Very strange week behind me.
I thought I was well after my bout of sickness over the last weekened, I guess not? I’ve been cold all the time. My body’s felt tired and exhausted. My head’s been tired and exhausted. My appetite has been completely out of whack. I didn’t eat anything all of Monday (and I’m not the kind of person who lose my appetite, it was WEIRD) and then I struggled with that the whole week, though I feel better and back to normal now. I’ve had a lot of anxiety that I’ve been unable to connect to anything.
I went to the gym Monday and Tuesday but then I gave myself the rest of the week off to focus on getting more sleep. It feels like I made the right decision. I never checked my temperature so I don’t know if I had a fever or not.
The weirdest thing though? When I summarize my week like this and look at it I go OH MY GOD WOMAN WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST STAY HOME AND RECOVER. Why didn’t I? Because in the moment, from hour to hour I felt fine enough. Because I had a bunch of things that needed to get done. Because I didn’t think my anxiety would be improved by going home. Lots of stuff that all felt reasonable. Maybe it was reasonable in a way, but it goes to show that getting adequate rest and recovery, taking a break when you need it, is just as hard as getting to the gym when you need to and putting in the hard work.
I often joke about my stellar Lutheran work ethic when I feel guilty for taking time off, my impression is that I’m not alone in this, whether we believe in a higher power or not we’re all affected by cultures that stem from a religious world-view, culture and history. I feel a post about The Lutheran Work Ethic coming on. Max Weber you better watch out.
So I took a break from the gym today. I usually work out in the morning but couldn’t due to work commitments and you know what? In the afternoon I was tired and didn’t feel like it so I went home. I’m sure that there are people who would want to butt in with concerns to the “motivational poster” above and say either that either I should’ve gone or that I’m misinterpreting it and it doesn’t really say what it says, that I’m being too literal-minded etc. But I don’t like posters like this. I think they discourage us from listening to our bodies and our minds.
Not wanting to go to the gym is valuable input from YOU. Maybe you need a break. Maybe you’re worn down. Maybe your routine is fucking boring. Maybe you’re sick. I read Jen Comas Keck blog series about her battle with Metabolic Damage a short while ago. And when I read it I kept thinking about how so many things were spoken about that she had to do to repair her body. Like eat breakfast. Take rest days. Eat carbs. I read a lot of fitness related media, mostly blogs, and I’m picky about what I read. I like Jen’s blog. But here’s the thing that I feel is missing in the fitness world: Discussion about culture.
Jen mentions in part 3 that she felt embarrassed to reveal these issues, even though she knew logically that they were nothing to be embarrassed about. Why? That’s our culture at work folks.
I started this blog on a whim, out of annoyance, because someone said “if you want that content, write it!”. So I’ve been thinking since then about what I actually do want to write about. The fitness and health world/industry/culture is extremely individualistic. Everything is framed in terms of the choices you make. You are responsible. Only you can make the change. Change YOUR life. Fucking bootstrap already. Even huge systemic issues like irresponsible use of antibiotics in raising meat, factory farming, toxins in food, hair and skin products gets treated like an individual’s problem to solve. Or like it’s a matter of consumer’s choice. “Vote with your dollars!” You know what? Fuck that. Vote with your fucking VOTE. Be political. SEE the connection between your health, your choices, your community and the culture we live in. RECOGNIZE and see the cultural patterns and the systems at work that shape your life. Maybe everyone can get healthy if they really want to, but not everyone has to do the same amount of juggling, fiddling, jury-rigging and compromising with other things to get there.
I want to talk about that. AND lifting really heavy stuff.
Okay, so this is something I’ve been thinking about for a while that bugs me.
No matter what kind of fitness article I read directed at women, regardless if it’s the laughable “never-lift-more-than-3-lbs” kind or the sort that sings the gospel of barbells, kettlebells and heavy sets there’s a recurring way of speaking to and about the female reader. Why are we constantly addressed as “ladies”? And what is up with the constant reassurance that we “won’t get big” just because we lift heavy? (For some of us, that’s more than a little discouraging).
And finally, the endless, ceaseless, never-ending focus on beauty. And I don’t really care if it comes in the version of “follow this stupid-ass diet plan and you’ll be sexy/pretty/beautiful” or the more empowering sort of “you’ll get strong AND sexy”, “strong is beautiful”, “you’re a beautiful goddess.” sort of language. I get tired on this focus on appearances. I get tired of the beauty standard. And I don’t think the articles directed at men in general spend so much time reassuring them that they are handsome boys inside-and-out and that their strength makes them shine with wonderful confidence etc.
Why is is so important to reassure women that they’re beautiful? I get that it’s about trying to counter a culture where women are constantly told their looks aren’t enough but I’m feeling more and more that trying to reassure us that we’re already beautiful is the wrong way to go. Because the truth of the matter is something else entirely: It doesn’t fucking matter.
It doesn’t matter what you look like. It matters what you do and how you feel. Let’s talk about that instead.
So I posted this on facebook group I belong to in a fit of frustration that there is not a god damn place on the internet where I can find content that includes the words women+lifting but NOT sexy, beautiful, pretty etc. Well, I was told if I wanted that content I’d better start writing it. So here we are. No bullshit, just lifting shit.