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More random thoughts about fitness and body image 
4th-Dec-2012 11:42 am
running, shoes
A new Stumptuous rant is a wonderful thing.

I got a good chuckle out of Krista's observations on male ectomorphs. Like her, I married one. I used to be jealous of his apparent inability to retain body fat and ability to gain strength just by looking at a dumbbell, but now I have accepted that he is just magic, and I might as well be upset that I'm not a unicorn.

But what this rant is really about is how strong the lure of unrealistic body image can be, even for smart people who are trying to do the right things for all the right reasons.

It's really weird. For me (and I think for a lot of us), getting into fitness was initially this tremendous liberation from having to worry about how my body looked. It was all about what my body could do. I reveled in each new accomplishment. Running a 5K! Doing a strenuous hike! Being able to put my own suitcase in the overhead bin on a plane regardless of how much crap I'd packed! Still being able to pick up my nieces and nephews as they get bigger!

Then I put on some muscle. Initially, I was thrilled. I had biceps! My thighs actually had a shape!

And then I started think things like, "Hmmm, well, my biceps are cute, but they'd be cuter if I lost some more body fat." And I found myself thinking about whether I should try counting calories or maybe check out that intermittent fasting thing that all the cool kids are doing.

Fortunately, I quickly realized that a) counting calories drove me bonkers back when I thought that I desperately needed to lose weight for my health. If I couldn't make it work when I thought it would save my life, the odds that I could make it work in order to look cuter in a tank top were nil and b) no matter how cute I look in a tank top, nobody is going to want to hang out with me in the kind of mood I get in to if I skip breakfast.

So, I nipped that line of thinking in the bud and went back to thinking about how cool it is to be able to carry all my groceries into the house at once.

But it's still a reminder that no matter how much you think you've got your head on straight about these things, the siren song of unrealistic expectations is always there.
4th-Dec-2012 10:47 pm (UTC)
This speaks to me.

Thank you for writing so candidly about your experience.</p>

Mine is somewhat similar. I am well aware that I am one of the larger women in my sport, and I would prefer to be smaller. There's a frustration I feel every time I look around me, and a frustration I feel every time I go clothes shopping.

But, for me to get smaller (I have done it before) would require a level of effort I cannot expend right now. It requires eliminating all processed carbs - no bread, no rice, no whatever, forever. It requires measuring, charting, and discipline over every single bite. Forever. Screw that.

There are other things that are higher priority for me.

It is strange to realize that I can walk, run, climb, swim, and squat 0.75 my bodyweight, and I am STILL not smaller. And most likely, I never will be. I have a lit of difficult feelings around this.

5th-Dec-2012 01:07 am (UTC)
It is complicated. In so many ways, I am happier with my body than I've ever been: I can do a lot of cool stuff, I'm getting stronger and healthier, I'm even pretty happy with how I look in a tank top.

But it's also hard for me not to compare myself to people who are leaner/faster/stronger and think, "Dammit, I work at least as hard as they do. What am I doing wrong that I can't be like them?"
5th-Dec-2012 03:05 am (UTC)
Sometimes it isn't anything wrong at all. Sometimes it is just more time, more effort, or being able to do X after you've built a base of doing Y. Some things don't work till you've built a base for doing them.

Sometimes it is something that works if you do it differently.

Sometimes it is something that just isn't realistic to attempt. Those, those are the ones I hate.

I like watching your progress. It is happy making.

5th-Dec-2012 03:33 pm (UTC)
There's always someone who is better. Always. Focusing on strength and pleasure is definitely the healthier way to go.

A toast to you and your strong glorious useful gorgeous body.
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