I’m new to the blog and feel it’s important to toss out a disclaimer before I continue: I am unapologetically fat and super great with that.
Now, you’re either tossing your hands in the air excitedly about that proclamation with a ‘yassss-girl-on-the-internet-I-don’t-know’ or you’ve hit the X and I lost you and that’s ok too. But boy howdy, am I having a time finding balance between fat, fitness, & fitting it all in. Perhaps sharing about it will help me figure a few things out?
I have a desk job in IT and a whole lot of… we’ll call them reasons … that I’m not super active. My employer, however, understands that these reasons are a struggle and does something pretty great to help change that.
Working in the world of tech start-ups, it’s not uncommon to find two things especially to be true: really great snacks on site & an incentive to be active. Currently I’m working at a fantastic eCommerce company called Shopify and they’re really good at adding the –ify ending to lots of things, so Sportify as an athletic allowance just makes sense. What didn’t make loads of sense to me initially, however, were the really loose rules around what constituted appropriate spending of this well loved perk. Maybe this is because the previous unnamed IT company I worked for had such rigid ideas around how to spend their active bonus.
Many things we talk about and do are labeled and given boxes to live within, so this feels like a great space to deconstruct those ideas and truly consider what constitutes fitness or being active.
But I NEED a definition!
Ok, ok! But I’m not going to link you to my favourite online dictionary definition or delve into the etymology of the word fitness, so if you need that I’m feeling fairly confident you can use the power of Google to self-serve. With that definition, the one you either already hold in your head and your heart or the one you just took 90 seconds to find, I’m challenging you to also find the meaning of and in fitness that speaks most to your needs right now and not just what you were taught in grade school.
Here’s a look at how 2 different IT companies suggest you spend the money they allocate to fitness/wellness:
|The Other Co||Gym memberships, some sports clubs, but not golf fees or hockey dues. Basically, we have a list and you’re welcome to ask us to consider your idea. We might say no.|
|Shopify||Does it get you moving? Cool. Send us the receipt!*|
* gym membership discounts on top of the Sportify incentive also exist at Shopify!
Don’t get me wrong here, both companies offer fantastic incentives and The Other Co actually offers more dollars per year despite the stricter guidelines. Not everyone is into going to a gym and some people really just need a supportive pair of sneakers for early morning walks on the boardwalk. I’m not into the business of comparing my physical activity (as low as it may be right now) with others. My walks on the boardwalk don’t compare to your gazillion reps of things I don’t understand in a fancy elite gym, for no other reason than they are two different things. Is one better than the other? Nope!
Different =/= better.
If two different companies can have such different ideas around how to spend money on helping you be active & fit, I say you can be in charge of your own defining of fitness in your life, too. One of the most difficult things I know that I face as a fat woman, is just how unlikely it is that I will fit within the very design of the box made by The Other Co. Gyms are not a space I feel especially welcome or comfortable in, for example, yet they are the most common way for people to spend the incentives that workplaces offer for fitness. Nobody knows my body better than I do, and I’m telling you this: A treadmill is not what what body wants or needs. If you are invested in parking at the furthest corner of the parking lot to move that little bit more, then I applaud you for doing what you get to include in your own definitions around caring for your body. That doesn’t mean that I compare your outward act of grocery shopping endurance to the person who parks in the spot for people with disabilities or parents of small children.
Fitness is not a contest (unless you want it to be)
When did it become important to look at the people on either side of us and measure ourselves next to them in some sort of fitness currency, determining our worth based on how many marathons we have completed or how many really large tires we have flipped the length of a football field. What tool are we actually using to place this secret value on activities, that when we compare ourselves against we either feel very rich or as if we have insufficient funds? Can we not decide that, the only true fitness lack is when, by our very own definition, we are not doing the good things our bodies deserve by moving and caring for them?
I rather like Shopify’s approach to how I get to be the master of my own ideas around the needs of my body to be active, and happy, and healthy. So whether I spend my annual perk on killer sneakers for cross fit, new paddles for my canoe, some gear for my bike, a yoga ball and meditation CD, tennis lessons, a salsa class, or a hula hoop, I am ultimately deciding for myself what constitutes Sportify. Where is this label in the rest of our fitness lives and how can we apply it positively in a way where nobody needs to feel fitness poverty when reading their friends’ Facebook status updates?
As for me? I bought a bike. The first bike I ever owned in 25 years. And I am terrified to ride it, but already it is so valuable to me on our short little journeys together. I plan to find my way with my bike and not once feel poorly about how others are faster, stronger, better, thinner than me. My fitness counts.
What about you? Are you feeling rich by your own definition of fitness? Are you able to applaud others for their milestones while also being mindful of your own ride being awesome and entirely unique? I would love to hear about it in the comments below!
Bio: Queer, Fat, Feminist of intersections. Not so fit, but chewing on the reasons why and the ways to challenge what that means. No apologies for any of it.