Posts tagged ‘body image’

Where have your buns been? Multisport World Conference 2012 edition

Active people: Stop being so rigid, loosen up, and enjoy the ride.

That was my takeaway from this year’s MultisportWorld Conference and Expo, held Saturday at Columbia University’s Dodge Fitness Center. (A free fitness conference practically in my backyard? Total score.) Courtney (one of the cool chicks who frequents this blog) and I attended some of the morning seminars, which focused on “Becoming a Happy Triathlete.” After hearing some very inspiring and helpful advice from the presenters, I was pretty damn happy—and the info they shared applies to any active person. What stood out for me:

The inactivity epidemic is far worse than the obesity epidemic. After acknowledging that he was preaching to the choir, Dr. Robert Sallis, former president of the American College of Sports Medicine, started out simple: No matter the population studied, “People who are active and fit live longer, happier, healthier lives,” he said. However, his insistence that being overweight yet fit is better than being at a “healthy” weight but inactive blew my mind a little bit. “Quit using the scale as your barometer for health,” he implored the crowd, suggesting that we use minutes of activity per week instead and shoot for more of those rather than a lower weight. Even a few minutes more of walking each day can make a difference. If you get and stay active, he said, “There’s no reason at 50 you shouldn’t be doing what you were doing when you were 25.”

Triathlon training and racing is a game—it’s okay to have fun with it. Figure out who you are, whether it’s a knee-knocking newbie triathlete or a semi-pro racer, and then have fun with your training and racing. Otherwise, why the heck are you doing any of this in the first place? “If you want to be happy in this sport, your focus should be on the process,” said Dr. Paul Weiss, a sports psychologist and the chief program officer at Asphalt Green in New York City. He added that mini-goals, such as “I’m going to get to that tree… now I’m going to get to the 10-mile mark… etc.” are the best way to keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed at any point in your tri. “If you hit those [mini-goals],” he said, “the race just happens.” Also? It’s okay if you get a little competitive, even if you’re so new that you need a five-minute pep walk just to put on your goggles. The competition is part of the fun. Weiss suggested, “If someone has your age written on their calf, try to catch them.”

Performance starts in your stomach, so eat something. Sports nutritionist and author Nancy Clark—her name may be familiar if you read Runner’s World or SHAPE—made a point that nearly knocked me over with its simplicity: “No weight will ever be good enough to do the enormous job of creating happiness.” BAM. Anyway, I was hooked on Clark’s very straightforward yet incredibly kind way of talking about food and weight and body image. (Disclaimer: I am a girl who has had some bad experiences with nutritionists. More on that at another time.) Who wouldn’t love someone like Clark, who makes fueling yourself sound like such a loving part of training and who reassures you that “On rest days, you won’t get fat or lose fitness?” I later bought her book, Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook, at the expo.

If your bike doesn’t fit YOU, nothing else matters. Triathlon coach (and my awesome swim coach, hi Mike!) Mike Galvan made it clear that proper bike fit takes hours, not minutes, and it’s far more involved than tweaking your seat and handlebars. And make sure you go somewhere with a super-attentive staff. “The main thing they should do is listen to you,” he said. Galvan used a real cyclist riding on a trainer to point out the do’s and don’ts of proper form. A big deal: Make sure that your sit bones, not the meaty part of your tush, are on the saddle. Galvan also confessed to keeping six bikes in the one-bedroom apartment he and his wife share. I think that makes the two that Mr. Haul Buns and I stash in our studio seem positively Spartan in comparison.

We're not quite this bad... yet.

 

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March 13, 2012 at 2:33 pm 2 comments

Buns Watchers

As I mentioned in an earlier post, summer 2011 was busy and awesome and busy and life-changing and busy for me. It kicked off in June, when The Fiancé and I became Mr. and Mrs. Haul Buns.

Photo credit: Brian Phillips Photography

Then we spent a beautiful mini-moon in Lake Placid . . . where my chronic Achilles’ tendinitis flared up so badly that I was unable to run for about six weeks. Goodbye to the running I’d hoped would help me work off everything I’d consumed during the lead-up to the wedding and the sweet days of bliss in Lake Placid. (Seriously, I drank nothing but wine, sparkling and otherwise, for about two weeks. It was heavenly. I can’t wait until I’m old and insane and can do that all the time.) And goodbye, too, to this:

Yep, my involuntary respite from running came right at the time that I was supposed to start training for this year’s New York City Marathon. As you guys know, watching the marathon last year got me all pumped up to run it again this year. But I’m going to defer so I can come back strong in 2012. And I’ve definitely got racing plans (for shorter distances) in the near future. More on that later.

Back to the point. I wasn’t running. I was drinking cava and eating brie and having a grand old time making googly eyes at my new hubby, but not so much with the cardiovascular activity. And even though I went back to weighing in at Weight Watchers immediately following our return to real life, I wasn’t really doing what I needed to do.

The summer passed. I continued to weigh in each week, but every single time, I found a reason not to go to one of the weekly meetings. I’d go up a few pounds, down a few pounds, up, down, up. My thinking ran along these lines: “Hm. The scale said I gained half a pound. Interesting. [beat] Do we have any more of those peanut M&Ms left?”

Anyway, I slowly got back into my workout groove, but just couldn’t seem to get my WW mojo working. So last week, I finally went to a meeting. It was held in a church hall. It was a little noisy. But my tush stayed in that chair for the entire meeting. And this week, I lost a little weight. Just a little, but it’s a start. Again.

Helping motivate me: Weight Watchers’ Lose for Good program, which helps raise money and donate food for hungry children and families. But you don’t have to be a member to fight the good fight; your local WW center would be happy to take any nonperishable food you’d like to deliver. For a list of locations, go here and click “Find a Meeting” at the top of the page.

September 15, 2011 at 9:09 pm Leave a comment

And you thought Spanx were bad

Every once in a while at the gym, I’ll see people who wrap themselves with non-breathable pieces of plastic or rubber or foam, usually around their midsections, in an effort to lose water weight by making themselves sweat more while working out. Those people look silly. If you are one of those people, I still love you, but you look silly. Dudes also do this, but I’ve noticed that they usually opt for the entire body rubber warm-up suit or the sweatshirt-over-towel-around-the-neck-over-sweatshirt approach. Guys, did Martin Lawrence teach you nothing? (Perhaps the first time that sentence has ever been typed.)

I try to avert my eyes in these situations, but there’s only so much to look at while you’re on the treadmill, and I find those super-uncomfortable-looking swaths of man-made materials oddly hypnotic. It’s like a shrink-wrapped trainwreck. I always wonder if the Velcro will pop off and go boomeranging around the cardio room like a bat freed from the zoo.

Anyway, those people would probably dig these new “fat burning” undies, which seem like Spanx on steroids. Side note: These CAN’T breathe well. Why must the flattening of the female abdomen always require turning the lady garden into a hothouse?

September 12, 2011 at 7:13 pm Leave a comment

Does your hairdo stop you?

Today’s Chicago Tribune features an editorial on women’s attention to their hair may be getting in the way of them getting a good workout. Any dudes reading this are all, “Does… not… compute.” But I’m sure plenty of you faithful female Haulers have had at least one instance in which you had to decide whether exercising was worth the time and effort necessary to clean up your sweaty self afterwards. I know this can be an issue for women of color; it’s a regular topic of conversation among the awesome chicks at Black Girls Run. Even U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin has something to say about the fact that women who’ve recently gotten their hair done may skip a workout or two in order to maintain the look a little bit longer.

“Oftentimes you get women saying, ‘I can’t exercise today because I don’t want to sweat my hair back or get my hair wet,'” she said in a recent story in The New York Times. “I hate to use the word ‘excuse,’ but that’s one of them.”

I can understand why you wouldn’t want to mess up hair you just paid someone a whole lot of money to make pretty — it’s the main reason I haven’t cut my hair shorter than shoulder length in three years. If I can’t pull it back into a ponytail, it means I have to dry and do it — which won’t work. Mainly, that’s because I am a A) lazy and B) a slob. Though I always shower after my lunchtime workouts, sometimes there’s just not enough time to shampoo, condition, dry and style my mop. Today, in fact, I happen to be rocking the “I-came-straight-to-work-from-bootcamp” hair, the linchpin of which is a well-placed hairband. (The braid doesn’t hurt, either.)

You'd never know, right?

Yes, guys, I’m gross. But I smell lovely (I promise!), cutting back on twice-a-day washings has made my hair much healthier, and — most importantly — today’s workout is DONE. Join the revolution! Sweaty heads unite!

 

August 31, 2011 at 7:49 pm 2 comments

Fairy Tales and Fat Jokes

Ringer and Angle

I promise, this blog isn’t going to turn into HatredForAnyoneWhoEverCalledAnyoneFatInPrint.com. But I couldn’t let Alastair Macaulay’s sour take on the New York City Ballet’s current Sugar Plum Fairy pass without opening it up for discussion.

A little background: Macaulay, a ballet critic for The New York Times, reviewed City Ballet’s current production of The Nutcracker at the end of last month. He liked it, but pointed out that Sugar Plum Fairy Jennifer Ringer “looked as if she’d eaten one sugar plum too many.” The body critique extended to Jared Angle, who dances the part of the Cavalier; Macaulay wrote, Angle “seems to have been sampling half the Sweet realm.”

When readers wrote in to complain, Macaulay penned another piece defending his position. Ballet is all about bodies, he argued. If you can’t handle the scrutiny, toss your toeshoes in the trash for good.

Then, Ringer appeared on Today on Monday, talking about the controversy. The ballerina, who has previously discussed her history of anorexia and compulsive eating, handled questions gracefully.

“As a dancer, I do put myself out there to be criticized, and my body is part of my art form. At the same time, I’m not overweight. I do have, I guess, a more womanly body type than the stereotypical ballerina. But that’s one of the wonderful things about, actually, the New York City Ballet is we have every body type you can imagine. We have tall, we have petite, we have athletic, we have womanly, we have waiflike. I mean, we have every body type out there, and they can all dance like crazy, they’re all gorgeous. And I think dance should be more of a celebration of that, of seeing these beautiful women with these different bodies all dancing to this gorgeous music, and that’s what should be celebrated.”

She added that she doesn’t want an apology from Macaulay. I’d add that she shouldn’t get one; what he said, though silly, is well within his realm. Critics often write things artists don’t like, and then everyone moves on.

But I’m interested in hearing what you out there in Haul nation have to say on the matter. I’m probably a little biased. As a “bigger” group fitness instructor, I have often run into people who can’t believe that I have the physical ability to lead a class in a challenging workout. Then we spend a sweaty hour together, and minds are changed. Given my experience, it took very little time for me to wholeheartedly jete onto Team Ringer. And I’m also wondering why no one’s up in arms about the comments made about Angle, a question Macaulay also raises in his rebuttal. Is it because Angle’s a dude? Do weight cracks not matter, or are they more easily dismissed, when they’re made about men? I’m all over the place, faithful Haulers. Leave comments and give me some guidance. What say you?

What do you think?

December 15, 2010 at 1:42 am 2 comments

Out in the Haulosphere

I don’t know how many of you saw Marie Claire’s pretty horrible riff on Mike & Molly, the new CBS sitcom about two plus-size Overeaters Anonymous members in love. After Maura Kelly blogged about it last week for the magazine, the response was kind of insane. Check out “Should ‘Fatties’ Get a Room?” (scroll down to get to the post); you’ll also be able to read Kelly’s explanation/apology and the thousands of comments—both for and against—that followed.

You guys know that Haul Buns is all about your attitude and your willingness to work hard, and I could care less about your pants size or your bikini-readiness. But even the most upbeat of us gets a little body-conscious every now and then. Instead of going on and on about how stupid, bigoted, and incredibly harmful I think the Marie Claire piece is, I’ll instead highlight the thoughts of two awesome bloggers who occasionally swing by this site.

First, for those of you who missed Maggie’s comment on my wedding gown travails, check out her classy F-off to a Texas bridal boutique. (And when you have a minute, poke around both her wedding blog, Eat, Drink, Marry, and her all-kinds-of-awesome site, Freckled Citizen.) Maggie and I have been friends since college, and the only thing that keeps me from being insanely jealous of her talent, beauty, and wit is her kind heart and sweet self. (Plus, there’s a good chance she has some photos of me that I’d rather not see on the Interwebs.)

Then head over to Such a Pretty Face, where Carla Sosenko has a fantastic as-told-to piece about plus-size dating in this day and age. Carla regularly blogs and tweets about dating and body image, among other stuff, and her voice is wickedly funny and dead-on. (She’s also a hard-core copy editor, which means she’ll know whether I correctly hyphenated “dead-on” in the previous sentence. AND she has a ridiculously awesome sense of style, which means I covet her shoes on a regular basis.) Carla’s own story about trying to get guys to see past the superficial, What the Guys I Date Don’t Know, was published in Marie Claire earlier this year.

Once you’ve read, let the ladies know what you think!

November 1, 2010 at 6:11 pm 5 comments

Hauling to the Chapel: Hips Don’t Lie

Last Saturday, I was all jazzed about going to try on my wedding gown for the first time since I picked it out this summer. I had fallen in love with the thing, despite the fact that I wasn’t exactly the sample size and had to guess at what my finished dress would look like. But the saleswoman assured me that they could make a muslin, or trial version, of the dress based on my measurements, then fit that precisely to me, and make the actual dress from my actual proportions.

To a girl who spent much of her overweight youth and teen years sucking in her gut in dressing rooms when things just… didn’t… fit, it seemed like the best idea ever. I wouldn’t be trying to squeeze myself into some designer’s version of what I should look like. In fact, I’d be my very own fit model. I barely paid attention as the saleswoman strung her tape measure around my bust, waist, and hips. As my mom, sister, and future mother-in-law passed around tissues and started talking bridesmaids dresses, I reveled in the fact that the biggest fashion moment of my life was going so swimmingly.

I expected a similar high when I stepped into the dress last weekend. This time I was alone. I put on my satin heels, adjusted my strapless bra, and waited for the seamstress to zip me up. I couldn’t wait to see a complete, if unadorned, version of the dress I’d wear on my big day.

She pulled the zipper up to my tailbone and stopped. Asked me to put my hands on my hips. Pulled a little more. Stopped.

I was a fat girl for many years. I know that stop. “It doesn’t fit, does it?” I asked, trying to keep my voice light.

She tried a few more seamstress tricks. Asked me to shimmy a little. Grabbed the edges of the unzipped bodice with strong hands and valiantly willed them to meet. Wasn’t happening. She assured me that it wasn’t a big deal, that situations like these were the reason they encouraged brides to have the trial dress made. I only half heard her. The voice grabbing more of my attention came from inside me. Am I really that much bigger than I was just a few months ago? How is it possible that I don’t fit into the dress that was MADE FOR ME?

She re-measured. An inch difference. She said it could’ve been anything: an error in the original measurement, water retention, a big meal the night before. She was very kind. We made an appointment for me to return in two weeks and try on the muslin one more time before it would be sent out and used to create my gown. She left so I could change.

I spent a moment looking at myself in the mirror. I didn’t see my arms, which are so much stronger than they were a year ago thanks to some hard work in the gym. I didn’t see my legs, which have carried me swiftly for hour after hour in endurance events. I didn’t see my face, which breaks so easily into a smile whenever I think about all of the good stuff in my ridiculously blessed life.

All I saw were my hips, the plain, white fabric stretched over them pulling at the seams. No longer was I 32 and confident. I was 17, and nobody wanted to ask me to prom.

Angry crying in the car was followed by kind of pathetic crying at The Fiance’s house, where I sheepishly admitted that it was silly to be so upset over something so stupid. He said all the right things—he ALWAYS says all the right things—and I’m in a better place about the whole experience now. After all, if the worst thing in your life is that the first attempt at your gorgeous gown doesn’t quite fit, you’ve got it pretty damn good.

Whenever women in my classes complain about being unhappy with their bodies, I try to tease them out of it. I do think that when you dwell on something so much, it becomes all you see. But please don’t think for a minute that I can’t or don’t empathize, or that I’m past all of that.

It’s just now, even if there are moments of dressing-room panic, I try to let them pass. It may take days. I’m definitely not past the incident, and it was nearly a week ago.

But I refuse to let that kind of thinking take me down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 29, 2010 at 9:05 pm 3 comments


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