump. Your value as a person is defined by your compassion, and your work ethic. It’s measured by your kindness and your intelligence. It’s weighed by creativity and your ethics. 

Now that having muscle is cool, it’s even worse. Now you can’t be thin, you’re supposed to be muscular…but not TOO muscular, you know, you don’t want to look like a man. As someone who’s primary job is making people healthier, I can tell you that this sh*t ain’t healthy. How is it healthy when someone doesn’t want to train their legs because they’ll grow and be “too big”? How is it healthy when people skip meals because they are trying to cut their calories so they can see their abs? How is it healthy to idolize someone that trains full time, has unlimited access to supplements via endorsements, likely takes drugs, dieted down for a shoot, was shot by a professional photographer, was touched up by a professional editor, and then shoved in your face as if you’re supposed to look like that, and look like that all the time. THAT.IS.NOT.HEALTH.

(emphasis mine above)

Random training post because I feel the need to vent a bit about this.

I ended up taking a full week… actually more- 8 days, off from all workouts. Not planned. Seem to have picked up some virus. Nothing serious, but that’s the thing about chronic illness, catching a little virus that should normally be no big deal will completely knock me on my ass.

So the past week has been a “just getting out of bed takes all my energy” week.

As much as I try not to let it, I do get frustrated when this happens.

Starting to feel better, but not back to my normal even yet.

Still, well enough to workout today. Squats were the next up on my schedule, which was not a good fit for how I was feeling.

I’ve been doing body weights squats in my warmup before I do any with any weight at all. I do some jumping jacks to get blood flowing, then some body weight squats, more jumping jacks, then some body weight lunges, more jumping jacks, then some stretching and foam rolling before I get over to do my warm up sets with the bar.

Before I even started my first warm up set with the bar I could feel my legs shaking a bit- not a good sign. It should take far more body weight squats and lunges than that before my muscles start feeling any fatigue. But I pushed on with the workout at planned. Warm ups went well, first working set of 145×3 went well enough. Then the second working set was meant to be 170×3 but I managed only 1 rep, failing the second. I could have rested and tried again, but I knew if I tried 170 again I wouldn’t be able to lift it again. I was supposed to do 190×3 after 170 too but obviously that was not going to happen.

Instead I dropped back to a very low weight for some zercher squats to finish up with.

On one hand- I absolutely feel better to have done anything after the past week. On the other hand I’m frustrated that it was a squat workout since I feel like I’ve been making no progress at all on squats for a very long time. Which isn’t exactly true. I started really struggling with them and was scaling back my weight more and more for awhile, and just now have been able to bring it back to around where it was. I’ve been looking very forward to finally inching back forward with squats as with my other lifts (progress is slow in general for me, but inching forward is still forward), so it feels extra frustrating to me that it was squats I couldn’t get up to the weight I was supposed to.

But such is life. Hopefully my next squat workout I won’t be as fatigued and will be able to get the planned amounts of weight.

So I’ve been thinking a bit about being inspiring to others, and then read a post on Fit is a Feminist Issue the other day about being inspiring and it made me want to post something here about it.

Awhile back someone commented on one of my running blogs saying:

I love hearing about your running. Each time I think ‘one day that will be me. One day I’ll be well enough to run’. It’s inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing.

And I was kind of shocked, in a happy way, reading that. First off, I started blogging my runs because I find it motivating in a way that’s hard to describe, and I wasn’t really sure anyone else would read them let alone enjoy reading them.

Also I never would have imagined it to be inspiring to anyone. It’s not like I’m running marathons or anything, I’m out there going slow and not very far.

While I can’t speak for the person who left that comment, I started thinking about it though, and realized that it makes sense in many ways to find more inspiration in seeing someone else through the process of something than just the end result, if that end result is something that you don’t feel like you could do. Just seeing someone else run a marathon would not for me be as inspiring as seeing someone else who struggles with running talk about the whole process of training for it, seeing the progress, set backs, frustrations- because that can make you think “Maybe I could do that.”

Also I looked up the commenter’s blog after reading that and it made sense to see that it was someone else who is struggling with chronic illness. It makes sense to find inspiration from someone else like us doing something we would like to do. I know for myself I also struggle with fitness being primarily dominated by people who are generally healthy- as most areas of life are. I don’t think it shouldn’t be of course, people with chronic conditions are a slight minority and even then the effects are vastly different based on condition and individual. I personally struggle though with remembering that I can’t expect my training to look just like someone else who is generally in good health. Our experiences will be different. So when I do meet other folks who lift or run and have similar health issues as me, it is really great to see other people like myself doing these things as well.

So that’s my own background and what I’d been thinking about this before Natalie’s post on Fit is a Feminist Issue. In her post she takes issue with being called inspiring, coming from a perspective in which it seems she is often called “inspiring” by people who are different than her in a key way because of the idea that people like her don’t normally do that type of thing. In her case, the main issue she brought up was body size. Fat people aren’t expected to be active and athletic, leading to the “inspiring” thought process of “if even she can do that, I must be able to as well”. Which is a very different kind of inspiration, because it’s based on seeing that person as less than yourself. If even this person who should be less athletic than me based on X characteristic can do this, surely someone like me can as  well.

This is pretty common with both fat and disabled athletes. Many disability activists have also spoken out about “inspiration porn”. Stella Yound in her Tedx talk says these “inspirational” images of people with disabilities “objectify one group of people for the benefit of another group of people.”  This gets to the heart of what I think is the difference between when inspiring someone is great, and when it’s kind of icky. Seeing someone who is like you, such as someone with a similar disability or another fat person, doing something that you didn’t think you could, or that you are often told you can’t do because of that characteristic, can certainly be inspiring and it’s why it’s great to see more representation. Seeing more fat athletes or athletes with disabilities is great when it comes to providing encouragement to other fat people and people with disabilities, who can feel empowered by that to be more involved in aspects of fitness they enjoy.

It becomes kind of gross and really rude though when it’s taken as “inspiring” to people unlike the person in question.

This is so often the case of how images of athletes with disabilities are used. I see all the time people sharing images or video of athletes with clearly visible disabilities- typically people either born without certain limbs, or who have had them amputated, and the message is clearly stated- if this person can do it, then so can you. So can you because you are better than this person already because you aren’t disabled. The intended audience who are meant to be inspired aren’t other people with disabilities who think “that person is like me!”, it’s people without disabilities. And the reason it should be inspiring to people without disabilities is predicated on the social belief that people with disabilities are less than able-bodied people.

I’ve probably talked at least a little bit about this before, but I’m going to again. I was thinking the other day about how awesome it is noticing physical changes to my body from working out.

My goals are not aesthetic, my reason for lifting isn’t to change how I look, my reasons are mainly that I enjoy it, to be stronger, and to be healthier.

That said, I still will get excited and happy about the physical changes that come with those things.

Though for me I can feel changes better than I can see them reflected in the mirror. I’ve always had muscular legs but after I started lifting again I definitely could tell I had more muscle there- especially my hamstrings. Interestingly I’ve noticed more curve to my waist with lifting. I notice a bit more muscle on my arms, even if my upper body is still incredibly weak. Visibly the biggest change was with my lower back, which is a completely different shape thanks to adding muscle back there.

Most recently I can feel more muscle than ever before in the back of my arms which is really cool. Doesn’t look much different to me, but certainly feels different.

This all probably sounds pretty standard and seems silly for me to bother writing about, but the reason I am is because it frustrates me how often talking about such things is reacted to negatively.

On one hand, there is a group of people who feel that I shouldn’t be talking happily or proudly of changes to my body from fitness unless it’s weight loss- and even then there are those who will say you shouldn’t post about it until after you are not longer fat.

And yet, I’ve been shocked to find how often “body positive” people who do not believe in measuring the success of fitness endeavors in terms of weight loss react poorly to any kind of talk like this. I have been told that talking about changes to my own body from fitness in a positive way suggests that  certain bodies (presumably mine) are better or more worthy than others, or that it implies that everyone who engages in some sort of fitness endeavor should see the same changes. Which is just absurd.

I know I have said this before but it bears repeating- talking about what I like about my body is not the same as putting down people with different bodies! One type of body does not have to be raised above another. I can like things about me without thinking it’s bad if you are different.

Along the same lines, talking about my experiences, of any kind, with fitness, is not a judgement on others with different experiences. Acknowledging and even celebrating my own experiences does not invalidate other experiences or make them any less worthy of being celebrated in their own right.

Also- different fitness endeavors are… well- different. My goal is not aesthetic, but my goal is to be stronger. And being stronger means building muscle, you will not get stronger without doing that. So yeah, I love when I can see or feel more muscle because it’s another sign of my increased strength. Lifting heavy will have all sorts of different outcomes than running which will be different than cycling which is different than swimming, et cetera, et cetera. Even withing the same activity we don’t all have the same goals, the same programs, and will have individual factors that dictate our progress toward those goals. Still, all that progress is still worth celebrating and being excited about. I can be happy for someone else making progress toward their goal even if that goal is different than mine or their progress is different than mine.