Hey it's a post from that ridiculous/amazing/this is the worst idea/this is the best idea Make-Your-Own Meme "blog every day of November" thing! Original post/list of topics. Feel free to add more: LJ | DW — anon and openID welcome!thebaconfat: you've mentioned before trying to get fit and/or eating salads; is that something you still struggle with?
This post needs a disclaimer because there is Serious Business within! I am okay, I swear. I have resources and if I need help I will seek it, so please do not worry ♥ I am happy to discuss any of the topics mentioned herein, though =D
So I am really happy to have this topic (thaaaank you, thebaconfat
!) because I've been meaning to talk about it for a while, and what's better than a blatant excuse?
So ages and ages ago, I mentioned that I would start biking to work due to giving my car away. And then I barely said anything about it ever again except for that one time I got hit by a car. Haha.
But actually the biking (and the salads; I will get to the salads, I swear!) has spawned a whole lot of thinking, and, poor thebaconfat
, you have officially triggered my long-overdue post about health. I'm sorry, but you asked for (approximately 1/7th of) it.
Let's start with some backstory! My family has always been really big into sports, and always pushed our kids into sports. My grandmother was an equestrian and possibly actually a jockey (I don't remember =( ); she pushed my mother at horseback riding, gymnastics, and figure skating (my mom's butt was just too bony for the latter, lol) before the one that stuck: waterskiing. True fact: my mother was the waterskiing champion of the Soviet Union.
And that? That is my family's standard for sports and what I was held to throughout my childhood. Okay? Okay. =d
My uncle is a downhill skiier, and my dad is more into team sports; he likes volleyball and actively plays soccer and indoor soccer. Both of my sisters (they're 12 and 16 years younger than me, fyi) have been doing gymnastics since they were toddlers, as well as some horseback riding.
Me? I did gymnastics too (idek; it's a Soviet influence thing — gymnastics was really big), but what actually hit it for me was rock climbing. Starting from I think 9 years old, I began my career as a competitive rock climber. That was training every day, in one form or another, for several hours at a time when it was a straight climbing session (as opposed to a stretching or running or strength training day or wev). There were competitions every other week or every third week or so. Please note that it in no way occurred to me that this might be excessive or even unusual for a kid my age. It's just what was expected, right?( More fitness! )
For now, we turn to SALADS.
So I have some long-standing issues with eating.
Let's start out with this: I was mildly anorexic when I was younger, and I still have body image issues.[TW for some anorexia discussion]
When I was a young teen though, I was convinced that I should weigh less than 100 pounds. Anything above that was obviously fat and terrible and we all know the drill. That tiny amount of fat on my stomach was obviously unacceptable. (Keep in mind, this is when I wasn't that temporally divorced from being a child athlete.) I often surreptitiously skipped meals.[/TW]
I did not realize at the time that these thoughts and eating habits (more on those in a sec) were, you know. Anorexia. This is actually a very recent discovery, in the past year or so (since I've been thinking a lot about health this year), where I thought back on this and went, holy shit. I was anorexic! Only mildly, but still. Holy shit!
I... probably still am? It's complicated.
So me and food, we didn't really start out on the right foot. And then there were three more problems: money, depression, and a surprise.( More on salads! )
And now we are at the present! Let's review.
I have depression.
I have a history of disordered eating.
I have workout-induced asthma.
I have tendon issues in my shoulders.
I have less severe tendon issues in my knees.
At this point, I had done almost zero physical activity for about 1.5 years.
So this is when I started biking.
My area is very hilly, and the commute's about 5-6 miles, depending on route and if you're counting the up-and-down (I SURE DO). I use a hybrid/mountain bike, not a city/street bike, so it's not feather-light or anything.
The first day I biked in, it was about 95 degrees out and it took me almost two and a half hours and lots and lots of asthmatic wheezing (did I mention I'm stubborn?). That's like less than 2.5mph. That was. That was very sad.
But I made it to work. And then I even made it home at the end of the day.
And then very shortly after that I got sick, and stayed sick.
I picked up biking again late in the summer. After some small improvement pre-sick and the nice long "rest", my first time biking in again: I did it in one hour.
Now, about three months after that, I consistently do it in half an hour or even a little less. That's almost 11mph. That's somewhere between 4 and 5 times as fast as when I started, and absolutely no wheezing anymore.
I know 11mph is really not much as far as biking goes, but it means a lot to me.
I've learned a lot in the past year, about myself, my body, my relationship with my body, my health. About health in general! Both mental and physical. I've spent a lot of time lurking in social justice circles this past year, and that's included skulking around disability activism and fat acceptance. I've watched (and infrequently participated in) some very interesting conversations there.
I still have thin privilege, but the fat acceptance movement helped me a lot. Which I'm very grateful for. It was probably all the reading I did there that helped me identify that, shit, I had some pretty disordered eating in my past. I learned about Health At Every Size. I tried to foster a better relationship with food. And I tried really really hard to accept that the weight I had gained as a result of my meds was okay. It did not mean I was terrible. I tried...
I tried to accept my body. Which is where we hit snag. (Note: I've been talking about the fat acceptance movement in particular, rather than the general body acceptance that it's part of, on purpose.)
Something hadn't been sitting quite right with me, with all the feminist and body-acceptance messages I had been hearing about loving my body and "health" at every size. I'd been meaning to blog about it for a while, because the ideas had slowly coalesced. Things like:
- I am permanently injured. I can't do many things I used to enjoy as big parts of my life. I don't want to love this.
- I have depression. It steals my spoons. Is this health? What IS health?
- My physical therapist AND my therapist both recommend light exercise.
I look at my PT and think: I am so depressed. How will I be able to get up and do this?
I look at my therapist and think: my physical injuries make this so hard.
And I don't say anything
- I'm not cisgender. (Have I mentioned that? Haha.) My body is, on a fundamental level, not quite right for me. I have a hard time loving that I inhabit it.
There were just so many intersections where it wasn't working for me.
And then I read this: Conversations About Body Image: A Place at the Table for Me?
. And I think it really helped coalesce a lot of my thinking. I recommend it to anyone interested in these issues, just as something to get some thoughts moving. Then there was a follow-up post: Further Conversations On Body Image: Examining Health at Every Size (HAES)
. This in turn led me to the Fat Nutritionist (whose posts I'd run into before) and this post, linked in the aforementioned follow-up: The obligation to be healthy at every size
. I recommend this post SUPER HARD: it's a quick read but everything in it needs saying and hearing, and it contains some great links. I REALLY love that post, and recommend Fat Nutritionist all around, as awareness of social issues like poverty is part of her outlook on nutrition, and I love it. I want to quote two parts from it, once already quoted by s.e. smith, and one that struck me personally.
It is sad that this even needs to be said, but given the fact that we essentially live in a health meritocracy, let me be the first to announce:
You are under no obligation to be healthy.
And, as an addendum: even if you were, eating “well” and exercising wouldn’t guarantee your success. There. I’ve said it. And as much as this might chap the ass of every health promoter out there, I feel that personal agency and a basic sense of privacy are sorely missing from most conversations of health promotion, and from conversations of Health at Every Size.
This, despite the fact that the definition of health itself has not even been definitively pinned down, that it has evolved through numerous variations through the years, and will likely continue to evolve. Despite that nutrient requirements are different for each person. As are genetic profiles, family histories, and every single one of the social determinants of health.
The factors that determine health are different for everyone — which means it is up to you to decide what to do. No one can do it for you.
I don't have any answers yet, really. I just find myself at the intersection of a lot of things, and fumbling around, trying to find what works best for me.
So about those salads!
I have kind of failed at the salads. But I'm working on it. I think I've come a long way, and I... I really want to be proud of myself for that. I'm slowly restoring myself to a reasonable level of physical activity. And honestly, I still cry (did I mentioned I used to cry about this a lot) sometimes when I think that I will probably never be able to seriously take up tae kwon do or iaido again. But I might still be able to do tai chi. And I might, maybe, one day, get back into rock climbing. Maybe I could even play soccer again. Maybe I could do something new, and try to swim, to help with my lungfail.
And I'm not... I'm not really
okay with the fact that my body will never ever be back to the way it used to be. Not really. But I still think I've come a long way. I still have bad, self-destructive thoughts, but I'm trying. I try to eat; my partner tries to make sure I eat. I buy clothes in my new size. I try to tell myself that my new body, my changed body, my injured body, my body that's irrevocably different after such big sudden weight gain and almost equally large loss — I try to tell myself that it's still mine, for all that I feel kind of disassociated from it on the gender front. It's the only one I have, and while I doubt I will ever have an entirely good relationship with my body, I can at least stop trying to punish it for being mine
... and try to eat more damn salads.
So that's biking and salads. And a little extra >.>