I’m really not fit (Guest post)

by Loretta C

My friend Cate said “you should write something for Fit is a Feminist Issue.”

I thought, “I don’t belong on that blog. I am the most unfit I have ever been in my life.”

I am, and always have been, fat. I am 47 years old, and for thirty-some years I went up and down on the weight spectrum, losing weight through diet and exercise and then over time gaining it back, and then again, and then again, a few pounds heavier each time. You know the drill.

The last time I ran through the cycle, eight years ago, I lost weight with the help of trainer, who was great. I lost sixty pounds, I felt strong and fit. I had MUSCLES. I still had a belly and hips and still shopped in the plus-size stores, but for a brief period of time I was actually willing to wear short skirts because my legs looked great.

And then the slow and inevitable weight gain happened. I couldn’t stop it. I saw a counselor for a while, convinced I was sabotaging myself in some subconscious way. That didn’t help. Nothing helped. The weight came back, plus the extra twenty pounds. I wandered through the period of shame and self-hatred, and then I said “enough”. I read some things, I learned some things, I accepted that I would never be one of the 5% who is able to maintain a significant weight loss. I decided I would practice Health at Every Size instead. I would move my body for the joy of it, because it felt good, because I slept better and thought better and generally was better at being me when I moved my body regularly. I changed my language to talk about movement rather than exercise, to avoid the echoes of decades of failed weight loss regimes. And for a few years, this is what I practiced.

But the last couple of years, I haven’t been able to.

The one good thing I thought I had retained from all those regimes was that I did, in fact, know what it was like to feel good in my body. I never, in all those diets, got anything like “thin”, but I did get to a place where I felt strong, and fit, and powerful. I hiked up mountains in New Zealand. I stood up on the pedals in spin class and sprinted, my heart pounding and my lungs working, and felt absolutely fierce. I lay in corpse pose at the end of an Ashtanga class and felt my sweaty, tired body whisper “thank you for that” to my mind.

I know, through repeated experience, that even when I feel my fattest and unhealthiest – struggling to tie shoelaces, huffing up a flight of stairs – I know that if I manage to get out walking, or get to the gym, or get to some yoga classes, if I can get a couple of weeks of regular movement in, my body will start to feel better. The flexibility will return, my lungs will be happier. I know that once I get started, the more I move, the more I want to move.

I know this. I know it in my mind, and in my body, and in my heart. I know what I need to do to feel better.

So why can’t I do it?

Depression is undoubtedly part of it. Possibly menopause. Busy schedule, sure. Logistics and excuses, oh yes. I have lots of those. I have also read all the tips and tricks about building habits and getting a buddy and putting it in my calendar and giving myself rewards, etc. etc. But those are all just tricks. And these days, tricks just aren’t cutting it.

And so for the last two years or so, I haven’t been moving in any regular way. Once in a while I get out for a walk. And I congratulate myself and make a date for the next walk. And it usually doesn’t happen.

There are two things I have been able to keep doing for my own health, my own mental and emotional fitness, two things I don’t have to trick myself into doing. The first is my meditation practice. I have been meditating for 12 years, more or less continuously, with a few longish gaps here and there. When I first started it was really hard to do it regularly. It wasn’t until I went on a week-long retreat that it became a habit – something I did, rather than something I should do.

The second thing is writing. I only really started writing regularly about 5 years ago, but it has stuck. Part of that is because I actually work with it as part of my meditation practice, following a teacher who works in the tradition of Natalie Goldberg. In that five years, I’ve maintained a pretty steady writing practice, written some short stories, and now I’m working on a novel.

The thing about both of these practices is not that I never stop doing them. I do stop. Sometimes for just a few days, sometimes for a few weeks, sometimes (in the case of writing) even a few months. But with both of them, after a certain period of time I just know – I need that. And once I do it once or twice, the habit is back. I don’t have to trick myself to meditate; I just need to remember.

And I don’t know why I can’t remember moving my body.

So for now, I keep trying. I have a new membership at a much cheaper gym than the one I didn’t go to for two years. I’ve gone twice. It was good. I’ll keep practicing meditation and writing. And I’ll keep trying to remember.

 

black and white photo of woman doing yoga, tree pose. She's on hardwood floor, in a beam of light and the photo is shot from behind. It's mostly floor, feet, and legs.

 

Loretta C is a queer fat woman. By day, she plays a federal civil servant. By night and weekend she writes, reads, meditates, plays on the internet, and hangs out with her awesome friends. And sometimes she tries to go for a walk and do some yoga. 

 

About Sam B

Philosopher, feminist, parent, and cyclist!

15 thoughts on “I’m really not fit (Guest post)

  1. […] I’m really not fit (Guest post) […]

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sam B says:

    I love this image and language, “I hiked up mountains in New Zealand. I stood up on the pedals in spin class and sprinted, my heart pounding and my lungs working, and felt absolutely fierce. I lay in corpse pose at the end of an Ashtanga class and felt my sweaty, tired body whisper “thank you for that” to my mind.”

    For me, it can be hard to get past the “ought” language around exercise. I find myself sometimes feeling like an angry teenager. Forget that, I’m going to get some good snacks and watch Netflix. It’s when I think about the immediate rewards, the very real pleasure that exercise brings right now, that I’m fastest to bounce out the door. I’m not doing it for thin, or even for health. I’m doing it for pleasure, right now.

    Liked by 2 people

    • lorettamuses says:

      I think dropping the “ought” part of it is the hardest thing for me, actually, at some inarticulate level. I’m always happy after I’ve done it, but I have a hard time imagining it will be a good thing in the particular moment. A thing to keep pondering for me.

      Like

  3. Wow. Like really wow. What a wonderful, thoughtful beautiful piece of writing and reflection. I’m glad you shared your voice. It belongs here. Don’t doubt that.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. N Davis says:

    I had similar issues for a long time including yo yo weight and accompanying despair and received a great deal of support through a 12 step program and for today I don’t have to live that way anymore.

    Like

  5. fieldpoppy says:

    Thanks for making this and sharing it and being it. Love your voice here and appreciate the openness it took to share it. xc

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Hi Loretta
    Thank you for your words they spoke to me.
    I beat myself up for not being more active, not running like my neighbour, not living at the gym.
    But hey, I’ m not other people I’m me, me with a back issue, working with pain issues.

    I like your movement over exercise it struck a cord. I move walk as much as I can, meditate to every morning, stop and smell my neighbours roses as the world rushes by.

    Always for a hankering to be a stone lighter, but acceptance is the key😊❤️

    Tomorrow I’m going to a Pilates class who knows it may become part of my routine off ‘movement.’

    Keep enjoying life.
    Tracy 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  7. ainsobriety says:

    I think one fortunate thing for me is that yoga is my meditation practice. It is spiritual and mentally stabilizing, while also moving my body.

    I do it because I love it. And I want to do it. And, in the end, it makes my body feel good as well.

    I’m glad, because I don’t think I would. Be willing to make time for anything else.

    We do what works for the time of our life.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Anne

    Liked by 1 person

    • lorettamuses says:

      thank you for this. I think yoga is something that, like meditation, would help me get into a better place if I could find a way to make it a more regular habit. And yes, we do what works, so I just keep trying to be curious about what might work for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Kim Solga says:

    I echo Susan, Loretta! I can’t think of a more “FFI” post than this. Keep doing what you are doing, and sharing it with us! It’s fierce and inspiring.

    PS: one of us in the community here in London, ON has a novelist partner. She calls her a “writing athlete”. Word!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • lorettamuses says:

      Thank you! and also, HA about the writing athlete! There is a definitely a marathon quality to it, along with determination and stamina, along with necessary rest periods. I’m totally stealing that!

      Like

  9. bscritic says:

    I love this post. Normalizing what most of us experience, being good to ourselves and emphasizing self acceptance is what its all about.

    Liked by 2 people

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