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Damn, I wish I’d said that.

February 26, 2010

We’ve all had those moments. Maybe while reading a blog or a book or a magazine article – that moment where someone says in a few words or brief paragraphs something that would have taken us pages and pages to get out. Well that happened to me recently, but it was lucky enough to be in the comments of my blog. In a reply to this old posta commenter, Runner, left this comment (Bolding my favorite bits):

I agree completely. (Rant warning!) Often, the way they’re talked about, men’s exercise focuses on ability while women’s on vague “fitness.” I started running TO BE ABLE TO RUN. When I wanted. Fast, too. And for far far longer than it takes to sprint to a bus about to leave so that I can sit down on the bus I did make and be calm. I weight train to feel my body BE ABLE TO. Be able to lift heavy things easily. Be able to push. Shove. Move. I love my abs because they lift me up. And down. Without thinking or straining.

I love feeling my arm muscles under my skin. I love feeling my quads engage hard. It is because then, I embody strength. Literally. Nothing makes me feel like a woman like being strong. And I know that’s not how it’s “supposed” to be, but it is how it’s really supposed to be.

After having read other FA blogs, I now think that my sense of being my body and seeing it as functional first and foremost has lifted me above much of the emotional morass that many serial dieting women seem to have fallen into. I never bought the sexist base idea of that I had to be pretty and thin to be someone as a woman, and that has saved me many headaches. What gets you somewhere in life – and makes you YOU – are other things, all function-related. Primarily your brain ability and function, but also your body ability and function. I am something that is both above my body – above age, gender, physical looks – and my body at the same time. They meet in my body’s ability. Screw Inner Beauty indeed – what you want is inner strength. And preferably outer as well.

So I can count calories and calculate protein/carb/fat percentages in my diet without spiraling into depression. I can increase the number of calories I eat in a day because I am worried I’m not eating enough for my activity level. And I can do it while losing weight. Or not. Whatever. And I can say fuck calorie counting today and move on with my day another. And eat pizza and enjoy it. And eat beet salad with great relish right after. I can hear people ramble on about their miracle diet and try to hide my eyes glazing over with boredom rather than whatever feelings of anguish diet talk seems to induce in a lot of FA people. (If they’re that on fire about it, my judgement is that the odds are 99% that it’s a crock of shit. But I’ll pretend to listen to be polite, they’ll notice it’s shit without my help eventually.) I can skip a workout and feel good about it. I just did the past two days and it was the right decision. I didn’t feel quite right and indeed, today I woke up with a cold. I can live in the sort of world you live in too. I really believe that the root of self-acceptance of all kinds, particularly as a woman, is to cherish your own ability and your strengths. To KNOW that you can make your way on your own mental and physical strength. (And pleasure… which is a whole other, but related, topic. Whom are you and your body to please, anyway, right?)

This is what I wanted to get across when I started this blog. That there existed this other path for those who reject or never quite understood the diet culture, but who weren’t happy in the mainstream fat acceptance movement either. That there is a world of women (and men) who use food for fuel and/or enjoyment as they need to. Women whose time in the gym doesn’t leave them bitter or miserable, but strong and full of energy. Women who are as excited, and usually more, by the weight on the bar as they are the weight on the scale. I’m not saying everyone should or would want to live in this world, but until I ‘discovered’ it in myself, I didn’t know it was even an option. So thanks to Runner for basically summing up my entire blog in couple of paragraphs.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 3, 2010 1:42 pm

    So…I just found this blog from Shapely Prose and I just wanted to comment to say that I completely agree with what you and Runner said. I run, and I weight the exact same amount as when I started, and I just don’t care. My thighs are big, but that’s because there’s muscle there that can carry me 10 miles. And I’m good with that. Exercise isn’t a way to burn off my dessert, it’s something in and of itself. And sometimes I restrict my eating, but it’s because I know that if I eat the french fries and then go running, I’ll want to throw up, NOT because the french fries have X amount of calories or fat.

    Anyway, you struck a chord with me, going to to read some more of this blog now! :)

  2. meerkat permalink
    July 9, 2010 6:33 am

    “That there is a world of women (and men) who use food for fuel and/or enjoyment as they need to. Women whose time in the gym doesn’t leave them bitter or miserable, but strong and full of energy. ”

    That sounds like a lot of FA bloggers, but its location in the paragraph seems to contrast it to both FA culture and diet culture. Huh?

    • February 1, 2011 5:14 pm

      So I left the original comment way back and haven’t been back much since so I didn’t see this until… now. But I’ll make an attempt at clarification anyway.

      FA people are okay with being fat. That’s the core idea of fat acceptance. I’m not, because I didn’t like being fat. It gets in the way of doing things I want to do. It makes me feel UN-able and weak. It makes me feel non-me. As a matter of my own happiness, it is not ok for me to be fat. I think intentional weight loss and intentionally building strength is a great thing. (But I don’t think “being pretty and feminine” is a good reason to do it. I think that’s what makes intentional weight loss a traumatic, rather than an empowering, experience.)

      I can’t speak for other people’s feelings, but I know that because I exist, FA has got it at least part wrong. Intentional weight loss and lifestyle change is one of the best things I’ve ever done. I loved doing it and I love maintaining it. I love helping others do the same. Some people CAN lose weight intentionally and not be traumatized in the process and not end up yo-yo dieting.

      Now, if you have a very awkward relationship to food and eating and you see exercise as torture of your unworthy body, perhaps there is no way for you to lose weight intentionally in a healthy way without first dealing with those emotional issues.

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