… it’s more of a battle of the mind, really. I want to go running outside. It’s a gorgeous, sunny day. I haven’t run in over a year, though because I got quite injured last winter training for a half marathon. I’m wanting to try again but contemplating my mixed feelings around it. Exercise to me is such a mind- fuck. It really is. On the one hand, it makes me feel good and sleep better. At the same time, it elicits all sorts of self-loathing. I dunno. I’ll try to sort it out here.
In the past, a lot of my exercise has been about getting validation from other people. I’m fat but I want to be seen as someone who at least makes an effort. Yes, I realize how offensive that is to me and to others. I know that a host of factors determine body size, but I’m ashamed of my body and looking for some kind of redemption and approval. I have thought this way since childhood and have examined it thoroughly. I don’t know that it will ever be completely resolved.
The attitude gets reinforced by people when I’m out running and also in everyday life. I’ve had a man call me chubby and fatty from his front window each time I ran by his house. On a half marathon race course, a woman mocked my breathing. Another kid on the street did the same. I’ve heard ‘Run, Forest, run’ and been told ‘that’s not really running’ by a group of young boys. One told me I probably ran to McDonald’s and ate 10 burgers. I’ve had two women be annoyed that I beat them in a 5k — who would have thought the fat girl could beat them. An old man with a walker told me he was just as fast as me. When I lost a bunch of weight several years back I tried to explain to a thin friend how good it felt to go into the regular sized section of our favourite clothing store. Her response was ‘Yes, but their sizes are really big.’ She also pulled a plate of nachos away from me and told me we needed a break from eating at a pub. When I completed my first half marathon, she was waiting for me at the finish line. She greeted me with ‘Good for you, you were only half an hour behind me.’ We talked about it and I know she didn’t mean to hurt me but it stayed with me. Then there is the friend who when I say I”m going for a run, feels the need to explain to me that I’m jogging not running because I’m slow.
The encouraging people are almost worse. ‘You can do it!’ Uh, thanks, I already know that and I doubt you’d say that if I were thin no matter what the state of my current fitness. ‘You are doing some really fast walking these days.’ Um, ok.
I know that most people aren’t thinking about me at all when I pass them outside. I know that I shouldn’t give a fig what the negative people do have to say. It speaks more about them than me. I also know that we live in a culture where appearance is everything, especially for women. I’m a part of that culture and it’s time that I stop kicking myself for not being able to just ignore it or disengage from it. It does hurt my feelings and make me want to stop trying. I do get all obsessive with the scale. I do give up and go on food binges. I also entertain the idea of Slim Fast but it didn’t work in the long term for Oprah and I doubt it will for me either.
I just turned 39 and am facing the same thoughts and feelings that I faced 10 years ago. Fuck, I was drinking Slim Fast in high school for that matter. I know I have learned a lot but I can’t seem to keep the information present in my thoughts much of the time. I had a professor who described what women face regarding body image etc… as fascist. I agree which is why I don’t completely blame myself for not being able to just get over it. Of course, I have responsibility for the situation but not entirely. I don’t exist in isolation and I can’t just ignore negative attitudes no matter how hard I try to.