An act of courage

I stand in front of the power cage, meeting my own gaze in the mirror. My heartbeat is slightly elevated and there are streaks of chalk on my shirt and on my pants. I resist the urge to scratch my nose as I grab the bar carefully, experimentally in a thumbless grip. One big breath, and another, and then I step under the bar. I position it carefully across my traps. Exhale, inhale. Every part of my body tenses and braces. I lift the bar out of the rack. One tiny step backwards and then I squat. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 reps. The cage rattles and clanks loudly as I bring it first against the uprights and then lower it back into the rack. First set out of three. The first is always the worst – and the best.

Each week I come into the gym and I squat a little heavier. At first it was easy but now every rep under the bar is an act of courage and I feel keenly how every small wobble, every minor mistake in form makes me teether dangerously close to failure.

I think about things I’ve read about lifting that come close to an almost religious zeal. Respect the iron. Lifting is an act of courage. I’m on the starting strength program. Besides lifting I’ve begun eating more. “If you’re not gaining mass you’re not doing the program”. I’ve no idea if I’m gaining, I stopped weighing myself for the first time in almost two years. Can’t handle both staying dedicated to my lifting and the pressure to conform to feminie beauty standards. I notice that I’m happier this way. What I eat, what I drink, my sleep, everything is increasingly being taken into consideration as I chase another pound on the bar. Struggling to meet it and match it pound for pound with undiluted courage.

 

 

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Seek and you shall find

I started this blog in a bout of frustration over the shallowness of fitness culture. The focus on getting thin and the reluctance to speak about the culture of fitness in and of itself. I wanted to start collecting things and places where this is actually discussed in one form or another.

The number one “guru” on getting rid of gurus and fad diets is of course, Go Kaleo. If you’re looking for a place where you’re encouraged to eat enough food to support your activity, feel good about yourself, listening to your body and letting go of fear of macronutrients (whether they be carbs, fat or even just pure sugar) this is the place. She’s also on facebook, and has started a facebook group called Eating The Food for those who are taking their first trembling steps out of diet-land.

Not updated often but always awesome, Radical Hateloss.

It needed a title, and I knew that “radical” had to be part of it, since what I was doing felt so different. The changes in me had started to cause weight loss, but that wasn’t what the journey was about anymore. This time it was about learning to accept and love myself. So the term Radical Hateloss was born.

Batty, a friend of like mind has an awesome blog where she talks about this stuff as well. I can’t say enough awesome things about her. She is awesomely awesome.

Of course, if you really want to get into a conversation about body image, culture and oppression you have to leave the fitosphere behind and start looking into other areas where this is brought up as a matter of course. (I sense a Venn Diagram coming up). Everyone ought to read the feminist blog Shakesville, but particularly everything in the tag Today in FA. Why? Because if we want to talk about fitness and health in a way that is about how you feel and not how well you measure up to some arbitrary look we have to start deconstructing and be critical of our hate of fat and of fat people.

On a related note, A Black Girl’s Guide to Fat Loss. I can’t remember why I stopped reading her blog (I think it got cut when I couldn’t keep up with my RSS feed any longer), but I do remember reading a lot of interesting posts relating specifically to culture, poverty and education which hinders people (and specifically in North America, African Americans) from gaining access to healthy food, safe spaces and education on living a healthy lifestyle. I’m throwing it out there.

Shamefully, I haven’t read much about HAES – Health At Every Size, but I’m confident that this is the direction the conversation has to go in.

There are a number of very real direct “costs” to individuals, communities, and societies resulting from the current “war on obesity.” The direct consequences of this “war” include disordered eating practices, weight cycling, body dissatisfaction, bullying, weight stigma, bariatric surgery, insurance exclusions, and a general reinforcement of fat-phobic, weight-centric health ideas that don’t really serve to improve anyone’s health or wellbeing, regardless of their weight or size. These consequences are costly indeed in both economic and human terms, and collectively have a profound impact on health.

And that’s it, so far. This is less a link spam and more the start of collecting bits and pieces of a conversation I want to be part of and that I’m sure is happening out there.