Being Fat and Female in a Gym

When I walked into the gym yesterday morning it was delightfully empty save a few guys and one gal. I was there to lift some weights and then meet up with one of the girls from my small training group to do the stepmill. I don’t know what is about deadlifts that I like, but man, I like them and I was excited to play. The stepmill, well, it makes me feel accomplished.

It didn’t take me too long to notice one of the gym’s trainers working out*. He noticed me too. After my workout, he approached me and introduced himself. Nothing wrong with that. “If you ever want help with exercises or nutrition, I’m a trainer here. Feel free to ask to me any questions. Are you just trying to lose some weight or tone up? You really don’t want to do a lot of that (pointing to the stepmill and meaning cardio.” He was nice and non-aggressive in his tone, but he immediately assumed I was trying to lose weight. Being fat and female in a gym must automatically mean you’re there to lose weight. Or fat. Sure, I wouldn’t be upset to lose some fat, but that’s not my focus anymore. Part of rejecting the fat phobia and diet culture is realizing that there is nothing wrong with being fat. Yeah, guys. That’s right. It’s okay to be fat. It’s okay to love a fat body. What’s not okay is wasting your life hating yourself and your body, not living in some pursuit of the cultural expectation of the ideal woman. (Men of the world, I know you are not excluded from this, but I am a woman so I am writing about women.)

What was really exciting about this encounter, is that I didn’t immediately retreat to a place of shame and self-loathing and “gee, I really do need to lose weight” or “I must have looked dumb working out.” Nope. I say it again. NOPE. I was able to evaluate the situation and take it without emotion. Hey, this guy is still in the mainstream diet world. The world where everyone desires to be thin and thin equals happy and you can’t have happy without thin. He wasn’t trying to hurt me. He was trying to help (and maybe get a new client.) I told him honestly, I was working out to feel good. That’s what exercise is about. It’s a reward for your body. It’s fun. It brings out a primal drive. It makes other parts of day to day life better because it makes your body, heart, and soul happy. And it just feels good.

 


*I work at this gym, though I’m currently taking a summer sabbatical while working on recovery. My gym is pretty great. I’ve met this trainer once or twice while I was working, but it was long enough ago that I probably look different. Also, I wasn’t dressed in my gym uniform (which is seriously the best work uniform ever. It’s a black logo t-shirt with whatever pants I want to wear – yep, yoga pants.) Since I’m talking about my gym, I would be remiss not mention that there are great trainers there. I’ve been lucky to work with one of the best in KC. Yesterday, I even caught myself correcting my wrist position on a lift.


Here are a couple of great blog posts that deal with a similar theme.

https://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2014/09/25/prescribed-to-fat-people-diagnosed-in-thin-people/

https://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2015/05/22/tess-holliday-promoting-obesity-and-fat-role-models/

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Pharmacology, Tattoos, and a Clean Kitchen

Dear Blank Page,

I can’t wait to tell you what I’ve been up to lately. Aside from dropping in to experience the shopping event known as Lilly for Target — just for kicks — I’ve been working on cleaning and organizing bits of my house. No pressure, just small bits. Well, I started with a biggish bit; tackling some bothersome issues like dirty toilets, litter boxes and my kitchen sink (which by-the-way looks brand new again now that I scrubbed it.)

I guess this sounds pretty ordinary and maybe not any bit impressive to most people. That’s okay. When I’m depressed and bathed in anxiety I have no will to care about most things. I drop out of life, lose focus, and hunker down in some deep part of my brain. The mere fact that I not only care, but that I’m acting, well…that’s a really good thing.

I’m not entirely open with people about how deeply affected I am by mental illness. I share articles on Facebook, but I never say, “I loved someone who suffered. I am someone who suffered. It’s been around me my entire life.” I told you that I’m getting help. Finally. Really aggressively, seriously trying to recover. My mental illness and shame has manifested in several ways. One way was drinking. I no longer drink. I’ve also struggled with disordered eating and an eating disorder since I was a young girl. Those behaviors are proving challenging to change. But, the progress I’m making with my depression and anxiety is helping and giving me hope that I can recover. I am working with a counselor, an MD, and a registered dietitian. They are good people and I feel safe with them.

I tell you, I was so resistant to medication for so long. It frightened me. Dependency, bottles on bottles on bottles, false hope. I tried medication after medication when I was in high school. It was terrible. I watched my mom try medication after medication. It was terrible. But I decided to try again at 33 and 11/12ths. I was getting worse. I could see the cycle happening. And the thing is, it’s working. It’s helping. But it’s not just the medication. It’s the help too. Anyway, I’m feeling good.

Also, on Saturday I went for a consultation for the tattoo I talked about a couple years ago. It’s going to be a little bit different than what I described that day, but I’m finally taking action. I’m exited but also kind of scared and anxious. I’m supposed to go on May 7th to get it inked on my right forearm. I’ll show you when it’s done.

So, I guess that’s it for now. I just wanted to say hi, see how you’re doing and let you know what’s new.

Take care!

Katie

 

My Body is Amazing

My body is amazing. It is not perfect. It does not look like Jennifer Aniston’s – that’s impossible because I am not Jennifer Aniston. My body looks like it’s mine.

It has soft spots and bumps, knobby bits and scars. Slender wrists and crooked toes.

And it is all amazing.

It woke up at 4am and carried itself 15 miles (of mostly running – it needs fuel and I failed to provide it.) It walked and stood and squatted and reached for 4 hours working at the gym after running 15 miles.

My body is special. It is amazing – glorious. Though not visible, it has strong abs.

Though it looks kind of flat, my derrière houses powerful muscles that allow me to run faster, squat deeper, and withstand hours of impact.

My eyes are different shapes. My dimples – well, there’s just one. My face is not perfect, but it is mine.

I don’t have to be sexy or sultry, taut or tiny. I just have to be me.

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Those Challenges Sure are Challenging

I sure do like those monthly challenges! So, for June I decided to go completely vegan. I’m already a vegetarian and have basically given up all animal products except dairy and honey (and occasionally eggs.) But after picking up a copy of a book about another vegan ultra runner I decided I should try a full on plant only diet to see what happens. Ultimately, I’m hoping to feel better, look better (my skin has not been a fan of my poor choices aka sweets and cheese) and maybe lose some body fat before I start hardcore marathon training. I felt rough in the last couple miles of the Hospital Hill Half Marathon. I know I have to run some of those same streets in October. Less body fat = faster.

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

The other part of this challenge is NO PROCESSED FOODS! I think this is actually going to be the big key to feeling better. I noticed my reliance on processed foods increasing over the last few months and as that happened I felt less awesome and my progress seemed to falter. Additives, sugars and gunk in my food meant gunk in my body.

GOODBYE GUNK! SO LONG JUNK! *awkward hula hoop dance*

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So how did I do with my May challenges and goals?

My list of May challenges and goals:

  • Reduce my reliance on peanut butter. This means limit myself to one serving per day, at most. I ended up running out of peanut butter a few days before the end of the month so I made my own nut butter (which ended up really being nut paste.) So far, I’ve only used it a few times in my oatmeal and never more than 1 tablespoon at a time. It’s a proprietary blend of plain old peanuts, almonds and a teaspoon/tablespoon of coconut oil. NAILED IT!
  • Because I obviously didn’t change my habits, continue with my sugar challenge. This time, I’m not going 100% no sugar, but I’m putting boundaries on my “treat” consumption. No more than one treat per week. I’m also still going to avoid foods with added sugar (except for an occasional Chobani because those are delicious or protein bar.) I generally feel gross if I eat foods that are packaged or processed and oh, I’m in major budget mode, so I need to limit my food spending and processed foods are spendy. FAILED THIS ONE SO HARD. 
  • Decided yesterday: I’m going to do a plank a day. I think I should work on building up the time. I had to do 3 this morning as part of my workout and I should have asked how long the holds were. Probably a minute. When I started they were 15 seconds. I know I can hold longer than a minute, but I should set a numeric goal to hit by the end of a month. TOTALLY FORGOT ABOUT THIS ONE AND THEN JUST DECIDED TO SKIP IT.
  • And the funnest of the fun, a group challenge! Cheryl and Jason decided to do 45 minutes of cardio 6 days per week for 4 weeks and if I succeed at this also, I get a free session! Most of my workouts in April were at least an hour, so I have a good base. ANOTHER LOSS. I WAS ON FOR A COUPLE WEEKS AND THEN DROPPED OFF. IT DID MAKE ME MORE MINDFUL OF DOING CARDIO AND I DID STILL ADD MORE THAN I WOULD HAVE HAD I NOT COMMITTED TO THE CHALLENGE.

I am a Winner

I officially hit 31 days of working out IN A ROW on Friday, May 3rd. Saturday I was on my feet a lot hosting a baby shower for my sister-in-law (BABYHENRYBABYHENRYBABYHENRY! Come out come out and play!) but I really took yesterday off.

Completion of those 31 days also means I won The Bet! Hello, I was so not in the mood to fail. There were a few days I’m sure I wouldn’t have worked out if not for the bet, and I’m better for having pushed myself and gotten myself back on track. In addition, I also finished my no sugar April, though a bit less successfully as I had sugar the weekend of Rock the Parkway. I also apparently learned nothing from the no sugar challenge because I ate sugary things all weekend (not in obscene amounts or anything, but definitely not a good level for me.)

Oh well. I lost a bit of weight and my clothes are definitely looser and I felt fitness gains in my running and with pilates and yoga — so April was a good month for me.

As I was nearing the end of the month, I decided I needed to do another challenge for May. You see, I love peanut butter. So creamy! So salty! So satisfying in oatmeal, on bananas, on apples, off a spoon, straight out of the jar! And the problem is I was enjoying too many of those experiences each day. I wasn’t eating sugar, but sure was eating extra peanut butter. Sigh.

So, with this self-knowledge, I knew what I needed to do for May: reduce my reliance on peanut butter. But, I can’t have just one thing! I must be obsessive!  I give you my list of May challenges and goals:

  • Reduce my reliance on peanut butter. This means limit myself to one serving per day, at most. I ended up running out of peanut butter a few days before the end of the month so I made my own nut butter (which ended up really being nut paste.) So far, I’ve only used it a few times in my oatmeal and never more than 1 tablespoon at a time. It’s a proprietary blend of plain old peanuts, almonds and a teaspoon/tablespoon of coconut oil.
  • Because I obviously didn’t change my habits, continue with my sugar challenge. This time, I’m not going 100% no sugar, but I’m putting boundaries on my “treat” consumption. No more than one treat per week. I’m also still going to avoid foods with added sugar (except for an occasional Chobani because those are delicious or protein bar.) I generally feel gross if I eat foods that are packaged or processed and oh, I’m in major budget mode, so I need to limit my food spending and processed foods are spendy.
  • Decided yesterday: I’m going to do a plank a day. I think I should work on building up the time. I had to do 3 this morning as part of my workout and I should have asked how long the holds were. Probably a minute. When I started they were 15 seconds. I know I can hold longer than a minute, but I should set a numeric goal to hit by the end of a month.
  • And the funnest of the fun, a group challenge! Cheryl and Jason decided to do 45 minutes of cardio 6 days per week for 4 weeks and if I succeed at this also, I get a free session! Most of my workouts in April were at least an hour, so I have a good base.

Since it’s already May 6th I’m going to keep this challenging going right up to the day before Baby Henry’s due date*: June 6th.

*June 7th — MARK YOUR CALENDARS!

Real Talk: Races and Paces

This morning one of the most widely known organized races in KC is happening: The Trolley Run. It’s a lovely course featuring a nice downhill jaunt that winds from Waldo to the Plaza. I’m not sure the last time it was sunny for a Trolley Run, but it sure is today. A bit chilly, but nothing the right gear and the first mile won’t fix.

I am not running this race. I do, however, have race envy now that I see people checking in and posting about it. It’s a route I know and it’s only 4 miles so please. [This week I’ve been reflecting a lot on distances. How only a year and few months ago I was slogging through a mile feeling like everything wanted to burst and create a giant Katie puddle and now I’m all, eh, whatever it’s ONLY 4 miles. You’re just starting to settle in at 4 miles. WHO AM I?!]

Goals and Real Talk

I’m waxing sentimental about how glorious the morning is and how jealous I am of everyone doing the Trolley run, yet I’m sitting on my couch in my jammies under a blanket (with cats of course) trying to gear up for my own run. It took some mental effort to get me out the door yesterday, but once I did I was so pleased with myself. I’m more tired today than usual due to being up later at my sister-in-law’s brother’s 30th birthday party. By the time I left everything in my body hurt — and I was starving. And everything hurt. It was a case for some ibuprofen. Apparently, working out hard for nearly a month and then standing for four hours and not eating dinner and barely drinking water (bad Katie!) take a toll. Even though I drank some water and ate some nice oatmeal when I got home, I still awoke feeling pretty run down.

It makes it a little odd that I’m so inspired to write about the races, paces and goals that have been swirling in my head. I feel like I’m at a point where I need to set some goals for myself. I know I’m feeling fitter and stronger, and this morning’s lack of get-up-and-go is transitory (I have company and le tired from choices made last night) and I can get through it. I can’t NOT workout today. I made a bet. So I give you:

Races, Paces and Goals (did that first part make anyone else think about Reese’s Pieces? just me?)

  • Hospital Hill Half Marathon, June 1, 2013: This race is creeeeeeping up! Holy cow it’s almost time to taper and I feel like I never really settled into the groove of my training. Yet, I feel the strongest I’ve ever felt and I’m running the best I’ve ever run. Though the course is ridiculously challenging with its hiLLs, I’m still going to try for a PR. I know in my heart that I could have PR’d at Rock the Parkway if I hadn’t been in such a dreamy “Look at all the pretty! Puppy!” state, but maybe that’s also what helped me do so well — I was RELAXED and enjoying the experience. My pre-race nutrition was top notch as was my hydration. I took time to thank the volunteers and to high five the awesome kids who were doling them out. My HHHM strategy is to line up with a pace group and make sure those pacers know who I am. I’m still hoping to someday get under a 2 hour half, but for now, I’m shooting for 2:30 and maybe 2:25. Tough with this race because of the hills. But with the up comes the down and that break from the monotony is always helpful. If I can remind myself that when I get tired it actually helps to breathe and pick up the pace at that moment, I’ll be okay.
  • Plaza 10k, September 15, 2013:  This one looks really fun and it’s in the Plaza area which just evokes a certain homeness to me. As much as I like living on the edge of population where it’s easy to slip away to nature, I adore and miss living in the heart of the city. My goal is to get back there in the next 5 years. I’m going for a time goal here too. Maybe when it gets closer I’ll have to set a new goal, but for now, my goal is to do this in under 1 hour. I’m hoping for a 9 min/mi pace or faster.
  • Pink Laundry 5k, October 6, 2013: This is a race I just randomly found while trolling mararunning.org at lunch. Something about the quaint Lee’s Summit location and the story of why it exists — and all the pink — made me feel like this is a race I should run. Check it out, but be prepared to cry a little when you read the backstory.
  • Waddell & Reed Kansas City Marathon 2013, October 19, 2013:  So, some of you will remember my posts about the Chicago Marathon. I would still love to do it, but I was stressing myself out terribly about it. It’s just not in the cards for this year. It’s funny, it took one conversation with Cheryl about it to make me realize I was twisting myself into knots for no reason. The event will still be there next year. And maybe I’ll be going for a PR. Realistically, I’m just not in a place to do the fundraising or to pay for the expenses of traveling. Money sucks. However, I so thoroughly enjoyed volunteering as a course monitor last year at the KC Marathon that I knew I wanted to be a part of it again this year. My original grand plan was to run Chicago the weekend prior and then volunteer for KC. But, you know, life. I really looked into myself and thought about why I want to run a marathon and why I do not. The do nots are all about fear and self-doubt. The whys are all about achieving a dream and connecting to something greater. The why is pride. I can do it.
    • Running KC makes sense on so many levels and once I stopped making myself sick thinking about Chicago, I started to get excited and feel joy at the thought of running KC. I may not get the incredible crowd support or flat & fast course that comes with Chicago, but I have a higher likelihood of getting friends and family out there on the KC course and man, those hills? I LIVE here. Finding a fully flat route in KC is harder than you’d think. As long as I train hills and run smart, I will be fine. I think I’ll setup with a pace group and they adjust for the hills so, that’s cool with me. Running this race is also helpful for me when it comes to food. I LOVE TO EAT. But with my dietary restrictions and propensity setting off an intestinal war within myself, I have to be really careful. Traveling requires A LOT of prep and planning so I know what to eat. It’s pretty mentally exhausting honestly. And I just don’t want to risk eating something that will trigger outrage in my gut. Also, post race food is CRITICAL. Girl gotta eat! And my gut will be wound up after the race so post-race food is just as important as pre-race food. MINSKY’S PIZZA: I AM COMING FOR YOU! CC. Glace’ Ice Cream.

The Real-ist Real Talk — Training

I mentioned that I don’t even feel like I’ve settled into the groove of my Hospital Hill training. It’s strange not to be so regimented, but also freeing. I’m running, but I’m also incorporating a lot of the other activities I enjoy and which make me stronger. I don’t understand training schedules that are all running. Isn’t that boring? And isn’t that how people get injured? I took the pilates class at my gym for the first time last week and I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t easy, but it was so worthwhile. I did cardio first so I was nice and warmed up. I don’t want to have a schedule that makes me give up my classes. I’m also really committed to keeping my twice weekly workouts with Cheryl. Where I am now? I wouldn’t be here without her support or her pushing me. I see people post things which amount to “you don’t need a trainer.” Honestly, I disagree. Finding the right trainer is such a life changing experience.

That leads me to my next serious, soul-sought thought: I need to work with a group or a coach for this marathon training. I’m excited and I really want to do it, but I need that extra support. I will do better on those long runs if I don’t have to worry about dropping water and pre-planning my course. And when I get to 16+ miles, I’m sure having someone around will probably help. I enjoyed my first few long runs on my own during HHHM training, but they were shorter 6 mile and under distances that didn’t require water strategy. I need that extra accountability. The fact that I know myself and that I am extrinsically motivated (what other people think matters to me) is an advantage in planning. I’m thinking about trying The Runners Edge Group in KC. I’ve been studying them and they seem to be the real deal. They run the Smart Pacing group that participates in a lot of the big races in KC. The group seems large, diverse and something that is really important to me: they have set pace groups for group runs. That was a problem for me with my old group and ultimately, one of the reasons I didn’t have trouble walking away. No one ran my pace and it was really hard to connect with people. They were already in established pods. I couldn’t keep up or break in. I’m hoping a bigger group with better organization might be a better fit. Don’t get me wrong, I like running alone, but having that group of people in my pace might be beneficial. I just need to figure out what my pace actually IS. Also, not having to worry about route planning and water.

I also know that I need to keep some focus on my diet and working on burning off more fat. I can see fitness gains with the changes and I know running will get easier as I lose more of this fat. I set a really aggressive goal for myself (135 lbs by August 1st — last time I weighed myself I was 165), but I am going to be okay if I don’t meet it. Actually, one of the reasons I was stressing out over the marathon was because I want to hit my weight loss goal and I’m afraid race training will really interfere with that. But, you can’t wait for things to be perfect. If I wait until I hit this weight loss goal to go after a marathon, I think I’ll regret it.

Now that I’ve put all this out there, I’m terrified.

Progress Update

Since I’m doing this no sugar and workout everyday thing, I thought I’d post current picture. Also, the last progress pictures I added were in my workout clothes. So I give you ME, post workout in the gym bathroom on Friday, April 5th. This morning I weighed in at 166.2 pounds. Let’s see where I am in 30 days. (Also still not quite 5’4″ and wearing a medium shirt and size 14 skirt.)

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How Much is That Doggy in the Window?

Volunteering at "Hoops for Hounds" benefiting KC Pet Project, March 14, 2013.
Volunteering at “Hoops for Hounds” benefiting KC Pet Project, March 14, 2013.

Well, that’s me. Only, I didn’t recognize myself at first. Weight loss is strange. I have cheekbones. And my nose is interesting. and I’m making a face because that’s what I always do in pictures. (sigh) [and my roots are showing]

Stuck in the Middle

Something has been in the back of mind for a few months. A fear, a worry a perpetual pest. For the last several months, my weight loss has been slower than I’d like. As soon as I get down, I seem to go right back up. Why am I bouncing around so much? Why can’t I break this barrier? Why is this so hard?

I’ve hit the spot where I’ve failed in the past. I fear that I will never surpass this point and reach my ultimate goal. Sure, I am in a lot better place than I was 2 or 3 years ago, but I am not satisfied. There is more fat to lose and more fitness to be gained!

With 45 lbs left to go, I don’t feel like I should be having so much trouble. But here’s the thing: I keep making concessions for myself. I keep making excuses. I keep sabotaging weight loss for instant gratification. I’m still working out and I’m still eating mostly healthy — but it’s the stuff that doesn’t fall under “mostly” that is costing me. Too many indulgences.

I’ve been telling myself it’s okay to just maintain for a bit. This is a long process and at some point, I’m going to be done losing weight. I’m going to be in maintenance. What then?

The take-away (ha!) for me is that I need to hold myself accountable to my goals. If I truly want this, I need to keep plugging along. Keep pushing. Keep challenging.

So, bye-bye my darling M&Ms! Bye-bye, sweet, sweet Reese’s eggs! Bye-bye ice cream and Fro-Yo Friday*! Bye-bye: Dove Promises, random dark chocolate, Junior Mints, boozey treats, Jelly Bellies, gluten free cookies and cake! Until I can learn to moderate your consumption, I must steer clear.

One thing is different — I’m not beating myself up. I’m not tut-tutting or feeling shameful. It’s okay that I’m not perfect and I’ve sort of coasted. It only becomes un-okay if I never get passed it.

So, here I go again. Focused. Competitive. Optimistic.

 

*Lord how I love Fro-Yo Friday. Screw going out on the town on Friday. I like settling in with my jammies and a giant thing of frozen yogurt from my local shop. They had dark chocolate curls (HAD :() and my goodness. Perfection. Sometimes I get fruit, but usually not because it gets gross in the freezer. Sigh.