Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lycra Bike Shorts, Swimsuits, and Other Horrors

If you're a large woman in America, your whole life is an opportunity to feel self-conscious, embarrassed, resentful and way too big. You can hide in the corner or on the couch, you can go to therapy, or you can put on your lycra bike shorts and get out there and move.
—Jayne Williams, Slow Fat Triathlete


Jayne knows, she really does, how hard it is to put on those Lycra shorts or that swimsuit when you don't like the way your body looks. I love it that she understands; it means that she gives credit where credit is due. Bless the hearts -and backsides- of the people who need to exercise and DO IT and don't worry if said backside looks bad on that bike seat. Or they do worry, and they do it anyway.

The thing I need to do is move past the revulsion I feel when I look at my own body. The body I see has nothing -NOTHING- to do with the body that's in my head. This body is a new post-divorce artifact (artifat?), and it makes me sad and grossed out. Moreover, I'm tired all the time. Deeply, in my bones, exhausted. People will suggest that this is because I am doing too much. But seriously, I've felt this bone-deep thing before, and it's not physical. Fundamentally, it's emotional and spiritual. It's about whether or not I am lovable. Am I good enough? Do I deserve to be healthy and trim and vibrant?

But there's a time and a place when I do love my body. It loves to move and do things and exercise. I love to climb rocks, and do yoga, and ride my bike, and swim. I tolerate strength training, but do not love it. I loathe running, but could walk or hike, I suppose, since something in my fitness life ought to be weight-bearing.

So, where to go with this? I will start from that place of love. Actually, I will stay in that place of love. "I love my body when it does.... x (where x is a life-enhancing and health-improving activity)," suggests that I should do x. If an activity makes me feel less-than or not good enough, out it goes. For now, that means I will bike slowly, do modified yoga, lift baby weights, and swim as slowly as I need to. I will enjoy the activity for its own sake.

And if you don't like the way my backside looks, you shouldn't have any trouble passing me up and moving on to more congenial sights. Move along!

Sunday: bike ride, and gentle yoga
Monday: gym (which means weights and the treadmill) and yoga
Tuesday: swimming and yoga
Wednesday: gym and yoga
Thursday: swimming and yoga -and I'll ride my bike to work today (it's about a mile to work, so it's no real fitness work -just the principle of the thing)
Friday: bike ride and yoga
Saturday: yoga only