Archive for the ‘Problems’ Category

So I was informed by someone recently that Jim Wendler, who created the 5/3/1 lifting program I’m following right now, is a misogynist.

Not sure the exact details of that, but then I came across a Q & A from him, in which he multiple times tells people not to “be a vag” or a pussy.  And apparently he has also coined the term “north of vag”, apparently a response to frustration at the “emasculation” of society and lifting. (eye-rolling so hard right now).

He’s also the same dude who mentions the program putting hair on your chest.

Personally I prefer not to have hair on my chest and I am a fan of vaginas.

And given that vaginas play an important role in the process of giving birth to new life, created within women’s bodies, I think vaginas are pretty damn strong and capable of much more impressive feats than just lifting heavy weights.

Maybe that’s why Wendler has such a problem with vaginas? I think he might just be jealous of their awesomeness…

Annoyed At Diet Motivation Talk

Posted: September 5, 2014 in Problems
Tags: ,

I get frustrated a lot with the crossover between fitness and dieting, and the dieting mentality folks take toward fitness. 

And I just need to rant right now about a post on another website:

“You will get a lot more compliments for working out than will for sleeping in.” 

This was alongside a bunch of other cliche diet/”lifestyle change” talk. 

I’ve been in a kind of irrationally annoyed at things mood today… well and yesterday. So a few days now, lol. So like most things this is probably pushing my buttons more than it should. 

But I don’t do any of that for compliments! I don’t do it for other people at all. I don’t care if other people approve or not, let alone if they compliment me on it. 

I workout for my health and because I enjoy it. Simple as that.

And I sleep in when I can for similar reasons. Because sleep is good, it is necessary to being healthy! I don’t sleep so other people can applaud what I’m doing, I do it for my health and well being. Which means it doesn’t matter if people don’t compliment me on it! 

Annoys me especially since I sleep more, on average, that most people. Side effect of health issues and fatigue problems. I sleep more than most people on average because I need to sleep more than most people on average in order to feel my healthiest. In fact, it’s a huge fucking struggle in my life getting enough sleep around everything I need to do on a regular basis right now. 

Which also makes me a bit overly annoyed at people who want to get judgmental about other people sleeping in. 

Fuck you for judging me for doing what I need to to be healthy! 

Which is the extra ridiculousness of mentalities like this that hide behind claims about being about health. If health is your goal, you wouldn’t be denigrating getting the amount of sleep your body needs to feel fully rested! 

Of course, I’m probably just extra annoyed at things right now because my sleep schedule has been totally off this past week! lol. 

I’ve always hated the terms “fit” or “athletic” to describe a body type, though I’ll admit to having fallen into it myself. But the thing is “fit” and “athletic” do not describe a type of body but activities. Fit and athletic bodies can take many different shapes and sizes.

What athlete’s bodies look like.

I’ve written some a little about this before: when Prince Fielder posed nude and got fat shamed for it, my problems with the phrase “strong is sexy” because it ignores strong women who are not conventionally attractive and thin, and a post on the difference between “muscular” vs low body fat. Looking at the athletes mentioned in those posts and you will see that fit and athletic bodies do not all look like fitness models.

Now the other day I came across someone online telling a story. It was a thin woman talking about how a fat friend of hers dared to think she (fat friend) was more fit just because when doing physical activities the fat friend had an easier time doing it. This person was very confused how anyone could think a higher body weight could be more fit than a lower body weight.

Meanwhile I stare at my screen in disbelief that someone could not understand that being better able to do various fitness activities would mean being more fit. Obviously this is not black and white because not all fitness activities are the same, take two athletes and have them compete in a different sport and they won’t do as great at it. If we took all the folks pictured above and had them compete in one athletic activity, it would be an unfair measure because they are athletes in different sports. And certainly it’s possible to be fit in general and have a bad day where it may not seem like it. But still, fitness is activity based, not body size based. Being thin does not automatically make you fit if you aren’t actually engaging in fitness. And fat people can be fit and athletic too. So yes, a person with a higher body weight/BMI/body fat can certainly be more fit than a thin person.

Though I think we should aim for not tearing others down to make ourselves feel better, such as pointing out another person being less fit to feel better about your fitness. But I can also understand that fat people are expected to prove their fitness in ways never expected of thin people, so I can understand why someone would feel good about being able to outdo thin friends in physical activities as a counterweight to the typical message that fat folks are always worse at physical activities than thin people.

The inspiration from this post: online groups/communities/forums for women who lift that men join to offer their advice and opinions too.

It’s not done maliciously, but it’s a problem. Weight lifting is an activity that is predominantly dominated by men. And women often face unique challenges due to this.

For one thing, in mixed gender settings we face sexism in assuming we don’t know what we are doing, or that we don’t belong. Many men make the assumption that by virtue of them being men and us being women, we must need their help. Or they feel threatened that we have encroached on the their manly man space. They feel the need to lash out because they feel emasculated if a woman can do the same manly man activities they do.

Aside from these problems, there are others women face too. Like just the simple assumption that lifters are men. I ran into this today. Someone recommended a training program and I was reading about it and it clearly was directed at men. It was not being promoted as a training program “for men”. Nothing about it is something that would only benefit men. But the assumption was simply that a training guide for weight lifting would be geared toward men.  Everything about how it was written assumed that I, the reader, was a man. Every example given to illustrate a point used  a man. While trying to determine if this program would be good for me I am reading how this program will put hair on my chest, said of course with the assumption that I would want that. Because I’m a manly man who wants manly man hair on my chest. Except not. Men are the default. Look at NROL. I’ve heard a lot more about the book New Rules of Lifting for Women. A book marketed to women. A book  a bought and the training program I started with that introduced me to lifting. And I do like it. I also later discovered it was not actually the only New Rules of Lifting book/program. It followed a book called New Rules of Lifting. Which apparently was geared toward men, like other training guides just as  default assumption that folks who lift are men. It wasn’t New Rules of Lifting for Men. Men are the default, women need to be specified.

This isn’t unique to lifting even, but with something male dominated it’s more pronounced. Throughout our culture there is an established standard that says using men is genderless and using women is gendered. Movies about male protagonists are movies for men and women. Movies about female protagonists are often deemed for women. Women are taught our whole lives to be able to see past gender to identify with a protagonist even if it’s a man, because we have to. But men are not taught the same, so they see a woman and cannot see themselves in her. And this impacts everything. Want to give an illustration of something? Use a man and the focus will necessarily be on gender, use a woman and men are likely to flip or scroll right past it assuming it does not pertain to them because that’s a woman.

This default vs specified leads to other issues too. For one thing, can we assume that advice given by men, for men, is actually advice we could use too? This isn’t new to lifting but is replicated in lifting. For a very long time in medical research, for example, studies were done on men only. Because men are the default. Findings on men were assumed to be genderless findings (of course no one would think to generalize findings on a sample of women only as applicable to men and women). The problem being that men are not just a default setting of humans that their results can fit women too. And so a lot of things once upon a time assumed to be true for all people because it was found in studies of men, turned out to not be true for women. And medicine still has an androcentric focus- still doctors are taught first and foremost with men as a basis and default. We know, for example, that symptoms of a heart attack can be felt differently by men and women. And still the ones most well known by lay people and doctors are those men are more likely to experience. And so, still, women having heart attacks don’t realize it themselves and can be misdiagnosed in a hospital because they don’t present with the same symptoms men do. This becomes an issue in lifting too. There are physiological differences between sexes. They are frequently not as black and white as many people make them out to be. (ie “Men=Testosterone=Strong, Women=Estrogen=Weak”. No. Stop.)  But certainly there are differences, and so women can get hurt when we assume that what applies to men must apply to us.

But now we have more and more, I think, lifting advice and plans out there that are targeted specifically at women! This is great in a  lot of ways. It tells women who don’t lift “hey, this isn’t just for men!”, and it tells women who do lift “you aren’t alone!”. But it also brings up it’s own issues too. I’ve mentioned this before, how even when something says “women can lift heavy too!” we still get the assumptions based on our gender- biggest of them being that we are afraid of being bulky. And so still women who lift, who want to build muscle, who want visible muscle, who don’t care about being “bulky”, we are constantly up against this assumption that our goals are gender deviant. We face this within society at large for lifting, or having visible muscle, we face it within lifting communities where we are still assumed to fear bulk where men desire it.

All of this is to say, there are a lot of experiences with lifting that are unique to women lifting. And all of those unique experiences lead many women who lift to want to congregate with and talk with other women who shares some of these experiences with us. We want to create spaces where our voices and our experiences are at the forefront. And then what happens? Men show up.

Say anything negative though about their presence and they will get angry and defensive. Why shouldn’t they be there? They have valuable knowledge and experience to share! How dare you suggest that only women have this knowledge and experience.

But the cold, hard truth of life is that your advice, opinions, and experience are not always wanted or useful. And in this case, men- your advice, opinions, and experience are not needed. Back off.

I don’t understand why if feels such a threat to certain men that women want to define a space for just women. There are plenty of women lifters out there- do you not understand how arrogant and sexist (even if you don’t consciously think of it this way) it is to insert your presence in a space defined or women to offer advice as if out of all of the women lifters out there, none could possibly possess the level of knowledge and skill you have to offer? It is sexist to think your presence is needed, that if men were not there women lifters would somehow be missing important information.

There are a lot of mixed gender, gender neutral spaces for lifting. There are a lot of men who have contributed knowledge that is useful for men and women lifters. No one (that I’ve ever seen) is suggesting that women who lift throw out and ignore all sources of knowledge that have come from men. But when a community is specifically designated as being for women who lift, why is it asking to much that you respect us carving out a small space where we are front and center, when in all the rest of the lifting world women are secondary, or ignored all together?

And it seems there are some men who think I feel this way because I just don’t understand the true hardships of being in a privileged group. I don’t understand the pain of being told that your opinion on everything is not important.

So let me take a moment to speak from a position of privilege. There are a lot of groups out there defined for people of color. I know of a few organizations for Black Social Workers, and some for Latino/a Social Workers. I’m not a member of these groups because I am not Black nor am I Latina. And I’m sure their spaces, carved out for them, function just fine without white opinions. Because the cold, hard truth is that my advice, opinions, and experience as a white person are not always wanted or useful. Sometimes the right thing to do is to sit down, shut the fuck up, and respect other people’s wishes for the spaces they carve out, even when those wishes are that you not be there.

That doesn’t mean oppressed groups don’t want or need allies. Allies are important and have a place. But that place is not always in every space. As a white person I can speak out against racism, I can attend marches, rallies, and vigils opposing racism, and I can advocate for an end to racism. None of this requires insisting I be allowed in groups specifically for people of color.

Similarly men can speak out against sexism, be involved in advocacy and activism. Specific to lifting men can be more aware of their wording that they don’t assume other lifters are men, they can speak up if they hear someone else being rude to a woman lifting in the gym, or negative comments about women lifting in general. You can offer the same support and encouragement to women who lift in mixed gender spaces. But if a space specifies  that it is for women, consider that maybe THAT is not a place where your advice and opinions are wanted or needed.

Was thinking today about what it means to do things to be physically healthy (as much as possible for each of us, knowing much is out of our control).

For some reason people boil this down to exercise, and what we eat.

Which is ridiculous. There is so much more to being physically healthy than that.

Including mental health because mental and physical are not as separate as the way we talk about them would imply.

I think health is a good and important goal. And you will hear me say I’m not healthy, because overall- I’m not. I have a number of chronic health conditions that require regular doctor appointments, medical tests to monitor, and have a significant impact on my daily life and abilities. Though in a way because of that health becomes more important to me. Everyday there are things I have to remember to do to manage my health that a generally healthy person wouldn’t. Starting with the simplest- I take medication everyday and have to remember to take it or my health will get worse. I also have to pay attention to my diet and what I eat because there are certain things I cannot eat and certain things I need to limit due to my health conditions. I get comments a lot because I often carry around a 2.2 liter water bottle and it stands out. Drinking water is great and healthy for a lot of reasons, it’s extra important for health for me because drinking water helps offset the side effect of one of my medications- kidney stones. (Which aside from being incredibly painful can be pretty bad since I’ve had a kidney stone before that caused a blockage that lead to a kidney infection, which I was then given medication to treat that actually ended up causing further kidney damage- tiny little stone set off a huge domino effect of health issues and was a total mess. That’s when I found out that the medication I was on and had been on can cause kidney stones. Don’t you just love when medications have these serious possible side effects that are known about the medication but you don’t know it? Which reminds me of another way I have to be on top of my health in ways generally healthy folks don’t- making sure I do my own research on medications I’m prescribed and checking interactions, because I know from experience that stuff can fall through the cracks if you expect doctors and pharmacists to catch it all for you.)

I’m also very big on being as proactive about having the best health I can in the future too.  Alzheimer’s runs in my family. I hope I live well past 80 and am still mentally well, but looking at my family history the odds seem against that. There are genetic links for Alzheimer’s and I haven’t been tested yet to see if I have any but I know a lot of that is not within my control. But to me, that just means that I’m doing the best I can with what I can control because I need all I can get in the reducing risks of Alzheimer’s camp. I try to keep up on research and what it shows as correlated with less Alzheimer’s- and correlation doesn’t equal causation, but when talking about simple things like drinking lots of green tea being correlated with lower Alzheimer’s rates, well it doesn’t prove green tea is the cause but I’m still drinking the green tea! Staying active is definitely part of this too.

That said, health is a pretty broad category, there are a lot of things that can fall under “trying to be healthy”, and in a lot of cases they will vary based on different characteristics about us, and what we prioritize. You will see this a lot in terms of what is “healthy” in terms of diets. Based on health conditions two people can have completely opposite recommendations regarding something in their diet. Similarly, we often prioritize certain aspects of health over others, and have to- often they compete against each other. Sometimes it’s impossible to follow two health recommendations. For example, I previously mentioned the example of things that might help prevent Alzheimer’s. Studies have shown a correlation between moderate drinking and lower rates of Alzheimer’s. And so not only do I enjoy alcoholic beverages, I consider moderate drinking to be part of trying to help do what I can to hopefully avoid Alzheimer’s in my future. On the other hand, I also have a significant family history of alcoholism. I know a lot of folks who have a family history of alcoholism who choose not to drink at all, as one of the things they do to be healthy, to avoid the risk of the becoming an alcoholic. Well, I can’t drink moderately to maybe reduce my risk of Alzheimer’s, while also abstaining from alcohol to avoid the risk of alcoholism. I made a choice about which was more important to me. Another person will decide differently. All equally valid.

 

I was thinking about this recently, and I started getting angry thinking about lot of folks who are very into fitness, bodybuilding, and the like who like to complain about how unhealthy they think being fat is, and how people have an obligation to be healthy. Yet how many unhealthy behaviors do these people engage in? Including sometimes unhealthy behaviors in order to maintain their fitness routine.

I hear for example, often, how there is no excuse for not working out- anyone could wake up earlier and workout, you just need to do it and care to do it! But again, this goes back to the fact that we all play a balancing act with healthy behaviors, and we all have to make choices with limited resources. One of those is time. For many people, with only so many hours in the day, the choice may be either get as much sleep as they need, or fit in a workout. Both sleep and fitness are healthy behaviors. Choosing less sleep to fit in your workout is fine- everyone has the right to decide that if it’s what they want. But sleep deprivation is detrimental to your overall health. One way or another, a person in this situation is not doing something that is healthy. Yet for some reason, many people think they are morally superior if they place a higher value on the health importance of a workout compared to the health importance of getting enough sleep.

And even beyond situation like this with two competing healthy behaviors, there are also situations where people actively choose things that are simply not healthy due to personal preferences and desires. This happens a LOT with bodybuilders and people who are very into having a “ripped” physique. Very low body fat is actually not healthy! And the things people do to force their bodies down to very low body fat percentages are often not healthy- especially if done long term (this is why bodybuilders don’t maintain competition body fat percentages all the time- it would be very unhealthy and dangerous. And yet, it is more acceptable to pursue this unhealthy ideal than it is to simply accept or be happy with an overweight body. And yet, the arguments still get framed as if health were the issue.

And let me be clear, I’m not saying people should be shamed, or looked down on for wanting to have very low body fat and pursuing that. The point, rather, is that these are personal decisions we all make. Don’t hold up one physique as ideal despite being unhealthy to maintain, while also shaming other people for their bodies and hiding behind claims of “health”.

And don’t even get me started on people who want to chide me about how I must have obesity related illnesses like high blood pressure and just don’t know, am in denial, or I’m lying, meanwhile they have no health insurance and haven’t even seen a doctor in many years. If you haven’t been to a doctor recently, or had these tested, body size is irrelevant, chances are much higher that you have high blood pressure, high blood sugar, or high cholesterol and just don’t know it, than me because you actually don’t know for sure that you currently fall in the safe range for those. I see doctors regularly and every visit includes checking my blood pressure and I have blood work done regularly. So I know where I fall on those (which is that they are all within the healthy ranges).

I also notice a large number of folks who will complain about how unhealthy being fat is, yet not a word about things like binge drinking. Including folks who engage in binge drinking themselves. Newsflash- binge drinking is very unhealthy!

I’m fairly certain every person on this earth makes unhealthy choices sometimes, because we have wants and desires that conflict with what is healthy, along with having to forgo health in one area to pursue health in another. Health isn’t not as simply as being reduced to being active or eating certain things/not eating certain things.

As well, different individuals will make healthy/unhealthy choices differently and with different frequency due to what we like, what we want, and how highly we value certain aspects of health. And that’s fine! Everyone not being exactly the same is actually a good thing I think. We are all allowed to have different priorities. We are all allowed to make unhealthy choices regarding our lives and habits (and we all do, at least sometimes).

There is not, and should not, be some kind of moral obligation toward healthy behaviors- and especially not when what is really being done is prioritizing certain healthy behaviors over and at the expense of other unhealthy behaviors.

I have stated previously here that I am not interested in advice on how to lose weight, or comments on how I should lose weight. It’s my body, what I should do regarding it is for me to say. If I want someone else’s opinion or advice on my body, I am capable of asking.

For some reason this is very hard for some folks though. Some folks cannot get past the idea that fat need to be told they are fat and need to lose weight by complete strangers.

So I thought I would take a moment to talk about why unsolicited weight loss advice is rude.

And I’m going to use a conversation I had online as an example here,and walk through the problems with this. Remember I mentioned in my last post how I commented online that despite gaining weight, my clothing is fitting loser and I want to get new clothing, when I can come up with funds for it, that is smaller and thus fits me better

Well, as I mentioned someone replied this with:

“You’re trying to lose weight correct? Then why are you gaining weight?”

I replied to him:

“I’m not trying to lose weight.”

Like I said yesterday, this should have been the end of any discussion of weight loss. You mistakenly thought I was trying to lose weight (well that wasn’t actually the case here, as we will see), and I clarified I’m not. The end.

But that of course was not the end.

He replied again with:

“Why not?”

Ok, so we have already started to cross into problematic territory here. Someone just told you they are not trying to lose weight. Why would you feel this stranger owes you an explanation about that? Fat people do not need to offer explanations to strangers for why we are not trying to lose weight (for those of us who aren’t). Women do not owe every stranger they encounter an explanation for why their body looks any particular way.

I respond with:

“because I’m not interested in trying to lose weight. why do my goals matter [to] you?” (typing on my phone, I accidentally a word)

Ok, great. End of that, right? … right? We have established that I am not trying to lose weight, that I am not interested in trying to lose weight. But of course, I think we all know that was not the end of it.

He responds:

“They don’t. But you are 5’0 and I believe according to your blog you are over 200lbs. So you are already quite a bit overweight, I’m just wondering why you would want to continue gaining weight. And if you are gaining weight, why would you buy tighter clothing? You may eventually fit into the clothes you currently have.”

I’m “overweight”? WHAT!?! WHY HAS NO ONE TOLD ME THIS BEFORE!?! I mean, it surely makes total sense to think that I, as someone who has a blog with “fat” right up there in the title, who wrote a blog post on my weight, which included pointing out that my weight and height puts my BMI quite squarely in what is considered “morbidly obese”, need a total stranger on the internet to inform me that I am “quite a bit overweight”. Obviously I had simply never noticed I was fat, and no one else in the world had ever thought to let me in on that secret. Clearly.

And then the question of why I would want to buy smaller clothing if the clothing I currently have it too big on me. Why would I want to own and wear clothing that actually fits my body.

But if a number on a scale went up some, then obviously I need bigger clothes even if my clothing is too big on me, right? Why let something like my body size/shape determine what size clothing I wear instead of a number on a scale.

I want clothes that fit my body as it is because I like my body, and I want to wear clothing that makes me look and feel good. I love my curves- now that my sweaters and other clothes are too big, they hang wide around my curves making me look more boxy. I don’t like that. I want clothing that shows off one of my favorite attributes of myself. Having clothing that shows my curves makes me feel better and more confident. So duh, I want clothing that actually fits me. And weirdly enough, what fits is better judged by my body and how clothes fall on it, than what number pops up on my scale.

Ok, so what I said was:

“I didn’t say I want to gain weight, but I’m not horribly bothered by it either. Since one of my primary goals is getting stronger, gaining muscle (which has weight) is not really a bad thing to me.

I want to buy smaller clothing because it would fit me better, and as a result look better on me. (And if you’d read, you’d notice that while I gained weight, I did not go up in inches or clothing sizes- my clothes are not getting any tighter, if anything they feel looser even if my tape measure says that shouldn’t be.) Why should I wear clothing that is too big for me based on a number on a scale, rather than what actually fits my body?

Also if you read my blog I’m pretty clear in there about my feelings regarding trying to lose weight, so I’m not sure why you would even be asking that. In fact from the post you are talking about: ‘if I lose weight as I continue working out that’s good with me, and if I don’t I’m ok with that too’ I’m fine if I lose weight, fine if I don’t, and even fine with gaining so long as my clothing isn’t getting tighter, and it’s not. The only problem I have with my weight is it means I have more weight to lift on body weight exercises- but that just means I need to be stronger!”

So to be clear, initially when he asked about me wanting to lose weight, he wasn’t actually misinformed thinking I wanted to lose weight- he’s already read posts here on this blog where I very clearly stated that I am not trying to lose weight. I also clearly stated in those posts that I was not interested in weight loss advice. I also in the the thread with him stated I was not interested in losing weight.

And yet:

“You are somewhat of a beginner to weight training right? Gaining strength while losing weight should not be an issue. In my first year I was able to lose 100lbs while going from deadlifting 185lbs to 500lbs. As for your muscle gain, if you told me you have gained 1lb or maybe even up to 2lbs (much more likely for men then women to gain 2lbs of muscle) over the course of a month, then perhaps you can call it muscle, but nothing more. As for measurements, If you went from 200 – 205 there is a very good chance you wouldn’t be able to measure the difference, I can fluctuate 10lbs or more and not notice a thing.

I have read a few of your posts, and I have read some of your comments, you seem to champion the thought of acceptance no matter what, and if that’s what you want to do, then fine. I remember thinking how happy and confident I was when I was overweight. But I look back at it and remember how my back would get sore if I had to stand for any length of time, or how my feet would ache because of the excess weight. Now that I have lost the weight I don’t have those issues, I can run without pain, walk around or stand for hours with no issues. I see you have some of these issues, have you thought perhaps your weight is the cause? To me it doesn’t really matter whether you gain weight or lose weight, gain strength or lose strength. It doesn’t affect me at all. I only inquire out of curiosity.”

Weight loss advice! Look, I just told you I am not trying to lose weight and I don’t want to try to lose weight. I did not say I want to lose weight but think it conflicts with my other goals. I said I don’t want to try to lose weight. So I do not need to be told that I could still try to lose weight while also trying to gain muscle.

This is rude. I have stated already multiple times prior to this I am not interested in weight loss advice, giving it after that is rude. It’s like me stating repeatedly that I’m not interested in converting to your religion and you continue to tell me about converting.

And of course we also have the condescending “you may think you are happy, but you really aren’t, you just don’t know you are unhappy because you would have to be thing to know better”. And what a convenient argument! Set it up so that I cannot possibly claim to know myself better than this stranger because we’ve established that only the opinions of thin people count. Even when the opinion is on the fat persons own body, their opinion still doesn’t count.

And we also have the assumptions that my weight is causing me pain and severely limiting my activities despite the fact that there is no reason for this stranger to think that I have back pain when standing, or that I have difficulty standing or walking long periods.

I have, on the site this conversation took place on spoken about having foot pain when running, which I believe is plantar fasciitis.

My response to him:

“You’ve read my blog post about my weight which means you already read this:

‘I am not interested in any weight loss advice . . .[I am] not interested in unsolicited weight lose advice so if you were thinking of giving some just move along.’

I also just told you in this thread that I am not interested in trying to lose weight. So why are you giving me unsolicited advice on how I can lose weight?

You’re experiences are your own, they are not mine. Don’t assume that just because you felt one way at a particular weight I must feel that way at my weight. I can stand just fine, I do not get back pain from standing, I can easily stand and/or walk for long periods without those things causing pain.

My feet have started to hurt when running, and maybe my weight is a factor- I’m still not interested in trying to lose weight. I do also know that already stretching has made a huge difference and alleviated a lot of the pain.

I’ve explained many reasons why I’m not trying to lose weight in my blog, if you’ve read it already you know them, if not feel free to go back and read through it. Though really, I don’t owe you an explanation for why I don’t want to try to lose weight. My body, my decision.

I’d also like to note that I didn’t say anything about how much weight I’ve gained or over what kind of time period, so I’m not sure how you feel at all qualified to determine what amount of that weight gain was muscle, water weight, or fat”

Even if my weight is a factor in the plantar fasciitis- still my body, still my choice, and my choice alone, on if I want to try to lose weight.

I have my reasons for not wanting to try to lose weight. I’ve talked about them here. I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to lose weight- not trying to lose weight is a much newer thing for me. Newer than weight lifting even. And since I stopped actively trying to lose weight, I am happier. I am finding it easier to stick with my fitness goals because a number going up on the scale doesn’t mean “I am doing all this hard work and seeing no results!” Actually, no- I’m seeing lots of results, just not weight loss. I’m doing all this work and as a result I am seeing the weight I lift continuously increasing, I am seeing my body in a more positive way, I am feeling stronger a result, and in terms of changes to my body I am seeing more muscle on my legs and arms. Not defining my success by the number on a scale has been hugely beneficial to me. I also am not interested in trying to lose weight because as a person whose struggled with an eating disorder, though in recovery I find things like counting calories to still be a little triggering. I also have found that since I gave up dieting, I eat better! I eat better when I focus on eating nutrient dense foods, and eating what makes me feel good, and trying to think of food of fuel for my activities.

Also, fun fact- I’ve discovered I eat “junk food” less when it’s not off limits! I love Ben & Jerry’s icecream! And I always hear people joke about how ridiculous it is that a pint is 4 serving, when everyone knows a pint is 1 serving. The funny thing is, when it’s not off limits to me, and I feel free to eat Ben & Jerry’s icecream everyday if I want to, I don’t sit down an eat a pint of it. When I eat icecream I eat 1 serving based on the serving size, or less. Usually less. Most of the time I eat a few bites, maybe a half a serving, and I feel satisfied with that and put it away. And a big part of that is not feeling like I broke my diet. Because when I felt like I broke my diet by eating ice cream it was more likely to trigger the idea that I might as well eat the whole thing then because I already ruined my diet that day anyways. And I would get back on track tomorrow. And then tomorrow icecream would be off limits. So I need to eat it now while I can! But when I stopped trying to lose weight, stopped counting calories, and stopped making any food “off limits” in my head, I stopped thinking and eating like that. Because now, if I eat a few bites of icecream, and tomorrow I want more icecream- I eat more icecream! And while foods are never off limits to me, focusing on how they make me feel, leads me to not wanting to eat certain foods. Actually just the other day I decided it had been ages since I ate some captain crunch and I really wanted some. So I bought captain crunch cereal and ate some. … And I felt so sick after! And I’m not craving captain crunch anymore. It’s not off limits because I’m on a diet. I don’t not eat it because I’m not “supposed” to eat it. I don’t eat it because I don’t want to because it doesn’t make me feel well.

This is working for me! It may not be working at causing me to lose weight, but that’s ok, because I don’t care if I lose weight anymore. It is working for me though in all other respects, which I find more valuable than weight loss. I’ve also successfully lost bits of weight before too, btw. And I’ve lost weight before by starving myself, by not eating well, by not eating to fuel my activities, and I’ve lost weight will feeling miserable and hating myself. I see much more success in eating well and feeling good, and being happy with myself, than I do in a making a number on the scale shrink.

So those are a few of the reasons I don’t want to try to lose weight. A few of the reasons that I didn’t actually owe anyone. Because it’s still my body and I don’t owe strangers and explanation for what I do with it.

So back to this dude, because we aren’t at the end yet:

“I should have known better than to talk about anything somewhat related to fitness on this site. You said you are gaining weight, you assume it is muscle because you have not gained inches anywhere. I just told you if it’s more than 2lbs a month it’s most likely not muscle. I gave you a hypothetical number of 200-205, key word is hypothetical, and it was only regarding the fact that you probably wouldn’t see much of a difference with a measuring tape. You said you have a goal of gaining strength, I told you that you can gain strength while losing weight, and I gave some personal experiences. I did not say that they are 100% transferable to you. In your running comments it is clear your weight is causing you issues. You just refuse to accept it. And your “do not give unsolicited advice” tells everybody that you do not care about anybodies thoughts if they do not agree with yours, but yet you pretend to be open minded. If you want to stay overweight then go ahead, continue pretending you are happy, continue pretending that it does not affect your life or health in any way. I wish you the best of luck in whatever your goals may be.”

Yeah- he should have known better than to talk to me about weight loss (not fitness- weight loss. The conversation was not about fitness). And actually, he did know. He knew prior to any of these comments that I did not want weight loss advice. He still asked me about losing weight. I then told him again, I wasn’t interested. Despite this he continued with advice he knew was unwanted. So let’s be clear about that- he knew it was unwanted from his very first comment. And now he’s mad it wasn’t well received. He’s mad someone would not be appreciative of his comments about what they should do with their body after being told repeatedly they did not want his comments on what they should do with their body?

And as for me not being open to his opinion- let’s also be very clear here in remembering this was not a discussion of opinions on a particular general topic- it was opinions on my body. MY body. And when it comes to my body, no one gets a say in it except me. I am trying to be very clear that I do not care about anybody’s thoughts on what I should do with my body except my own. And despite me being very clear about that, he insists on telling me what he thinks I should do with my body, despite me repeatedly stating such commentary was unwanted.

There is lots of information available on weight loss, if I wanted to try to lose weight I could seek it out. And as someone who has spent most of my life trying to lose weight (something he would also already, too,  know reading my blog), I know a lot of it, and I certainly know how to go about seeking it out if I wanted to. In fact, on the site this conversation happened on, there are groups specifically on the topic of weight loss! And yet,my comment was not posted in a weight loss group. Similarly, had I wanted this guys advice specifically, since he seems to think he possesses special knowledge of weight loss no one else has, I could have and would have asked him for that advice if I wanted it.

And let’s keep that in mind too, in terms of his actions. He is on a site with weight loss groups where he could have spent this time offering his advice, he is on a site where there are a lot of people who are trying to lose weight, and he could have spent the time he did commenting to me, offering his advice to any of those people. But no. Instead, on a site with weight loss groups, and lots of people trying to lose weight, he specifically choose to target someone who had been clear about not wanting to try to lose weight, and ignore all of her comments stating weight loss advice to her was not wanted, and decided that was that person he should focus his energies on giving weight loss advice and commentary on her body to.

I don’t know about you- but none of that sounds well meaning to me. What he actually doing is actively disregarding my wishes. But it’s all done as well-meaning advice, to seem nice. But there is nothing well meaning or nice this. There is nothing well meaning or nice about actively regarding people’s express wishes and requests on this matter.

This applies not only to his comments there, but any suggestions of weight loss here or on other FA blogs. With so many places online dedicated to talking about weight loss, and so many people out there asking for advice on how to lose weight- consider what it actually says about someone that they would skip over all those places and head somewhere with a specific focus on fat acceptance, and choose that as the place to offer advice on weight loss.

I was googling gym memes recently. I enjoy a few, such as:

A meme about squatting deep based on one of my favorite movies? Love it!

But of course in the course of looking up such, I found a lot of sexist memes.

Most of them fall i the category of saying that if women wear skimpy clothes, tight clothes, or makeup to the gym then they are clearly asking for men to creepily ogle them, or make sexual comments. Victim blaming at it’s finest! And we all know there is no other reason to wear tight clothing or skimpy clothing to workout in except to attract sexual attention. And of course also the memes that claim that if you wear tight or skimpy clothing, or makeup to the gym then you cannot possibly be there to workout.

… which certainly explains me working out in a  sports bra and booty shorts in my home gym by myself. I’m not really there to work out, I’m just doing it to get sexual attention from the nonexistent men in my basement. Obviously!

Because it’s not like tight clothing is comfortable and easy to move in without getting caught on things or bunched up when you are working out. And skimpy clothing couldn’t possibly serve a valid purpose of keeping cool. Nope. Only reason is to get sexual attention from all men in the vicinity.

Of course though, in reality, women know that it’s a damned if you, damned if you don’t. Wear baggy, raggity clothing with no makeup, with no regard for looking nice, and you are easily subjected to rude comments about that.

Anyone remember how folks reacted when Robin decided that she didn’t need to bother looking nice at the gym?

Of course that leads to the second mot common type of memes about women at the gym- images of attractive women in skimpy clothing at the gym that suggests that ogling women is the only reason men bother going to the gym.

Because remember, women exist purely to fuel men’s sexual fantasies, if you aren’t attractive you have no value. And if you are attractive, then you are just asking for rude sexualized behavior and comments.

And that’s not even getting into the body shaming in many. Because what’s the point of working out if not to make fun of other people’s bodies, right? And as I’ve already mentioned several times in this blog, everyone who works out always has the exact same body size/shape.

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

Such at this:

Or this:

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

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

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

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

If strong is sexy, Kristin is very sexy.

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

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

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

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

 

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

All or Nothing Fitness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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