(STOP: By reading below this disclaimer, you are allowing yourself to read a stream of conscious and potentially nonsensical rant. You were warned.)
So I planned to do a whole post about days 2 and 3 of the Couch to 5k Challenge– I was also going to give updates on me and Gabriel’s joint venture to complete the 200 sit-ups training program. However, though I am a truly shameless narcissist, I need to put my self-indulgent updates on hold to talk about something which involves more than just me and my exercise demons.
(Ok, I can’t help myself: 200 sit-ups is going surprisingly well, and Couch to 5k Challenge…well, I’m still hammering through it.)
Part of why I think I need to broach this topic has to do with one of my favorite podcasts. Two Whole Cakes Fatcast features two Fat Acceptance Titans (Marianne Kirby and Lesley Kinzel) discussing a multitude of issues which affect fat people on a daily basis. As a life-long fatty who has quietly chugged away in a fat-hating world, listening to Fatcast is basically like listening to Potterwatch (just as a warning, that’s probably the least nerdy Harry Potter reference I’ll ever make, so prepare yourself).
By the way (just for the record) I am a serious Two Whole Cakes fangirl. Having a fat body has reached the point of true political activism, and I salute anyone who is willing to use their body as a vessel for change.
Anyway, one of the first Fatcasts is about being fat and exercising- more specifically, every underlying issue related to physical activity in a fat body. Since I’m on the smaller scale of fat, I won’t pretend to speak for those who experience a level of discrimination which is fairly foreign to me. However, I am very familiar with how shitty it feels to be the largest person on the row of treadmills. This was made even more relevant to me in my spin class earlier this weekend.
First of all, excuse my French, but I fucking love to spin. It can be very physically exhausting, but the emotional rewards transcend words. However, this particular spin class whipped my ass. Maybe it was because I wasn’t engaged with the music (I’m sorry, but THE EAGLES? Who wants to spin to that?!). Maybe it was because I couldn’t seem to get my bike set up properly, therefore making it impossible for me to hop out of the saddle properly (and trust me, 60 minutes in the saddle is enough to make even a seasoned spinner contemplate death). For whatever reason, Thursday’s class made me want to punch someone and I’m sure my negative ‘tude was written all over my sweaty face. However, the instructor (and every other 50+ year old Lance Armstrong wannabe in the class) looked at me like I was the baby rhino trying to make its way through the Jumanji stampede- it’s this “look at the fat girl try to do what we’re doing” expression that makes me (ME, ANGRY PASSIONATE JESSAMYN) feel both angry and defeated.
That feeling of judgment and defeat is why my fellow fats have been taught to fear the gym, or any other form of organized exercise. Because it’s nearly impossible to forget the traumatizing grade school physical fitness tests, and the mortifying waits to be picked last for kickball.
And while I implore all those who judge to get the fuck over themselves, I really want to tell my fellow fats that it’s not all bad. In general, as much as we like to think everyone is staring at us, the gym is one of the major places where narcissism is not only accepted, but widely encouraged. Therefore, it’s highly likely that no one is watching you lift weights or run or bike. No one gives a toss, because your gym buddies-to-be are too busy worrying that everyone is looking at THEM. That’s issue #1.
Issue #2 is that your life and well-being should not be compromised because of widely accepted insecurities. Exercise can be really freaking fun. Judgement sucks out all the fun. Find a source of happiness and pleasure that has nothing to do with the judgement of others. It would be ridiculous for me to ask anyone to stop thinking about the opinions of others- it sucks to have people think mean thoughts in relation to your life choices, and the judgement of others affects us all.
However, if you can find a source of happiness in the gym which involves only you (and not your exercise demons), the pay-off will be more than worth the effort.
Also, RIGHT AFTER I BLOGGED ABOUT HIM, Jack Lalanne died today (1/23/2011). RIP, Papa Jack- I’ll enjoy a juice in your honor.