Kitty Fisher

Size-positivity, feminism, self-esteem crises, ginormous tits.

hate speech

Posted by Kitty on July 24, 2008

So I go on about my roller derby league here a lot, and what an empowering sport it is for women of all shapes and sizes. Have I linked, incidentally, to the Campaign for Real Booty? It’s a good ‘un, and I applaud Cindy LopHer for having the bright idea to run with it.

Anyhow. In her intro post, she makes some excellent and true statements about body image and roller derby and all that, so I won’t repeat it all.

But I will share something I’ve noticed. Derogatory words carrying implications of overweightness or gross obesity still do get used. (Normally only under extreme circumstances, to be sure, but it has happened.) But there’s a distinction, and the distinction has nothing to do with actual size. I am curious as to what extent this is true of the population at large, and how much it’s just me and my derby girls, but I suspect it’s rather widespread, given how many other FA bloggers have mentioned this sort of thing.

One of my teammates was angry with another skater, and referred to her as “Shamu”, and made a joke about her eating habits. I was shocked.
“I’m the same size as her,” I said. “Maybe bigger. I’m fat too. I don’t like it when you say things like that about fat people.”
“Honey,” said my offending teammate, “I’m almost that size too. It ain’t her size that makes me call her that, it’s that I don’t like her.”

That, in this friend’s mind, is the difference between being fat and not being fat: whether she likes you or not.

I’ve leaned on her to cut that shit out, and for the most part, we all now stick to simply rolling our eyes about people we don’t like, or explaining the ways in which they’ve proven themselves idiots, instead of insulting their physical characteristics. We are adults, after all. And it’s a lot more constructive to point out that someone’s logic is flawed than to make snide comments about her fashion sense. (Which is just generally true of debates in general, really.)

But to what extent is that true in the world at large? I hear frequently of people saying, “My friends make fun of people my size for being fat but then insist that it doesn’t apply to me. What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“Fat” has become such a loaded term, fat and its related descriptives. Fat means bad, and all the mocking names for fat people are reserved only for bad fat people.

It bothers the crap out of me, but I suppose it’s logical, in some twisted way.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that really, it’s not a good idea to do that. It’s kind of like distinguishing between, to pick something inflammatory because I can’t think of anything less objectionable so please don’t flame me (I’m not making a direct comparison here, just a rhetorical one)– say, for example, gay people and faggots. You have a lot of friends who are gay people, and they’re cool and all and you like them, but you hate faggots. The distinction between these people who share a characteristic boils down to the fact that to the ones you like, you don’t mention said characteristic, but to the ones you hate, you use it to apply a hurtful label.
Somehow, I think, your gay friends would not be particularly amused. You could clue them in on the distinction, and if they liked you well enough and understood your sense of humor and all, they might not get angry with you, but they would probably still be uncomfortable on some level.
If you don’t believe me, go back through that paragraph and substitute “black people” and “niggers”. Just try it, I’ll wait.
See what I mean?

It’s not cool.

Because what you’re doing is reinforcing the old belief that that characteristic, whether it’s sexual preference or skin color or body shape, is something that is in itself negative, and implying that you can forgive the ones who are your friends, can overlook that trait, because they themselves are such a positive presence that the negativity is balanced out.
Maybe that’s not what you mean.
But it’s in there.
And to come down to it, that’s a pretty shitty thing to imply.

Posted in body image, fat, sports, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Intuitive Eating

Posted by Kitty on July 6, 2008

Everyone goes on about how great intuitive eating is. You’ve just got to eat whatever your body tells you that you need at any given moment, man. Even if it’s weird. Because your body knows best.

I tell you what, I don’t have the time or the money to go to the grocery store thrice daily. And my body? She’s an indecisive bitch. When she wants things, it’s mostly just the mental idea of those things. The amount of crap I’ve eaten that it turns out I didn’t really want…
I’m just really not a food-focused sort of person. I love to eat, sure. I love yummy food. I also love pretty food. And sometimes I just love the idea of someone feeding me. I even just love the idea of eating whatever, sometimes. I’m not a binge eater, or compulsive at all– I have no issues with food really. I have never truly dieted, not for a long enough period to damage myself psychologically. I grew up in a household where food was healthy, homemade, reasonably plentiful, and ridiculously tasty. My mother grew much of the produce we ate, and was a frugal shopper who bought in bulk, prepared things ahead, and generally was wonderfully efficient with everything. She had a large store of recipes in her head that she’d cycle through. Pork chops and baked potatoes with lima beans. Lasagne, homemade, with home-grown tomatoes in the sauce. Fresh peas you’d shell yourself. Corn on the cob picked after the water had been put on to boil. I mean, my mom made the good shit. All the time.

I’m a decent cook. I know many of her recipes. But I don’t have her sources.

And I just don’t have the passion for it. I am not in a mental place where I can concentrate and focus that well on anything, let alone food.

So let me tell you my story of intuitive eating for today.

Three days ago I made chili. I used half of a red pepper in it, and put the other half back into the fridge in a plastic baggie.
Ever since then I have been thinking about how good that pepper would be in an omelet. Maybe with some bacon on the side. Mmm. We have a local sausage shop that smokes their own bacon and cuts it thick, and it’s the best thing in the goddamn world. It’s wonderful.
A nice big omelet with some sharp cheddar cheese and this red pepper.
I’ve thought about it so much that I want it all the time. I was lying in bed last night thinking about this omelet.

Today I decided I wanted to make it. But I got up and checked my email and a huge chunk of the roof of my social life just caved in and revealed a big gaping structural fault in the foundation. And I was sick yesterday, and in my poor state, I accidentally rammed the needle of my sewing machine through one of my fingers. I yanked it out before the shock wore off, and the bleeding stopped pretty soon, but I don’t have health insurance and don’t know when my last tetanus shot was.
Etcetera, etcetera.

I sat there with my sore finger as the dust of my personal life settled, and slowly picked myself up and went to the shower. I got in the shower and as the water poured around me, I thought of that omelet again.

And had a realization. What if I fuck it up? I obviously want this thing really badly. What if I either make it wrong, or even make it right and then get it onto the plate and it turns out I didn’t really want it?
This belief I’ve had for three days that this omelet with a red pepper in it would make me feel better will come crashing down too.
And then what will I have left?

Obviously I’m being melodramatic, but the fear is real.

Which is why it’s important to point out that the first plank in a good Health at Every Size campaign platform is Mental Health.

You have got to get your shit together, or it really won’t matter what the hell you eat.

__________________
For the record, my boyfriend showed up and decided to make brunch. “Hey, we have this red pepper– could I use it in an omelet?” “… By all means,” I answered. “But is it OK if I don’t help make brunch?” “Sure,” he said. “I think I can handle making an omelet.”
This is why I keep him. Six years this week, incidentally.

Posted in body image | 1 Comment »

awesome

Posted by Kitty on June 28, 2008

I am going through some hideous volunteer-organization-administration-related crap. (Aside: When an argument devolves into ad hominem attacks, then everyone has lost. I don’t see why this is so hard to understand.) Things have been tense. I have not had much time to make nice thinky analytical posts about much except, well, the odd reflection on factionalism and logical fallacies. (Ahem.)

But a teammate sent me the link to Subversive Cross Stitch when I mentioned that I’d completely stabbed the fuck out of my fingers trying to hand-finish a hemp-boned pair of bodies. (I am going to an event where I’m expected to be in pre-Renaissance garb, and they didn’t have corsets. I have fat titties! What do I do without a bra or a corset? So I made a pre-corset “pair of bodies” instead. What a disaster that turned out to be.) “Here’s a safer needle-based hobby,” she said.

I went to the site and have been entertaining myself with fantasies of doing the “Shut Your Whore Mouth” kit and mailing it to someone I know. But I also found their Flickr photo pool of customer submissions.

And I found this one there:

Beautiful. Just beautiful.

That’s the one I want on my fridge.

(I may sincerely buy myself this kit, however. It’s advice I need frequently.)

Posted in sports | Leave a Comment »

Passing

Posted by Kitty on May 29, 2008

Yes. This is the sort of thing I’ve been trying to say.

Here’s the thing, and it’s not a thing I’ve ever been comfortable with: I pass. I have a profound amount of privilege for what I am. I’m thin, my disability is invisible, my appearance is white, and it is very very easy for me not to appear queer or genderqueer, whether I mean this to be the case or not.
It is strange to be both lucky and ashamed of that luck. It is strange to be a chameleon who never got a choice in the matter of all her choice.
[…]
Our world is filled with the tyranies of the flesh. And the discussion of that extends well into the online sphere.

“Internet bullshit” is not just on the Internet. People say things online that they’d be too polite to say in person, but that doesn’t mean they don’t think them.
I experience this quite a lot because I, like the poster I just linked to, “pass” in a lot of people’s eyes. So co-workers and acquaintances and even people I’ve come to think of as friends will occasionally let slip things that insult me, marginalize or belittle me, for things that they don’t realize I am, or things they don’t realize will hurt me.

I am queer, in that my primary determining factor in a sexual partner is not his or her genitalia, but rather the personality: I have loved women, I have loved men. But I am also monogamous, and in a long-term relationship with a man. So I am identified, by others, as “straight”. And because, while my relationship with this female body is a little ambivalent at times, and my brain is really not very female at all, I do not do anything to identify as other than female, I am easily pigeonholed as a straight female.
So people make jokes about lesbians around me (yes, really), and people make jokes about transsexuals and women trapped in men’s bodies, and people say really cruel and hurtful things about the “bi-curious”.

I am fat, in that my BMI is over 30 and I can’t fit into normal clothing. But I am hourglassy, busty, small-waisted, with the extra flesh stuffed into the Womanly Ideal parts of me. There are outfits I can’t pull off, but I have a reasonably conventional figure, slightly scaled up from the acceptable norms. Friends have become quite vehement in denying me the ‘fat’ label.

I try to use this to the advantage of my beliefs. I try to say, don’t I seem normal to you? But I am queer too, I am fat too, I don’t think someone’s genitals entirely determine their gender, and I am not a bad person. Often it is too easily dismissed– no, you’re not like them, you’re not what I was talking about. I didn’t mean you.
More often it just shuts conversation down.

Online it’s a bit different. Of course. But it’s real here, too. I am growing tired of using the word ‘privilege’ but how else to explain my odd viewpoints? Sometimes I slide by on privilege, and sometimes it is denied me– this is an odd state, this in-between. I am thoroughly aware of it. I try to use this, try to move into the circles denied those whose “unacceptable” characteristics are more obvious than mine, and try to use that to widen these circles. Am I doing more harm than good? Am I helping?
I don’t know.

Posted in inbetween, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Average Size

Posted by Kitty on May 23, 2008

I have been trying to nail down where the statistics come from in all those magazine articles that say things about the average American woman’s size. Most of the sources simply state the statistic, which is usually “Fifty percent of American women wear a size 12 or larger”, but occasionally it says “size 14” instead, with no citation given.
This SFgate article has more detailed claims than normal, and a citation of its source, so I’m going to take that and run with it: “Sixty-eight percent wear a size 12 or larger, and 52 percent wear size 14 or larger, according to Grace magazine”.

That’s my nod toward statistical accuracy. Now I’m going to dive right off into anecdotes.

I think of myself as being bigger than average. Gradually I’ve begun to realize that really, I’m not. I’m a 14/16, hourglassy, Rack of Doom balanced out by Super Ass (it only grew in recently, I’m rather proud of it after having been top-heavy for a long time), fairly heavy for my height because of speed skating muscles, pretty happy (finally!) with my appearance. And only as I’ve achieved that last thing have I been able to look rationally at my chronic fashion woes: I am not a terribly huge person. In fact, I may be… Average.
Average.

I know that every time the topic of clothes shopping comes up at roller derby practice, about half to a third of us complain that we can’t find anything that fits us in stores. Another girl and I spent all of last season looking for frilly panties to wear over our tights. (Shorts are too constricting, but skirts fly up, and if one’s ass is going to show, one should clothe it in something that makes it obvious that one expected one’s ass to show. In addition, more layers is better, and padding is double plus bonus.) She’s probably got 50 to 55-inch hips, so we’re in a similar size situation. We couldn’t find anything, and wound up trading tips on making our own. (Find men’s athletic underwear– the black spandex kind– and sew lace on using a zig-zag stitch. Then you get some thigh coverage too, which is good if you’re trying to avoid rink rash. The other girl actually sewed on rick-rack with pom-poms and made continuous cracks about her “Mexican Taxi Ass”. She rocks really hard, in case you didn’t figure that out.)

Applying statistics, that means that between 50 and 33% of the members of a group of women between 18 and 50 who spend 10 or more hours a week, for eight to ten months at a stretch (we have a brief off-season), in extremely intense physical activity, cannot find clothing to fit themselves.
A few of us are big enough to shop at the plus size stores.
But most of us aren’t, and yet… can’t shop at the regular stores either.

DOES ANYONE ELSE NOTICE A MARKET SEGMENT THAT IS NOT BEING SERVED?

I am AVERAGE SIZED. Statistics and anecdotes both seem to bear this out. AVERAGE.

So what’s my point?
“Plus size” is a bit of a misnomer, as it just means “larger than smaller than average”.
There is a gigantic collection of women for whom plus size is too big, but misses’ is too small. Because they are AVERAGE.

What is WRONG with this picture?
I don’t know, I’m not a scientist.

I’ve started making my own clothes. I’ll let you know how that works out. At the moment I’m stumped with the ‘threading the sewing machine’ part of it, but at least I’ve got the sewing machine.

Posted in body image, clothes, fat, inbetween, sports | Leave a Comment »

size doesn’t matter

Posted by Kitty on May 14, 2008

My boyfriend is a little sarcastic about my dinner-table discussion of size positivity and fat acceptance and all that.
He’s a sarcastic bastard in general, but he’s right about this.
I make fun of him for his size all the damn time.

Get your mind out of the gutter. I’m talking about his waist size.
He weighs 135 pounds. He can’t buy pants that fit, so he goes to specialty shops for the next best thing: 29 inch waist, 36-inch inseam. (He can also wear 30x34s in some brands, which you can occasionally get in straight shops, but it means he needs a belt and they ride lower than his underwear, which he dislikes.) The one pair of tailored pants he owns are tailored to a 28 and a half inch waist, with a thirty-seven inch inseam. He has very long legs and a high waist, and his lack of spare flesh means that, unusually for a man, his hipbones protrude beyond the width of his waist. His arms are likewise too long for his little body. His collarbones protrude. His knees are larger in circumference than his thighs.
People who are not used to him think he is starving. He had stomach problems in high school, and was referred to a gastroenterologist. I should explain, he had no problems with digestion, he just had mysterious tummyaches. He was eating normally, like a teenage boy– unable to sleep through the night during growth spurts, he would wake up and clean out the fridge– his mother would deliberately make too much at dinner so he’d have leftovers to eat at midnight. He ate probably three or four thousand calories a day– just like a normal teenager. But he was having stomach pains.
He walked into the gastroenterologist and the doctor actually gasped, “You shouldn’t have waited so long!” Assuming that this emaciated young man was having digestive issues and had starved for lack of medical attention. It took a few minutes to sort it out.

He isn’t starving. He isn’t anorexic. There’s nothing wrong with his intestines. But he’s six feet three, and 135 pounds. He eats more than me, most days, though I like sweet snacks more than he does, and am more cranky if I skip a meal. (He, on the other hand, likes to sit and munch through most of a bag of Chee-Tos while staring at the computer in the evening after dinner.) According to his BMI, he is one pound away from being hospitalized for anorexia. (He meets none of the other criteria, of course, but by the criteria that make me Obese with a capital O, he is Underweight, and Scarily So. He would not be allowed on a catwalk in Spain.)

I make fun of him for this all the time. I joke about his hollow leg where he puts all the food. I pinch his protruding hip-bones. I make noises like a xylophone and pretend to play songs on his protruding ribs.
I am wrong to do this. But I feel defensive, so I do it.
He is perfectly healthy. He beat me at arm wrestling last time we tried, and at regular wrestling too when that didn’t ‘take’, though I outweighed him by 70 pounds and got hours more exercise a week than him. When we move house (we’ve done this several times together) I do all the heavy lifting and he gets the door. He is stronger, for his size, than I am, but I am simply bigger than him, and 200 pounds of woman is going to be much more effective at leg-pressing a giant sofa up three flights of stairs than 135 pounds of man.

I grew up in a family with a big mother and a small father. My mother was always an impressive figure of a woman, five feet eleven inches with size eleven feet and broad shoulders and hips. My father was a small man, just six feet, narrow shoulders, narrow hips, small waist; he has never weighed more than 147 pounds. (Normally he’s 145. You can use him to calibrate your scale, most days, and his weight has been unchanged since 1965.) Several years ago my mother, through strict calorie restriction and a heightened exercise regimen, lost over 100 pounds. But even now, she still outweighs my father by at least thirty pounds. (She looks like a little old woman now, much older and frailer, but is overjoyed to finally not be “that fat woman” anymore, so I am glad for her at least. But she now has osteopenia, and I wonder how related it is to a crash diet at menopause.)

It shouldn’t bother me that my boyfriend is so much thinner than I am. That has always been normal, in my personal experience. I admit I’ve always found it a little odd when very large men take up with very small women; not that I don’t think it should happen, but that I’ve found it strange that the woman’s smallness is seen as normal or even desireable as a characteristic in itself.

But there– yesterday, it was a lovely sunny day. I did the laundry, and then went to hang it up outdoors. I have a little yard, finally, and a little clothesline, and these are things that make me happy. I grew up with clothes smelling of sunshine and grass, and in my young adult years city life has made that impossible. Now I can have it again, because I have a good living situation and a good life in general. I do count these blessings and am grateful for them. (I also have a dozen new strawberry plants. Life is joy, especially in the springtime.)

So I hung out the clothes yesterday. And there were the boxer shorts I sleep in sometimes, size XXL, white, with little penguins on them, my sister bought them for me when she worked at Old Navy. I hung them up: they’re probably twenty-two inches wide. Then I bent down and picked up the next item of clothing from the basket. A pair of the boyfriend’s boxer shorts. I hung them beside mine. Approximately half the width, but the same length, they made my shorts look comically gigantic, like cartoon bloomers. I could sail a boat with them.

I stood a moment, poleaxed by my unexpected reaction to the juxtaposition. I am a huge person. I am gigantic. How can I have been feeling so good about myself? (I was, in fact, wearing only a sports bra and a pair of jeans because I’d thrown my t-shirt into the washing machine because it was muddy from gardening, and had been inwardly smug at how nice it felt not to be worried that the neighbors might see the vast expanse of my snow-white belly which is, incidentally, more solid than normal what with all the workouts of late.) Whammo, self-esteem gone.

It took me a moment to bring myself back from it. I know I’m twice his size. I know that. I know it would kill me to weigh what he does. I also know he would look awful at my size, and the things he would have to do to reach, let alone maintain, my weight would make him miserable. We both eat a healthy diet– together. Now that I don’t care anymore, I may eat more than him, but not by much, and not most of the time (I seem to have a smaller stomach, and get full faster, despite the relative sizes of our midsections). He doesn’t make fun of me for being fat. I’m learning not to let my defensiveness make me make fun of him for being thin.

Of course his god-damned underpants are going to be smaller than mine. That is perhaps not how most people’s worlds look, but that’s how my world looks. And I like my world, I’m happier in my world. The only way this little fact of life is going to change, given that both of us are at healthy stable weights, is if I go and find myself a bigger man. And to do that, I’d have to get rid of the one I have.

Hah. Unlikely.

Posted in body image, clothes, fat | Leave a Comment »

reduction

Posted by Kitty on May 4, 2008

A post is brewing on what happened while I was in London (which is why there was no post last week), but in the meantime I wanted to address something that comes up almost ridiculously often.
Breast reductions.

Last night my team hosted a roller derby match between two other themes. Since we weren’t skating, we didn’t wear our uniforms– ‘hosting’ means that we worked the door, manned the merch table, sold raffle tickets, laid out the track, set up the chairs, and all that. Roller derby leagues are volunteer organizations, and rely heavily on the unpaid labor of their members and their members’ most devoted fans (skaters’ husbands and boyfriends, and sometimes girlfriends/partners [though girlfriends/partners tend more often to get sucked in as skaters…] are known as Derby Widows, and are the backbone of the behind-the-scenes work it takes to run an organization like this.
I know I’ve digressed. But I have a point here. Since we weren’t skating, we wore costumes instead of uniforms. We decided to dress up as ‘biker chicks’, but that means different things to different people.
I showed up in a corset I bought at a Renn Faire, and a pleather miniskirt. This corset used to fit me properly, but now when I lace it all the way closed, my boobs pretty much pop out the top.
So I wore a halter top underneath– a halter top with an integral bra. No more flesh than normal was showing, it was just in a different place.

I did get a lot of stares. I’m used to that. Our team captain wore leather chaps and underneath, spandex booty shorts with her name screenprinted; I wasn’t alone in drawing stares. (Her name also wiggled when she walked, I don’t know if she realized that. It’s unimaginably hot. I felt rather tame beside her, though I couldn’t bend over because my skirt was so short. Another tangent: one of the many phrases that used to fill me with fear which roller derby has completely stripped of terror is “Your undies might show.” Might! I bought these cute ones on purpose because I figured they WOULD!)

One of my teammates, standing next to me, surveyed the acreage of my cleavage. “So what’s your bra size now?” she asked. I had complained earlier how it had gone up, and now this corset, and all my favorite bras, now fit.
“Thirty-two J,” I said a bit glumly. “The specialty lingerie shops don’t even carry that one.”
“And you haven’t had a reduction why?” she asked.
I was shocked. I get that question sometimes, but this particular teammate is a fellow in size-positivity, a die-hard feminist of both the new and old schools, etc.
She went on in my shocked silence to mention two skaters on the league who’d had breast reductions and were happy with them.
“Because,” I said finally, working very hard not to be snippy, “while it’s inconvenient that I can’t find bras my size off the rack, I see no need to have cosmetic surgery just so I can shop in the mall. I’m not changing my body for fashion. I’ll just have to learn to sew.”
“Oh, oh,” she said, “oh no, I’d never– I’d never suggest– screw fashion! I just…. doesn’t that hurt your back?”
I’ve been skating with this woman for nearly a year now. “No more than anybody else’s,” I said. “My back is the first part to get really fatigued when I skate, but I’ve noticed a lot of smaller girls with the same problem.” The speed-skating crossover relies heavily on the muscles of your lower back to move the legs, and since you’re bent over, you have to sort of cantilever your upper body’s weight through these muscles. “It never hurts otherwise. I have great posture.”
“Huh,” she said.

It’s just assumed that if you have boobs like this, you’re going to have problems with them. Mine have grown more or less steadily since I was 12, but gradually. Being reasonably active ensures that I have no problem with the weight of them. But this blows people’s minds, and I get asked all the damn time by other women why I don’t have a reduction. I know I’ve just got to be less sensitive to the question, but it hurts every time: people see them as a problem, instead of as part of my body.

Posted in body image, clothes, fat, sports | Leave a Comment »

breaking radio silence

Posted by Kitty on April 23, 2008

Just popping in here to explain that i briefly ran away to London, for personal reasons, but while I was here, I leapt at the chance to pop into the excellent and world-renowned local bra shops for a fitting.

I’ve been looking forward to visiting one for literally years, about three years in fact– I discovered Bravissimo online about 3 years ago and it changed my life, as I have probably recounted. Since then I’ve been daydreaming about visiting one in person.

I got do to so today.
I also got to go to Rigby & Peller, a world-famous lingerie shop just off Saville Row in London, which is known for rigorous and truly professional bra fittings.

Neither of them had anything that would fit me. The R&P fitter offered to pin up the bands of too-large bras so that I could alter them at home.
$140 for a bra that still doesn’t fit.
I’m seriously considering it.

So, anyway. Am in London. Seriously depressed. Drinking in my hotel room. Will curl up under the bed and eat sock lint. I had this fantasy, that somewhere, over the sea, somewhere they stocked more bra sizes, and I would go there, and I would be revealed as normal. Or at least, socially-acceptable enough to walk into a store and buy something and walk out feeling good.

Perhaps it’s kind of a body dysmorphia. I don’t know. I’ve lived with these breasts for years, though it’s only in the last few that they’ve really grown into something unmanageable. (Well… OK… no bras have fit me since I was 13, which is 15 years ago now. But still. I was once successfully fitted into a 36E. I was 18. Things have changed since then. A lot of things.) I’ve had these breasts preceding me everywhere I go for my entire adult life. And try as I might, I just can’t see them as being that big. They’re not. They’re not that big.
Am I delusional?
I don’t know.

But. Long story short, I’m a freak. And it’s really upsetting me. So, more booze.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Exercise Addiction

Posted by Kitty on April 14, 2008

I have become addicted to exercise. I just feel creaky when I don’t do it, and I am so much happier and more full of energy on days when I have exercised. My roller derby team has a bye this month; we bouted last week, and do not have another bout until the end of May/beginning of June. So we’re regrouping, at the moment. I had planned on taking it easy this month. I was injured over the winter, and as I was trying to get myself rehabilitated, I was totally flattened with the flu and then this sinus thing. So I’ve been struggling to get back in shape. I made it for last week’s bout, and performed adequately, but did not have my reserves of stamina of yore. (Last season I was the emergency sub– I was never too tired to go in, though I wasn’t very good, so towards the end of the bout, when the more skilled girls were starting to get wheezy and shaky, then I’d sub in more and more– because I wasn’t much good, but at least I could keep moving.)
So I’ve made a goal this month: I will exercise every day, but it will be something fun. Gardening, a bike ride by the river, a walk to the ice cream parlor, a boogie skate session, etcetera.
It hasn’t at all worked out. I’m on a committee, so I keep having to go to practice to talk to people, and I wind up skating. This morning I had to meet someone at the league practice in the morning, and then had to come back eight hours later for my team’s practice.

At team practice tonight, our coach decided that among other things we would work on our conditioning. I do not think it is any great secret that our team has a bit of a fanatical bent to it when it comes to conditioning; it was widely remarked upon by our supporters and detractors alike after our first bout that our main strength was that we just kept skating really fast. (As tactics go, it’s not a very advanced one, but the thing is, it can kinda be pretty effective. If you watch our league’s bout footage, the bouts we’re in tend to be at a noticeably faster pace than the ones we’re not in. Not really a surprise: our coach is a speed skater, so he teaches what he knows, and lets us sort of figure out the rest.)

So today’s joy included… twenty-minute sprints. Basically. It was a complicated drill, but that was what it boiled down to. (You theoretically got intermittent breaks, but the ‘breaks’ were proportionally rather small.)
This morning’s practice?
Well, a bunch of the drills were practicing whips and pushes. Those mean that you give a whip to your partner, which slows you down; you therefore have to sprint to catch her and get in front of her so that she in turn can give you a whip. What’s that mean?
Oh, it means you sprint for twenty minutes, pretty much.

By the middle of tonight’s practice I felt rather like I’d been through a meat tenderizer. I was wonderfully limber, able to cross over very deeply and able to flex and bend like a yogi. But I also was almost totally unable to actually exert any power with said muscles. They were so loose they no longer contracted.
(Though I did get some compliments for my performance during the sprints, so evidently I had *some* strength left.)

It was kind of a nice feeling. Having the two workouts so widely spaced was nice too in that I wasn’t constantly burning with fatigue. I’d had a chance to re-oxygenate and all that. It was hardly painful, in the grand scheme of things.
(My cramps, incidentally, are totally gone. I don’t think any of the muscles in my body want to contract anymore. It’s nice.)

I don’t want to become a total exercise addict. I don’t want to get all weird and crazy about it. I don’t want to make a habit of this having two intense workouts a day.
Because why?
Because I don’t have time to exercise that much, and what’s worse, I don’t have time to eat enough to support that level of exercise. I have mostly stopped using Sparkpeople.com, because it’s very much about weight loss. Even when I first joined, I was a bit dismayed by the ambitious weightloss regimen the “automatic” type program (where you just gave it info and let it tell you what it thought your specific goals ought to be) projected for me. (I think it wanted me at 160 over the course of 6 months!) It let me step that back (I put down 185 over a year and it obligingly adjusted for me), and the site itself is not so specific, but it still was pervaded with references to weight loss.
Anyway.
I went there just now and entered today’s cardio. They don’t have roller derby, but they do have “rollerblading/skating”. How many minutes?
Hm… four hours… minus breaks…

According to its calculations, I burned over 2,500 calories today.

I certainly did not eat that much. I don’t know what I would have to eat to eat that much. I had a two-egg omlette with green pepper, tomato, garlic, cheese, and bacon for brunch. I had mashed potatoes and scallops for dinner. I had a big bowl of defrosted frozen blueberries with whipped cream, and a handful of chocolate chips, for dessert.
I just entered all that into SparkPeople and it barely makes it to 2000 calories once I remember to add in the glass of milk, the glass of juice, the beer and the can of pop I had today.

Calories in / Calories out is bunk, and I don’t want to be burning more than I take in. That’s a good way to fuck up your metabolism. I don’t want to make it so that my body becomes used to having to hoard energy because I don’t give it enough fuel. (Unrelated: it would be really nice if cars could be convinced to do this, however.)

I do feel really good tonight though. I’m sticking to this workout thing, I think. But I’ve got to make sure I have more foods in the house that will make me feel good to eat– not “good” as in virtuous, but good as in, not cramped or gassy, not hungry, not food-coma-y, not stuffed, not logy, not bloated. I need to pay better attention to my body, since I’ve been demanding so much of it. And I probably should take it a bit easier than I did this weekend.

I feel really good tonight.
We’ll see if I can walk tomorrow.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

pain, metaphorical and not-so

Posted by Kitty on April 2, 2008

I was working on a post about body image and perfection and body parts and things, but I’ll have to finish that up later, as something’s come up.

As a large-busted woman since my early teenage years, I’ve had a troubled and conflicted relationship with that particular area of my body. I used to deal with it by wearing ill-fitting bras and trying to ignore the whole thing. Then I got a bra fitting at the age of 18, in a department store in Glasgow, Scotland, and realized that there was nothing to be ashamed of. But then I came back to the US, where my size doesn’t exist, and spent about ten miserable years combing through the sales racks at Penney’s trying to find something, anything over DDD, and failing, and sliding back into thinking there was something wrong with me. It wasn’t until my late twenties, close to a decade after that first bra fitting, that I finally put two and two together and started looking online for British bras.
Duhhhhhh! (Imagine that sung as if by a choir of angels.) Bravissimo.com. Figleaves.com (which, shortly before my first order, opened up a US shipping warehouse and a US page with prices in dollars). Trial and error, several emails to Bravissimo’s helpful customer service, and lots and lots of money in shipping for returns later, I finally had my size. (Me: “Well, I have a 38DDD right now, and it’s about, eh, maybe three cup sizes too small and two or three back sizes too big?” Customer service: “Er, wow.”) My size was 34G.
Then I gained a little weight. But not in my ribs. Only in my tits.
Oy.

Anyway. It’s been a long and troubled relationship. I currently don’t own any bras that properly fit (I have a few 34GGs but they’re not… quite… it), after a brief span of about 8 months during which I had a beautiful and varied perfectly-fitting bra wardrobe. But at least I’m not ashamed anymore. (But oy, $70-100 bucks a pop to last me under a year? Painful.)

(Before I get to the point of this post there’s another tangent to explain back story.)
Part of the revolution in my self-confidence that spawned this finding-my-real-size and stop-being-ashamed kick was joining a women’s amateur flat-track roller derby league. I’ll certainly get into this in more depth, but we’ll just say finding a sport I loved really helped me appreciate my body, which is chubby and clumsy and I’ve never really had a good relationship with, especially not since the Oh Now I Have Huge Tits betrayal.

So I participate in this rather insane sport. (But it is a real sport, and it does have real rules, and there really is a point to all of it. For a visual explanation of in bad Uncanny Valley CGI, you can’t beat Gem City’s Intro to Roller Derby.)

I was at practice last night and the opposing jammer went sprawling right in front of me. Even if I could jump (mama don’t jump) I couldn’t jump that far– she was laid flat out, right at the track boundary, and I had nowhere to go, with no time to take a knee or something. This girl was about half my size, so as I was going down, Hindenburg-like, I was terrified of hurting her. (Opponent or no, nobody really wants to hurt anybody. I’ve hurt someone and it really sucked and I felt bad about it for oh, I still feel bad about it, but I’ll let you know when I stop.) My pelvis landed on her head, pretty well-cushioned and not too forcefully, but the full force of my landing?
WHAMMO! On the floor. Right on my boobs.
I rolled off her, and she got up and sprinted off like some kind of mutant wheeled gazelle (curse those tiny girls and their easy relationship with gravity! But their very tininess makes them easier for us women of greater size to launch, so I shouldn’t complain so much). I staggered to my feet, both arms wrapped over my chest, and skated after her. Onlookers thought I’d hurt an arm or shoulder. No, man. The impact had squashed my rack, compressed my ribcage and forced all the air out of my lungs, and I was in so much pain I couldn’t see straight. But I finished the jam! I didn’t lay out any more big hits, but at least I kept up.

My boobs are so sore. It stabs in my right one whenever I breathe. I’ve tried wearing a really supportive bra, to take the weight off, and sometimes that hurts and sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve tried wearing a less-supportive bra, and ditto. I’ve tried briefly wearing no bra, but that hurts a lot. I’m considering putting on a corset. I do own one really nice steel-boned one…

This isn’t my first breast injury, but it’s my worst. (The last time, well over a year ago, I bruised them on a front-first landing, but I wasn’t as good a skater so somehow my boobs hit, then my head whanged off the floor chin first, so I was a lot more concerned afterward about the concussion than I was about the boob bruises. Thank my mouthguard I still have all my perfect teeth. The time before that, I just got brushburns on my cleavage from using the wall to stop– I was a very new skater when that happened.)

Has anyone else ever hurt their boobs??? We talk metaphorically about them giving us pain all the time, but I’m seriously sitting here with an ice pack. I don’t even know how to tell if it’s serious.

Posted in body image, sports | Leave a Comment »