Wednesday, January 22, 2014

365 Project, Week 3

I decided to undertake, with little hope of completing, a 365 photo project to take a photo every day for a year with the purpose of improving my photography skills and more closely examining the world around me. I have made it through three whole weeks. See week one here and week two here.

Day 15: A friend's kitten.

Day 16: V-day rehearsals — "Vagina motherfuckers!"

Day 17: TGIF

Day 18: Looks like a dance party

Day 19: Puppies were made for cold toes.

Day 20: A nice night run

Day 21: Smug sonofabitch

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Fit Fatties Virtual Decathlon Update 2

I signed up to participate in the Fit Fatties Virtual Decathlon this year and am quickly knocking out events, so I may sign up for a Double Decathlon after all. Here is my planned list of possible events:

  • 1 mile walk/run/roll
  • 5k walk/run/roll
  • 10k walk/run/roll
  • Half Marathon walk/run/roll
  • Marathon walk/run/roll
  • Swim - quarter mile
  • Swim - half mile
  • Shimmy it Out (30 minute shimmy--can switch shimmy location through event)
  • Belly Dancing (60 minutes of dancing)
  • Set It Free (Complete a free weight workout)
  • Lift A Ton (Lift a total of 2000 pounds, not necessarily all at once - you can complete this over a month!)
  • Take a Hike (Enjoy at least a mile of the great outdoors.)
  • Take a Tread (Enjoy at least a mile of the great indoors.  Walk on the treadmill, elliptical or other machine, or just walk around inside.)
  • Stairway to Heaven (Climb 100 stairs in one day.)
  • Push It Good (Do 100 push-ups (any style) in one day.)
  • Walk the Plank (Do 60 minutes of planking in one day.)
  • Squat it Out (Do 100 squats in one day.)
  • Get in the Flow - 60 of work with flow toy, such as poi, staff, juggling, dance/fire fans, rola bola, balance ball, aerial silks or hoop, meteor
  • On thin Ice - 60 minutes of ice skating or rollerblading

In my previous update, I posted about my completion of the Stairway to Heaven, 1-mile Run, and Quarter-mile Swim. I have since completed four more.

Wednesday, January 8: 5k Run

Thursday, January 9: Half-mile Swim

Tuesday, January 14: On Thin Ice (60 minutes ice or roller skating)

It was scary with so many children skating the wrong way, but I managed not to fall this time. My wrist is still sore from the tumble I took last time I skated in November.

Thursday, January 16: Squat it Out (100 squats in one day)
I did 5 sets of 20 deep body-weight squats in one afternoon because that's as many as my knees will allow per set.

I keep doing the "Take a Tread" event pretty regularly and forgetting that it's an event. Maybe I'll remember to take a photo next week.

Friday, January 17, 2014

365 Project, Week 2

I decided to undertake, with little hope of completing, a 365 photo project to take a photo every day for a year with the purpose of improving my photography skills and more closely examining the world around me. I made it through two whole weeks. (Week one photos are here.)

Day 8: The dumb bells at the fitness center I visit at work.

Day 9: V-day rehearsals — "My momma probably wouldn't like me kissing girls either!"

Day 10: Zero motivation to go out and shoot anything, so I lucked out on my first frame of the household furbabies. This is Popsicle, rescued as a kitten when he curled up on our doorstep to die during a snowstorm.

Day 11: Paxil is in poor shape, and the puppy is pooped after our morning run.

Day 12: In the more than two years I've lived here, Crowley and I have never gotten along. But he curled up next to me for the duration of a movie while everyone else was out of the house. I was scared to move.

Day 13: Unedited floral arrangement from the first-floor restroom in my office building.

Day 14: Looking down the street just before sunrise.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Hell no, Survival Race

I saw a Groupon for The Survival Race 5k mud run and did a little research to help me decide whether to get it. I used to sign up for every race I had time to run, but after so many lemon events last year (from the Neon Splash Dash to Miles of Mud), I've been MUCH more selective with my 2014 race calendar.

I Googled "Survival Race reviews" and read one glowing blog review and clicked to the event's official website, which had this banner on its home page:

The banner reads: "The Original Family-Focused Obstacle Course & Mud Run, Conquering Obesity One Family At A Time!"

I also found "conquering obesity" listed in the event's mission statement. So that made my choice very easy. I will definitely not support anyone or anything waging war against people I love.

Dances With Fat blogger Ragen Chastain said it best:
We cannot separate people from their bodies and any war on people’s fat becomes a war on fat people. Luckily the first step of the solution is pretty simple – end the war on obesity. Right now. Then we have all kinds of options to make public health about providing information, access, and options without actively contributing to stigma, low self-esteem, and poor body image.
Lots of obese people enjoy mud runs, too, and I find it appalling that this event would overtly stigmatize them in its advertising. The Survival Race marketing team has clearly missed the whole point of racing and fun run events: In democratic America, PEOPLE conquer RACES, not the other way around.

The mud run market is hyper-saturated, with scores of obstacle course racing events scheduled in North Texas every year, so I'm not the least bit worried about missing out on one with a shitty slogan.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Fuck Chivalry

To be clear, the strict denotation and most common connotation of chivalry is treating women a certain way because they are women. It is a problematic code that teaches men to go out of their way to treat women differently rather than treat all people politely regardless of appearance. This outdated code of behaviors ought to be formally abolished.

Image of Facebook status update, text reads: I fucking hate chivalry and want to kick in its teeth. Today the man ahead of me was halfway through the door when he noticed I was carrying a few things and literally stepped back INTO me to hold the door open for me. Hello, Monday.
This recent status update triggered a 150+ comment fight about how I have no right to feel angry about men's well-intentioned actions or to gripe about it on my own wall and how I should just be thankful they pay me any attention at all. Of course it was all men growing upset and spewing vitriolic insults and gendered slurs on this thread when women tried to explain why I was upset about being rudely jostled (such that I very nearly dropped a quart of chili on the floor) instead of let through the door.

It's a common pain in my ass that businessmen in my office building go out of their way to treat women differently for the sake of "chivalry," which frequently results in awkward inconveniences rather than actual courtesy. If you hold the door for any people regardless of gender appearance because it's the nice thing to do, good on ya; this post is not about you. This goes way beyond bitching about door-holding.

Let me paint for you some vignettes that happen several times a week here.

A man (or men) standing directly in front of the elevator door when it opens while I am standing 10 feet further away do not get on the elevator but gesture that I should board first. I was waiting for the people closest to the door to get on first because fucking duh but am instead given mere seconds to scramble aboard before the door closes and to juggle whatever I'm carrying so I may press the button to hold open the door for the people who were there first.

These men have been taught to let women go first in the name of courtesy but do it at the expense of courtesy and their actions are downright rude, their intentions negated by the inconvenience they cause us all.

Or, not infrequently, if I am standing closest to the elevator door, a man behind me will cut me off and jump in or out ahead of me so that he can hold the door open for me, making me brush past and navigate around him. Seriously, what the fuck?

More than once in a full elevator, men nearest the door have refused to exit on the first floor until making all the women behind them push out past them first. What the hell kind of courtesy is that? Besides which, it's infuriatingly inefficient.

Though we could try to blame a handful (or a dozen) men for their awkward ineptitude instead of the system that taught them to do this, but there are thousands of instances of frustration caused by outward appearances of so-called chivalry that ultimately make life more difficult.

Jumping in someone's way to open a car door for them is still getting in someone's way, and worse, doing it based on sexist ideas of what constitutes polite behavior. Ostentatious displays intended to prove one's "gentlemanliness" are self-defeating. Genuine politeness is not an act committed to solicit gratitude or prove anything.

Holding doors for people nearby can be polite. Holding a door for someone far away, though and as often happens, makes them feel obligated to rush, possibly in high heels or on slick ground or with an injury or soreness from working out the day before, thereby negating any iota of help that might have been given or intended. Causing people frustration because you insist on treating them differently due to their gender expression is not polite or gentlemanly.

I am not wrong for feeling upset at being jostled, cut off, blocked, rushed, or held up because some man insisted on treating me a certain way. These are all perfectly reasonable reasons to be miffed, nothing radical about it. The fact that these things happen on a regular basis is endlessly irritating, and not for any fault in me, with or without consideration for ideas on what men think of women when they think they ought to perform mundane tasks for them which they are perfectly capable of accomplishing for themselves. I could (and may) write a whole other post about the underlying assumptions about women's physical capabilities that motivate "chivalrous" actions, but that's not what this is about.

Intentions aren't worth shit when they translate to rude actions that make other people's lives harder. And more than the actions themselves, the explanations and imperatives that I ought to smile and say, "Thank you" in order to accommodate men's feelings and make them feel good at the expense of my own genuine happiness and ease in the world REALLY piss me off. Fuck your chivalry and your insistence that it's so great and I ought to be thankful for men who care enough to make my life more difficult.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Unexpected Side Effects

As a privileged, university-educated, straight-size, fit, able-bodied, middle class, white woman, I would like to whine that my frequent posting about fat acceptance, body positivity, anti-dieting, feminist, activist, and related topics seems to make some men think I'm insecure and soliciting validation when I'm really just spreading information and ideas.

Logic brain understands that these men are tone-deaf and simply don't understand any of the actual issues I write about and probably cannot without endeavoring to do difficult mental gymnastics. Jerkbrain now worries that I come across as insecure and weak and will make me think twice about all the things I post going forward.

Ironically, it's when others declare themselves the expert on my lived experience by telling me I'm insecure that makes me feel unsure of myself. I never knew I had a poor body image or poor self-esteem until men told me I did and patronizingly lectured me about inner beauty and offered their unsolicited opinions to validate my appearance and self-worth. (The fact that their actions were well-meaning does not change or conflict with the previous statement about them.)

A friend once messaged me privately with a page-long lecture about beauty, acceptance, and self-worth, in response to my many fat acceptance posts on Facebook. I explained to him that:
I’m fueled by a lot of anger at having spent most of my life swallowing the message that I'd have to spend the rest of my life battling my weight in order to be happy, healthy, wealthy, or loved, and so much anger that so many others continue to believe this.
Beyond just posting links on my own page and seemingly yelling a lot, I frequently engage in discussion in private groups about weight, health, and beauty with women who haven’t heard it yet and are grateful when they do. (And am also contributing a chapter to an anthology of perspectives on the fat acceptance movement.) 
Personally, I’m bored to death of being told I’m physically attractive, especially by men who are often clearly expecting my gratitude for their thinking so. I know I’m conventionally attractive; it’s boring. I didn’t earn it and don’t feel complimented. I don’t want to settle for reaping the benefits of my privilege without a though and I don’t want a world in which women of different sizes, abilities, colors, etc., have to accept that bigotry either. 
I can silently work to accept that I will never be a "normal" or a "healthy" weight according to the "experts." Or I can teach and remind everyone that BMI is not an indicator of health and should not be used to make policy, and I can influence the attitudes and opinions around me and ultimately convert everyone I know to the "Yay fitness!" party and not have to hear about diets and weight loss and body shame all around. 
I didn’t always know these things or feel this way; I came to them by reading and learning, and others will, too.
Ultimately, we realized he had meant to ASK about my feelings on the subject but in a strange misfire had ended up TELLING instead. Apologies were made and accepted and life went on.

Months later, I posted a selfie with a sign about setting a distance PR in the pool and completing a "Fit Fatty Virtual Event." I received a comment on the photo from another male friend along the lines of "I know you're insecure, but I don't consider you fat, and the people who know you know you're beautiful. Blah blah blah patronizing validation blah blah."

I responded with:
Alternatively, you could ask me what the Fit Fatty thing is about instead of projecting assumptions onto me. It's the name of forums and a Facebook group that are weight-neutral places to discuss fitness from a Health at Every Size perspective and are hosting a virtual decathlon event this year, which is why I'm posting the pictures. 
It's exceptionally rare to find communities where we can discuss fitness free from weight loss and diet talk.
And he deleted his comments before anyone else could see them.

I question whether my response was appropriate, too harsh, or too soft for the comment and the person and whether I should also have added:

1. I'm not fat. I know this and don't need you to tell me so.
2. There's nothing wrong with being fat and I genuinely look forward to the day that I fulfill my dreams of growing up to be a jolly, round Hobbit. (I come from an overwhelmingly obese family [no value judgment, just a fact]; it's really only a matter of time. But by then my body may be able to support competitive amateur weight lifting, and how cool would that be? /tangent)

As often as we think of the perfect comeback far too late, I think I did alright and managed to hide and overcome the shock and hurt feelings that the original comment triggered so suddenly and strongly.

Regarding this, a woman friend pointed out: 
Many women are insecure. Many women fish for compliments; not necessarily consciously. Men develop certain habits and assumptions in response.  
Mentioning weight, shape, diet or exercise is likely to trigger these habits more often than it triggers actual thought about what you posted.
I can't keep myself from judging people who fail to think before speaking.

Things that might have influenced such a bizarre, presumptive, and invasive comment:

I don't feel like I need to explain posts promoting equality, body positivity, size acceptance, healthy behaviors for all people regardless of body size, not judging people based on appearance including clothing size, etc.

When I complain (often at great length) about the obscene prices of gender-specific underwear required for exercise due to my apparently abnormal and grossly misproportioned body, nothing in that complaint is directed at my body. I'm angry at apparel makers for only catering to a paper-thin range of body types and I'm angry at the patriarchy for the fact that good sports bra designs don't even exist and I'm angry at both that I have to spend a minimum of $70 on an essential piece of clothing to support my running and fitness endeavors that only works because I happen to run slowly anyway.

My body is just lovely, but I could write a book about issues of access to safe, enjoyable forms of fitness and even finding exercise clothing in the necessary size, much less being able to afford it. (I wish I had time to write a book. That would be a good book.)

I said this about a photo taken immediately after running a fast mile:
"I fucking hate photos of myself working out and am this close to quitting the challenge because of the photo requirement."
When I complain about photos of my running and post-running because my hair is disheveled, my face flushed, and my body pouring sweat, it's really not a cry for validation and definitely not part of an overall trend of complaining about my appearance. Even as an advocate for body-positivity, surely I am allowed to despise gym and fitness selfies? Or do I have to love and brag about my appearance ceaselessly? I'm certainly capable, but it wouldn't be real and I'd probably lose a lot of friends.

I wish I had some snappy way to wrap this up: Think before you speak, learn to recognize a request for help or reassurance when there is one instead of reading it into random statements and offering help unsolicited, and just fucking Google it.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

365 Project, Week 1

I decided to undertake, with little hope of completing, a 365 photo project to take a photo every day for a year with the purpose of improving my photography skills and more closely examining the world around me. I made it through one whole week.

Day 1: A picture of my new camera

Day 2: A silly, sloppy snapshot of a cast member playing with a speculum

Day 3: A cell phone photo of the golden window reflections on concrete outside my office

Day 4: A silly portrait of my friends' 4-year-old son

Day 5: The reflections of a pub in a mirror in dim light

Day 6: A clock in the windowed hall of a bank building with a focus on chiaroscuro contrast

Day 7: I never see the water features running in the winter, but it is finally below freezing in Texas.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Weight loss: NOPE!

Content note: weight talk

I quit weighing for No-Scale November and hadn't since. I knew I had a little bit of holiday weight gain because I fucking love egg nog, y'all, but I was working at accepting it from a weight-neutral perspective, which was easy since I knew it would come right off once I got back into my regular fitness routine, so it's not like I really had a lot of mental work to do on the issue.

Saturday someone—a mancommented, "You're losing weight!" in a congratulatory tone, and I shot back nastily, "NOPE!"
"What kind of a twisted world do we live in where the state of our bodies is fair game for comments from whoever feels like making them?"

Because a) Don't ever congratulate people on weight loss, and b) Don't fucking comment on people's weight. Period.
Words and language are powerful messengers and what we say to each other impacts the way we interact with our bodies, especially when it comes to our weight. Often we talk about weight unconsciously, in the social norm women have become accustomed to, but to me, remaining unconscious and complacent in this norm is a form of fat-phobia and perpetuates body hate.
"Oh, well, it looks like you have."
"Hm, thanks."
My outfit was kind of awesome . . . in a stretch-velvet, witchy, 1990s flashback sort of way.

This morning I was weighed at the doctor's office and was surprisingly disappointed to see the number, even though logically it's hardly a significant change, and I still know it will come off easily with my half and full marathon training this year. But I was there today to discuss treatment options for depression, so I was not in a good place emotionally. The weight thing is not a big deal, just uncomfortable, I suppose.

Maybe next time I'll muster the nerve not to look and to ask the attendant not to read it aloud. This is not out of fear of how high it will be but an act of activism to completely quit weigh-ins and find other metrics to measure my health. Because it's really easy to measure harder, better, faster, stronger, and weight is not a way to do so.

Fit Fatties Virtual Decathlon Update

I am well on my way through the Fit Fatties Virtual Decathlon and have even begun to entertain the idea of completing a double decathlon, but the price has risen and may ultimately prove prohibitive. Even so, I'll update my progress on the blog as I go. Here is the list of events from which I plan to choose my 10.
  • 1 mile walk/run/roll Done!
  • 5k walk/run/roll
  • 10k walk/run/roll
  • Half Marathon walk/run/roll (May Heels and Hills, I hope)
  • Marathon walk/run/roll (October Tyler Rose, probably)
  • Swim – quarter mile (8 x 50m) Done!
  • Swim – half mile (16 x 50m)
  • Get in the Flow - 60 min of work with flow toy, such as poi, staff, juggling, dance/fire fans, rola bola, balance ball, aerial silks or hoop, meteor
  • Shimmy it Out (30 minute shimmy–can switch shimmy location through event)
  • Squat it Out (Do 100 squats in one day.)
  • Take a Hike (Enjoy at least a mile of the great outdoors.)
  • Stairway to Heaven (Climb 100 stairs in one day.) Done!
  • Take a Tread (Enjoy at least a mile of the great indoors. Walk on the treadmill, elliptical or other machine, or just walk around inside.) Oh, I already did this and forgot to log it. Guess I'll do it again.

Thursday, January 2: Stairway to Heaven (100 stairs)
I actually went to the first floor and walked to the top of the building, an exercise I've frequently done, though sporadically.

Saturday, January 4: 1 mile run
I felt like molasses, but with Beyonce's magical new album, I pounded it out in 09:23!

Tuesday, January 7: Quarter mile swim
I did 10 laps × 50 m untimed.

I'm hoping to run 5k tomorrow and swim again before the end of the week.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Good things at work

So far in my work, I've typically had free reign rein to make content and copy edits as I saw fit on lessons written by contractors that I'd never speak to. But since another editor quit, I am working with more of our in-house writers, some for the first time on long reading passages which are not the type of content I've edited here before. So I worried whether my editing was too heavy handed or whether the curriculum team would want more feedback on content, which is not my strong suit since I don't have much teaching experience.

I took time to confer with the writer because I had a few questions about her intended meaning in some places where dialogue trailed off and on her use of ellipses versus dashes in those places and then made copious notes and edits, to a degree which would likely wound any young writer's ego, crossed my fingers, and sent it off.

A few days later, I ran into her in the break room and asked how her weekend went, and she took the opportunity to give thanks and gush about how great my corrections and comments were, how much she loved my suggestions, how much she was able to learn in the process on this one ~2700-word passage, and how much her supervisor (?*) loved my edits.

I was surprised, excited, and deeply humbled by her words, and it has made my day when I've lately been feeling down on my job and hating the commute and was really pissed off about being rear-ended on my way home last Friday. We were already slightly understaffed when half our editors quit in November, and I have been disappointed and stressed out over the increased workload ever since. But I set up a workable schedule today for all the projects in my queue so far through the end of the month and am feeling reinvigorated by this recent feedback.

I should have a review coming up at the end of the month, and with two fewer editors to pay and a serious need to keep us remaining two around, this will hopefully translate into beneficial offerings from the company then. I'm trying not to get my hopes up too much because I got a nice raise last year, but I need the money and probably even deserve it now. Someday I'll get to fulfill my dream of working freelance projects entirely from home for less than full time, but for now, everything is going to be OK.

*I don't know what to call a "managing writer" or what the other woman's official title is, but she oversees the work of this other writer and leads their team on certain projects.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy Mew Year

I don't really do New Year's Resolutions because it seems like nothing more than setting yourself up for failure. That said, I've signed up for some races and have a few hopes for the year.

I'll be running my first Tough Mudder, a 12-mile, multi-obstacle, team event (untimed, so not a race) in May with some coworkers. I hear it's a piece of cake compared to Spartan Races, so I may sign up for the Heels and Hills Half Marathon the day before. I completed a HandH half in 2011, but volunteers frequently stopped us along the course due to incoming hail, and the route was shortened by a half mile before I finished, so it feels hollow to say that I've completed a half marathon when I only kind of sort of have.

I'd like to get 200 participants in the Choice 5k, and this can include virtual participants. I need to pick a date and begin the permit process pretty soon here. Last spring I participated in a grassroots charity 5k event that a high-schooler organized to raise awareness for an American POW in Afghanistan. Over 150 people participated in the Plano event, which was one of 80+ across the nation and was only promoted by word of mouth. That's why I chose 200.

I had had my heart set on starting the Four Seasons Challenge with the February 2 Texas Half Marathon in Irving, but I've had to accept that my training is very slow-going, that I seem to be injury-prone, and that I need to give myself more time than the common beginner training programs, even though I'm not a beginner runner. The Challenge includes four specific race events to be completed in succession in one year and allows participants to run 4 halfs, 3 halfs and a full, or 2 and 2, the last being my goal. So I'm pushing the start back 6 months to run the Hottest Half in August, which will be easier on my wallet and knock out the worst event first. That leaves the Tyler Rose Marathon on Oct. 5 and the next two events in 2015.

A week after the Hottest Half, assuming I don't succumb to heat stroke, I'll be running the Disneyland Half Marathon in California with my bff. We have our hotel and flights booked and are just waiting for race registration to open at the end of January. We talked about visiting the wine country while we're there but learned that's on the opposite end of the state, whereas Tijuana is only a 2-hour drive. Partay.

I registered for a Virtual Decathlon Challenge through the Fit Fatties Forum and completed the first leg, a stair climb, yesterday. I'll choose my other events from the following list: 
  • 1 mile walk/run/roll
  • 5k walk/run/roll
  • 10k walk/run/roll
  • Half Marathon walk/run/roll
  • Marathon walk/run/roll
  • Swim – quarter mile (8 x 50m)
  • Swim – half mile (16 x 50m)
  • Get in the Flow - 60 of work with flow toy, such as poi, staff, juggling, dance/fire fans, rola bola, balance ball, aerial silks or hoop, meteor
  • Shimmy it Out (30 minute shimmy–can switch shimmy location through event)
  • Squat it Out (Do 100 squats in one day.)
  • Take a Hike (Enjoy at least a mile of the great outdoors.)
  • Take a Tread (Enjoy at least a mile of the great indoors.  Walk on the treadmill, elliptical or other machine, or just walk around inside.)

I had a nice full-body selfie but had to crop it for boob sweat. You know how it is.

I saw that a couple of my friends on Facebook are undertaking daily photo challenges, so I decided to start a(nother) 365 project myself and snap a photo daily to share. I've begun and failed in the past and don't expect to do better this time, but I have a new camera and will benefit from the effort and improve my photography skills either way.

Jan. 1: Day 1

After practicing a full year of intuitive eating, I feel like I might be ready to begin to eat more deliberately to support my running and maximize my fitness potential. We'll see.

I didn't get the sub-30 5k that I'd hoped for last year, so I'll try again this year. I did it once in 2010 and need to cut 5 or 6 minutes to do it again.

I'm really looking forward to participating again in the Rugged and Raaw 10k/20k trail race and seeing how much I can improve over my 1:47 finish last year.

One clear resolution is to quit wasting my time and money on gimmicky for-profit, un-timed 5k events. I had fun at a few last year and really hated others.The Black Light Run on Feb. 1 is the last one I'm signed up for, and I'll think twice before registering for any others this year, though I think I would like to run Plano's Splash Dash again.

Beyond that, I plan to work to become harder, better, faster, stronger.