I am a rhinoceros. I realized that just a few hours ago, and I love it!
Let’s settle one thing first. If you read that title and in any way think, “Aww, shame” or have any kind of pity that I would think of myself as a rhino, then you and I are different creatures entirely. There is no self-deprecation or lack of awareness in the way I view myself. And I wish the same for you and every one of my readers.
At the gym this morning, while I was leg-pressing, I noticed that I had a few people watching me. I have gotten pretty comfortable in the strength training area, so I don’t normally pay attention. I play my Power Training Music Mix (see list below), set my face to serious and get to work. Maybe I was paying attention more than usual because of my own excitement at lifting heavier. Whatever the reason, each time I got up to add more weight, I looked up to see people on the bikes staring at me, a couple guys in the strength area staring, and a couple women in the cable area. Staring.
Today’s rant is thanks to Leanne, of Weigh to Health, and her friend Becca, of Between Wander and Wonder, who wrote a beautiful post titled “I Am Guilty of Gymming While Fat.” Their posts spurred my own conversation today, and I think this type of discussion does best when as many of us are talking about it at the same time. Get it out there, put a fire under it, stir it up and see how it settles out.
I feel their frustration. I workout at the Virgin Active in Hazeldean here in South Africa. I do strength training four mornings per week, HIIT training two mornings per week, and either swim laps or bicycle 3-4 evenings a week. That’s between 6-10 good, solid workouts every single week. I’m doing this so I don’t die of a heart attack at 45 like my father, so I can enjoy traveling without wanting to pass out on every uphill climb, and so my bloodwork numbers come back clean and healthy.
Recently I had a complete stranger give me a thumbs up, grin and say “You’re looking good.”
To make my own opinion on this issue crystal clear: As a heavyset woman, I don’t want or need your “compliments” telling me “way to go” on continuing my workouts, or giving me a thumbs-up just for showing up at the gym, and I especially don’t need you to tell me I’m looking good. You have no idea how I felt about myself before, what my goals are, and I certainly don’t need your opinion on how I look or how my weight fits in with your version of attractiveness.
Your “compliment” isn’t showcasing how nice you are. It tells me you’re being an ass, even if you’re being a well-intended, ignorant ass. The only way you can behave this way? If you’re a close friend. And unless you know at least three of my pivotal life moments and how they affected me, you’re not in that category.
I generally don’t call people out on this behavior. But I think you’re being an ignoramus.
Why? Because to tell another person, who you don’t know, or don’t know well, that they’re doing great, and to keep up the hard work, is to project a perceived inequality between yourself and them. You are looking at the “fat girl” or “ugly girl” or “poor girl” you see as downtrodden or picked on, and it’s up to you, in all your magnanimity, to give them encouragement to become something better than what you see in front of you.
It’s not your place to praise me for my progress. I am not your child, not your student, and not your trainee.
Here are thoughts for you to consider: I’m fat and I’m happy. I’m fat and I’m sexy. I’m fat AND I’m HEALTHY. I can outlift most women my age, and some men, out-work most of you if you come try my frontier-style living in the woods of Pennsylvania, and out-endure many of you on the elliptical at the gym. I may not be speedy, but I will not stop. And if the apocalypse happens tomorrow, I’m going to survive a hell of a lot longer. (That one’s my favorites. 😉 )
You don’t know me. Unless you’re one of my very closest friends (see above criteria) then you don’t have my blessing or my permission to comment on what you think is my weight-loss progress, or whatever it is you assume I’m there to do at the gym.
Because you. don’t. know. You don’t know if my goal is to lose weight (it is not), to build muscle (it is), to look sexy (I already do), or simply to keep my cholesterol and blood pressure in range (it is).
Let me reiterate. When you “compliment” me on my looks or on whatever weight you think I’ve lost and how it fits into your small world view, you are not giving me the same kind of compliment you give to someone who you see power-lifting and say “Holy shit, that’s impressive.” (That, by the way, is a compliment I will accept. You may view below photo of my 100kg deadlift and compliment as you see fit. And please, do notice that my cuddly little pooh-bear belly sticks out. Enjoy that, too. I do.)
You are not giving the same kind of compliment to an aerobics instructor when you say “Man, where do you get all that energy?” And this is certainly not the kind of compliment you give to a woman you see regularly working out and envy, when you say “Gee, you can really run. I see you on the treadmill all the time and it’s inspirational.”
If you “compliment” a fat person simply because you see them working in the gym, especially if you aren’t running around divvying out compliments to all the non-fat people, you seriously need to think about the way you see us heavyweights.
The assumption this type of left-handed compliment creates is that you believe I’m on some sort of “journey” to fit into a part of society you might believe you’re already in, and want to welcome me to.
Let’s get real people, although the gym might seem a lot like that old high school some people miss so much, it’s not. You’re not part of the “cool kids” and I’m not one of “the outcasts” simply because of my weight (granted, my over-the-top personality keeps me in that group and I kinda’ like it) and I certainly don’t need your pat on the back to make me feel good.
Until you stepped up to imply how “proud” you are of me, I was under the impression you and I were equal.
I know I don’t usually speak out so harshly, but this type of “compliment” is just another back-door means of discrimination, so think hard before you speak.
Why did you pick that person to compliment? What about you makes you think they need or want your unsolicited comment?
So with all my bitching, do I even have a suggestion on how to treat an overweight person at the gym?
Hell yes. It’s called “the same everybody else.”
Just go to the gym, workout, smile if you’re a nice person, make eye contact, and say hello when you pass someone, and check yourself before commenting on any other person’s “progress”. Ask yourself who else you’ve said that to, and why you’re saying it.
If you’re not paying these compliments to other random gym-goers, then it’s targeted.
Targeting = discrimination.
Disagree? Argue in comments below. We won’t see eye to eye, but if you’re a regular reader of mine, you know your voice will be acknowledged.
My new bench press goal is 150 pounds (around 68kg). I won’t ever do steroids, so my goals are dependent on how far my muscles can build naturally. A guy in the gym today watched me doing dead lifts and came over to tell me I was making him look bad. He said it in such a friendly and complimentary way though, and it felt really great. That was a new first for me here in the RZA, where mostly the guys either look at me strangely or avoid me when I’m lifting.
Maybe they can tell that I get a little over-excited about how much I can lift. At a recent party attended by several of Kurt’s coworkers, I got a little mouthy with one of them, and in mock-toughness, told the guy not to mess with me, because I could bench press his Mama.
I think it came across funny, as intended, but not all the guys here find my lack of demure femininity so charming. I argue that I am feminine. I’m just a different standard of what it means to be female. Another of his co-workers told him, “Your wife is quite a handful, isn’t she?” Yes. Yes, she is. Thankfully, that’s part of what Kurt loves about me.
Before the latest get-together, Kurt and I had been discussing my new max weights at the gym, and I was excited to report that I had lifted 25kg barbell bicep curls for 10 reps, and shoulder press 30kg for 5 reps, 3 sets. He said that’s more than he can currently do (Kurt’s naturally quite strong but doesn’t lift weights much). I was excitedly talking about how much stronger I’ve become since I really work at it and get my protein in, and wondering just how far my muscles can go naturally. In my excitement, I joked about arm wrestling some of his coworkers at that evening’s party.
“Please. Don’t.” I could see that Kurt was genuinely worried I might outgun and perhaps embarrass his co-workers. Even by American standards (even by Kurt standards, which I think if you’ve been reading the blog, and posts like “Frontier Wife,” you know is the true benchmark of a man who is proud of having a strong wife) it’s not exactly a party pleaser if your wife is bench-pressing your boss. (For the record, I don’t think I could bench press his boss.)
“Arm wrestle me.” Kurt challenged. “If you can beat me at arm wrestling, you can arm wrestle at the party tonight.” My eyes lit up. After learning I can out-bicep curl him, I was excited to finally beat someone at arm wrestling. “But,” Kurt challenged, as he squared off against me at the table, “if you lose, you can’t curse the entire night.”
“What the f*ck? Seriously!?” My mouth, famous for making sailors blush, was my trademark, my calling card, especially when drinking. But I was pretty certain I could now beat him at arm wrestling, since I had just passed his weight-training marks, so I agreed.
My resistance was pathetic. He even offered a do-over so I could reset my position, and still I couldn’t hold out long before he toppled my arm. Whatever the magic is that occurs in arm wrestling, sheer bicep and shoulder barbell presses do not account for it.
I spent the evening not drinking, since it was the only way I could be sure to keep my mouth in check. I did manage one or two gestures, since technically those didn’t count, but except for one accidental slip toward the end of the evening, I managed quite well using alternatives, like “sugar,” “fluff” and “some of a machinery, mudder fluffing, corn shucking, piece of cheese and rice smashing, cuisinarted fluffity fluff fluff fluffer.” (Say that three times fast.)
I actually kind of liked trying to come up with more creative ways not to use any of the censored words.
Maybe I’ll think twice before making an arm-wrestle bet with Kurt.
Probably not. Who would I be if I weren’t a little bit of crazy and a lot of bravado?
Special thanks in today’s post to my current trainer in South Africa, Willem. I only have him through the end of this week when his regular 7am client returns. (I couldn’t convince him that dumping a regular for a pseudo-infamous, potty-mouthed writer is good for his career.) Next week I’ll be training on my own again, so this week Willem is helping me determine my new one-rep max’s.
Until then, maybe I’ll try a little more sugar, a little less spice with this mouth of mine.
Hey everyone my name is Colin and welcome to my guest post for Marla. I met Marla via each others’ blogs, mine being a fitness blog. After some time and many exchanges I ended up becoming her online coach for fitness and nutrition. Instead of writing a brand new post I decided to share one I already posted that really seemed to help others who struggle with eating, especially emotional eating. I thought it could possibly help you if you struggle with health and fitness, and even if not it could be something you’d appreciate. Thanks for reading!
We Fall And We Get Back Up
Four days ago my guy Jon over at chasingthetop.com made a post about how he was upset with himself. Before I get into the details of this let me tell you a little something about this guy. Jon brings it, and brings it hard! This guys works his tail off day in and day out and has a diet that’s completely locked in. I mean I really believe I work hard, but in comparison to what he does it almost seems like child’s play. He’s always keeping a positive attitude, working hard, and being supportive of others. He’s just a good dude who is very inspirational.
Well on this day he was bumming from a recent bout of binge eating that had taken place after a series of unfortunate events that left him in a foul mood. After 8 weeks of sticking completely to his strict diet he went way off course. Was this something that was going to derail him? Of course not, with someone who has as good of habits as him he’s going to keep moving forward.
That said, I get it. Those of us who are really hardcore about fitness and bodybuilding are pretty extreme. When you work that hard to be as close to perfect as possible, it’s disheartening to go that far off path even if only for a day or two. We hold ourselves to very high standards and demand the best from ourselves so when you don’t do your best it’s disappointing. After all the sacrifices we make we expect a lot from ourselves.
So why am I sharing this with you guys? It really goes to show that we are ALL human. I think it’s nice for people who do struggle with this stuff to see that even elite fitness buffs struggle from time to time too. That expecting perfection is unrealistic and everyone out there battles problems with food. You don’t have to be perfect to get results, it’s not an all or nothing game. Just because you have one bad meal or one bad day doesn’t mean it’s all for nothing and there is no point.
It’s just a mistake that we have the opportunity to learn from. Learning from our mistakes and our failures is what helps us grow as individuals. How you react to your failures is critical. Do you get tough and work on making sure you don’t do it again or do you focus on the negatives and let it destroy you and tear you down? Failing is not falling down, it’s falling down and not getting back up again. If you focus on the negatives it’s time to turn that around. Start focusing on the positives. The fact that you care so much that it gets you down when you do make mistakes is a GOOD thing, it means that you do care. You just have to learn how to deal with them and make improvements.
You won’t go from someone who struggles frequently to perfect, but you can make slow continuous improvements. As long as you are doing better than you used to do you are improving! Slow progress is still progress. Stop demanding so much from yourself. Stop comparing yourself to others. You shouldn’t be trying to do better than anyone else, you should be trying to do better than yourself.
That’s the only person you need to beat, your old self! This is a lifestyle and you have to be in it for the long haul if you want lasting results. So there is no time limit to get to where you want to be, just keep moving forward. When you do get there, keep moving forward! Leave your mistakes in the past and work on the present and the future. You can never undo what’s done but you sure as hell can do something about the future. That’s all any of us can do.
As for Jon he of course got back on track and is once again killing it and doing incredible things. Most recently performing the human flag, nuts!!!! If you aren’t following his blog yet I highly recommend you do so. Unless you don’t like good vibes and killer workout ideas, then don’t bother…
What can I say about myself? First my name is Colin DeWaay. I’ve been married to my wonderful wife since 2004 and have a fantastic relationship with her. I have a passion for health and fitness that started in 2008 shortly after my son was born. I was never really overweight by any means, in fact I was very skinny as a kid and into my mid twenties. I lifted on and off but never took nutrition seriously nor did I understand just how important it was for gaining muscle. In 2008 I had gotten pretty unhealthy. It may not have shown much but I was starting to gain weight, and not in the way I wanted to for so many years. I had many health problems that year and was not able to do many of the things nearly as easily as I always could before. I got sick of it and decided to do something about it. I started reading up about how to really get fit and the importance of nutrition. Now days I’m feeling and looking better than ever and can’t wait to get back to the gym everyday.
At 33 years of age now I still play in baseball and basketball leagues and thanks to my lifestyle changes I am playing at higher levels than I ever did before even in my mid twenties. It not only helps in sports and fitness areas but in all aspects of life. The confidence and happiness that comes with it is worth it’s weight in gold.
Now that I’m where I am, I find myself often helping others. People who don’t have the knowledge and don’t know what to do. I find myself wanting to help others more and more all the time and wondering how I can reach people and help them understand how important healthy living is and how great it feels. I want people to know they can do it and they need to stop selling themselves short all the time. That it’s never too late, and that they can make real positive changes. Will this passion of mine eventually blossom into something bigger in life? I guess only time will tell, but I’m starting to hope so more and more all the time.
Please support these writers by reading each of their guest posts and checking out their own blogs!
Thanks, as always for taking time to read my blog and comment. Although I’m offline right now, I will return in a few short weeks when we’re settled in South Africa and I promise to read all of your comments!
Of course I’ll have times I slip up, gain a pound when I’m not paying attention.
But I’m talking about the “big stuff.”
As I reach a smaller size, I am eliminating ALL the previous size clothes from my wardrobe. Most are being donated. Favorites are being cut into patches for the quilt I will make in South Africa. I was going to call it my “fat quilt” but I find that offensive. Fat doesn’t always mean unhealthy, or unfit. So, I am going to call it my “fitness quilt.” Because as a result of becoming more fit, and moving toward the lifestyle I want to have, the weight is coming off on its own, and I want to celebrate and have reminders of what I’ve accomplished.
My friend Jeff recently shared a video on Facebook that I loved. It is a “fat” Russian guy, out-dancing and out-energizing most of the “healthy” people around him. Why do we live in a culture where Winnie-the-Pooh is our favorite lovable children’s character, but a real-life Winnie-the-Pooh (albeit in this guy’s case maybe a drunk Pooh) is scorned, mocked, ridiculed? This is a guy I would want to be friends with.
I’ve gotten sick of everyone asking “So how much have you lost so far?” and trying to explain that my goal isn’t going to be measured in weight, but in what I consider my ideal pant size (anywhere from 10-12), my cholesterol numbers, and my blood pressure numbers. But most importantly, my success is measured by what I can do with my body.
My goal is to do housework and landscaping without feeling like I’m going to pass out, to haul firewood without feeling like I’ll drop it, and to play like I did when my body still worked as it should.
My goal is to hike trails, complete rope courses, dance up to speed for the entire length “Single Ladies” soundtrack, go horseback riding without worrying if they have a horse big enough for me, plow onto a monster slip ‘n slide down the side of our hill, rock climb and repel, screw my husband like a porn star, and of course, cage dive with great white sharks. These things require lung capacity, stamina, and strength that I have not had for a long time.
So what did I mean above, about the “big stuff?” I mean that this isn’t a diet. It is a lifestyle. I love being strong. I love having endurance, and I love the things I’m able to do around the house now. I’m still not a big fan of graveling the driveway. but I love that I can do it easily, and for however long it takes to get it done.
Are the stats still killing you anyway? 🙂
I get it. It’s dramatic and exciting, and I’ve been told to lighten up about revealing the weight, because some people even find it encouraging, or inspirational.
So fine. Here are “the stats”:
My heaviest weight was 262. My weigh-in last week was 225.5
36 pounds is the official number of weigh-loss to date. (Keep in mind, this is over a two year period of small changes, and new habits I can live with.)
My largest pant size was 26. I am currently a comfortable 20, and a muffin-top 18. 😉
My boob size is none of your dang business, but Kurt says I can assure you that all the strength training has my pectoral muscles in “perfect” shape to accentuate my cup size.
And the BEST PART? My blood pressure at Monday’s check-up was 120/80. This is the lowest it has been in many, many years.
In fact, I think I’m going to put on a speedo, nothing else, and dance like a drunk Winnie-the-Pooh.
Can you hear Tammy Wynette singing that country song in your head?
As I work on this section of the manuscript about the death of my father, I’ve been considering the word “divorce”: both the divorce of my parents; and the book titled The Great Divorce, which is a heaven/hell reflection by C. S. Lewis. (Which reminds me, I’m pretty sure I still have a friend’s copy and need to return it!)
On a recent Delta flight, I sat next to a pilot and we began talking about the “old days” of flying. I’ve been flying since I was a pre-teen to visit my dad in the southwest. I reminisced about the wing pins they gave me on TWA, and getting to go into the cockpit as an unescorted minor under supervision of the flight crew. They always made me feel safe and I would arrive home from each flight with a new pin, or playing cards.
As I told these stories to the Delta pilot sitting next to me, he asked me “Are you still a kid at heart?” to which I answered “I like to think so.” He reached in his bag and handed me a pair of Delta wings to pin to my shirt.
You know your mindset toward fitness nutrition has changed when the first thing you pack for a trip is a softsided cooler with plenty of protein and electrolytes since you know the train and hotel store will just have junk. My “staples?”: coconut water for healthy electrolytes; ground almonds; protein powder and jerky for, well, protein; and my favorite jasmine green tea as my luxury snack. (Oh, okay, fine, there is also a dark chocolate marzipan bar I hid from the photo which will be my Wednesday treat. Sheesh. I can’t even stand up to a self-induced guilt trip!) But seriously, Who IS this weird weight training girl I’ve become? Do any of you take specific food items on a trip? Love, Marla
Come on. Seriously? Quit being so juvenile. This is a FITNESS post. I had absolutely no intention of suckering you into yet another nonsexual post with a sneakily-titled innuendo.
According to my trainer and my online coach, I need a LOT more protein and water. It’s not the first time I’ve been told to eat more protein, and until I started having these crash-outs I really figured I was fine. And besides, “eat more protein” means nothing if you started with next to no protein, then “some” protein seems plenty.
I crashed again late yesterday afternoon. It has been happening more frequently on weight training days. I emailed my new trainer and gave him a rundown of everything I ate. He replied back immediately that I didn’t have nearly enough protein.
And I never really thought it was, but seeing it hanging there by the window of the gym on a day last week when Kurt and I were working out together did spark my imagination in a few exciting ways, one of which was a gym entirely devoted to S&M. Talk about workout motivation. Can you imagine a gym full of only attractive people who are entirely fit and have the mentality of swingers? But then I thought that couldn’t really fly, because who wants to get your S&M on in a gym full of people you don’t choose? Attractiveness doesn’t offset douchey personality, and there’s nothing less sexy than a hot guy with the personality and imagination of a towel. Continue reading Drop Sets, Sex Swings, S&M Gyms and Surprise Packages
Today is the 3rd and final part of these posts about success, failure and the 21 Day Sugar Detox.
I PROMISE that tomorrow and Friday will be SHORT and SWEET!!
I’m also sharing some photos of a few little successes in my life to go with today’s post.
Some of you recognize my posts for the creative essays they are intended to be and just enjoy the ride of reading and waiting for the conflict resolution which you know will come at the end. Others like to weigh in as the piece unfolds, each comment meant to inspire, encourage and embrace me. I really do have some of the most wonderful readers on the internet!