Today’s Read: Our Bodies and Movement

How’s your relationship with body movement? Let’s chat in the comments!

This piece (“7 Ways to Heal Your Relationship with Exercise and Movement” by Louise Green) brings up a lot of stuff for me, and I have a feeling I’m not even close to alone. Can you relate?

First, my painful relationship with movement starts all the way back in elementary school. I distinctly remember hating gym class in the second grade. It wasn’t because I hated moving. It was because the cool, rich, mean kids dominated the class and had a lot to say about me and my body all the way back then. Everything from my hair to my skin was bad. Ah, racism. Even at age seven. It didn’t help that I started my period two years later, and the boobs came in long before anyone else’s did. I went from undesirable to undesirable freak. Fun times.

Second, I BADLY want to develop a course about all-or-nothing/binary thinking. Despite teaching critical thinking for two decades, most of my self-perception operates on binary thinking.

Third, working on body image, my relationship with my body, and my trauma about movement are all things I’m working on in therapy and have been working on for some time. But it took finding my current therapist to start. My first therapist’s attitude toward me and exercise was that I simply needed to get over it and do it. Not helpful. (She was also unable to see beyond her thin privilege. This is why it’s important to remember not all therapists are a good fit for you, but that’s a post for another day.)

Fourth, I’m listening to Billie Eilish’s new album, and I’m wiggling in my chair, which goes to show there is joy in movement.

Fifth, and this is the truly scary one for me . . . I’m starting personal training on August 3rd. This is the first time I’ve attempted movement in front of another person who doesn’t live with me in years. I’m scared and nervous, but I’m hoping my perspective has truly shifted enough to get me going.

Last, that perspective is this: I want to see what my body can do. There’s a lot of fear, anxiety, and doubt attached to that, but you’re coming with me on this, so stay tuned.

How to Rethink Body Movement

Exercise is body movement. Our bodies need not conform to the fitness industry or diet culture. We can keep it simple:

  • Dance: Nothing formal. Put on that song that makes you move, and move to it even if you’re sitting. My choice: Area by Magnus the Magnus from the iPhone ad.
  • Wiggle: Sometimes, I just wiggle like the Shaq gif.
  • Wave: My friend moves in waves, and it’s beautiful. I had an anxiety attack the other night, got out of bed, sat on my ottoman, and just moved my arms in a Michelle-inspired way.
  • Stretch: I don’t mean follow that list of stretches trainers show you. Hell, even those graphics are centered on fit White dudes. I mean stretch whatever part of your body feels tight.
  • Rest: Maybe your body needs rest over movement. We undervalue rest.

How will you move when you’re ready? Let me know in the comments!

Ten Myths and Rants about Exercise

If you’ve ever been frustrated with exercise, it might be because the fitness and diet industries are full of shit. Here’s my take. You might identify with some of this or think of additional myths. Share your thoughts in the comments!

Myth 1: Exercise is easy.

It fucking isn’t. Y’all don’t get to say, “No pain, no gain,” then tell me it’s easy.

Myth 2: If it’s not easy at first, it gets easier.

So, it’s easy, but it’s not, but it gets easier. But it doesn’t. Like . . . I see people in incredible shape making pained faces as they work out. They look like they’re in agony. That’s easier? If it’s still agony for the fittest of people, HOW DO YOU THINK IT FEELS FOR EVERYONE ELSE?

I love that this the source of this links to a body building website. You’re not helping your own cause. Source: https://gph.is/g/4DA8Gxn

Myth 3: You’ll find the right exercise for you.

Do tell. I’ve tried walking, water jogging, running, treadmills, weight lifting, yoga, ellipticals, team sports, bowling, body weight exercises, yard work, house cleaning, dance, and physical therapy. Everything else feels too much for my body. I’ve yet to find anything I enjoy enough to do regularly. But I’m sure you have solutions.

Myth 4: You just need discipline.

I taught as many as eight college courses at one time, but six was my usual. I have three college degrees and a graduate certificate. I raised my credit score hundreds of points over several years. I’ve self-taught marketing, most social media platforms, and investing. I tracked my calories almost every day for ten years. Yeah. Discipline is my problem.

Source: https://gph.is/g/EqPgAR4

Myth 5: Walking is the easiest exercise.

No. It’s not. First of all, if you have a disability, WALKING MIGHT NOT BE AN OPTION. Second of all, there’s a foot condition that runs in my dad’s family that makes longer walks excruciating. We don’t know what it is. But guess what? I won that lottery! Mine kicked in way younger than anyone else. Walking hurts. I know. I’ve tried. A lot. It takes me several months, the perfect shoes, and a lot of patience to get to a painless walk. And then there’s the anxiety of walking in public as a Brown, fat woman. And the anxiety of walking alone. Just stop.

Myth 6: No pain, no gain.

I’m getting mixed messages here. But beyond that, people started telling me in my 30s that exercise shouldn’t hurt, SO WHICH IS IT?!

Myth 7: If exercise hurts, see your doctor.

lolololol! Yeah, I’ve done that too. The fatphobic medical industry has three solutions: meds, more exercise, and shrugging.

Source: GIS for “doctor shrug”

Myth 8: No one at the gym is judging you.

Bullshit. No one at the gym is judging you to your face. I’ve seen the looks. When I was running at a local Y, there was a window between the walking track and the weight room (why). You better believe I caught people staring at me. I know that quick look away means.

Myth 9: You’re just not trying hard enough.

This is motivating. Thank you. My life is now changed forever.

Myth 10: You’re lazy.

This ↓

Exercise Is Easy and Other Lies

Exercise makes me cry. I don’t mean that in a funny way. I’m serious. It specifically makes me cry to think about my relationship with my body and the pain associated with moving. It’s the primary reason I sought out therapy.

Society: That’s just because you haven’t found the right thing for you yet!

People make working out sound so simple.

Society: Just move! Just go for a walk! Just 30 minutes a day! Just!

I used to do that. I used to run three days a week in my late 30s. People said it would get easier, that I’d experience a runner’s high. It never got easier. I never got the high. I always ended up with numb feet, and I wanted to sleep for the rest of the day.

Society: You should go see your doctor! That’s not normal!

Now, walking up and down my stairs brings me pain because my hip flexors–no matter how much I stretch–are always tight. Going up my stairs takes ten seconds. You want me to go through agony for 30 minutes a day like it’s no big deal?

Society: It’s because you don’t move enough! It’ll get better!

I’m not physically disabled as far as I know, yet the fitness industry seems to think we all have the same bodies that are capable of anything society deems normal. Mine isn’t geared for normal. Beyond that, I have deep, emotional and mental blocks about movement and my body, as evidenced by my intro.

Society: Oh, it’s not that bad! Maybe you’re too fat.

I remember hating physical education as far back as second grade. They wanted us to play basketball with all the other kids in the class. These are the same kids who wouldn’t hesitate to throw a ball at me because they thought it was funny. I wasn’t coordinated (I’m still not), and catching a ball caused a sudden rise of anxiety. I wasn’t athletic. I’ve never been athletic. Both of my parents were active in their younger years, and my dad still is, so I don’t know what happened to me. It always feels like a shortcoming. It always feels like a failure.

Society: Are you sure you aren’t just lazy?

So, this week, I’m going to explore body movement, exercise, working out, and some of the myths surrounding it. Because I’m tired of being treated as broken all because my body doesn’t operate the way our fatphobic society thinks it should.

Society: Geez, you’re full of excuses, aren’t you?

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