This isn’t a self deprecating post I promise!!
In our (and any) Society, certain norms are established by popular consent, and these days, by social media. People are expected to fit into certain moulds, and if they don’t their validity is questioned. It is pervasive throughout society, that if you don’t act/look/feel a certain way you are judged.
You know the type of thing:
- A regular gym-goer must be either Strong and muscular (male) or petite and only interested in cardio (female)
- A gym goer / exercise doer who is not one of the above stereotypes must be trying to lose weight
- Women must at all costs want to be mothers.
- Eating any food deemed unhealthy by society, must be prefeced with the words “I know I shouldn’t really…” or “I’ll go for a run later…” or some other such thing to offset the perceived sin of eating food.
- You must look young at all times, without appearing to be trying to look young
- In addition to looking young, there are countless lists of things that people over 25/30/40 etc must stop doing (for example you aren’t allowed long hair after 40 according to some people)
- A person with a talent mustn’t just come out and say, “yes, I am good at things”
- If you are in anyway over society’s percieved acceptable weight limit you must be on a diet or planning a diet or unhappy with yourself
- Women must be quieter and less aggressive than men, their opinions must be stated in such a way that they don’t upset anyone.
This is just a short list of Societal norms that it is difficult to stray away from.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with conforming to these norms, as long as it is a choice.
However, I have realised (or re-realised I should say) recently that I don’t conform to most of these, and you know what…it is ok!
What has brought me to this realisation I hear you ask (well…I don’t but I am imagining it…). Last week, in one of those perpetually awkward obligatory conversations which take place while making coffee in the work kitchen, I happened to mention that I had been to the gym in the morning. I went on to mention that it was something I do regularly. At this point, the person I was talking to, looked me up and down from head to toe and then got a slightly dubious look on his face. It was a quick look, so quick that I had carried on the conversation before registering it, but it was definitely there.
It stuck in my head, it made me angry, it made everyone I told angry. It was rude and unthinking and quite probably unknowing, which goes to prove how ingrained these norms are. It wasn’t a comment, it wasn’t overt, but it was an indication of an associated thought process, it was an indication of a judgement however unconscious. I was angry about this for about 6 hours. I was plotting subtle and not so subtle revenge on the person in question, until in the process of discussing it with people (I was angry…I told everyone) I realised that it didn’t matter.
I remembered that I don’t care what he thinks.
I remembered that the opinions of people who are not important in my life don’t matter at all!!
I remembered that I am awesome. I am doing the things that I want to do without feeling the need to conform to any stereotype that doesn’t apply to me!
I realised that I had been bogged down recently with worrying about insignificant things, I was extremely close to falling into bad diet plans and habits because I started to believe the hype about weight loss being the only worthy goal. Well, it isn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I am not going to complain about losing some fat, but I am not going to be cowed and justification-y before it happens. I am going to walk tall (well as tall as possible for a 5’4.5″ person) and remember that I am not defined by other people’s opinions!
I am good at the things I do
I am strong
I am fit enough to dance in a mask
I am not a stereotype, I am not quiet, or non-aggressive, I am not what people expect, but quite honestly I don’t want to be!!
Not even just awesome for a Tuesday either! Awesome in its own right!
It started bright and early with a PT session. Unusually for this time in the morning I was awake and enthusiastic… I guess 4.5 hours sleep fits my sleep cycle…
Anyway, to add to the daft that I was awake and suchlike, I also got to do deadlifts and sled pushes/pulls in my PT session which are some of my favourite things!!
I also had to do step ups onto a box thingy that was quite high for a shorty like me. Not only step ups I hasten to add, but step ups with an elastic band around my hips that tried to pull me back down again!
This is supposed to increase glute activation. I am pretty sure it does…but it also increases fear!! Needless to say, these are not my favourite things…but they are good for me and I was proud of myself for being able to push all the way up on one leg…something I couldn’t do easily last time I attempted this (without the band…)
The box doesn’t look that high…but look how high my leg is!!!
The other huge step forward for me is I let trainer Matt take pictures of me while doing stuff!! I had no control over angles or anything and…even more progress…I didn’t hate the pictures!!! And…huge plus I get actual photos to show you of me doing the crazy things!
Well…that was PT…crazy and awesome…but not the end of Tuesday’s exercise.
As I hadn’t run since friday, and I have to improve and get better at running, and the only way to do that is to actually run, I decided to go running.
The area around my work where I sometimes run, and horsham park where I sometimes run were full of other runners…So I decided to make my way over to the now infamous (on this blog at least) downs link path. The Downs link path is nice and quiet I thought, I’ll just go and do some runnign and not meet too many people I thought.
I was wrong! within 5 mins of settign off I met 3 cyclists and two other runners…not too bad… by half way I was being overtaken by packs of 15 runners at a time… there seemed to be some sort of runnign club doing runs and navigation (poor navigation…) all along the same section of downs link that I was on!! It was moderately disconcerting I can tell you!!
Still, I went out and I did a run, even if it wasn’t the best run I have ever done…(I’d love to blame the packs of runners for that but I think it was just an off day…)
So with some awesome PT and unexpected people, day 37 done 🙂
Battleropes, and kettlebells, and core bags and bench presses and everything!!
So…it is Tuesday, which is PT day, and last week I mentioned that I had told Matt that I needed to do more cardio training. He has taken this on board which is a shame…
OK…not it isn’t a shame, I really do need to do more cardio training and HIIT style workouts and suchlike so it is good.
I was super tired this morning, I was getting ready and I thought I might just fall over, and then I thought my sports bra was making me feel sick…I think these things were just excuses… I got on with it, went to the gym and ended up having an awesome training session 🙂
We started off with lifting because I am not abandoning it in favour of cardio altogether!!! Also I think Matt thinks that if we do something fun that I like first I’ll not whinge so much when I have to do sets of 15 cardio things later 😀
He is right…although I still give him a look when I have to do anything over 10 reps… you know just because I can 😀
so, this morning’s workout consisted of:
2 x 5 @20kg warm up
5 x 5 @30kg working
A circuit which started with 2 exercises on the first time through then added an extra exercise every time for 4 times through the circuit. Starting with:
15 x battlerope slams
15 x kettlebell swings (16kg)
2nd time add 10 x squat to OH press 8kg
3rd time add 10 x core bag clean and press 10kg
4th time add 10 x lateral step ups 8kg (per leg)
This lot is officially a lot harder than it sounds!
I am officially still obsessed with my Grrrl Clothing supershero leggings… not sure they made the exercises easier…they certainly helped with the superhero/warrior goddess feeling though 😀 😀
so with cardio circuit fun, Day 9 is done 🙂
After all the excitement of the weekend I declared today a rest day!
No of course that doesn’t mean I did nothing…that would be a rubbish cop out on day 8!! Active rest is a thing 😁
I actually did two things, they were just slightly more gentle things than usual…
The first of those things was walking 🙂 I went out of my office during my lunch break and I walked around for half an hour. I didn’t rush or measure distance and steps I just wandered around in the subshine looking at the world and not being at my desk 😀
I did Yoga with Adrien’s “Yoga for a broken heart” but don’t worry I don’t have a broken heart!!
I have a sort of withdrawal from the weekend feeling that buzz that fades to a bit of a flat feeling that you get after an awesome time!
I also realised over the last few days that I have taken a huge step back in the gains I made in the self acceptance and body positivity field. I told you in the first reboot post that I have put a little of the weight back on and not been as dedicated as I would like. Well this has been playing on my mind a lot! I have reverted somewhat to feeling like a lump and telling myself all sorts of negative things. So in away I have been breaking my own heart. So when I saw this yoga video, I thought I’d give it a try 😀
It was good, quite slow and flowy but still not easy! I have no idea if the yoga worked on the negativeness but the thinking process made me realise I have to stop feeling like that about myself or I won’t get anywhere!
So with some yoga for a broken heart my quest for superhero powers will get back on track 😁
You know…the thing where I had to walk, in a bra, overnight…
OK…I sort of did the thing…
I am really annoyed and angry to tell you that I failed to finish the thing due to my stupid foot playing up and making it impossible to walk…
The foot that got plantar fasciitis…(I told you about it here) that put me on crutches last year…
Well guess what, it decided that this walk was a good time to return! I managed 13 miles, even though it started hurting in mile 2, I didn’t want to stop but I could hardly put it down 😦 I had a horrible feeling that if I carried on I would end up on crutches again. So I went to see some medics, who agreed with me…
I did wear a wonder woman bra in public, with a cape attached though, so that is a plus…and a huge step forward as I am definitely not in the “shape” I would have once said I needed to be in to wear a wonder woman bra in public!
Things I have learned from this experience:
- I have no idea what size bra I wear!
- I have finally learned to listen to my body…I am not injured but I would have been if I had carried on!
- Capes really do get in the way!
- Things wouldn’t be challenges if they were easy!
I am not putting up that picture to show off… This is not a look at my weight loss etc post or picture…although to be completely honest it is good to remind myself how far I have come once in a while…
The whole point of this picture is it represents a fundamental change in my attitude!
When the first picture was taken I hated pictures, I wouldn’t look at the camera and I could barely look at the resulting pictures without being miserable for ages.
Now, believe it or not, I am willing to pose for photos, I mostly don’t hate them and I even have more selfies than is sensible on my phone! But this is about more than photos. It is about confidence and attitude. It is about finding the courage to stand up to the judgmental attitudes of today’s society. To stand up to the attitudes that say you have to be a certain size or shape to dress a certain way.
Even at the end of my first 365 I wouldn’t have dreamed of wearing the muscle shirt in the top picture without a second top under it. I still qualified every achievement with disclaimers about needing to lose more weight, or still having lots of things I needed to change. It was almost as if I was not allowing myself to be proud of myself , I couldn’t let anyone thing I was pleased with me the way I was. After all what would happen if they thought I was still fat…I felt I had to acknowledge it before they said something!
Just in case you are new or have forgotten this was the end of my 365 project…
This was me, I was happy because dancing, I was happy because 365 days of exercise is quite a big achievement, I was happy with my progress.
The one thing I couldn’t say I was happy with was my body.
Now the end of 365 me was a differently shaped me to the now me. Partly because I have been a little less dedicated to my eating, and quite a lot because I have been doing a lot of heavy lifting… but this isn’t the point, the point is…
We are allowed to be proud of ourselves. We are allowed to like our bodies and appreciate them for what they can do!
I know what you are thinking…what changed? and when are you going to get to the point and tell me what body positivity is?
Well first things first…what changed?
Well…obviously I did…but what made me change?
The first thing was this person…
This is Whitney Way Thore, star of a show called Whitney Fat Girl Dancing, and a dancer who works to encourage people to accept their body and not body shame others. I don’t watch her show often, but I happened to catch an interview with her and of course she was being quizzed for promoting obesity and such like. and she explained she has PCOS which made her gain weight and that she was aware that it could be unhealthy to be overweight but then she said “Appreciate your body for what it can do.” and that if it is stopping you doing things you want to it is time for a change. That one line started to change my outlook.
Then I found Grrrl Clothing, an amazing company run by Kortney Olson I have told you about them before here they are all about body positivity and fitness at all sizes…which quite honestly is rare in a fitness clothing company! The breakthrough really came when I found their FB group Grrrls. This group is full of amazing women who all support each other and all subscribe to the Grrrl philosophy which comes handily written on the clothing tag.
This is important. No negativity about yourself or others. As soon as you start to do this your outlook starts to change.
How often do you look in a mirror and criticise yourself, or tell yourself that you are stupid, or tell other people that you need to lose weight or are so fat or whatever. As soon as you stop this and start to look for positives, everything changes. Not instantly…it is not magic… you can’t wipe out years/decades of social conditioning in one hit but it starts to happen. You start to appreciate what your body can do whether it is lift heavy things, run a long way, make children (I have heard this can be a good thing but I remain unconvinced :-p), or just move you around through your busy day to day lives. You start to realise that you can be and do anything you want to do at any size and that the dictates of society are quite frankly rubbish…
Society says you have to be skinny to be attractive…well no actually the thing that makes a person most attractive is confidence. Society says women shouldn’t lift weights because they might get all bulky…well, bulky is unlikely in women and anyway…why shouldn’t women be bulky if they want…
Society says working out is for weight loss and for looks…well no, working out is for health and for whatever your own personal goal is!!
Before I go on any more I am going to show you some of the awesome women in the group who have inspired me to walk around with scary bright leggings on and muscle shirts with no vest tops under them…to walk around with confidence!
These are not the only inspirational women in the group by a long way but it just shows, no matter what size, what shape, what background we come from, there is no judgement! 😀
So here’s what body positivity means to me:
Body positivity is about believing in your own self worth, about believing that I am strong and capable and worthy of confidence as I am right now! It is ok to want to work on self improvement, it is ok to still want to lose weight but the difference is I am doing it for me and for health and to be an even better me rather than as a punishment for being a bad me!
I work out because I like it.
I wouldn’t mind losing some more fat, but I am proud of myself for who I am at the moment!
I can spend three days in a row dancing and walking miles and still walk the next day! I can lift 100kg (almost…) I can ride my bike for mile and miles I can swing a kettlebell about like nobody’s business and I can do all of these things right now.
I am fit and I am healthy and I still have chocolate sometimes and that is ok!
I am still mildly terrified of posting this without the caveats I mentioned at the start. I still have the fear of people judging me for being too fat or too weak or, now after writing this, too show-y off-y…
but you know what I am posting it anyway along with these pictures of the me that I am proud of right now!
So be who you want to be, be who you are and don’t be ashamed of it! Don’t let “society” dictate whether you wear leggings or shorts or vest tops or giant hats covered in peacock feathers or what ever you like because at the end of the day it is not their business…it is yours 😀