Posts Tagged ‘body acceptance’

Fuck Flattering

Posted: September 22, 2016 in Uncategorized
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A drawing of my Uncle Joe

My Uncle Joe passed away last Friday night and his funeral was this week. I will miss him a lot. I use art often to help me deal with emotions, especially when I am upset. So I started a sketch of my uncle based on a photo of him. The sketch is above, it’s based on a photo of him from my younger cousin’s birthday party when he had a lei around his head.

My aunt who took the photo commented about it and how he told her not to delete it even though it wasn’t the most flattering photo of him.

I chose this photo as one to draw from though because I felt like it really captured who he was. His smile, it showed him looking very happy enjoying himself, and it shows his humor and how he could be very silly and playful (especially with kids).

This got me thinking about “unflattering” photos. We all worry about those, right? I know I have complained many, many, many times about photos I think I look bad in.

Bad usually defined as looking further from social standards of beauty than I might at other times or other angles.

I don’t think I’ve ever complained about a “bad” photo where I meant that I looked bad in the sense that it made me look like a mean, thoughtless, uncaring person. No, bad means I look very large, I have a double chin, my eyes are too small looking, my cheeks too big and puffy, I have too much acne, or my face looks too red, and so on.

But at the end of the day, what does any of that matter?

At the end of our lives no one is going to look back on photos and judge how closely we aligned with social standards of beauty. No, they will look at them to remember the times we spent together, the way we made them feel, and remember all the amazing characteristics about who we are as people that they loved about us. And likely none of that will be related to what we looked like.

This doesn’t just apply after death either, for the most part, friends and family don’t care how “flattering” photos of us are, they want photos of us to capture the memories, emotions, and aspects of who we are that they love.

So I am writing this as a reminder to myself and hopefully inspiration to others as well to let go of caring about if photos are “flattering” or not. Doesn’t matter if that photo with family captured you from a bad angle that highlights some flaw you dislike in your appearance, that really isn’t important. Let the photo capture the moment, the memory, and your personality. But stop worrying about “flattering”

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So I was reading something online that mentioned a book Beat the Gym by Tom Holland. I bought this book but was very unimpressed with it myself, though I can see how some of it might be useful to people who are brand new to fitness and gyms.

 

He begins early in the book talking about how gyms make their money primarily on people who sign up and pay but do not use, or rarely use, the gym. He gives some tips to be the kind of person who uses the gym all the time instead. I disagree with some of his points though and in writing a review of the book I thought I would write my own, very non-professional, list of ways to get the most out of your gym membership.

 

  1. Know Yourself, know what you want, know what you will do

One piece of advice he gives that doesn’t hold true to me is that you don’t need to love your gym just like it well enough and the most important factor is distance. Well, this really is not true for me. I joined the gym I did because it has a pool with very flexible hours (only closed 2hrs/day for cleaning). He actually writes off pools as rather unimportant features of gyms that get too much attention. Well… that depends on if you will use it or not. If you know you aren’t going to swim or go in the pool much, who cares if your gym has a pool? But if that’s important to you, then obviously it is an important feature! Swimming is what keeps me coming back to the gym. I joined for swimming and from going in for swimming almost every day I’ve started utilizing other things the gym offers, like weights and stationary bikes. I would not have joined just for those though.

 

  1. Do something and go somewhere you ENJOY

If I took his advice to go based on location only, I would have joined the planet fitness right by my house. And I probably wouldn’t ever go to it. Instead I drive past the planet fitness and 20 minutes out of my way, and 20 minutes back, to go to the gym I do. But it doesn’t feel like too much of a hassle because I enjoy my time there so much. Despite being further away I go almost daily, because going to the gym is something I look forward to. The same could be said of the place I go for Krav Maga.

 

I’m not telling you to join my gym, to take up swimming, or take up Krav Maga. But doing something you ENJOY, I think, is going to make a bigger difference in your consistency than convenience. If it’s close and convenient to get to, but the workout itself still feels like a chore, it’s going to be harder to be consistent than if it’s something you enjoy and want to fit into your schedule. Though certainly knowing your schedule (see #1 for knowing yourself) and if it works is also important. Despite loving Krav Maga even before I was on my medical restriction from it I was not doing it very often simply because very often my work and school schedule prevented me from making the class times. It doesn’t matter how much I enjoy it, work and school are requirements that I can’t forgo in favor of taking a krav maga class.

 

  1. Don’t Worry About Other People

I think the best advice he gives in the book is that most people are focused on themselves at the gym and not to worry about people paying attention to or judging you. Though he bugged me when he then goes on to give fashion advice including saying spandex is a “privilege not a right” and then cautioning against outlandish 80’s workout clothes. I say fuck his fashion advice. If spandex is comfortable or makes you feel good working out, rock your spandex. If you feel good in your 80’s fitness fashions, rock those. If you want to wear garishly bright Lisa Frank leggings (and really, who wouldn’t want to?) then do it! And don’t worry about what other people might think of what you are wearing. You’re there for you, let them worry about their own fashions.

 

  1. Pamper Yourself/Do Things That Make You Feel Good

This is similar to #2 except whereas 2 was about doing exercise you enjoy, this is about other factors. This is something I’ve been thinking about mentioning, which is how much I’m enjoying amenities I didn’t care about when I signed up. Not only do I enjoy swimming, but after swimming I relax in the hot tub, and I also have been making use of the steam room at the gym I go to. Does sitting in a hot tub or steam room do much for my fitness? Not really (though I do stretch in the hot tub). But I find it relaxing and I look forward to it. And it’s certainly good for my health because it helps me destress.

 

I’ve actually started a bit of a pampering ritual for myself after workouts. So far I end every workout with swimming (either I just swim, or I do some strength training and then swim). After swimming I stretch and then relax in the hot tub. After a bit of that I go back to the locker room and grab my little baggie with my shampoo and so on in it, which also has a charcoal face mask/scrub in it. I take a quick shower to cool down and use the face mask/scrub. Then I go relax or meditate in the steam room. After that I take a full shower, get dressed, and head home.

 

In addition the gym I go to has a spa in it, which I didn’t care about when I joined but I am definitely making use of it now, planning to get massages as regularly as I can afford to. The spa services cost money, not included in the gym membership, but still it’s something in the gym that isn’t a workout but still has benefits for me and I enjoy. Make going to the gym something you enjoy- both the exercise and anything else about it. You deserve it!

 

  1. Be Comfortable in Your Own Skin and Don’t Shame Others For Being Comfortable in Theirs

I’ve been thinking in my head how I know I’m getting old now because it doesn’t bother me to strip down naked in the locker room. When I was younger I never understood how adults could be comfortable changing in such a public place. Even when I joined the gym last month I wasn’t very comfortable with it. Part of my comfort comes not just from age but also because working out makes me feel more comfortable in my own skin.

And so here is another point where I disagree with Tom Holland. He complains about too much nudity in the locker rooms.

Me- I think feeling comfortable enough in your own skin to be naked is a wonderful thing! The more you feel that the better. And when other people are comfortable with their bodies be happy for them being comfortable in them. If you don’t want to see someone naked, then just don’t look. Even if you do want to see someone naked, you still should keep your eyes to yourself and not be creepy.

But most importantly, don’t shame other folks for daring to be naked in a place designed for nakedness. Focus on yourself.

 

This isn’t all necessary of course, just my own little anecdotes turned advice about enjoying going to the gym.

There is a very common belief that it is important for people to see their bodies as part of themselves, not something separate from you, not just a vehicle you are in, but an intrinsic part of you.

I think there is a lot of value in this, specifically when talking about body image and harmful “diets” (or eating disorders masquerading as diets), the idea of one’s body as separate, and an object to fight against is part of the harmful mentality encourage by these.

I also know that for myself one of the best feelings I get from fitness is a deep sense of connection with my body, and an appreciation for what it does.

On the other hand though, I just read something about loving yourself even if you are unhealthy. My initial thought to that intro sentiment is that I see no contradiction there because I am not my body. My body can be ill and difficult, without me seeing those as inherent to who I am.

When it comes to being chronically ill, my feelings toward my body are very divergent from the mentality often encouraged in body positive spaces. I do often see my body as the enemy. I also do not love my body most of the time (in terms of function, not appearance). I also do feel like this depersonalization of my body is a mentally healthy approach to chronic illness at times. When I can’t do as much as I want, not seeing my body as intrinsic to who I am is part of recognizing “this is because my body is ill, this is not a reflection of me being a failure, or me being a weak person”.

Thus my limitations reflect back on my illness and by extension my body, not on me as a person.

I’ve been thinking recently about how we perceive aging and appearances.  Particularly for women.  It’s commonly said that man more attractive, more dignified looking,  as they get older, whereas for women youth is paramount.

Which is bullshit.  It really is.  Why is being young considered so desirable for women? 

I have times I look back at photos of myself in my later teen years and think I liked so much better,  and why didn’t I appreciate it at the time?  (Side note but when u do thin this,  I try to remind myself that I may feel that way about myself currently,  so I need to appreciate myself now. )
But other times,  I look in the mirror and think I like how I look now much better than when I was 18, despite all the reasons I “shouldn’t” according to whoever.  And I am still fairly young, and so subjected to little of the negativity women get about their appearance and worth as they age.  All I often hear messages about how is all downhill after 18 for women, and I think- why should I want to look 18 again?

Why should I want to be 18? What is it about being young we desire so much?  I have learned so much since then,  I have gotten wiser,  smarter,  and stronger.  I am less inclined to tolerate bullshit,  and I have a better understanding of what really matters in life.
I care less what people in general think of me,  I care less about being cool,  popular,  or fitting in.  And frankly,  I often look forward to getting even older and giving less a shit about these things as time goes on. 

Image says: If tomorrow, women woke up and decided they really liked their bodies, just think how many industries would go out of business. -Dr. Gail Dines

A page I follow on facebook shared a link about some guy who developed a vibrating bra that was demonstrated to actually increase a woman’s breast size, I believe it said 1 cup size in 1 week.

Unsure if this was meant to be serious I googled this… I’m not sure about this dude who apparently just invented this because this is a real thing and numerous products for this already exist. So I just wasted a bit of time looking at a bunch of different breast enhancement devices- there are vibrating bras, vibrating things you put inside your bra (both of which sound more like sex toys to me, but are marketed not for being pleasurable but for increasing breast size), weird looking rolling massagers designed specifically for use on breasts again marketed for increasing breast size, weird suction cup things, and of course all sorts of creams and pills.

All of which I feel fairly confident do not even work.

Of course I have now convinced amazon and google that I am seriously considering buying these products, so I know what ads I’ll be seeing a lot of online now!

Most of these products look just absolutely hilarious, so I’m laughing quite a bit looking at these things and thinking “people actually buy this!?!” Then I remember, yes, people actually buy these, and feel rather sad. As ridiculous as they look and sound, they exist because there are people who will buy them. People are taught to hate their bodies so much that no matter how ridiculous the product, any small bit of hope for “fixing” all those flaws, and finally being happy with your body seems worth it.

It makes me sad to think of how much money is wasted on hating our bodies instead of actually doing something that really does make us happy. I know I’ve wasted more money that I would ever care to think about on things that promised to fix flaws with my body.

And this is hardly limited to vibrating bras, and breast massagers promising larger breasts. There are so many products out there that exist for no other reason than to prey on our insecurities. I see all over social media the wraps- things that cling to your body and promise instant fat loss, and also can be used to make your boobs perkier, and they make your skin softer and clearer, give you a firmer, more lifted butt, et cetera. Pretty much anything you could possibly dislike about your body, I’m sure the sales people will tell you they do because all that matters if that you buy them! The same companies sell drinks and pills that they say will cause you to lose weight, creams to remove any “problems” with your skin, and pills that give thicker, smoother, silkier, longer, hair and stronger/longer nails.

I wish we could finally see a cultural revolution, where there was no longer any market for all these products that exist for no reason other than that we are taught to hate our bodies and prioritize “fixing” them over everything else. I want to just laugh at how ridiculous these products are, but it’s sad that there is such a market for body hatred.

Fit is a Feminist Issue mentioned in their recent link roundup a study that shows that exercise improves body image, regardless of changes to the body.

So looks like research backs up my own personal experiences here!

I’ve been saying for awhile that working out makes me feel better about my body that isn’t based on any specific physical change to my body.

In the study participants were measured for body size and shape and body image, then underwent a 2 week program that included 3 40 minute sessions each week of moderate intensity cardio exercise and then measured for body size and shape and body image after. This was compared with another 2 week program with reading rather than exercise. The results showed that even without changes in body weight/size, participants had higher measures of body image after the 2 weeks of exercise (and not the 2 weeks of reading).

So the study did not measure how low intensity, strength training, or less than 40 minute workout sessions impact body image, but anecdotally I have found that lifting benefits my body image.

Of course for myself I actually not been feeling very good about my body recently. Maybe need more exercise? lol.

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)

It’s been forever since my last run! I’ve been putting this “week” of runs off because they are so much longer!

We already know that I have a weird things about not wanting to run during the day. So trying to find time, after dark, when I have the time and energy to spend several hours on a workout. Obviously the actual run is not that long- according to the brief synopsis on the app it’s scheduled to be 50 minutes long. But there is clearly a lot more involved than just the run, and it did indeed take me several hours to complete everything today.

1AM: Pre-Run

I went to my basement to start some pre-run yoga right about 1 am. Of course that wasn’t an immediate start, rather I spent a few minutes looking around for a video to follow, since I wanted to follow a video this time. I found a yoga video that said it was for runners that I’ve done before but not recently so I didn’t remember it well. So I went ahead with that. Did about 25 minutes of yoga- though the last couple minutes I stopped following the video and did my own thing as the guy on the video was repeating a lot of the same poses as before that I felt were not really the type of stuff I needed pre-run whereas I hadn’t felt a good stretch in areas I felt I did need some stretching in pre-run. During the yoga I had a terrible migraine starting, but did not feel like calling quits on the run.

Of course it’s not like I was immediately out the door after that, I did my yoga barefoot so I still needed to put on my vibrams shoes, I took some alieve and exedrin migraine to try to stop the migraine (all out of my prescription medication) made sure I used the bathroom this time, then decided i really wanted to change clothes before my run, I was worried my pants were too loose and would be falling down the whole run and I was wearing a black t-shirt with black pants, and thought a shirt even a bit brighter would be safer in terms of visibility running at night.

I used the bathroom again to be safe because I was about to be nearly an hour walking/running without a bathroom near by and having to pee that whole time would not be fun. Then I grabbed my spibelt, my keys, and headphones, said goodbye to Blake and assured him I would not be gone long as he gave me his usual “why are you leaving me!?!?!?!” sad kitty face. After locking the door I put my keys in the spibelt and start up the app. By this point in time it was somehow 2am already, apparently I spent more time digging around for a new shirt than I thought.

2AM Run

I headed off on my 5 minute warm up walk. Spent a good portion of that on my phone as it was raining just slightly but I was worried about ended up with severe weather while I was not close to home. Everything I could find indicated there were no severe weather warnings for the area, though it also said the chance of rain was very, very low, and yet it was just barely raining. Luckily it never got any worse than that. I would not want to run in heavy rain, but I wasn’t too worried about rain. It’s being out walking/running miles from home if a thunderstorm started or worse, there was a tornado warning, that concerns me.

The layout for the run just says a 5 minute run, implying it’s expected you run the whole thing, but when Dr. Myers announces it she clearly says that it is a free-form run- meaning walk or run whatever amount you feel comfortable. Of course I’ve been doing these 5 minute free runs awhile now so of course I was going to run the whole 5 minutes. 5 minutes went by much faster this time than before, though I felt like just those 5 minutes took all my energy by the end of it, and my feet were hurting. I had been planning to go for a run a few days back and had taped my feet, but then realized that I needed to be to bed earlier than I would be able to if I tried to get in a run that night. The tape made it until today before peeling off, and I have only a few strips left and no money for anymore, so I decided not to retape for my run. Sometimes I suspect it’s really nothing more than a placebo effect, but I swear I notice such a huge difference between with kinesio-tape and without.

Next up was fast and slow walking intervals. Meant to have knee lifts but I skip those as I just don’t feel like doing them on a major street. While there are fewer people driving or walking around so late at night, there still are always some cars and people around. Most of the time I replaced the knee lifts with stopping to stretch my feet a bit to help with the pain.

After the walking intervals were 30 second running intervals. Which felt weird to do after having previous done longer running intervals. And these weren’t meant to be sprints so I wasn’t going all out the way I would with sprints. On the other hand I used them to focus a bit more on form. I read not long ago, I think on a fit is a feminist issue blog post (btw, great blog, you should check it out if you haven’t), about chi running and I’ve been trying to incorporate some of the stuff I read about it. One of the main things that made me interested in chi running when I read about it was the fact that it promotes a midfoot strike, which I had already been using as that also tends to work best with barefoot (or “barefoot” with vibrams 5 finger shoes as I use) running. Mainly I’ve been working on the leaning forward aspect, where you are supposed to basically be working with gravity when running by leaning forward, adjusting the lean based on speed. What I do is obviously not totally chi running, certainly not correct as I’m basing this all off of a few online articles, but still I find the elements I’ve been able to add from it feel more natural for me.

Now this run I did all along a main road, no side streets today. That combined with a longer run meant i went way further down the road than I ever have before (by foot). Knowing the run would be approximately an hour ish, I figured I should cross over and head back around 30ish minutes in. So around 25 minutes in I decided next crossing I will cross over the street and head back on the other side. Turns out, there aren’t anymore crossings that far down! So I’m going, and going, until I’ve crossed into the next city over already and I could see the freeway up ahead where the road splits, and there isn’t a crossover until I get up there, and i’m certainly not planning to go that far. At that point I decide to just cross where I’m at, already into the 15 minute free form run by the this point, and over 32 minutes in. Of course after crossing there I realized I could have just turned around and ran back on the same side of the street, lol. I have been in the habit of crossing and running back on the other side but there is no reason I have to! Oh well.

So at about 32 minutes the free form run started. I basically did the same for this run as I did with the last Zombies 5K run- I can’t say I ran the whole 15 minutes, but I only slowed to a walk/stop for a few seconds at a time, and only a few times at that. I saw stop because 8 minutes in I was getting a cramp in my side and stopped for just a few seconds to stretch a little, which just about got rid of the cramp entirely. This time though my struggle with the run was not at all boredom. Rather I was tired, out of breath, and my heart was pounding. Several health factors at play with that, though certainly my recent anxiety is a big factor. The job hunt is not going well, summer is nearly over and somehow I still have not found a real job, I have about $5 at the moment and that’s it. No idea what I am going to do about anything financially at the moment other than continue crossing my fingers that some job applications will pan out.  I’m constantly stressed out completely over this. Anxiety tends to raise my heart rate, combined with running, and well, that should be obvious.

My mantra through the free form run though was that I am capable of more than I think I am. I kept telling myself that and every time I felt like that was all the energy I had in me and I couldn’t run anymore, I just told myself that was not all I could do and I could indeed keep going. And it worked out!

Though I’ve found that the Zombies 5K app does not always have it’s math right. Like I said, I started the free form run (immediately following a 30 second run interval) around 32 minutes in. At 37 minutes Dr. Meyers told me it had been 5 minutes, added up. And yet, I think the notification was at 45 minutes in that there were still 3 more minutes to go. Then 47 minutes in came and went with no notification that the 15 minutes was up. 48 minutes in came and went without notification. A little after 48 minutes in I slowed to a walk. It wasn’t for another minute- after 49 minutes in, that Dr. Meyers said the 15 minutes was up. But by my count I had already ran (for the most part) over 16 minutes though, so I don’t feel bad about slowing to a walk early.

Of course I was still a ways from home though. As much as I feel like I should better plan my runs to end right near home, and a few times I’ve been close and just ran back and forth on my block until the end of the run, I actually prefer a cool down walk at the end, which the program does not have built in. Now a 20ish minute walk is way overkill for that, but certainly is nice to get a cool down walk in at the end. Even though I still do yoga/stretching and foam rolling when I get home, it’s not the same and still is better (imo) to do a cool down walk before that.

So it was after 3am by the time I got home.

3:10AM Post-Run

I then got home, kicked off my shoes, had to use the bathroom again, and then headed back to my basement. Before I started stretching i ended up massaging my feet a bit because they needed it. Then 12 minutes of stretching, and 6 minutes of foam rolling. By the time I was done it was after 3:30am. So if we count only to here all in all from when I headed downstairs for pre-run yoga, until I was heading back up after post-run stretching and foam rolling, the whole workout really took up 2 and a half hours.

Though after that I felt like I needed a shower, but then changed my mind and decided an epsom salt bath might be better. which meant first cleaning my bathtub (I always clean it before a bath), then had my bath. By the end of that it was about 4:30am. Obviously a bath after is not necessary, but it’s certainly not unrelated, I took an epsom salt bath because I knew it would help sooth my muscles and feet from the run, it’s not like this would have been a typical part of my night if I hadn’t done some workout.

The I went to get something to eat- made a protein shake. And then to my computer to compose this blog post. And now it’s almost 6am. All in all, took up pretty much my whole night!

EDIT: I spent a lot of time in this post talking about all the things that make an approximately 1 hour run a lot longer. I guess I should explain a bit that part of this was inspired by something I read awhile back, though I can’t find where it was, where someone was talking about that common “fitsportation” message that a 1 hour workout is only 4% of your day, so “no excuses”. The author talked about how that a 1 hour workout isn’t just the 1 hour you spend working out. They mentioned packing a gym bag, driving to the gym, changing, driving home. Of course there are all the other aspects too like, even if it is only 4% of your day that doesn’t always mean there is room for it within all the other things we have to fit into a day. Or that what reasons a person has for working out or not any day is none of your damn business. Still, I thought about this in terms of this run today. The run itself may only be an hour, but add in the yoga before, stretching and foam rolling after, not to mention all the little mundane things that take up some times, and it adds up to a lot more than just the hour ish I spend on my run.

Body Image While Running

Oh, one more issue, from my run, I run past a lot of buildings with glass which crudely reflects my image as I run past. For a long time whenever I would catch my reflection in them and I would try not to look and it would bring my mood down while running as I see my fat reflection running super slow, and all the stereotypes associated with that would flood my head. I noticed today that I didn’t mind my reflection so much today, and was not making any attempts to avoid it. So, yay for that, lol 🙂

So someone mentioned a website proteinpow.com online and I decided to check it out. It’s a website with a bunch of recipes using protein powder. Pretty cool. At the bottom on the home page they have some links to recipes of theirs with one titled “Are you beach body ready?” And I’m sad to admit that I was nervous clicking it- is this going to be a body positive piece or more advice on losing weight to look good at the beach?

Fat hate trolls like to act like they have an exclusive claim on fitness. And seeing them a bit too much on instagram recently, that mentality starts to seep into my brain, and I become weary of fitness spaces/websites.

The stupid thing is, this isn’t really my experience with fitness sites and people involved in fitness. Women especially who are very interested in fitness still understand the negative, impossible to win standards women are taught to hate ourselves if we fail to meet. Body positivity then is very much accepted and supported by many fit women.

And the article on proteinpow was actually good! I quite liked it! It actually reminded me quite a lot of Laura’s post about the Protein World ad. From the proteinpow article:

NO ONE is attacking health and fitness. On the contrary, they’re seeking to reclaim the true meaning of what health and fitness actually means.

. . .

It’s a lie to think that fit bodies only look a certain way. How can they? When they’ve all been designed so differently? How can we – and more important – why SHOULD we all fit a singular mold?

I would argue that, either directly or indirectly, the reason we’re sold this lie is so that we feel unhappy with ourselves – unhappy enough to feel the need to buy weight loss supplements when we don’t need them. Unhappy enough to push beyond our breaking point when we exercise and lose sight of why we started on our fitness journey to begin with. Reminder: it wasn’t just for a six-pack – it was for our fitness, it was for our performance, and it was for our health.

. . .

That’s why I think it’s important to push body-accepting discourse. Because it’s only when we love our bodies that we treat them well. That we feed them well. That we exercise them well and use them to the best of their capacity. It’s out of love for our bodies – no matter how ‘fit’ or ‘unfit’ they may seem to someone else – that we treat them their best, fuel them as we should, and exercise them with gusto. And we use them as the tools that they are for living healthy, happy, and full-to-the-brim lives!
So we need to work together to underscore the fact that a ‘beach ready body’ or a ‘bikini body’ isn’t ONE KIND of body – let alone one that requires weight loss to be ‘ready’. You know what a a bikini body is? It’s ANY body. All someone needs to get a bikini body is a body. And a bikini.

It’s not perfect from the perspective of many size acceptance activists of course, but I’m ok with that. From a fitness focused perspective, I think it’s a pretty good article!

And it does remind me of some of the amusing things fat hate trolls thing they can tell about me from my body size. Like that I obviously have never even touched a barbell. That I wouldn’t use protein supplements or other supplements often used to help facilitate muscle growth and recovery (like creatine). This coming from the same folks though who think lifting = bodybuilding. Powerlifting? Olympic weightlifting? Strongman? What’s any of that? Obviously the only people who pick up weights are bodybuilders. Certainly makes me suspect they are not in any place to be judging other people’s knowledge regarding lifting heavy things.

It is funny to me both because it’s so not true to me and my life (obviously I enjoy lifting, and I have protein powder I use for shakes primarily but also other recipes (I love some peanut butter chocolate chip protein balls! Great homemade alternative to protein bars imo). I also take creatine. Aside from my personal experience though, it also amuses because fat women lifting is not some really unheard of thing. There are a lot of fat or otherwise just not thin or bodybuilder looking women who do powerlifting, olympic weightlifting, and strong(wo)man style lifting. This shouldn’t be news to anyone familiar with lifting.

[Image of troll dolls] Not these cute ones, but I’d rather use a photo of some cute dolls than anything more on topic.

I check out various hashtags on instagram from time to time though I don’t follow any religiously, but it was brought to my attention by someone that there were a bunch of trolls posting using various body positive hashtags and curiosity got the better of me and I checked them out. And sure enough the hashtags were overrun with trolls. Photos mocking fat people, photos of literal shit and vomit, and the usual jokes about fat people being lazy. All apparently from a subreddit called “fatpeoplehate”. Well, at least they are being honest about what they are about! No faux concern or attempts to call the hate anything else to make it sound more palatable. Their purpose is hating a group of people pure and simple. Their message is hate,end of story.

After that I kept checking back on the hashtags. They were still being overrun by these hateful messages from troll accounts that instagram keeps around despite the fact that they are very open about their sole intent being spreading hate, bullying, and harassment.

It really suck being reminded that there are people out there who even though they’ve never met you, straight up hate you because of some characteristic that has no impact on them. To be reminded that these people see you as less than human.

But despite that negativity I noticed a few things,

(in no real order)

  1. All these hateful images and messages were coming from just a handful of accounts. They were overtaking the hashtags but not due to numbers, there were far more people using the hashtags as they were intended with the occasional real photo shared here and there.
  2. The only reason these trolls were able to seem to dominate the hashtag despite being far outnumbered is because they posted constantly. What sad lives to spend so much time posting hate through a troll account.
  3. The troll accounts were just that- no name of the person behind it, no photos of who they really are, none of the normal instagram photos normal accounts have- selfies, stuff they do, friends, family, nature, their city, whatever else. There is none of that because people who spend so much of their time online hating and harassing other people do not want actually want that hate, that bullying, associated with who they really are. At the end of the day, they know they are wrong and that their behavior is unacceptable. So they hide. My instagram is on the side of this blog filled with selfies and pictures of my boring everyday life. That’s because I am not ashamed of anything I say here or there. I don’t need to hide who is behind these words.

And at the end of the day, despite all that hate, these are my take home points from this. As disgusting as these trolls are, they are a small group of people. They do not represent they views of most people. They are a few sad, pathetic people hiding behind the anonymity of their computer screen, in fear of their real identity ever being outed, because they know most people would not condone their hate and bullying behaviors.

I just want to encourage others to remember this, and don’t let a small group of hateful people bring you down.