Body Image

To say I have a problem with body image is to Mitt Romney might be a Republican.  My struggle with weight has existed since college.  While many put on freshman 15, I put on freshman 40 (+/-).  My face puffed and my calves, which are usually fat free expanded with cellulite as well. I have a pictures where my potbelly looks like I’m 6 months pregnant.  It’s been a struggle. Often a struggle of which I was unaware, but a struggle nonetheless.  During my last Obgyn visit in 2010 my doctor told me I needed to lose 50lbs.  A few months ago I went to the emergency room with chest pains. At a follow-up visit the doctor told me I was strong, but I “needed to lose weight.”  I can pack on 20 lbs in a season without thinking about it.

Photo 326

After proofreading this post I wanted to take this down. I don’t like it, but I’m not going to remove it…for now.

One of the biggest issues that comes with these weight fluctuations is a skewed body image.  No matter how much I weigh,  when I look in the mirror I see that 6 months pregnant not actually pregnant 19 year old. This is a picture of my back a few months ago.  My bra is too small and back fat is spilling out the sides.  The thing is about 2 years ago this bra fit perfectly, and was, in fact, an eensy bit too big.

I don’t have a picture of of my back, but this is a random picture of me from that summer when I was at my most fit.  Photo 49

I spent the summer leading backpacking trips and had less than enough food to eat.  I remember cooking a red pepper with an onion, adding salsa, and putting it in a corn tortilla.  I couldn’t afford bus fare to and from work, so I’d bike the 10+ miles to and from the base each day I was in the front country.  Seattle ain’t flat. In the back country I’d carry a pack between 50 & 80 pounds (+/-) and hike 2-7 miles daily.  I was in great shape.

It is nearly impossible for me to maintain that level of fitness in the front country.  Fitness was my entire life. The problem with the off-season is that I was not burning the same amount of calories, I consumed relatively the same amount of calories if not more, and I wasn’t consuming the same quality of calories (Red Hot Blues vs. G.O.R.P.).  As a result, I needed to find a way to burn a large amount of calories + go to work and lead an urban life.  Not simple. I’m not a fan of pretend exercise. I don’t want to go to the gym. I’d rather hike 14 miles to get from one campsite to another. With the hiking it’s mandatory exercise. The gym is pretend.

I started roller derby in June of 2012. I skated about 3 times a week from June until August.  I was in a different kind of shape. Just look at my legs.  Here is a picture of me in July or August of 2012.

Photo 335

My rectus femoris (totally had to look that up) are AMAZING. My gracilis (again with the look up) are lacking.  I know you can’t “spot” burn fat, but that’s a place I would if I could. I’d like to accomplish a few things:

1. Reconcile what I look like in the mirror with what I see in pictures, and what is true in real life. There is a huge disconnect for me.

Photo 317

I had no idea my stomach looked like this until I took this picture and saw it. Even when I looked back at the mirror I couldn’t see myself as I was.

2. Develop an eating lifestyle that is not reward based and does not lend itself to stress or emotional eating

3. Understand that women are different. Websites like My Body Gallery are fantastic.  I don’t need to look like: Michonne.1.2  imagesimages-1images-2

No matter how much weight I lose I won’t be shaped like them.  My body is built to climb mountains not to grace the covers of magazines stocked on shelves in a society that oversexualizes women.  Their bodies are beautiful.  I just don’t need to make them the mile marker for my own.

Taken 3.20.2013

Taken 3.20.2013

Related blog entries:

Chest Pains – She is indeed Undone

Detox – Wearingmyblackness

Knock Kneed Mary – Wearingmyblackness

All images of copyright of their original owners. If you see your photo here and would like for it to be removed just let me know.

Cheers!

Black people don’t swim

I had a conversation with a coworker yesterday.  At some point he said, “Black people don’t swim.”  I laughed.  For the most part he’s correct… I guess. I mean, maybe. When I envision the lap swimmers at a local pool I don’t picture a bunch of Black Americans doing laps for exercise.  That’s probably because I haven’t been to a pool in YEARS. As a culture, we don’t swim. I’ll embrace that.  We hang out in the pool acting a fool and socializing, but we don’t linger on weekends to perfect our butterfly stroke. Do some Black people swim? Of course.

We “don’t do” activities because historically we were denied access. We were marginalized into our own communities with little access to awesomeness.  Think about it.  Name something Black people “don’t do.”  Now look back at when it became popular in America. If, at some point we were denied access through legal or social infringements it’s probably not apart of our culture now and frankly Black people, that’s lame. We gotta do better.

I’ll swim.  I don’t mind it.  It’s not like I’m afraid I just haven’t had the opportunity in recent years because of work.  If I’m at the pool I usually supervising a bunch of excited youth from the sidelines.  Becoming a whitewater rafting guide, however, is on my “Do before I die” list.  I’m in this place with work where I want to quit but haven’t figured out my next step.  I like my apartment so I want to keep that, but I also want to travel.

Whitewater rafting The New River

That’s me in the back, by the way. No, not the white guy….

 

*Dance Break*

I just had a mini daydream about happiness.  In it, I went to the local co-op, bought bulked goods, and put them in a storage container in the back of my yet to be purchased vehicle with all my camping gear.  I pictured myself traveling with my dog and cooking food on my camp stove and sleeping in the back of my car with the hatchback raised so I could see the sky.

Why don’t I just do that?

Note to self: Answer the above question.

*End Dance Break*

One reason I haven’t swam/swum/what word goes here? in a while is directly connected to body image issues.  I haven’t felt at home in my body and I don’t want people doing to me what they do to women at the beach. I am uncomfortable when people remark on my body even if it’s for a compliment.  That’s why derby is so fantastic.

I can skate around in fish nets, panties, and a halter top and throw myself around for 90 minutes without someone saying ANYTHING about my body.  I love those spaces. I’m going to try to make “swimming holes” spaces like that for me.

Summer goal: Engage in the activities I want regardless of societal pressures.  (I’ll let you know how that goes.)  😉

Why are we still inside?

I facilitated conversations around diversity/cultural competency/intercultural dialogue/inclusion/any other term that means conversations around social constructs

I can’t ignore what happened today.

In the middle, just as the sun rose high and sweat began to form, my heart weighed heavy and settled in near my feet. I couldn’t move because I needed to speak.

*breathe*

The morning’s cooler discussions stepped aside to let the heat in; those discussions of race, power, privilege and “diversity” were tough, much like the gristle on a steak — extra and unwanted and yet digested if and when ingested. I looked across the room and felt heavy. There is so much that we cannot see and yet need for guidance. We have been constructed by external forces to be what makes sense. We’re handed boxes, bags, and miscellaneous containers and urged to put different pieces of ourselves inside until the compilation of our beauty is gone and only “what makes sense” resides. Even if we resist our assignments we’re still boxed along with other resisters. There is so much work to do and so few soldiers.

I’d been feeling mediocre for quite sometime. Today felt like success. Not just for me personally as a facilitator, but on a larger cultural level. I connected with young people in powerful memory crafting ways. These young people are entering into fields of work that are not widely occupied by people of color. Because they have positioned themselves on the fringes of culture their mere presence in this field is shifting the cultural norms of the youth of color with which they work. Their bravery is changing Blackness. Their bravery is changing the norm.

My new success are tied to new experiences that are not traditionally engaged in by people within the mainstream Black culture. Today I was able to serve as mouthpiece for some because of my childhood experiences. I often look back at women and “others” who were fortunate and unfortunate enough to be the firsts in their fields – Jackie Robinson, Huey P. Newton, Angela Davis, Zora Neale Hurston, etc…. My recollection of them was often associated with the longing for notoriety or at the very least the longing to be noticed. I’ve slowly been realizing that I am able to make a difference by just being myself.

knock-kneed mary

According to the internet I’m obese.

I remember being in my 10th grade biology class and discussing knock knees, bow legs, and “normal” legs.  For some dumb reason I said, “I want knock knees!”

I’m an idiot.

I GOT them and I HATE them.  In fact, I’m working on getting rid of them.  I’ve done some research on the internet and discovered that you can fix them.  Some people go through surgery to break and realign bones. That’s way too serious for me so I’m going to do it by strengthening muscles in my legs.

I took some preliminary pictures so I can document my progress.  It fits into my desire to lose weight and get more fit, too!

This is how my legs should align when I stoop down

If you look, my knock-knee-ness is not that bad, but when I walk it gets worse.  I’m a thick woman and so my legs are thicker than average.  They rub together when I walk and it’s annoying.  I’m aware that no matter how much (healthy) weight I lose my thighs will probably always touch.  If I strengthen my adductor muscles it will probably help my situation.

I went to roller derby last week and they noticed how knock-kneed I am and mentioned how it might impact my roller skating.

As I bend my knees you can see the natural tendency “knock” against one another. This is my current “normal” bend.

So, I’m doing certain exercises, and tweaking my running form to improve my body’s alignment and overall performance.  Roller derby is something I’ve only done once, but I’m in love.  The thought that I could get good enough to be drafted onto a team excites me.  It’s not my goal, but it’s exciting.

I’ll keep everyone posted.