Posts Tagged ‘healthy mindset’

I’m always trying to push myself, little by little, to get out of my comfort zone and do things that make me freak out. Eventually with this process, I get to try new things, and become comfortable in more environments.

Joining the gym in the first place was out of my comfort zone.

Swimming at the gym was out of my comfort zone, even at night with few people around.

Swimming during the day with lots of people around but an empty lane was another step out of my comfort zone after I got comfortable with swimming at night.

Yesterday I went to the gym after work before the debate expecting to be too drunk after the presidential debate to go to the gym. I forgot how crowded they get during the day. The mall sized parking lot for the gym was packed. I almost turned around then, but the upside of driving 40 minutes to the gym is it makes me less inclined to turn around and head home without getting my workout in.

When I went in, the pool was packed. 4 out of 5 lanes were reserved for the next hour and half for “programs”. Leaving only 1 lane for anyone, like myself, who was just there to swim. When I got there, there were two men sharing that lane already. I was nervous about trying to be a third in the lane, it didn’t look like it would work well, especially with one dude swimming the butterfly stroke. I waited a bit and one of them left so I decided to go ahead and ask the remaining guy if I could share the lane. He said no problem. Shortly after another person joined, so we did end up with 3 people sharing the lane.

Super out of my comfort zone there, but I sucked it up and did it. And in the end, as always, it was not at all as scary as I make it out to be in my head.

I did end up changing my workout plan based on sharing the lane but I did 10 laps of front crawl and called it a day.

Ever since I’ve started making an effort to push myself out of my comfort zone, I’ve been doing more and having lots more fun. I definitely plan to keep with it and keep trying new things. It’s uncomfortable and even scary at first, but so far has been very worth it!

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One of my take away life lessons from 2015 is that it’s the little things in life that can have the most impact, at least for me.

I’ve struggled a lot over the past couple years with feeling not good enough, feeling like I’m not doing enough, and being unhappy. I’ve been stressed out basically. I was stressed out with school and feeling like I was never doing good enough or just plan old doing enough with it, I was stressed out working a job where my income didn’t cover my bills, I was stressed out trying to pay for health insurance, I was stressed out with a job where my work was not appreciated and I was not treated with respect, so I left that job and was still stressed out at not having enough money, I was also stressed out and feeling bad over social conceptions of what it means to not have a job.

By the end of 2015 I’m much happier. I’m not making a lot of money, money hasn’t ceased being a worry, ends still don’t quite meet for me, but it’s better than before. More importantly, I have a job where I feel valued. And those little things make all the difference.

I  still don’t have a “PhD” behind my name, yet. I didn’t present at any big conferences. I also didn’t go to any big concerts. I didn’t meet anyone famous. In many ways I didn’t “do” a whole lot.

Yet- I am far more happy with things.

With the new year, I saw this idea that I liked when I read about it- to create a rememberence jar- decorate a mason jar and then write down some good thing, or some memory, in that jar each day and at the end of the year you can see all these great memories or positive things.

This sounded great and I was totally going to do this, but then Jan 1st I was in my kitchen washing dishes late at night and wondering what I could possibly write down for that day. Washed dishes? That’s not really a big important memory to make note of.

But doing dishes is one of those little things in life. Few things in life seem to feel as good to me as a clean and empty sink. Maybe because I so rarely have one. Yet day to day those little things, and little sources of happiness, like getting all my dishes washed, have more impact on my overall happiness and quality of life than big exciting things, like going to a concert.

Which may just be me. I may just be exceedingly boring. I’m ok with that. For me, that’s how it is. So, keeping that in mind for myself, maybe something that seems designed to highlight “special” moments over everyday ones isn’t the best fit for me and my life.

I think there is a lot of pressure in our culture to have lives that look exciting from the outside. I feel this in particular being an introverted person, the assumption that surely my life would have more meaning, be fuller, and be better if I just go out more often, and do things, in public, with other people. But for me, that is not my path to happiness.

I mentioned in my last post that I like resolutions/goals for a new year that build off of things that have already worked. Well, keeping that in mind, I hope to spend 2016 staying in touch with the importance of little things. It may not make the most impressive instagram photo, or the most exciting story to share, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important or worthwhile.

New Year’s Resolutions are a funny thing. I’m not sure I’ve ever actually met all of mine, and yet each year I make them. This year will be no exception.

But I try to make changes and keep them more reasonable.

Last year I tried to make fewer goals and keep them more reasonable than I had before.

2014 I gave myself a lot of very specific goals but never did them. So 2015 I tried to do fewer.

For 2015 my goals were:

Fitness Goals:
Squat my body weight (and hopefully more)

Did not accomplish this. My max squat of 2015 was .89 times my body weight.
Bench Press 100lbs (and hopefully more)

I did actually accomplish this one! Though it was not a very bold goal.
I WILL actually do a tough mudder this year,

Nope. 


School Goals:
Keeping my goals more reasonable this time around- obviously finish coursework and pass my quals are on the list, but my big goal is to submit something for publication. That’s it, keeping it simple right now.

Did not quite meet these. I didn’t finish all my coursework, and as such was not able to take my final qualifying exam in 2015. I did submit for publications though!


House Goals:
I will get my office set up soon, finally!

Yes! This is done. Though the last part just got finished (I got a desk chair, so I can actually use my desk! lol)


Other Stuff:
Learn something new this year.

hmm, I didn’t really accomplish this in any specific, planned way. I’ve learned things, for certain, but something that was really planned in terms of meeting this goal? No.

One big problem with my new year’s resolutions every year, is that I have a tendency to make them and forget about them until the next year- when I look at the list and go “didn’t do that!”

So this year, I am trying to make my goals specific, measurable, reasonable, and plan a way of tracking them throughout the year.

So coming up with my 2016 resolutions, I started with a list of vague goals I want to accomplish:

  • meditate more often
  • Spend more time on art
  • Lift more consistently
  • Learn krav maga
  • Declutter
  • Journal more often

 

After making this list I took each item and answered 4 questions for it:

Why is this a goal for 2016?

Make it specific/measurable:

How will I measure it?

Is it reasonable?

Meditate more often

  • Why?
    • Meditation improves mental health, helps keep me focused, relaxed, and in touch with myself.
  • Make it measurable/specific:
    • Meditate daily, even if only for a few minutes.
  • How will I measure this?
    • Use headspace to help track meditation
  • Is this a realistic goal?
    • I hesitate to make goals that have to be done EVERY day, but by making it daily but not requiring any amount of time each day I think this is realistic. Even if I only take 3 minutes to meditate, that still counts.

Spend more time on art

  • Why?
    • I enjoy it, it’s relaxing, it’s something I do just because I enjoy it. A more vague way of wording this goal could have been to spend more time doing things just because I enjoy them, but for me art/crafting is this thing.
  • Make it measurable/specific:
    • Work on art or crafting at least 1 hr each week.
  • How will I measure this?
    • Use onenote notebook to track this
  • Is this a realistic goal?
    • 1 hour per week is realistic and not expecting to much. I can do one hour one day one  a weekend, or 15 minutes 4 days out of the week, however works out.

Lift more consistently

  • Why?
    • I want to be stronger, it’s good for my health, and to be effective I need to be more consistent. Consistency is often a big struggle for me.
  • Make it measurable/specific:
    • Lift at least 3 days/week on average
  • How will I measure this?
    • Use onenote notebook/calendar to track this
  • Is this a realistic goal?
    • This one I have the most trouble trying to make it realistic. I want to say I will lift 4 days/week but I know I won’t always meet that. Even 3 days/week I might not always meet. I say average because it is realistic if I do 2 days one week, 4 days the next, as I’m able to, then my average still works out. I also want this to include any lifting, since I aim to be do it more often. I am working on trying to allow myself shorter workouts when necessary to at least be doing something even when I don’t have the time or energy for a long workout.

Learn Krav Maga

  • Why?
    • I have been wanting to for years, and this fits my general goal of learning of something new each year.
  • Make it measurable/specific
    • In January I will sign up with a membership
    • After I sign up, I will attend a class at least 3 times/month
  • How will I measure this?
    • Use onenote notebook/calendar to track this
  • Is this a realistic goal?
    • 3 times/month should be a realistic goal. The most difficult part of this goal and what kept me from meeting it in the past will be the cost, but I’ve decided to make this a financial priority.

Declutter

  • Why?
    • I need to get my house cleaned up, I have to much stuff cluttering up my space, and I know that getting rid of things and having less clutter will be better for me mentally.
  • Make it measurable/specific:
    • I will get rid of at least one box of stuff each month
  • How will I measure this?
    • Keep a box in my house labeled for the month, at the end of the month it is donated.
  • Is this a realistic goal?
    • Yes. I have enough to get rid of more than 1 box each month, this should not be difficult to meet.

Journal More Often

  • For now I’m dropping this goal. I have too many already, and I need to keep my focus limited. The more I say I will do, the less likely I am to stay focused on all of them and achieve all of them. If I do well with other goals, this may be added later.

Actually, no school goals came to mind for me this year. School took a bit of a backseat this last semester for me, and I’m actually far happier with things now. So, as I figure out how to fit school in my life without sacrificing too much of my health on it, I’m not making any specific goals for school.

Actually, overall my goals for 2016 are things related to improving my health, in particular my mental health. I think I have made  a lot of improvement on that front lately, and I plan to continue to improve there. I do think what works for me most of the time with new year’s goals is actually looking at what already works or is going well and setting goals that build on or continue those things.

For most of these goals I plan to use onenote to track them and ensure I am actually paying attention to them more than just one the first of next year. I have been using onenote to track workouts already, and it’s been very effective so I will use that method for other goals as well.

 

Also no goals related to running because I still can barely walk due to pain, so I have no idea when I will be able to return to running, or even walking more. I saw my PCP about my foot, had an x-ray which showed a heel spur and a tumor. Now I have to follow up with a podiatrist about the results and hopefully come up with something that will allow me to walk, and hopefully run, without such severe pain.

I have been pretty inactive recently. Runs been cancelled due to weather a few times, but I’ve also been dealing with some depression that had me not working out so much.

Finally went out for another run yesterday morning and was going to do just another short 1 mile run. I made it 1.5 blocks running before my calves were cramping up so badly I slowed to a walk. Walked a bit further on but then turned around and headed home- fully limping by the time I was headed home.

I walked a mile to and a mile from a street fair during the evening yesterday/today and just walking felt very difficult. My walk there I don’t think I was really limping, but slow with an uneven gait. Walking around the event it got worse until I was limping, and the walk home was slow and limping. Calves and arms started cramping up, which has me wondering if my potassium is low. If not I don’t know what the hell is going on because that’s certainly not normal for me.

Of course it’s not just running, but I haven’t done  a whole lot of lifting recently either. And despite not doing much of anything after my non-run yesterday morning I somehow injured my shoulder.

Since I’ve been blogging about my runs and more specifically am supposed to be blogging about my experiences running with the Fat Girls’ Guide to Running clubhouse, I felt obligated to make this post, but I really don’t have much more to say. Training has not gone well recently, and so I will be working to get back at it more often.

I also may lay off running for awhile and do more walking instead, depending how things go/how I feel.

Though if there is anything of importance to say in this post I think it’s this: this in many ways really gets to the heart of my approach to working out- thing get in the way. I am never going to be perfectly consistent, and I am not going to make that the goal. Sometimes I won’t be as active as other times, but I will not feel like because I wasn’t so active these last couple weeks that this defines how active I will be in the coming days, weeks, or months. Everytime my activity level takes a dip I will accept that for what it is and just work on getting it back up again. Everytime, without self-chastisement, without making promises to myself that it will never happen again when I know I can’t keep that promise. Things will always happen, but I will not let that discourage me from the long term focus on staying active.

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)

I am thinking that maybe I will start blogging about my runs here- like specifically a blog post for each run about how it went, how I felt, random things it made me think of. I’m hoping doing so would help motivate me to run more. Summer is here, and I didn’t run pretty much at all over the winter so I felt like I needed to start from scratch again. I decided to go back to my Zombies 5K app and do that again. I had the idea that I would start running every other day for over the summer, at least for now since I have the time. My idea was actually do the 3 runs for each “week” of zombies 5K but then after that (between “weeks”) I would do a HIIT running workout, because I love those.

So I set out and did my Week 1 Day 1 run just under 2 weeks ago. And then I didn’t run again until this morning. So my plan didn’t work out obviously.

So I’m needing a bit of motivation to get me actually running. This isn’t really an accountability thing, that doesn’t work for me. Actually it tends to have the opposite effect. I run, I lift, I workout in general for me. When it starts to feel like I’m doing it for someone else, because I’m obligated, because I made a promise, it falls apart. I don’t want to do it anymore. I don’t want to run because I have to run because I told people I would and now if I don’t they will know that I didn’t follow through.

This is just because I think adding the blogging and reflection will help me.

So back to my runs now. For Zombies 5K for those not familiar it has 8 weeks with 3 workouts each week. For Week 1 each workout is a 10 min warmup walk, then you repeat 10 times walking for 1 minute and 15 seconds of jogging, then finish with a 10 minute free form run. The free form run is 10 minutes where you walk or run as much as you feel capable of.

So my first time doing this again the 15 seconds of jogging was definitely not wearing me out at all. I can run longer than that even despite not having run in awhile. So I was feeling good through the most of it, and then got to the 10 minute free form run. I always want to try to run the entire free form runs, but I also was ok with this being my first time back at running in awhile, slowing to a walk a littler here and there. And that is how it went!  I slowed to a walk just a little bit a few times, but I ran most of the 10 minute run (and then walked the rest of the way home after the 10 minutes was up). Overall felt it went pretty good.

Things were different this time. 15 seconds still didn’t feel hard, but my feet have been hurting a lot and just walking was hurting them. As well I ended up with a bad sunburn after mowing the law, so my chest and shoulders were in pain. Overall I felt kind of miserable and exhausted. But I decided to go out for a run whether it was good or bad. I thought a lot through this about my feelings with running.

Thinking about starting from scratch after not running over the winter and realizing I don’t actually feel bad about that. I am not trying to run marathons right now or anything. Running can be a warm weather only activity for me and I don’t mind right now if winters set me back. I felt all this winter like I needed to be running, but it wasn’t so much “I want to be running” as “I feel like I should be running”. I’m trying to let go of these “shoulds” and just do what feels right for me. And I’m ok with not making linear progress with running. It’s not about that for me.

So I had no real issues this run with my 15 second jogging intervals, but the 10 minute free form run had little running in it. I ran a few minutes, walked a bit, ran some more, walk a bit, ran a little more. I was halfway through and I slowed to a walk… to a limp actually. At which point I decided not to try running anymore and just walk the rest of the way home (which was only slightly over 5 minutes- I was better this time at working out a route that wasn’t way longer than needed). And I don’t feel bad about that. I don’t actually feel bad that my second run I was able to run LESS than my first, when I’m “supposed” to be getting better. Some runs will be good, some will be bad. But I like going out and doing it, and that’s what matters. That’s what I’m focusing on.

I’ve also decided to just take it as it goes and I’m not worrying about hitting any significant goals. Even though I’m supposed to be doing a run in september, so I need to be able to run further for that- right now I am going to work on letting go of all these “shoulds”. If I can’t run long enough by september, then I won’t be doing it. I’m not stressing out about it right now. I’m going to work on running because I like running, the end.

I have enough stuff in my life I get stressed out about, enough deadlines, and things that need to be done. Running is supposed to be for fun, for fitness, for my health, and stressing out about hitting specific lengths or times is the opposite all those things. So I’m going to work on letting it be a de-stressing activity rather than something else I stress about.

[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.

I want to talk about something that has been bothering me and that is the moralizing of eating. Not food (that is a different issue), but eating itself. This comes up in terms of the “why are you eating?” pieces of advice around identifying if you are hungry or bored or stressed or sad or eating for any reason other than physical hunger. And let me be clear that I have no problem with this topic or advice on understanding why we eat or crave certain things in and of itself.  What bothers me is simply when this is treated as if we all have some moral imperative to only eat when physically hungry. That it is some sort of sin to eat for any other reason. And that, I do disagree with.

I am all about understanding our relationships with food, understanding why we eat, why we crave certain things, and just all around being better in touch with our bodies and minds. I talked before in my post on intuitive eating that I tend to crave sugary drinks if I get dehydrated and that is really just me being dehydrated and what I really need is water (though I could get this through either plain water or other drinks). Along a similar line I’m all about understanding why I am hungry or craving any particular thing at that time. I think the more in touch we are with our bodies and minds the messages they send us the better off we are.

I also believe very strongly in my life in prioritizing what my time, energy, and mental focus. And I’ve talked a lot here before about how fitness is not my top priority in life, and neither is eating or my body size or any of that.

This means, that sometimes what I’m eating or why I’m eating is not my priority at that time. And I for one am done feeling ashamed of that. I stress eat sometimes. And I know that it’s because of stress, but it also takes energy and some mental focus to go through the “I just want cookies because I’m stressed, I’m not actually hungry” and resist eating the cookies. No, not a lot of energy or mental focus,  but when I’m rushing against a deadline to get a paper done, or proposal submitted on time, or anything else like that, my priority for all my energy and mental focus is on getting that done as well as possible on time. And that means, no, I’m not going to commit the mental resources to avoiding munching on some cookies while I do it. Because at the end of the day, not eating cookies is not that important to me. I don’t really give a damn if sometimes I eat cookies when I’m stressed. I do not think that is a moral failing, a character flaw, or some sort of sin.

And if eating some “junk food” when I’m stressed about getting something important done for a deadline is the reason I’m fat, I still don’t give a fuck. I’m still ok with the fact that I ate those cookies and I’m still ok with being fat.

So I saw this article on facebook, posted by the girls gone strong facebook page, and one reason I love following them! I love that they a promoting fitness and weight lifting for women but from a perspective that is more cognizant of the health messages around it.

This article is by Jen Sinkler about the “no excuses” photos of women with kids and 6-pack abs.

That’s the thing about both Pell and Kang: Both wholeheartedly appear to believe they are spreading positive messages. And I applaud them for demonstrating a commitment to their fitness in spite of busy lives. But the ripple effect of the many photos they post of their ripped abs—or, more to the point, their challenging, abrasive “no excuses” captions—is not as clear.

An increasing number of teen girls are steering clear of high school sports because Facebook and Instagram are making them feel body conscious, according to a 2014 study out of Flinders University in Australia. “A lot of the girls who were interviewed actually spend a fair bit of time on ‘fitspo’ [fitness inspiration] pages,” said Claire Drummond, Ph.D., associate professor of social health sciences, in a post about the study on the Flinders site. “The problem is a lot of these pages contain images of fitness models with six packs and skinny bodies that are completely unattainable to everyday young women.”

. . .

Our bodies are our own business, and truly empowering messages revolve around what we can learn to do with them rather than how we can shift and starve and shape them to look a certain way. If Kang and Pell want to truly motivate others, they would be better off dropping unwittingly combative, shame-inducing comparisons. When it comes to real inspiration, “Come with me” always trumps “Look at me.”

This has also reminded of a few other articles I read awhile back, and meant to blog about but didn’t get around to, about “fitspo”.

There have been a number of articles written asking the question “Is fitspo just as dangerous as thinspo?” (TW for… well, thinspo)

And, well, I feel like we should be asking why “fitness” is modeling terminology after something associated so strongly with eating disorders? Who thought that was a good message for promoting health?

And this article (5 reasons “fitspo” is bad for your health) states that “fitspo” started gaining popularity right around the time sites like instragram started banning thinspo/thinsporation. For many, “fitspo” is “thinspo” but hidden behind the guise of health to make it seem more ok.

It also brings to mind though the recent blog post from the blog Fit and Feminist: A Coach is Not a Therapist. One thing she talks about is seeing women who seem to be struggling with mental health issues including eating disorders recommended diets or hiring fitness coaches. There are people who turn to “fitness” and “fitspo” to support an eating disorder, and what is the fitness community doing, or should be doing, to help support real health (which means not supporting eating disorders, body dysmorphia, and the idea that happiness means a certain body size)?

I gotta say, I don’t know the answer. It brings to mind some photos I’ve seen on a fitness website that I said nothing about because I don’t want to say something negative about someone’s body and I don’t know how to express this concern without it coming across that way- but I have seen women post photos of their stomachs where every rib is visible and pushing out against their skin, and they comment how they just need to lose a few more pounds to get their abs to really pop.

I know the mantra- “abs are made in the kitchen”. (And my “excuse” for not having visible abs is primarily that I don’t want visible abs!) But come on! When I can see all your ribs that clearly, if your abs are not as defined as you think they should be, the problem is definitely not too much body fat.

And maybe one way to combat is to take over “fitspo” with messages that are actually healthy though? I don’t know.

I do know that I see people use “fitsporation” and “fitspo” for things that do not fall into the “thinspo with abs” category. There was another article on everydayfeminism  about the good, the bad, and they ugly of “fitspo”.

The term is out there. It exists. And people, including young girls, are following these hashtags. So maybe one of the best things would be trying to drown out the negative ways it’s used with images and sayings that actually promote fitness from a healthy perspective, and have a well-rounded focus on health that acknowledges that being healthy means more than just being fit and active, physical health includes so much more than that, and health overall includes our physical and mental health.

As a side not though, I came across a little unintentional body love in an ad that popped up on that women’s health article.

No thanks I already have a bikini bodyThis ad popped up offering me a 21-Day Bikini Body Plan. I am not interested, and I notice that the no thanks button is not simply “not thanks” or “not interested” but says “no thanks, I already have a bikini body”. And my first thought was actually “really, that’s the only reason you think I could not be interested?” And then I thought of this:

So I clicked “No thanks, I already have a bikini body” because- yup! 😛

I just thought of this today as I was browsing the internet and stumbled across some tips on weight loss that says how you need to hide away unhealthy foods so they won’t tempt you.

And as I read that I glance across my living room at 9 bags of Halloween candy just laying out. Anyone want to guess how much of that candy I have eaten today? Well the answer is none. And honestly I have no desire to eat any right now. I had some on Halloween night after I realized I was not getting near enough trick or treaters to need it all. (I got 3 btw. 3 kids total all night.) But I haven’t had any since.

And this isn’t an attempt at bragging. Certainly not about my massive will power. Actually my point is will power has nothing to do with it. Because I have no problems eating candy now and then.

And that’s the key. Because if I want some candy, I will go eat some goddamn candy. The result? I don’t feel the overwhelming urge to rush over and start shoveling as much candy as possible into my face.

On the other hand, I remember days past of dieting when I did need to hide or get rid of Halloween candy to avoid eating it because my self-control was not that great.

It’s like when you try not to think about a white bear. What do you end up thinking about? A white bear!

This has long been my experience with dieting. As soon as thing are “bad” and off limits, all I can think about eating is those things. Yet oddly, when not off limits and I allow myself to eat those foods if I want them, I don’t think about or crave them so much.

The only real exception to that I will say is beverages. I still try to avoid drinking sugary drinks and the only way I can ever successfully avoid craving them is by making sure I drink enough water- because my main “craving” there is just dehydration, but if I let myself get actually dehydrated I find myself craving sugary drinks instead of water. But if I keep myself well hydrated with water, I don’t really crave them the same way.

Which is why my current approach to diet is centered around trying to make sure I eat foods that are nourishing (and ideally high in protein- still struggle immensely with that though), and drinking enough water to stay well hydrated. It’s about what my body needs to have, not what I think it or have been told it shouldn’t.