I am way too tired for thoughts.
My lovely partner and I have committed to one blog post (me) and sketch (her) per day for the entirety of October. Even if it’s just one sentence or one eyeball, we will produce something from our creative minds onto the paper (screen) every day this month. We are hoping this will jump-start our creative engines and build a healthy habit for the future we dream of!
I love my blog and look at it often, lovingly and sadly. Cursing myself for lack of commitment to all the things. Truth is, when Miss Kitty died in April I was devastated. I wanted to blog about it but I could not, so I didn’t blog at all.
Now, it’s October. Whoops.
This is the official last leg of my Build a Gym Habit self-challenge, and I do not think it is too early to grant myself the Achievement! Woot! Go me! +10 Points.
I have discovered that I LOVE the gym. I don’t know why it’s so fun, but it is! I can see myself doing this forever, it’s definitely a sustainable habit already. The only thing that baffles me is why I waited so long to do this. The mind is a funny thing, right? I have always absolutely hated exercise, but now I like it, or something? Who am I?!!?
The gym is fairly empty on Monday, which does not make sense to me. Starting the week off right seems important! I had the circuit room and the locker room all to myself, and I even got to change in a stall with a hairdryer! The hairdryer didn’t work, but just being near one was certainly upward mobility for me.
I was going to wait until after 4 weeks of cardio focus to start doing weight training stuff but I just could not resist the lure of those machines anymore. I will tell you about that but first I must tell you that THE ELLIPTICAL IS EVIL. Even more evil than my old nemesis the recumbent bike! It is somewhat more enjoyable than the recumbent bike though… I wanted to do a 10 minute cardio warm-up before hitting the circuit room weight machines, and I decided this would be a great opportunity to try the elliptical. Now in fairness to me, I think there was something wrong with the machine I chose. Every time I slowed down, the timer and such would start over. The volume to the TV would turn off. And I would have to set everything up again! This was very annoying! Oh lawd though, the burn in my legs from like 10 seconds on this machine was brutal, I do not know how people do this?! Yowza.
So anyway after a 5 minute (downgraded from 10 minutes because screw you, machine of aggravation!) my heart rate was sufficiently elevated from a mixture of irritation and terrifying elliptical-ness for me to skip off to the circuit room. I tried every machine on resistance settings between 1 and 4 (baby-steps, yo!). OH MY STARS BECKY. It was so much fun. Ahh lifting heavy things is SO MUCH FUN. This is all I want to do everrrrrrrrrrr. But I know cardio is kind of important especially for an obese person. I don’t know how people can be satisfied with cardio for hours every day when lifting is SO MUCH FUN. It feels SO good! I made myself do 10 minutes on the treadmill again after the circuit room to make sure I got enough active time in.
I really just want to do the circuit machines again tomorrow and reduce my cardio, but I feel like I should do only cardio tomorrow and hit the weights again on Wednesday and Friday. But I just want to lift. It is addictive. So on Wednesday I will do TWO circuits around the room instead of one! Or maybe just circuit machines again tomorrow. Squeee! *spins in indecision*
In other news, Something Terrible happened: I forgot to bring a bra for work. So I am wearing my “workout bra” at work, which is Even Worse than it would usually be, because it’s not my regular “Workout bra” it is my “home bra” which is called this because it is only worn at home when I want the gals to be free but not entirely free, if ya know what I mean. This thing is ancient; the underwires fell out back when Bush Jr was wondering why they call it a cabinet meeting if there aren’t even any dang cabinets in here! On the positive side of this, it was only worn today, so it does not have multiple days of workout funk all up in it. I will let you marinate in the awesome mental imagery this conjures up for awhile.
Week 2 at the gym. I like it. I enjoy the routine of it. I already feel like I belong. See the same people every day. All that is great. I am learning many things about myself, but more importantly for the moment, I am learning something key about fit people that I didn’t really grok before.
Being fit is hard for fit people too. It’s hard work, [almost] every day, forever. For everyone.
I know for a lot of folks who are out of shape and overweight (particularly very obese people like myself) it is simple to shrug off the people at the gym. We think it is easy for them, because they are fit. We think that compared to them, our fitness struggle is so much harder, and in a few ways, it is. In my opinion (so far!) the hardest thing about going to the gym (or whatever version of working out you do) is getting started and forming the habit. If nutrition is 80% of the battle in weight loss, habit is the other 100%. [MATH!]
The fit people at the gym that go all the time have already conquered the hardest part, which is building the habit of going and the habit of being active and exercising their bodies. The work doesn’t stop there though. In fact, the more fit you are, the harder you have to work to become better. Many people enjoy this work, it is not torture, but it is still work. Lots of work. For always!
I am starting to see the same people over and over now at this gym that I go to, and one really stood out to me so far. She is this pint-size girl, a flawless picture of Asian-American fitness beauty. She is perky and cutely dressed and her hair is glossy and her legs are lightly muscled and basically everything a big lunking white girl is never gonna be. But also…. she smells.
She smells RANK. [This is not an insult, gym girl. You rock. I liked being on the treadmill next to you!] She spent like 5 minutes setting up her music and her towel and her headphones and water. She pushed all kinds of buttons on the machine to set up a 40 (!!) minute session on the treadmill with varying speeds and so on. Then she walked. And ran, and walked, and ran. I noticed that she started to smell. And sweat like omg you would not believe how much sweat this tiny person was exuding. She was heaving her breath in and out the way I do after I walk up the stairs at the Hillcrest Whole Foods because fuck if I’m gonna take the elevator two flights up when I just spent 14 dollars buying two organic free-range happy-life chicken titties…
She was working hard. She was working so much harder than I was. I didn’t feel bad about it, because our fitness levels are really different and I can’t do what she does yet, or maybe ever.
It was an epiphany for me, as a very fat person who has felt very badly about being around the gym. I didn’t think that I had anything in common with these fit folks who have muscles that show in places I didn’t know muscles could be, who do the Stairmaster at five times the speed I can walk, who can hold scorpion pose for 45 seconds and find their zen and all that shit. I have a TON in common with these people though! Primarily, that I am starting on a journey that will (if I stick with it) take the rest of my life. The pursuit of a healthy active body never ends. These women I see every day there that are 60 years old with firmer upper arms than a teenager are solid evidence of that.
So yeah. The work never ends, and that’s something I never REALLY understood until I started spending time around the people I had admired so much from afar. Up close? They’re just like me, but further along on the same journey.
So yes, I decided to join a gym. And then I decided to post about it on Facebook. Now I have decided that it would be better to document this journey on my blog! So here we are. This post is going to feature the Facebook posts recreated here for posterity plus a few random bits of observation.
I have seen some things at the gym this week. This is them, in no particular order:
A naked old lady talking to people including me in the locker room with no idea other people were awkward about it. She said “HAH!” a lot.
Very large people doing very intense cardio for a very long time. I fear for their hearts. I assume they must have been going at this for awhile and know their own limits… if I tried to emulate them at this stage of my journey, I might actually, literally and figuratively, die.
The guy who skips leg day! Yes this is really a thing. This intensely beefcake dude milling around the machines, looking like a shorter angrier rendition of Wesley Snipes in Blade… until you got to his legs. Then it was a bit like Urkle. 😛 Hard to take his posturing at the machines seriously after that.
A lady reading a magazine on a stair climber. Was it propped on the machine? No! She was holding it. She has better coordination than me.
I barely fit in the shower stalls, so that’s a little challenging. Naked in public is terrifying especially for someone who hates their body as I do. DID. I don’t hate my body anymore because self-love etc, or something.
Selfie whaaaat?! I hardly ever take pix of myself because I don’t really like what I see. (Not compliment fishing, simple truth.) But I feel good today: it was my first day at the gym! I spent 20 minutes on a treadmill at 2.5 mph and 1% incline which was child’s play compared to everyone around me but at least I was there! And I’m proud of that. Also being naked in a public place for the first time? Scary! But showering before work is a must so I better get used to it. #selfimprovement #pursuitofhealth
THE DEVIL, BASICALLY! Omg today at the gym was so hard. Obviously I am not a person good at staying consistent with exercise, but this machine killed my problem foot arch and my knee of left leg. I had to stop after 5 minutes and do the treadmill again. And on that I tried the “fat burn” mode which added inclines sometimes. Overall today felt far more painful and far less effective than yesterday. Normally this is where i give up. NO ONE there was as big as me and I can’t believe they were ever this fat and out of shape. It feels impossible for me to ever get better. But I will go back tomorrow. #thestruggle #weightloss #pursuitofhealth #devilbike#exercisesucks
Day 3 at the gym. Not much to report other than that <snip>co-worker</snip> was there too! High fives all around, today was better than yesterday. Onward! I may start journaling this on my blog. Yeah I have a blog. *hairflip*
Gym day 4! Went well. Treadmill then stretches. Saw a lot of fat folks there today which made me feel good because they’re like me and also they’re trying to get active too. I need a new sports bra and some headphones asap. Neck pain is killing me. Note to large busted ladies: racer back bras are NOT your friends.
Day 5 (that’s today!):
Day 5 at the gym was very hard. From the moment I woke up I didn’t want to go. I procrastinated by cuddling cats even though I knew I had to get gas on the way. I dreaded arriving at the gym every step of the way and was very late. Finally slogged on to the treadmill and only did 13 minutes including cool down, no incline, no bursts of speed like I usually do. My calves HURT and I feel like shit. Today was the first day I REALLY didn’t want to go and don’t feel better for having done so. But I did go so I guess that’s something. So goal achieved: cardio all 5 days of the week. Can I go back to bed now? Nooooope it’s work time!
— feeling bummed.
This lil post was inspired by reading a blog over on one of my favorite bits of internet, Captain Awkward. [Read Me First]
I’m a very obese woman. Every time I try to point this out as a matter of fact, my friends and family deflect with things like “oh, but you carry it so well!” or “you don’t even look that big!” or “it’s okay, you’ve got a pretty face!” Over time, I have absorbed these deflections into my internal dialogue regarding my weight. Every time I fail at eating healthy, I think “well at least I’m tall and carry this weight fairly well!” or sometimes I tell people “I’m bigger than you’d think to look at me <insert self-deprecating chuckle>!”
I have a lot of slender friends. Most of them shame themselves over their body whether they realize what they are doing or not. Tons of “I’m too fluffy for this bikini.” and “Ugh I need to lose weight before I can XYZ.” and “Oh my god I would rather die than get that big.” As mentioned in the Captain Awkward post, that last one is the one that REALLY gets me.
It’s not harmless, for example, if someone you know is looking at a fat person and says “I’d die before I let myself get like that” and the person looks like you (or better yet is much thinner than you) and you think “Does my friend think I should die?” and this is why this shit really and seriously Must. Be. Stopped.
I’m pretty sure my friends don’t think I should die. But I am also pretty sure, at the same time, that my body is their personal nightmare. Hell, most days, my body is MY personal nightmare. I’ve been struggling with my weight for 20 years. (And I am only 31.) I have said “if I ever get to <number> pounds, I am going to kill myself!” – but those benchmarks have come and gone, and I haven’t offed myself. I still haven’t given up on my eternal struggle.
Every time I meet up with a friend or family member, we do this bizarre mating ritual. Oh, have you lost weight?! You look great! That outfit is really slimming! I have to start working out, I am soooooooo fat! Ugh I can’t really fit in these jeans anymore. Like, omg, I can’t even finish because I am just soooooooo full. I can’t eat even one cookie, I’m on a diet. Oh okay, let’s eat 1000000 cookies because we’ll start our diet tomorrow…..
It’s exhausting and fake and depressing. I hate that sometimes the best news I have to tell someone is that I lost weight. That we must bond over our mutual self-hatred of our bodies. That being fat is the worst thing we could be, and we are somehow bad people because of it. Everything else in our lives pales in comparison to the fact that we are fat (whether we are actually fat or not!). This ritual happens with friends and family young and old, male and female. It takes different forms, sometimes, but the subtext of self-flagellation for acceptance is always running through every conversation.
I’m at a point in my life where I am trying, really hard, to get healthy. I know that my body is too large to do the things I want to do effectively, like survive the zombie apocalypse or kick ass like Buffy Summers. I know that my body is too big, at this time, to do the yoga poses I want to conquer and to fit in the rollercoasters I want to ride. I have all the respect for the Health at Every Size people, but I will never be happy in my life until my body is smaller and stronger. I have size acceptance for everyone but myself, and it is not ONLY because I want to know what it’s like to have 39345756865 clothing stores to choose from… it’s because I never, ever want to be too scared to go to a new restaurant because I might not fit in the booth, or ride in someone’s car and find the seat-belt doesn’t fit.
My journey to become healthy, though… it can’t just be about my body. It needs to also be about my mind. I need to stop with the self-hate. I need to stop saying things to myself that I would never say to someone else. I need to accept that this body is the only one I have, and the only way to make it healthier and stronger is to love, nourish, and cherish it. And you need to do that too, regardless of your size.
It’s time to stop bonding over body hate, and bond instead over the pursuit of health (not thin-ness) and happiness (also not thin-ness).
I like to think that I am a decent writer. I am often complimented on my creativity, my humor, even, occasionally, my erotisicism. [Oh myyyy.] Most compliments of this nature are met with scoffing, because I never really write anything. How can it be that someone who has dreamed of being a writer their entire life, who has such a love of words and affinity for editing, has never just sat down and produced some body of work?
I have no idea! I also have no ideas of the creative variety. I think of so many things I would love to write about: Paleo potato salad, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, my cats judgmental expressions, mascara, World of Warcraft. I am sure there is at least one other crazy spider-lashed cat lady who likes potato salad and WoW who would be pleased to read a jumble of thoughts on those items. I feel very disordered; a dabbler in all the things, a master of none. What level of quality in writing could such a person hope to spit out on the page?
Here is a list of things that I want to write:
A lesbian romance novel (a romance novel, not erotica, not literature, just a fun read about falling in love)
A webcomic about cats
A memoir (I would have to wait till everyone I know is dead)
Essays about being A Good Person (as defined by yours truly)
A humorous blog that people like to read while they poo or have their morning coffee
Instead, I write none of these things. I spend a lot of time writing to argue on the WoW forums, and I spend a lot of time writing fluffy marketing copy as a source of income. I cannot remember, though, the last time I wrote something for myself, simply out of wanting to write. Of needing to feel the words slip out of my brain, through my fingers, into the keys or the pen, and onto the page like the magical things that they are. I can’t remember the last time I wrote without expecting payment for it or as part of an online conversation, a tiny cog in a wheel.
Until today. I wrote this blog post for myself, as a reminder of what I want to do with my life, and proof to turn to, in my dark times, that words will still flow at my command.