Sunday, December 1, 2013

Marathon Training : Week 97 : Weight Loss

Other marathon training posts...

Yesterday, the strangest thing happened to me. Three people commented on my weight loss. The first was hugging me and exclaimed, "Girl, what has happened, you've lost weight," as she stepped back to look at me. The other two were just general comments in the initial greeting. One of the commenters is an acquaintance whom I see only at craft shows. It's not like it's news. A week or so ago, I posted a photo on Instagram of my body beneath my head, because I looked in the mirror and was astonished at what I saw. It prompted me to step on the scale and I realized, I've lost about 34 pounds.

Ok, the thing is, I didn't start running to lose weight. When I first started running, I received lots and lots of comments about how great it would be for me to lose weight through running. I was always pretty offended by those comments. I didn't feel like I needed to lose weight. Was I fat? Yes. Did I care? No. Did I start running to lose weight? Definitely not. I started running because...because I'm too old to be an astronaut and I'm never going to go sky diving so running a marathon felt like a really big deal that I could train for and accomplish. That is the beginning and end of it.

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But it's funny how often the talk about running has centered around my weight, and I just don't understand why. And then three different people, on the same day, make surprised exclamations about my weight. Like damn, was I so fat before that you never brought it up but thought I needed to change it? Because I was comfortable with my body before I started running and I'm comfortable with it now. Before I started running, I would've described myself as fit. I could go swing dancing for 36 hours over the course of a weekend and not feel worn out by it. I didn't feel like my diet needed to change because I didn't feel like there was anything wrong with me. I know all the factors for health (cholesterol, blood pressure, bone density) were perfectly awesome, the only factor that wasn't great was my weight.

But even now, I'm considered obese by American standards. And even at my current size, there are some stores where I can't shop. I still have love handles. I've lost some pudge, but I've still got plenty of padding. And my health is fantastic. My diet hasn't changed much, though I've found that I can't eat as much as I used to...meaning I can't seem to finish a burger and fries at my favorite burger joint. My body feels awesome, and I do love what it can do...I am definitely more fit than I was, but only because of my intense training. What I'm saying is, I don't actually feel all that different.

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But now I have this weight loss, and I'm not sure how I feel about it. What I do know is, it's none of your fucking business. Having people comment on my body size and shape feels really, really invasive. This is my actual person, and I just don't think it's up for commentary. This weight loss and the commentary on it have solidified even more my stance on not commenting on a person's body. Because to me, the comments felt just awkward and intrusive. (Even though I know the people making the comments did not intend that at all.) I don't mind that I'm skinnier, but I also didn't mind when I was fat. I was raised to feel ashamed of my body and it took YEARS to overcome that, and this just feels like more of the same. I am so TIRED of how much we talk about weight and body shape and size. It's not ok with me. And while people seem to think I should congratulate myself for losing weight, what I really want to be congratulated on is how I've stuck to training for nearly two years.

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When I run the marathon in January, and when I finish it, it will have been two years since I started running. On my first run, I couldn't even finish a mile. It took me MONTHS to complete three miles and my first race was a 5K. Now, I can consistently run, at a great pace, ten miles. I can complete a 12-15 mile run. And I've even conquered an 18-mile run. THIS is what I think is appropriate for commentary. I want people to make exclamations about my dedication, my perseverance, my improved pacing on shorter distances, and my conquering of longer distances. I want to talk about how much stronger my legs feel and how much easier it is to engage in fast-paced activity. I don't want to talk about my weight. Because that's not really important to me at all, and I just don't feel like my body size or shape is something that should be open for discussion.

2 comments:

  1. Okay, I sort of identify with this, but I only take it negatively sometimes and from certain people: like my parents. They always comment on my weight, whether I lose or gain, and I know they don't mean to be mean, it's just how they are. They are kind of culturally retarded still after living in America for over 40 years. And they don't know many other ways to relate to me besides commenting on external things and asking me if I've eaten or buying me food- which I do appreciate most of the time, by the way. I guess people, because of the popular culture, think that they are giving you a compliment, as you already know. I think you're running is a GREAT ACCOMPLISHMENT. I've seen people of all sorts of sizes and physical abilities, including myself- not a size 2 or 4 "petite"\short person- train themselves to do challenging things like run marathons. Keep going, and I also hate to tell you, you will probably lose more weight just by the fact that you are moving much more and burning more calories than you did before you started training\running. What marathon are you running? When I go to Ohio I want to run the Cleveland Marathon and Flying Pigs Marathon some day. Actually, I've been looking online and seeing when we might visit my husband's family to see if it coincides with any future races. I'm obsessed! -Jess L

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    1. Thanks girl! I know it's cultural conditioning, but I also know I need to be a voice of dissension about this and get my thoughts out!

      I'm going to run the Roadrunner Marathon in Akron next year. It's in September. COME OUT FOR THAT! I live a block from part of the route. I could show you my neighborhood! I've heard Cleveland has an awesome vibe to it. Also, the Gay Games are happening here in 2014, and they have races. You should definitely participate, because it's such a massively important event. And finally, I suggest the Towpath Marathon, probably one of the most beautiful marathons out there!

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