Friday, August 05, 2011

Unwanted identity

Yesterday I took a Cycle/TRX class with a very nice instructor who hasn't had me in class before. She kept checking in with me in a way that brought shame and unwanted identity screaming to the foreground. Even though I had my own cycling shoes with clips and set up my bike with no help, she kept coming over and asking, " Are you okay?" with a concerned look on her face. I tried to tell her that though I don't often take Spinning classes at that gym, I take them at the YMCA and that i was fine.

I know what she saw. I get red-faced and sweaty when I work out, and, let's face it, my body does not look like that of an experienced athlete. It makes me sad that when I see the photos from last week's triathlon, all I can see is my belly and how much larger I look than the other women in the frame.

I want my inner warrior on full view instead of obscured in a soggy red casing. Today's million-dollar question: How to reconcile this need with the need for self-acceptance that I truly believe is the only road to where I want to go.


  1. Of course that is the million dollar question, isn't it? I think we are "trained" to view ourselves with the #1 goal being to find the imperfections that may be obvious to others. If I put myself in a position to be criticized by others, it only makes sense that a defense mechanism would be to "objectively" view what others may be able to witness and ultimately use as a weapon to put me in my place. For example: See that fat? You don't belong in this race! Of course no one really thinks this way about the people we line up with at the start of a race. But when we think like this we are just stacking up the evidence that we are "less than". I think the thing we need to concentrate on it to find evidence of our being exactly what we want to be. Your evidence is that you are participating in these activities. An unfit person would not do that, time and time again. We need to stay focused on those things and when we see them right off the bat, I think others will too. Congrats on your race!!!!

  2. Oh girl, I am so with you. I had the same experience in a step class this year, though not as intensely focused as your instructor who kept checking on you. That must have sucked. At least you knew how to NAME it, and were aware, since you had Brene Brown's book in your head. I'm sure it didn't make it much easier, though.

    And on the photos--been there, too. I HATE race photos. Rarely does anyone look good in those things. And I have done the same thing--had a great race, then saw the photos a week later and went "that's what I looked like out there? oh why did I bother? who am I to think I am an athlete when I look like that?"

    We know this is BS. We know better. Speaking for myself, I don't think I'll ever be OK with my body the size it is now and see it in a race photo. I can't accept what is in the picture, because I want to be more, I want to be better. I want my outside to match my inside.

    But I CAN accept that I can run 13.1 miles at whatever size I am, I CAN accept that only a small percentage of the planet can say that, I CAN accept that I can kick ass no matter what my weight is. I can be darn proud of myself, no matter my weight, because I also know that I am working to make my body better.

    You are a triathlete!!! Even fewer people on the planet can say that. Whatever your body looks like now, doesn't take away from the fact that you are an ATHLETE.

    I think you reconcile the need to want the world to see the athlete you are on the inside with the body you project on the outside--by making your body look how YOU want it to look. You are working towards getting that body, every time you take a class or make a healthy food choice. You've been there before, you will be there again.

    In the mean time, be an athlete, and strive to let go of the rest of the BS that pulls you down. I need to do the same thing.

    Congrats on the triathlon! What an accomplishment.

  3. "I get red-faced and sweaty when I work out, and, let's face it, my body does not look like that of an experienced athlete"
    It does, you know. That instructor's stuff was her stuff. You don't have to pick it up.
    (my favourite response when people look surprised that I do endurance sport is "it's ok, I know I don't look it" with a kind yet faintly condescending smile)
    BTW race photos make everyone look terrible. I don;t know how they sell any

  4. It seems that some people who have never had a weight problem may have a preconceived ideas about those of us who are overweight.

    They may believe that we are overweight because we don't know about proper nutrition, that we don't exercise (or want to exercise) and if we do exercise that we may collapse from a heart attack.

    A friend of mine was worried that I was red from running around playing frisbee (at the time, I was about 10 or 20 pounds overweight). I told her that I'm fine and my face is always red running around in the summer.

    I would have said the same thing to a trainer, but with far less patience and much more annoyance.

  5. I get that a lot too. It sucks. Sorry that happened to you. But I'll just say I think you look strong in those photos, that's what I see when I look at them.

  6. Just catching up here... I can so relate to this and being able to name it doesn't necessarily make it any easier to get through. I can relate to where do you find the self acceptance thing too but you are WORKING on it and hopefully the cumulative effect of this consistent effort will help you feel more kindly towards yourself. I know I look at your pics and though... what an asskicker, i wish i could do that :)


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07