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Body image - the funcrunch files


Oct. 13th, 2012 11:08 am Body image

I took a survey for bisexual women about body image (among other things) recently, which was somewhat uncomfortable and got me thinking. In a nutshell, I accept that I really am beginning to obsess over my figure, despite my protests to the contrary since I'm neither restricting calories nor working out very vigorously or frequently. I really need to accept that I'm at a healthy weight and size and don't need to have a slimmer waist or more defined muscles.

Even my doctor said that I probably shouldn't lose any more weight, which was a wake-up call. (I went to him complaining of frequent dizziness upon standing up.) I'm drifting toward the bottom of the BMI scale for "normal" weight, but I haven't starved myself to get there. It's just very unfamiliar territory as for most of my adult life I was at least 25 pounds heavier than I am now.

I didn't lose the weight to try to make myself more attractive to the opposite (or same) sex. I had more regular sex partners at 150+ pounds than I do now at ~116 pounds. The local poly community is very size-positive, and even speaking positively about losing weight risks being called out for "fat-shaming". But it's not really any of my business what anyone else weighs, unless they are a loved one or a friend who asks me for health advice. This is about me, and my distorted image of my figure which persists regardless of what any friends, lovers, or strangers have to say about it.

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Comments:

From:inflectionpoint
Date:October 13th, 2012 07:20 pm (UTC)
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I am surprised that you don't think of yourself as exercising vigorously or frequently. I believe you are running close to 75 miles a month or more!

That is frequent and commendable! </p>

Self perception is tricky stuff, and I also struggle with it in other areas.

I know one marathoner who deliberately adds extra calories to her diet to maintain weight, could you try something like that? She is not going to stop running, but she doesn't want to lose any more.

From:funcrunch
Date:October 13th, 2012 07:25 pm (UTC)
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Thanks. My mileage is actually well over that but has been dropping: 115 in July, 92 in each of August and September. I'm more interested in quality workouts than total miles; I only ran twice this week, and both runs were quite slow (I've been feeling depressed and fatigued in addition to the dizzy spells).

I never count calories, but I am being more liberal with eating calorie-dense foods like nuts and nut butters.
From:plymouth
Date:October 13th, 2012 07:36 pm (UTC)
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The local poly community is very size-positive, and even speaking positively about losing weight risks being called out for "fat-shaming".

This has always really bothered me because it doesn't feel like "size" positive - it feels like FAT positive. Like, if you say "I lost 20 pounds and now I feel more energetic!" that's not anti-fat - it's pro-YOU. The truth is it takes more energy to move more body - that's simple physics. So if you lose weight and feel better that makes sense. If you increase physical activity and don't lose weight you can ALSO feel better because of better muscle tone and cardiovascular health. And if you lose weight by restricting calories and sitting around doing nothing you probably won't feel energetic. So obviously isn't a 1:1 weight:feelgood correlation. But there also isn't NO correlation.

For me I feel like I have a comfortable weight range around 150-165lbs. Last time I got below 150 I started to feel whispy and insubstantial. But now at 194 I feel like there's a lot of extra effort to move. I'm doing it anyway. I'm trying to work my way up to being able to bike 100mi in a day. I do wonder if I'll end up still weighing the same when I get to the end of that goal.
From:inflectionpoint
Date:October 13th, 2012 08:10 pm (UTC)
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I have encountered this as well and I don't enjoy it. I am small. I am getting smaller. As strength to mass improves, I can do more and cooler stuff.

I often encounter a level of thin hate that find troubling.
From:funcrunch
Date:October 13th, 2012 08:14 pm (UTC)
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I originally wrote "fat-positive" rather than "size-positive" because that is indeed how I see it. I am all for being respectful to everyone regardless of their weight, but beyond a certain point there are negative physical consequences to carrying a lot of extra fat on your body and that shouldn't be ignored.

Being able to complete a century ride would be an awesome accomplishment regardless of your weight!
From:plymouth
Date:October 13th, 2012 08:23 pm (UTC)
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Being able to complete a century ride would be an awesome accomplishment regardless of your weight!

Indeed! I've never been able to get into running but I love biking and I figure century:biking::marathon:running (at least to some approximation). I did 40mi last weekend. I was going to try to do 45mi this weekend but I woke up feeling stuffy and sore-throat so I'm figuring I probably shouldn't push myself too hard. Maybe do 20mi today and try to work in 45mi next weekend. Not sure!
From:funcrunch
Date:October 13th, 2012 08:35 pm (UTC)
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I've read that a double century for cyclists might be considered equivalent to a marathon for runners, but I'm sure terrain would play a large part in how much effort is required. It would be a great achievement regardless.
From:plymouth
Date:October 13th, 2012 08:43 pm (UTC)
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In terms of both typical speeds and calories burned the ratios between running and cycling are in the 3-4 range so I have a hard time believing the overall effort rates a ratio of 7-8.
From:funcrunch
Date:October 13th, 2012 08:48 pm (UTC)
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I don't bike at all so I can't speak from personal experience. Only from what I've read, it sounds like the culture and flow of a century ride might be different from a typical marathon - more and longer stops in the former, plus the ability to draft off other cyclists - and that might make the relative difficulty factor greater than what the raw numbers would indicate. But again I haven't even mounted my own bicycle in over nine years, so I can't speak from personal experience.

ETA: Of course now re-reading I see I shouldn't have assumed you wanted to enter a formal century ride just because you have a goal of cycling 100 miles in a day. Doing the 100 miles on your own, unsupported, would be an even more impressive effort.

Edited at 2012-10-13 08:50 pm (UTC)
From:(Anonymous)
Date:October 15th, 2012 11:43 pm (UTC)
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Interesting post. As a man, body image affects me differently, so I usually don't comment. It's tricky ground, where weight and body composition are very much health issues, but can get seriously entangled in psychological issues as well. Even in endurance sports, onne runs into that same obsessiveness in trying to "lean out" and get the best power to weight ratio. Lighter is faster, almost 100% of the the time. Congratulations on reaching your goal weight!
From:funcrunch
Date:October 16th, 2012 04:29 am (UTC)
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Thanks for the comments and the congrats!