Sunday, March 31, 2013

Fitness and Stuff, Maybe

Fit, fat, fuck yeah!
Before we start, let me say that fitness - or even health - is not mandatory for anyone. You don't owe it to anyone no matter what others say. If you don't want to exercise, or if you don't want to do whatever it is people tell you is healthy, that is entirely your decision. That is completely yours.

If you are interested in fitness and healthy eating habits, please continue.

Recently I became the moderator of a subReddit called askHAES. There came a pretty good post that talked about fitness goals that I would like to share and discuss a little:

Hello, HAES people.
I wanted to bring up a subject that I think some of you might find worthwhile. Here's the deal: I'm not telling anyone here they need to exercise or train at all. That's your call.
That said, if you choose to train, I'd recommend the following general rules. They're pretty simple.
  1. Throw away the scale (unless you're trying to make weight for a tournament or something). This one's especially important for women. I've seen girls literally go the scale immediately following a tough workout to see what they've lost. Pointless. Weight is going to fluctuate from day to day, and upon initiating serious training many people will actually gain weight as their muscles begin retaining more water as they adapt to the increased workloads. Seriously, stop looking at the scale.
  2. Pick a goal that you can measure. Here's the magic: you get to set these, not society, not your friends, not your family. You. They're your goals. When I ask people what their goals are, 9 times out of 10 they'll say, "I want to be in shape" or "I want to look better." Neither are really useful, but the former is better than the last one. Here's the deal: pick a few performance-based tasks which are quantifiable (e.g. run a 5k in X amount of time, or squat 275 lbs., whatever) and make sure they're reasonable for where you're at. If you've been away from exercising for 20 years, it's probably unreasonable to say you're going to run a marathon in 4 months. Stay away from, "I want to weigh X in Y amount of time." That's a white rabbit you'll chase forever. Pick good performance-based goals, and I promise you that your body will adapt as it should.
  3. Now, take an initial (honest) assessment of where you're at with respect to your goals. Write it down. Don't bullshit the assessment. Don't say, "well, I ran this in 20 minutes, but I was under the weather; it was really 18 minutes." Nope. It was 20.
  4. Develop a plan. If you're a novice, get smart or get some help. Make sure the plan aligns with your schedule. Guess what, if you work 60 hours a week and have three kids, you're not going to be able to stick with a program that calls for 4 hours of training 5 days a week. You're setting yourself up for failure.
  5. Train hard. No bullshit. No excuses. Get it done. When it's time to train, that's all that's going on in your life. You're not reading. You're not thinking about work, or your significant other, or any of life's little dramas. You're not even worrying about where you'll be with respect to your goals next week, next month, or next year. You're only there to do the work. Anything less is a waste of time. I see people at the gym on the treadmill for half an hour walking, reading "Self" or whatever. I don't say a damn thing to them, because it's not my problem. But, guess what? They're wasting their own time. Why spend 30 minutes half-assing something, when you could be doing it for real? It's your time. My time is a precious resource; I have no intention of wasting it.
  6. Re-assess regularly, but not all the time. I typically put together 8-week training programs and assess at the 4, 6, and 8 week marks. If you're starting off, you're going to need more time, especially if you've got a busy schedule and don't have as much time to dedicate it. For true novices, I build 16-week programs.
Finally, a note. Forget about what someone's definition of attractiveness is. Train to do something, not to look some specific way. This is another white rabbit. Here's a truth: you're never going to be pretty enough for everyone. That shit is subjective anyway. You know what's not subjective? Trashing someone in a 5k when six months ago you couldn't even finish one.
That's my take. Again, I stress that I couldn't care less whether anyone here trains or not. Not my problem or my business. I only want to give people here an honest look at how serious athletes think about training. It ought to put your mind at ease. They don't care about looks; they care about performance.
 I like this as it really does reflect the thought process of a "serious athlete." For a lot of athletes, and even fathletes like myself, measurement in physical progress is more important than physical appearance. The guys I work out with talk about running marathons, jumping hurdles, climbing mountains, or snatching heavier, not about their weight. Their goals are performance based. Even if your goal isn't being able to run a 5k, you can make performance goals as well, like being able to walk up the stairs without almost dying halfway through (heh, this was my goal when I was starting out). Anyway, let's start at the top.

This is "bulk."
1) Throw away that scale and never look back. Don't use the scales at the gym or in the locker rooms either. First, you don't know if they have been calibrated at all ever and second, if you have had body image issues in the past it will be triggering. I know because I do it sometimes and the difference between what you used to know and what it shows can either crush you back into unhealthy eating habits or will excite you into continuing the "trend." Just don't; I promise you will feel better about it.  If you really, really need a scale, try a Yay! Scale.

By the way, while we are on the subject of muscles and retaining water, it is good to note now that women do not bulk like men do. Women don't have enough testosterone in their body to gain massive amounts of muscle quickly and are more likely to "tone" and build than bulk.

 And before you ask: yes, fat people can be toned as well.

 2) Goals are important, but they have to be attainable. It was a good year and a half before I was fit enough to run without joint pain, and about 8 months before I really noticed a difference in my stamina. Fitness is long term, but that doesn't mean you have to hate the journey. More on that later. For now, think about some good goals to set. I think you should probably take an assessment before you move into specifics, but again, more later.

3) Honesty here will be a boon later, and write. it. down. so you can see your progress. If your goal is "being able to walk up the stairs without keeling over", go climb the stairs and count the number you make and the time you did it in. Note your breath, as in whether you were gasping or not. While Ragnar might have been harsh, it really is important that you are very honest with this.

4) There is this great site that I will recommend forever. is full of awesome resources for people of all fitness levels, from fitness articles to already made fitness plans to an awesome shop and more. With the fitness program, you can either try the ones listed or you can find a specific one for your age and fitness goal. I personally like LiveFit since it has a great progression built in along with specific exercises for specific days and all the information is already there. Yes, it does talk about weight loss but the muscle building results are amazing. Jamie Eason (the one who created the program) also has a great head on her shoulders and doesn't shy from speaking her mind.

Note: if you wander around the site, there is talk about weight loss. Ignore it, there is so much more than that.
Options: you haz them.

5) I would say just to do your best. I feel my best when I work out that day and I feel like crap if I don't, so try not to lapse. If you feel like it is such a chore to go, then something is wrong. If you don't look forward to it, then try something different. Try karate or dancing or kickboxing or boxing or Pilates or yoga or something. There is literally hundreds of options. I think that if you really enjoy something, you will give it 100% and "train hard" for it, even if it is peaceful yoga. And if you can, try EVERYTHING at least twice, even if you think you might look stupid. Why twice? Because if you had a terrible time the first time, you can confirm it or have a better time the next. As for others, you can shake your head at their silliness, but unless they will hurt you or themselves (as in doing an exercise move that will F them up), just go on about your business.

6) Yes, please re-assess. Go back to those stairs and do them again (write it down!). I suggest a 12 week program, or any of the ones on the site linked earlier. Change your routine every 12 weeks too, or your body will adapt and you may not see any more improvement (depending on your goal, of course)

Ragnar sums up pretty well, so I just want to say that I understand that everyone has different commitments. I totally understand having your schedule packed so hard even particles would have difficulty getting through it. Your fitness is yours and no one can tell you what to do. I suggest 30 minutes a day, but hell, it is just a suggestion. This is also why I suggest doing something you love; you will be more inclined to go. Exercise is also a very good stress reliever, and it doesn't have to be in the gym either if that causes stress. My mother hates group exercise and hates the gym, but loves walking outside. One of my friends loves to run but prefers outdoors. Another friend absolutely hates exercise in every form. To each their own.

A nutrition post will be coming soon, but expect it over on Fierce, Freethinking Fatties.

Do you have any recommendations? What do you like to do?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Role Models?

I was reading submissions on This Is Thin Privilege Tumblr and a few posts have caught my attention and made me think of some issues we have discussed about the Deaf Community in my college classes. Specifically, the lack of adult role models. In the Deaf community (btw, that capital D is not a typo. Capital D Deaf refers to the community of deaf people who are linguistically connected by ASL), schools don't typically hire deaf teachers for their deaf students. In fact, it is difficult for deaf people to get hired anywhere, especially somewhere public and with high volumes of hearing people. There are really no deaf role models; besides Helen Keller, what other deaf person in history do you know?

Source is actually very interesting!
Taking this same thread and expanding it, what fat role models are there? Think back to all your teachers in your whole school career and count the number of fat teachers you had or saw. Include administration, security, and any other supporting members. Think about shows or actors/actresses that you either admire or admired when you grew up. What about in real life, when you go out to a restaurant and order food, what does your waiter or waitress typically looks like? In fact, what about when you enter sit-down restaurants and are put into the back where no one can see you; does this happen?

 What about on TV? How many fat actors or actresses get gigs that play the good guys? How many fat people do you see on regular TV shows that aren't being berated or made fun of?

And here I am looking at the commercials for American Idol (I swear I am watching Criminal Minds!) and what do I see? No one that looks like me, even in the audience. Then a judge says "you look like a million bucks!" to some contestant and it reminds me of the awe and surprise that this woman received because she wasn't conventionally pretty. Seriously, look at those people's faces before she sings and then directly afterwards, like it was a surprise or something that she could actually sing in a fucking singing contest.

Anyway, thin privilege is being able to walk into any store and see models that look like you (let alone clothes that will fit you, clothes that will be cheap, and employees who don't look at you or speak to you in disgust). It is seeing movie stars and politicians (especially the women) and lawyers and CEOs and managers and doctors and biologists and especially those who run studies and teachers and anyone else in power who look like you that you can aspire to.

Thin privilege is having role models that look just like you.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Oh, Ostara!

Ostara has past (it was this past 20th) but due to various circumstances, I will be celebrating on the 26th. This will be the first Ostara that I practice with my brother and I have a lot planned; so exciting!!

Of course there is always the customary egg dying. I would love to do some natural dying one time with these recipes (OH AMAZING!), but it looks like we will have to fall back on regular dying.

How cool would this be??
Another great craft for Ostara is making egg charms. Basically you blow out the inside and then paint or dye the outside, then add herbs or various items inside. I would totally add a string so I could hang them up, perhaps gathering a bunch onto a mobile or inside "wind chime." It would probably be messy, but would be very good for kids!

Another idea would be to  make some ladybug stones. How cute are these? This is a very easy craft with paint that more mature kids could do, and you can populate your house or garden with them. There are also ideas for butterflies and dragonflies. If you like crafting, I recommend this site! From bottle cap coasters to Book of Shadows to pentacle necklaces and recipes for writing ink, it is impressive!

My brother has also taken a liking to making God's Eyes. If you get some multicolored thread or yarn, you can make all sorts of cool designs. Here is a video that shows exactly how to do it, from beginning to end.

How about a wreathe? Or just some other types of decoration? Here are some more pictures of crafts! That Ostara Tree looks interesting and very pretty. Now this has some very good ideas as well, especially the eggshell candles and the Moon/Sun masks. Pintrest, and this blog for children and this one too!

Maybe the simplest activity I will do with my brother is plant flowers or put a plant in a container for him to take care of. Since we can't have a pet at my place (and I wouldn't be able to take care of the poor thing right now anyway), a plant is the next best thing. I would like to start a Witch's Garden with various herbs and flowers of my own, but perhaps we can start off small yet.

That's it for now; have a great Ostara/Easter!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Garden, Yay!

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaay I love gardens!!!!!! I love planting and taking care of plants; they just bring a freshness to the place unlike anything else. However, I am stuck with a portable garden since I don't live in any one place for long. So, I have decided to give this particular gardening pots a try. I've seen them around and want to see if I can get anything out of them.

I think I will be planting lots of herbs, but also a bunch of peppers. Gotta love those peppers, man! YAY YAY YAY YAY!!! I am so excited, can you tell?

When I receive them and start planting, I will post again. Yay! (?)
GrowBox planters growing on Shawna Coronado's balcony
Source is from another blog talking about these

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Other Interests Are Important

I was told, in no uncertain words, that I shouldn't focus 100% on one thing, that I should have other interests and hobbies other than whatever it is that I am currently focusing on. You know what? I think that person is right.

So, I am interested in other things besides Health At Every Size (tm). I am interested in exercising, in healthy foods, in American Sign Language, in ASL Interpreting, in volunteering, in animals, in world religions, in cars to a lesser degree, in art and especially ceramics, in Paganism, in the news and goings on of the Native American population.

I am interested in raising my brother and taking care of him. I am interested in getting a job where I can make more than minimum wage. I am interested in people and what they do and what they think and why they think that and why they do what they do and how they gather and where and why and who and what and when and how (I think this is called psychology and sociology).
Dancing, singing, teaching, and graduating. Diversity!

I am interested in biology by a lot. I want to know what the body does, why it does that, how it does it, and what miracles it holds. For instance, during a pregnancy absolutely everything has to go JUST right in order to have a healthy child and if one thing goes wrong the body purges it (which is usually either a clump of cells - ie, your period - or a miscarriage). Or did you know that scientists can now create stem cells out of your skin cells?

I was originally interested in becoming a veterinarian for horses and livestock. When my dreams were crushed and I saw my first ASL interpreter and consequently my first deaf man, I decided to change paths. However, I am still ultra interested in science, as it makes quite a base for my personal beliefs. I especially like quantum mechanics and physics.

I am currently learning about accounting and PC systems, along with my regular class courses of English, ASL, Interpreting, Fingerspelling, and PE this Spring semester. Who knows what I will be doing next semester!

So then, what are you doing? What is your diversity like?
I know, Herbalism!!!!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Re: Anorexia and Disorder Eating

About a month ago (and just recently cross-posted on Fierce, Freethinking Fatties) I wrote about anorexia and bulimia nervosa. I compared anorexic symptoms with dieting and made the correlation between eating disorders and dieting behaviors. Some comments were made and points were raised which I would like to discuss here more.

Disordered Eating Recovery advice
First and foremost, I know that anorexia is thought of as a mental disorder and that there is some research that may point to anorexia being a biological/genetic disorder as well in that the sufferer tends to have low leptin levels, which drive hunger/appetite. I understand that some people may be able to diet in ways that do not mimic an eating disorder, but for the majority - and every single person I know - "extreme dieting" is the norm.

"Counting calories, fixation on weight, preoccupation with food or cooking, and strenuous exercise are all dietary requirements for fat people, but if you are thin you have an eating disorder." These behaviors are encouraged by society (at least in the US and UK) for people who are overweight or obese and are denounced for people who are not. My point is that dieting promotes disordered eating. Perhaps it was ignorant of me to compare fat people on diets to anorexic people; I apologize.

However, even though debilitating, all consuming, dangerous dieting is part and parcel of anorexia, I disagree that not eating is involuntary. Not eating to an anorexic is as involuntary as smoking is to a chain smoker. They both know good and damn well what they are doing is dangerous and detrimental to their health, and both participate anyway. I like the smoking analogy because not eating is still a high for an anorexic like nicotine is for a smoker. And just like smoking, the person who is suffering from this disorder needs help to overcome it.

As for choosing to diet, this is true in part. Someone who chooses to diet (or get bariatric surgery) are those who have an incredible amount of pressure from society to change their bodies, to change who they are. It is socially expected that a fat person is "actively trying to fix " themselves and if they are not, they are berated and insulted and concern trolled and shunned and passed over until they "do something" about themselves.

So fat people go on diets that have 1,200 or 800 or 500 calorie limits or they just stop eating altogether until they black out. I personally know someone who quit eating for 5, 6, 7 days at a time and if she did eat, she would purge it. This woman would work out compulsively and force herself through the pain. She said, "once you get past the third day hunger pains, they go away and you don't notice them anymore." She was hospitalized several times for just passing out at seemingly random times to other people. She did this for her entire teenage years. This woman was 170lbs, 6'0" tall, with a BMI of 23 (on the "high side" of normal) and is my own mother. I have read this same story all over the Fatosphere as well; it is not uncommon. This is disordered eating.

Another thing; while anorexia has existed for centuries it didn't become noticeable until 1970's, which happens to be the same time that diets came on the scene. From the Medical Dictionary:

"[Anorexia nervosa's] incidence in the United States has more than doubled since 1970. The rise in the number of reported cases is thought to reflect a genuine increase in the number of persons affected by the disorder and not simply earlier or more accurate diagnosis." (emphasis mine)

I noticed a few other things on the Medical Dictionary that should be mentioned too:

"Social factors. Anorectics are more likely to come either from overprotective families or disordered families where there is a lot of conflict and inconsistency. Either way, the anorectic feels a need to be in control of something, and that something becomes body weight. The family often has high, sometimes unrealistic, and rigid expectations. Often something stressful or upsetting triggers the start of anorexic behaviors. This may be as simple as a family member as teasing about the person's weight, nagging about eating junk food, commenting on how clothes fit, or comparing the person unfavorably to someone who is thin. Life events such as moving, starting a new school, breaking up with a boyfriend, or even entering puberty and feeling awkward about one's changing body can trigger anorexic behavior. Overlaying the family situation is the unrelenting media message that thin is good and fat is bad; thin people are successful, glamorous, and happy, fat people are stupid, lazy, and failures." (emphasis mine)
 The diet culture we live in is recognized as a factor for anorexia. Thin at any cost, any cost. It is worth saying, however, that this disorder is thought to be caused by heredity, biological, psychological, and social factors and that the combination of these things are at play. "Research suggests that some people have a predisposition toward anorexic and that something triggers the behavior, which then becomes self-reinforcing."

Now let me move specifically to the Facebook comments. Amber makes a great point; she objects that I said dieting and eating disorders are the same:

"I think it's important to make a distinction between the two because if you say 'diets are eating disorders', it also opens up the idea that eating disorders are diets, which trivializes the seriousness of restrictive disorders. Generally speaking, your average dieter does not have the 20-30 percent mortality rate that your average anorexic does. Anorexia, sadly, is often fatal.

I'm aware that this is not intended, but if one says 'A is identical to B', the implication is that B is also identical to A, which I think is a dangerous way of thinking. I have no doubt that dieting, in certain individuals prone to disordered methods of thinking, may expand into becoming an eating disorder. Both dieting and eating disorders can be extremely dangerous, and both reflect on the disgusting narrow window of what is considered societally[sic] attractive. But I don't necessarily think saying they're the same thing is beneficial to either dieters or anorexics."
The first sentence is a "All poodles are dogs therefore all dogs are poodles" logical fallacy. Everything else proceeds from there. There is no way that saying dieting is not disordered behavior. It *is* disordered behavior. It's not *compulsive* disordered behavior with an inability to see reality in the mirror. I do think dieting is dangerous, possibly just as dangerous as an eating disorder, especially what some call "crash diets" because studies show that those fat people who never diet are much healthier than those who diet. That said, there is a difference between anorexia and dieting; for example, it's the difference between a 3 pack a day asthmatic with an oxygen tank and someone who only smokes when they drink and they only drink 3 times a year. Anorexics are addicted to dieting; your average dieter is not. Anorexics have body dysmorphic disorder; your average dieter does not. That's not to say that these don't occur in dieters, just that the average don't do or have these things.

I thank everyone who read my post and everyone who commented. Your opinions are valued and I appreciate them. Carry on!