Not Dreading the Dreadmill & Christmas Gift Lists

No “Food Friday” post today. My most exciting food moments of the week were going out for sushi (I love sushi, but I swear it is the only thing Kris wants to eat lately) and making snickerdoodle blondies, and neither one of those is particularly new or exciting. Sorry that there have not been many of these lately – I guess my eating habits have been quite boring lately!

Instead, I have sort of a double post on two things that really have nothing to do with each other. Enjoy, because I probably won’t be able to post much while visiting my family Saturday-Wednesday.

Less than a year ago, I was absolutely terrified of treadmills. Even when it got cold last winter and I finally moved my running into the gym I stuck to the indoor track for a few weeks. Then I attempted walking on the treadmill. And finally, I sucked it up and did a nice slow 5K to ease myself into it. They still aren’t my favorite thing, but now that I do not have access to one, I realize that I miss them because they allow me to run in bad weather conditions.

Due to the snow and ice, I still haven’t run – since Sunday! This is one of the longest breaks I have taken from running in the last year and I am not really enjoying it. All it does is make me feel lazy and introduce weird anxieties into my life like “what if I can’t run three miles anymore” or “what if I’m really slow now.” These thoughts make absolutely no sense (after all, it’s only been 5 days), but this is exactly one of the reasons that I run. I *might* be a ridiculously high stress person normally, and running really helps me to not be like that (instead I’m just a high stress person). I think this is especially telling because I’ve still been working out about 20 minutes a day at home. There is no way that I am getting out of shape or being lazy, but my brain is acting like I haven’t run in 6 months or something! Ugh. It must be obvious that I am feeling this way, too, because yesterday Kris basically okay-ed me joining a gym or getting a treadmill for the house for next winter when I am home full-time! Hopefully I can find some time/place to run when I am visiting my family – their treadmill is broken, and I could use my mom’s stationary bike to get some good cardio in, but it’s not the same.

I *should* be able to go for a run today, though. I’ve been able to tell that even if the park isn’t clean, the sidewalks along the roads mostly are, so I could run there if I absolutely had to. I don’t really like running on sidewalks, though, because I am more likely to trip and I have to contend with traffic at major intersections. It was in the high 30s yesterday, though, and should be in the 40s today, so I am thinking that most of the snow will melt and I will be good to go on my normal route. Either way, I really need to get out there – I am going to Kris’s office Christmas party tonight and I need to preemptively burn off cookies and beer! After I write this post I’m going to finally get dressed and take Belle for a walk so I will see what the state of things are then.

Now on to the second part of the post, which is of course basically a rant. Due to the impending holiday, I have been seeing gift idea lists for people who are into fitness and I must say that in my opinion, some of these are just TERRIBLE ideas. Now, many of these gifts are not inherently bad ideas – they would be good ideas for specific people, but they are not really appropriate for a list of random gift suggestions for a friend/relative who is a bit into fitness. They are the type of thing you should ONLY buy people who have specifically asked for them, not the type of thing you should buy people after Googling “gift ideas for health nut friend.”

First, we have meal/weight loss plan subscriptions. Yes, I have actually seen this suggested. Now, if you know someone who is on a specific plan (i.e. Weight Watchers) and you know they are thinking of discontinuing it for monetary reasons, this might not be a bad idea. But to randomly get it for someone who seems like they like to watch what they eat? No. Just no. First of all, it presumptuous because it implies the person cannot accomplish their goals without supervision/guidance (this is being nice to the gift giver and assuming that the person even has a goal that such a plan would be appropriate for, otherwise such a gift is just plain rude). Second, even if the person had expressed vague interest in such a plan, I imagine that unless the gift giver knows EXACTLY what plan the person wants to follow, this could really backfire. Like, if the person on the receiving end of this gift was thinking of trying Nutrisystem and you paid for Weight Watchers instead, you’ve put them in an awkward position. It’s like if your eldery grandparents with only good intentions went out and bought you a Microsoft Surface when you wanted an Ipad. It seems rude to return it for something that to the gift-giver is functionally the same darn thing, but you would really hate the gift because it wasn’t quite what you wanted, and then you feel like an ass. I hope this makes sense.

Second, we have the 80,000 gadgets intended to keep track of your bodily data, such as Fitbits with bodyfat scales that sync up to MyFitnessPal (or whatever). These are bad gifts for the reasons I already mentioned – a bit presumptuous, and what if you wanted the Jawbone thingy instead of the Fitbit thingy? There are two additional problems with such gifts, though. First, they constantly keep track of numbers such as calories, weight, and body fat. It is difficult to know whether a person can handle being constantly updated with that information or not. I am very good at dealing with calories, for example, but try to force myself to weigh once a week or less because otherwise I get very caught up with my weight. If I had some sort of freaking scale that synced up with all of my other data and constantly reminded me to get on it and was aware of every 5 pound fluctuation up and down I’d probably drive myself nuts (and I  mean this literally, there is not a word of humor in this sentence). I just can’t handle that, which is why I don’t own a scale. I weigh myself at gyms and other people’s homes so that I can limit myself. The point is that for many people, one or more of these numbers might be problematic, so don’t buy them this stuff unless they have specifically asked for it. Second, I have a feeling that these are things that are going to get rarely used by even the biggest data and fitness geeks because they just look ugly. Like, who is going to wear a Fitbit to work all day everyday? Maybe this is one of most “just my personal opinion” points here but I think if a numbers-cruncher such as myself thinks that looking silly isn’t worth it for a few numbers, there are not many people who are going to be willing to make that sacrifice.

So, what do I suggest instead? Stick with known quantities or things that aren’t offensive and presumptuous. If you know they are a runner, for example, you could buy them things like clothing/accessories, energy gels, or small things they could use at home like handweights or foam rollers. These types of things are easy to return exchange for inoffensive reasons (i.e. it didn’t fit, that flavor upsets my stomach) or are things that most people use (i.e. handweights don’t really imply that the giver thinks you need to lose weight/get fit to the point of a meal plan!). If you want to go for a more DIY route, make them some healthy holiday treats for a nice break in the sugar-cookie flood that Christmas is or do something like make them a display case for medals/bib numbers. If all else fails, just get them a gift card to a store that you know sells things for their hobby. It is less thoughtful than the other gifts, but it at least shows that you pay attention to their hobby, and is not necessarily NOT thoughtful. For example, my husband loves Warhammer, but everyone just gets him Games Workshop gift cards because we know we’d mess up trying to get him actual miniatures, so it is probably more thoughtful than a) getting him the wrong miniatures or b) just giving him like a Visa gift card and socks (except for runners – runners actually want and love all the running socks).

Have a happy holiday everyone, and hopefully I have a Christmas of running shorts and Clif bars rather than scales that follow me around!


Things I Learned About Being Overweight by Becoming Thin

Let me just begin by repeating for the 1000th time how much I love fall! I have been eating pumpkin oatmeal for breakfast everyday for like 2 weeks and the weather is now just perfect for biking and running most days. Yesterday it was a little dreary, but at least the temperature was nice! I was very glad to be able to bike to the gym today, especially, so I wouldn’t have to contend with game day traffic on campus (though for some reason there were about 1 million gym bros to contend with at the gym).

This was good, because today started out kind of poorly: I had been planning on making some Christmas presents, but I haven’t actually used my sewing machine in like 6 months. The other day, I was trying to gather up materials to make these presents and discovered that I had left my interfacing, quilt batting, etc back in Harrisburg. Luckily, my wonderful husband was able to mail this to me so that I didn’t have to go spend upwards of $9/yard on this crap again. I decided that today would be a good day to reattempt work on these projects…only to discover that my cutting mat and rotary cutter are still in Harrisburg! WHAT?! I can’t believe that I basically brought none of the things I need to sew with me. After writing this post, I’m probably going to go venture to Hobby Lobby to see if I can get a new mat. *sigh*

Another interesting thing that happened today was the inspiration for this post. I was on Reddit this morning (of course) when I came across an askreddit thread asking overweight people to discuss issues that the overweight face that most people are not aware of. A good question, but, being that this was on Reddit, most of the answers were either people being all like “I don’t understand how overweight people can literally be the worst” or people talking about their weight loss journey/issues with weight loss without really providing a unique answer to the question (many were just pointing out how hard it is to lose weight; I would say the majority of people are aware of this problem, even if they can’t understand it fully). There were two types of responses that struck me, though: overweight people pointing out issues that I never was aware of even as an overweight person (this has happened to me at other points in life, too) and people like me who have lost weight talking about the things they learned by losing weight. This made me reflect – what things have I learned about being overweight by losing weight, either by reading about others’ experiences or by noticing a changed experience myself. I have mentioned several of these before, but I feel like they are worth mentioning again. Warning: the last two “bullet points” are really more like paragraphs, because they are complex points I want to make.

  • Apparently people go around judging the food purchase of the overweight. Now that I hear this, I’m not surprised – people tend to be quite judgey – but it never occurred to me that this might be happening to me when I was overweight. Also, now that I am aware of this, I notice it all the time, and I am certain it happened to me, but that I was just oblivious.
  • My clothes and shoes wore out faster when I was overweight, because they never quite fit right. My feet were too wide and made my shoes loose; the arms on my sweaters would stretch out from pushing them up; my beltloops would tear from trying to yank on my pants; my jeans would tear from my thighs rubbing. I never realized this would stop happening when I lost weight!
  • Chairs. I was aware that some overweight people have trouble fitting in certain chairs/break them sometimes, but I thought these concerns did not apply to me because I had never had those problems. Well, I might have “broken” one chair. My office chair did this weird thing where the adjuster broke and it would just wobble around, and I assumed I broke it due to being over the weight limit, but I checked and at my highest weight I was at least 10 lbs under the weight limit so it could have just been a fluke. After losing weight, though, I realized how much better my chair experience really is now. I fit in airplanes and buses better; I can sit comfortably on almost any random chair (though (though I need more padding, now!); I can fit into tiny cars  more easily; and I sometimes even have room to set things beside me on chairs!
  • Overweight people are often invisible to/ignored by society. In a way this was good, because not all attention is good attention (I will say though that the amount of street harassment was fairly equal because now instead of being outside as a “fatty” I am outside as a runner and both are apparently displeasing to rude men). Strangers are way more likely to hold doors for me, talk to me (and hit on me, ugh), and just in general be nice to me than they were before. And I don’t just mean random strangers – this is especially true at clothing stores, where I receive SO MUCH more help now. I never noticed this one because it is difficult to notice lack of attention, I think.
  • On a similarly related note, people that you know treat you way differently (not necessarily nicer, just differently). I mean, I guess I was somewhat aware of this, but I understand it a lot more now that not everyone I know knows that I was once overweight. When you are overweight, everyone just kind of assumes you really dislike yourself and that you are really sensitive about it. And I’m sure everyone is to varying degrees, but most other people tend to think it is like the number one thing on your mind. Like, if you make factual statements like “I can’t find anything in this store because they do not carry my size” they freak out. The worst is when you mention briefly being fat and they continue to reassure you that you are not fat. There are two reasons that I think people do this: they are either afraid of indirectly insulting you by not disagreeing (like, they think you will say you are fat, they will just sort of nod or something, and then you will exclaim “HAH!” Got you! You said I am fat you meanie!”); or they are possibly quite unaware of how large you actually are (I am guilty of doing this to people myself). As I said, I was aware of this as an overweight person, but now I really understand how weird it is because of how comfortable people feel asking me about my body, now. They think nothing of asking me what I weight, what size I wear, etc., and they accept most comments I have to say about myself because they don’t feel like they need to reassure me. The last holdout seems to be my legs. Every time I factually mention that they are big and I have trouble finding pants, people still freak out trying to tell me that it’s ok. Newsflash everyone: I am aware it is ok.
  • An extra bullet point for lessons I probably still have to learn

Trial and Error

Today I went back to working out for the “first” time since my half marathon (I bike commuted yesterday, but quite weakly). Last time, I tried to “loosen up” by running for 20 minutes the day after. That sucked, so this time I instead tried to do it 2 days later, which worked much better (I did take a leisurely 1 mile walk the day after). My workout today was so random. I just messed around on some weight machines in our apartment complex gym (mostly to see what they were like) then did 20 minutes at an easy pace on the treadmill. I never like this period right after a race where I don’t really have a workout plan – I have no idea what I want to do for my workout that day so it makes me procrastinate and then I never know what to eat (because I don’t know how many calories I will be burning/when I will be working out). I need to come up with a workout plan so that I am not in the weird limbo I am in this week – I am apparently a person that needs structure. Here are a few of the options I am entertaining:

  • Re-attempting NROLFW. I tried it before, but kind of half-assed it and decided I didn’t like it. With it being cold and rainy outside everyday, though, this might be a good option.
  • Biking: I know I can bike on the stationary bike trainers on campus regardless of weather. Also, Kris and I are planning to take some major rides (50+ miles) next summer so it would be nice to catch up to his ability level before that. I would need to find a somewhat structured plan, though, because I don’t really like stationary bikes and I’d probably slack off if I was just doing it whenever I felt like it. Maybe I can read the Game of Thrones books while I ride?
  • Running: I will definitely run during the winter so I don’t completely lose my base. I’m pretty hardcore about running in the winter actually – I went out and bought tons of gear last year and only stayed indoors if it was raining, blizzarding, or under 10 degrees (F). Though, speaking of cold weather gear, why do they not make more athletic tights for guys? I tried looking at cheap places where I usually find my stuff (i.e. Old Navy, JCP, Target) for Kris to wear on his bike and all I can find is sweatpants, which are a no-go for biking. I can check the Under Armour outlet when I’m back home in PA, but I’m a cheapskate, so I’d prefer somewhere else.

I also tried my new shoes out today (full disclosure, that is a referral link). They were…interesting. I could feel the arch support in them like I have never felt before. I seriously can feel the shoe pushing my foot back when my ankle tries to collapse in. Super weird feeling. This was interesting to me because the other shoes I have used in the past (Brooks Adrenaline; Mizuno Wave Inspire) seem like highly recommended shoes for over-pronators (people with flat feet) so I expected them to have the best support out there. I would say these shoes have about the cushioning and weight of the Brooks shoes – I had liked that the Mizuno’s had less, but they just aren’t going to be warm enough for winter (I needed to get rid of them anyway – they are completely worn through in several places and I can visibly see the degradation of the cushioning). At first the shoes felt really really weird because of the additional cushioning, but I got used to it during my run. I was also thinking that they made my right shin feel a little funny but then I realized it was just the way I was running on the weird treadmill we have in this gym, and correcting my gait on the treadmill helped (some other dude was on the good treadmill).

One final new thing I tried today. I am currently working on reducing meat in my diet (not going full vegetarian, just trying to not eat meat every single day) and today I managed an entire day without meat! Well, technically the day isn’t over, but I only plan on having some pumpkin ice cream with a pumpkin muffin, and those don’t have meat. I am fairly proud of this accomplishment, especially considering past me – one of the meals I ate was penne with marinara sauce (I put a ton of veggies in it) and I remember literally getting into fights with Kris because pasta “requires” meat or I won’t eat it (I used to be this way with pizza, too, and my favorite pizzas are now often 4 cheese or veggies). It’s an even more impressive feat if you know that as a child, I ate no vegetables except white mushrooms or baby carrots. MAYBE iceberg lettuce. Look forward to at least one meatless recipe for Food Friday 🙂

One final thing – and I have separated this because it has nothing to do with the rest of the post, but I don’t really want to see it as an afterthought – remember that there are several things about your body that fitness cannot change. I feel like I’m beating a dead horse, here, but after seeing two posts on Reddit yesterday from super skinny ladies about hip dip (I feel ok with declaring them super skinny because their hips were as small as mine), I realize that not everyone knows this yet: THERE ARE NUMEROUS THINGS ABOUT YOUR BODY YOU JUST CAN NEVER CHANGE. These include:

  • Thigh gap (the idea that your thighs should at no point touch)
  • Hip dip (aka violin hips; the dip between where your hip bones are and where your femur points out)
  • Cellulite
  • I’m sure there are more things the internet will invent that I haven’t thought of yet. Fat ears, perhaps?

Technically, there are things you can do to slightly alter each of these.

You could reduce fat or muscle mass and see if that allows you to have a thigh gap. This probably won’t work unless your thighs are really muscular or you are very overweight, though – my thigh gap appears when I am a size 12. It depends almost entirely on your bone structure, and trying to lower your body fat enough to obtain it can be dangerous, mostly because for many people, their body fat will NEVER be low enough for it to appear, or it would have appeared already when they were at a healthy/slightly overweight weight.

Hip dip is sort of the opposite – you can only really see it if you are thin, because otherwise your hipbone and femur won’t be jutting out of your skin. So thin girls: if you want to rid yourself of hip dip, gain weight. I thought mine looked weird at first, but then I realized everyone had one, so I decided I was ok. Then I learned that there is some craze to try to lose weight and rid yourself of it, when that will only make it worse.

Cellulite is less of a modern internet problem – ladies have been worrying about this for decades. Remember, ladies: 90% of you have cellulite. It is just the way that women’s bodies (or bodies with low testosterone in general, if I remember correctly) store fat. Unless you have an extremely low body fat percentage (like, figure competition level – and even they don’t stay in that kind of shape for long), it’s probably going to show up. The “treatments” for it have limited effectiveness – sure, super cream X may work randomly for one person, but there is not really any evidence that any of them work (if you have a ton of money, I think that I heard that certain surgeries work – that’s it). It’s probably best to just remember that everyone has it. Go Kaleo has a great post where she shows a picture of Scarlett Johansson’s, and actually talks about all the sciencey stuff  behind all this with sources unlike me, because I’m lazy and just sending a reminder, not reinventing a wheel. I know that doesn’t make you feel better in your skin tight outfit, but hey, that is why Spanx exist*. They are cheaper than 80,000 creams and less effort than massaging your skin for hours. Note: I’m a super-weirdo and I’m fine with my cellulite showing in say, shorts, but I just HATE when it breaks up the line of a skin tight dress so I wear them sometimes. Remember: I wear size 2, and I have cellulite (and also loose skin, which is the primary reason for the Spanx). WE ALL HAVE IT.

*I know I should be like “completely embrace your body” instead of advocating shapewear, but I’m realistic, and trying to take baby steps here, ok?

Good Day

Today is a good day for several reasons:

1) Today is Love you Body Day!

If you don’t want to follow the link, or just want the short version, today is about rejecting the idea that a woman’s value is best measured by the amount that her appearance coincides with current beauty standards. It also focuses on the idea of challenging the exact nature of these standards, which tend to be relevant only to white, able-bodied women*. I love that my body is able to run for two hours straight!

2) Speaking of running, today was the last run before my half marathon! I was able to run an 8:30 pace despite being barely warmed up, so I’m starting to feel hopeful again that I will improve my time at the half on Saturday. We will just have to see!

3) After reading some ridiculous article on Cracked about “food industry lies” yesterday (they had some good points about transparency but most of it was just fear-mongering), I was greeted with this from MyFitnessPal today. I much prefer myth debunking over spinning the truth to scare people, especially when it comes to food and fitness myths!

4) I found some old pics of myself…prepare for a Throwback Thursday!

I hope you all have a good day with love for your bodies, awesome workouts, and freedom from annoying fitness myths as well 🙂

*Note: I think I may have worded this somewhat poorly. The challenge isn’t to create ridiculous standards for other women; it is to challenge the idea that white, able-bodied women are inherently more valuable because current beauty standards apply only to them.

Some Links to Get You Through the Mid Week Slump

Usually, if I see something interesting on the internet, I just randomly add it on to a post. This week, I thought I’d amass a bunch together for your reading pleasure. Some of them might be slightly old news, but hopefully at least some of you readers will come across something new and interesting you had not seen on the interweb yet! Note, some are fitness related, and some are not; some are funny, some are not.

6 by 21. An article about 6 women riding the Tour de France (ahead of the race). I think this one might be a little old, but I just saw it for the first time yesterday. You *might* have to be a member of in order to read it, I’m not sure.

9 Signs You’ve Become That Person About Getting Healthy. I was relieved to find that I do not yet do ALL of these.

30 Signs You’re a Fitness Chick. Gifs make me giggle.

Man Says One Day of P90X Sent him to the Emergency Room. I actually know someone who this happened to in real life – don’t do workouts your body isn’t ready for! Start with small changes!

ESPN’s Body Issue. This came out like a week ago, but I’d never even heard of this before (I live under a pop culture rock). While imperfect (it could be more inclusive) I find it a nice contrast to typical portrayals of fit female bodies – yes, some are sexualized, but I’d argue that they equally sexualize men, and most of it is in an artsy way, and they are at least trying to do non-sexy pics of both genders.

Access to Panera’s Hidden Menu. I don’t know if this actually works, but it looks amazing (like yummy good for you food instead of “health food”). Someone should try this out and tell me if it works before I embarrass myself at Panera :p

How Pregnancy Changes a Runner’s Body. Interesting article in the NY Times. I saw someone arguing that all of the information is “duh” and that it seems to suggest women shouldn’t run during pregnancy, but I didn’t catch the latter vibe. And to be fair, much of science is providing evidence in support of the obvious.

Face It. An article about body image and parenting.

8 Hydration Myths Busted. Some of the evidence for and against claims about hydrating during exercise (specifically running).

The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons why I Run Long Distances. I’m sure everyone has seen this comic from the Oatmeal by now, but parts of it really resonated with me (i.e. I will always be running from the fat person within). I was a little uncomfortable with his discussion of weightlifters, but to be fair it is true to his typical style of comedy through insulting exaggerations and I suspect some of it might come from his own insecurities (i.e. he had vain reasons to start running but that didn’t work out for him, so he dislikes people who work out for vain reasons now), so I might forgive him.

A few non-fitness ones:

I Understood Gender Discrimination Once I Added “Mr.” to my Resume and Landed a Job. A story about a guy named Kim who couldn’t get a job, obviously because he was a lady.

27 Life Hacks Every Girl Should Know. Some of these EVERYONE should know. It’s a little repetitive if you have Pinterest, but some of these were new to me.

Finally…DOGGIES!!! Nearly all of these apply to Belle. Or any dog. Gab: I can see River doing the upside down cereal thing.

Talking About Body Image

My half marathon is officially very close – I ran the first run of my “taper” week this morning. Hopefully it is less humid this Saturday – when I ran this morning it was only in the 60s and I ran at a pace that is typically pretty normal for me for 3 miles (~ 8:30/mile), but I was having trouble breathing near the end and sweat was dripping down into my eyes and stinging them. The culprit: 89% humidity, at least according to my Weather Underground app (the Weather Channel claims the humidity is ONLY 74%).

But today’s post isn’t really about my half marathon or the weather. It is inspired by a couple of articles that I read lately. The first was in the New York Times Well blog, and the second  was some random article I saw linked on Reddit last night. Both discuss women discussing body image with each other and the social impact of that, and that is what I’d like to talk about today.

The NYT one was about “fat talk” among women. It basically talks about how women often bond by shaming their own bodies while at the same time assuring other women that their own bodies are fine (or at least flawed at a similar level). An example from the article:

First friend: “I can’t believe I ate that brownie. I am so fat!”

Second friend: “You must be joking — you are so not fat. Just look at my thighs.”

One of the things they point out is that women often say not what they actually think about their own bodies but what they think they are expected to think about their own bodies. This really hit home for me because I do this A LOT. As an adult, I have had very positive body image (I did struggle in high school when many of the other girls on my soccer team were very waif-like, and I didn’t realize I simply had a different body shape than them, and instead thought they were just more fit than me). Most women, however, don’t have very positive body image (or are perhaps in the same trap as me). This leads to very awkward conversations.

For example, I will say, in a factual sense, something like “oh, I have trouble finding slacks and boots because my legs are sort of big for the rest of my body size.” I don’t say these things to make negative comments about my body – I say them to make negative comments about availability of clothing! Still, the usual response isn’t something like “I know, I hate that – I can never find cute blazers because my shoulders are sort of broad! Why can’t they just make a few different cuts of clothing!” but rather something like “Oh, no, Chelsea! Your legs aren’t big! Look at how muscular and shapely they are! I would looooooove to have legs like yours!” Ok, well you are correct that my legs are pretty awesome – running miles and miles will do that to them. But that is also exactly why they are so big! Big and nice looking are not mutually exclusive, and I don’t need you to reassure me when I’m not even putting myself down.

I don’t blame these other women for making these comments, however, because honestly I usually respond in the same way as well. I am never sure when another woman says to me “I wish that they would make more [insert hard to find clothing item here] because of [idiosyncracy of my body]” what sort of response she is looking for, so I almost always go for reassurance about her body, just because I feel it is the safest route – what if she was feeling down about herself and I failed to reassure her? I would be a terrible friend! So I go with the better safe than sorry route.

I sometimes also feel pressure to put down my own body because of this phenomenon. This happens most when I am talking about my weight loss to people. People often assume that I thought I was “ugly” before and that I must feel like I look so much “better” now. Usually, I do not bother correcting them.

I make a very conscious effort to never bring up anything negative about my former body without being prompted – I did not dislike that body and I still don’t. I was never embarrassed to be  in pictures, wear bathing suits, or wear other revealing clothing. I honestly felt beautiful and still think I was beautiful. I do slightly prefer how I look now, but honestly the body I liked best was when I was about medium sized and curvy (and still overweight). My body type is very straight now and I have no idea how to dress it. Also, at that point I hadn’t really lost enough weight for the loose skin to set in yet. I now for the first time in my life feel like I need to cover up – I was never concerned about people seeing stretch marks or cellulite (honestly I’m sure most people don’t notice it on others), but now my skin literally flops around and hangs strangely and looks sort of deformed and I am self conscious of it. It’s improving vastly as I gain muscle and time rejuvenates my skin, but I can honestly say that this is not the most beautiful I have felt in my life (don’t worry guys, I still know I’m hot – just not the hottest!). Still, others expect me to feel most beautiful now, because thin=beautiful and now I am very thin. I said before I don’t correct them. Can you imagine with the culture of “fat talk” trying to explain to most people that I thought I was hot when I was 240 lbs? I’m sure they would just think there was something wrong with me.

Note that I do have to tread a fine line with this thinking I am awesome looking now, though – I would never talk as positively about my body in person as I am here on my blog, for fear of appearing like I was bragging or making the other person feel like I don’t think that they are pretty/hot/beautiful whatever because of some perceived difference between us. From what I can tell, women tend to perceive their own bodies inaccurately and judge them more negatively than a stranger would. Yesterday, a friend was feeling down about her body because she has gained weight as she has become older.  This friend began insisting that I was thinner than her and weighed less even though I am 100% certain that we are the same size – we seriously wear the EXACT SAME clothing size down to shoe size and are the same height! Because she perceives that she is fatter than me and therefore uglier than me, saying something positive about myself in front of her might offend her because she would see that as “well Chelsea thinks she looks good with her legs the way they are, but my legs are fatter so she must think my legs look bad” even though I have no freaking clue what her legs really look like because I have never really paid attention. I would like to think that these perceived offenses aren’t just things I have made up in my head – I have felt them before! I understand, now, however, that comments on one’s own body rarely apply to the other person in the conversation – they are usually relative to some past body or ideal body that the individual has in mind for themselves, and they are not even paying attention to the offendee’s body.

The reason that the second article inspired me to write this post is that it provides a link to perhaps how we could stop this “fat talk” from occurring. The article is about the mind blowing experience of a little girl hearing her mother refer to herself as “fat, horrible and ugly” for the first time. I don’t remember the first time my mother did this, but I know that she does it. And I’m sure that most mothers do. And I also know that this is incredibly inappropriate behavior that only perpetuates the cycle of “fat talk:” if you teach little girls that it is normal to talk about your body image in a negative manner, then they will think that is how you communicate to other girls and women!

I don’t blame mothers for doing this, as it is so normalized (it probably does not occur to most people that saying such things to their daughters shapes them – they have been engaging in fat talk for so long that they probably don’t realize that their daughters would have to learn about it to engage in it). I have long been a person that has thought about how I will try my hardest to not transmit certain ideas to my children, normalization of negative body image discussion being among them (another example would be accidental gender role transmission). I know I won’t be perfect, but I want to make a conscious effort – one of my biggest fears is that by focusing too much on fitness and calorie counting that I will cause one of my children (of any gender) to develop an eating disorder, regardless of how hard I try to teach them body positivity. Even without reading these articles, I know how painful it is as an adult child to listen to your own mother say such horrible things about herself and feel helpless to change her mind (my mom frequently calls me to talk about how awful and bad she is even though she is only slightly overweight and exercises near daily). As an adult only child who is quite close in age to my mom (she is only a few years older than some of my actual friends), I try my best to remember she means it as a friend and not as a mother and that I am there to support and reassure her, not necessarily to be her daughter, which makes it more appropriate. Still, I would never want to put an actual child child in such a position!

The take home point here: try your hardest not to engage in this destructive fat talk and not to contribute to perpetuation of the cycle. I don’t expect you to be perfect (I admit right in this blog that I struggle with it!), but remember the impact of your words, and remember that we all have positive and negative aspects of our bodies – try to dwell on the positive 🙂

Sports Bras

I wasn’t going to post today – my day was not really that exciting. I drove to the gym and ran on the treadmill because it was raining. I was going to try out rowing and tell you about it but I was confused by the rowing machine so that failed. I made some black bean burgers, but I’ll talk about those on Friday.

But then I read this post about bra fitting as a feminist issue. I’ve never read this blog before, but I saw a link to this on Reddit, and what the author had to say really inspired me. After learning about how to buy a properly fitting bra after losing weight (I used to just buy 38C because that was Victoria’s Secret’s largest band and my boobs were “normal” sized), I’ve thought a lot about similar issues, but was never able to articulate them as well as the author has.

What inspired me to post about this is a point that is made in the article about sports bras – without a proper sports bra, women are basically confined to a sedentary life. I’ve heard numerous women complain, online and in person, that they hate working out because their breasts are so large, and that even if they wear a sports bra over a regular bra/wear two sports bras/duct tape their boobs (ok maybe I’m exaggerating with this one) exercise is still uncomfortable. Despite this discomfort, many of these women persevere – in my experience they are usually trying to vent about how they wish exercise would be more comfortable, rather than trying to make excuses. What I wish I could tell ALL of them is that it might be possible for them to reduce, if not completely eliminate their discomfort (I can do this online, but I hate confrontation and talking to a woman about bra size in person can turn into a nightmare  – my own mother doesn’t believe me). I’m going to guess they have at LEAST 2 problems that empowering women to understand bra sizing and available options would address:

  1. They don’t know their bra size. Many of these women will say things like “I’m a DD, there is no way I can work out and be comfortable.” But without band size, DD means nothing – it is likely that they are wearing too small of a cup size (i.e. they think they are a 36DD when they are really a 32G) and so the bras that they have are not giving them enough support in the first place.
  2. They don’t know about “good” sports bras. I define “good” sports bras pretty loosely – basically they acknowledge that cup sizes exist. None of this basically a cropped tank top crap that says to buy a “large” if you are a “D,” even if you are super scrawny and have no boobs like me (I’m a 32D, but on a small frame that is a small cup size, and the shape of my breasts means I look quite flat chested).

If you don’t know your size (or even if you think you do), I would recommend this guide (I’ve linked this before, I think) on how to measure yourself, especially if you are too shy/poor/living in the middle of nowhere to get a proper fitting.  Remember it is a starting point – because I’m pretty muscular/bony in my ribs and have oddly shaped breasts, I have to size up a band to keep from feeling uncomfortable and wear only certain styles of cups (I don’t fill others out). Similarly, someone who carries more weight around their ribs might be able to size down a band because there is more “padding” and “squish” there (I don’t really like those terms, but don’t know what else to say). But it’s a heck of a lot better than you will get in most stores, where they lie to you because they don’t carry your size (unless you happen to be a “normal” size like me that they carry).

If you don’t know about “good” sports bra options, here are a few options I can think of off the top of my head – note that these links also contain non cup-sized bras, so you should focus on the cup-sized ones”

  • Shock Absorber. I’ve never tried these, but I’ve heard good things. I don’t know where to buy them other than the internet.
  • Moving Comfort. Same deal – never tried, but I’ve heard good things. These are sold in lots of places (both my local running stores and places like Dick’s have them) and are also available through many online retailers with free returns (i.e. Piperlime). I will probably buy one of these sometime since they are locally available.
  • Under Armour. I own one very similar to this (I bought an outlet one that I don’t think they make anymore). It is very supportive but the straps are a bit tight and sort of cut into my armpits. I would still recommend, as not everyone will have the same body shape as me and the armpit thing might not bother them. You can also buy these in regular sporting goods stores, online, or in places like Under Armour Outlet.
  • Lululemon. I don’t own any of these, or anything from Lululemon (no Lululemon near me and I don’t want to buy online), but from what I understand they make very high quality activewear, and even some of their non cup-sized bras are extremely supportive if they happen to fit you (like the Run Pace Bra).
  • JC Penney. They recently started carrying cup-sized bras in their Glamorise brand. I bought this one in my sister size of 34C (often works for me because sports bras are sooooo tight compared to regular bras) but it was GIGANTIC, so do not size up! The bra seemed like it was of perfectly good quality, though, especially for like half the price of these other bras.
  • Target. I will note that I am somewhat biased about buying things at Target because I work there, so I get a discount. Still, I usually do not buy most activewear there, because it’s not really that cheap. I did buy this sports bra there, though, and I like it. Not as tight as my Under Armour one, but probably because I sister sized to 34C (this worked well in this brand). It still has adequate support for me, but recall that I don’t have a very large chest – I don’t know if it would be as supportive for a larger band/cup size. The padding has a weird shape compared to my chest, but I live with it, and it’s probably me, not the bra, and it’s removable anyway.
  • Note: not all of these have a large range of cup sizes, but websites like that specialize in D+ bras might be a good starting point.