Weightlifting strengthens the muscles, but it also makes you more resistant to pain. And when I carry heavy loads, I feel as if I can endure heavy loads.
When you practice Tai Chi, you practice letting go. Physically. And so over time you become more peaceful. And more adaptable.
Training the body is training the mind.
We should exercise, not because we feel bad about ourselves and our bodies, but instead simply because it’s good for us. Surely that’s reasonable? How did it all get this bad?
What I value the most is this: exercise teaches you about your body and mind. It brings relief from pain and makes moving easier. It encourages self-knowledge and reflection. It can grow your critical mind and give you perspective without feeding your judgmental impulses. It creates peace, when it’s done well, it improves confidence and subtle awareness. It is challenging to describe.
We tend to think about movement and exercise in very much a sports-centric way. But we don’t have to. We talk about healthy competition, and ignore what seems to me to be the much more prevalent issue of unhealthy competition, we talk about athletic progression and developing the human body or machine even. But movement doesn’t have to exist only in this context. We can think of movement in terms of artistic expression.
I had a chat with a dude in the gym the other day and he expressed that the beauty standard is harder for men than it is for women now, because you have to be big and muscular, but also ripped, and how that's tough because building mass while shredding are like, contradictory goals. So he basically just outlined why the whole "strong is the new skinny" thing is so hard, without touching on the real reasons that it's such bullshit. Hate the system? Don't ask more people to buy in, tear it the fuck down.
I saw a headline the other day: If I want to lose weight, does it mean I have internalized weight stigma? What they mean I imagine, is: I want to be thin, am I broken in some way? Is this yet another fucking thing I need to worry about?
What belongs to you, and what belongs to culture? We live in a weird, obsessive, toxic yet health-conscious culture. We’re constantly told we need to be thinner and there’s nothing in particular that’s wrong with believing what you’re told all the time. It can be somewhat overwhelming. It’s just that it’s pretty one-dimensional.
A long time ago, I used to avoid chocolate. Like many, it was mostly a weight-loss thing. And I was disciplined about it and all that stuff, there were months at a time when I didn’t eat any.
But after a while, I noticed by avoiding chocolate, I wasn’t losing any weight. And when I did eat it, I didn’t gain weight either. So, why? Of course, this is because what you weigh comes down to an infinitely more complex equation than plus or minus chocolate equals blah.
So then the inescapable question, the choice that remained was this: whether I include chocolate in my diet or not, it’s not a weight-based decision. It’s not about desired weight outcomes. So what then? What do I base my decisions upon? Actually it opened up a whole world of possibilities. What I eat – what we eat – if our decisions aren’t based on shame, fear, or prejudice, what then? Desire? Even that shifts. When you’re not afraid or ashamed, your desires shift too. I started to trust myself.
Do Christmas. That is all, really.
If it really was only one day of indulging, I don’t think we’d have much in the way of any serious problems surrounding Christmas. But we have a way of freaking out about the multitude of celebrations, with much food, drink, all sorts. And it causes much confusion and anxiety, for any number of reasons.
Re-posted with permission, written by the astute and articulate Shelly of Body Positive Health and Fitness:
"Can you help me lose weight and keep it off?"
Real talk: (please read to the end)
If you are going to pursue weight loss, find out what the statistics are for people to maintain that loss via your chosen method or by any method at all, not at the 8 week mark when they seem successful, but at the 3 year and 5 year mark (usually less than 5%, and that's being generous, if there are even studies that went on that long - rare). Find out how much weight loss they count as a success (usually 5kg or so). Find out how many people were even able to maintain the diet for the duration of the short study (dropout rates are usually high). If your doctor suggests weight loss, ask them for these figures as well.
I always feel too big or too small. I know that neither is ultimately true, and I have a better handle on things than I used to. But it takes a degree of dedication and patience to shift my perspective, because what I actually do have is a life-long habit of feeling like my body is the wrong shape in some regard. After a while, and somewhat fortunately, I realised the problem was not with my body, but with my perception of my body. And to dig a little deeper, the issue is not how I perceive my body in a specific sense, but how I – and we – are taught to perceive bodies in our culture.
If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know that this is nothing new. And maybe now I’m not bringing anything new to the table, only a reminder that it takes a lot of work if you’ve decided you want to single-handedly combat all the body prejudices of our modern fat-hating society. So the answer is, I think – don’t do it single-handedly.
There is no hierarchy of attractiveness. Not in any absolute sense, not outside of what we have constructed as a culture. And that construction is an illusion.
Much as I can tell, the people I have been attracted to in my life – there’s no set criteria. They have been different sizes, races and complexions, always different, and the similarities are difficult to quantify. And a gain or loss of ten pounds doesn’t change one single thing. And what people may find attractive about me, is often not what I would have expected.
But the concepts, the ideas, the suggestion that you can control how people perceive you by changing your body, the promise of becoming more attractive through behaviour, discipline, training and hard work. It’s powerful. I find myself from time to time, wishing I looked a bit different. Wanting to ‘sculpt my body’ in one way or another. One could ask – what are you going to do about it? It’s a common question. It assumes that the pursuit of a goal will result in satisfaction, or at the very least that any attempt is worthwhile. I’m not going to diet, let alone starve myself, and I enjoy training very much, but there’s this other aspect, internally – why can’t I just resist the overwhelming weight of the cultural pressure to be thinner, the pervasive prejudices of an entire civilization simply by strength of will? Whhyyyy???