New Year Same You (Guest Post)

There are 3 guarantees in life: Death, Taxes, and New-Years-Resolution-Makers. This is that time of year where everyone and their dog is talking about resolution making. From matter-of-fact haters of the resolution-making (that’s me!) to faithful good-intention-filled folks, there are thoughts and opinions flying  about what to do regarding goal setting on January first.

Let me start by saying that I’m a definite advocate of doing good things for ourselves – our minds, bodies, emotions, hearts. And while most often, a new year brings with it all kinds of resolve along the lines of making our lives better somehow, a lot of resolutions end up being more shame based vanity cries of guilt to conform to social constructs built on foundations of patriarchy and financial gain.

Weight loss magic claims are filling my Facebook feed, and already the talks of cleanses, diets, fads, and ways to be ‘thin’ are assaulting me at every corner.  The idea that we should strive to be one specific way (read: thin, strong, sexy, dainty, ‘feminine’, and all according to the subjectivity of constructed ‘norms’). Substantia Jones, photographer and creator of The Adipositivity Project  was quoted in this great post by Mashable saying:

When determining New Year’s resolutions, I’d like people to know about the studies that have found that making a weight goal part of any health goals is likely to monkey-wrench those health goals. I want folks to understand that even the $64 billion-a-year U.S. weight loss industry no longer disputes that their failure rate hovers around 95%.

So you can see how this ‘perfect’ shape/size/ might not be possible for all folks? Especially with a failure rate that high! Yikes! Yet, we will all watch the parade of weight loss promises pass by when we sign in to our devices of choice over the next few days especially. The focus is so heavy on being lighter that the marquee lit message ends up being “only thin bodies are good bodies”.

Even this well circulated article from Women’s Health that claims to be listening to the desired copy from their readers makes several body shame filled depictions of what ‘ideal’ is and what all of their readers must be striving for in unison. It’s right there in the image below highlighted in yellow.

not all bodies

By the way, I will happily tell you repeatedly: Your body is a good body whether it is toned or not.  No magazine (or blog!) authors can define for you what that should look like. And I hope the epitome of all that your health as a women is NOT found in just how toned, slim, strong, or sexy you are.

Now, before you think I’m trying to discourage someone from setting goals for themselves and making new choices, I’m not. I think it’s great and I probably even wish I had some of your same goals and motivation! I’m only suggesting a consideration of what has been consumed and acted upon as gospel year after year of ‘be a new you’ ideas are riddled with body shame, guilt, and pressure versus inspiration and self-led motivation.

Grant yourself permission to not be pressured to see a new year as some form of forced point of change, and please be kind enough to yourself that you don’t criticize you for ‘holiday treats’. And if you do make resolutions, remember that I told you here and now that if you tap out and change your mind it is not a failure – because YOU are not a failure.

If you’re looking for a January activity that’s not bandwagon jumping and leading to possible let down, feel free to join me in a fun Instagram play-along photo challenge! Read more about #GoodYearGoodYou here.

Wishing you a good year ahead!

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.

Freedom To Define Fitness: I’ll Do It My Way (Guest Post)

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?

jennhula

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!

jenn

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.