It’s time for a little come to Xena—I’m going back to the gym. I’m not suddenly becoming my own health troll, or giving up my individual-sized mantle against fat phobia, far from it. I don’t have a weight goal in mind or a plan to count calories, or a tape measure to chart how big I can make my biceps. And I still think that the plethora of posts I see on my Facebook and Twitter feeds about how many miles someone ran, and how shitty the weather was when they did it, and how long it took them are, in aggregate, kind of annoying. (But I’m proud of you, too, for being so uh, disciplined or something. Really. Mostly.)
Five years almost to the day when I blew out my left ACL and meniscus, and 4.5 years since I crunched something in my right knee while I waited for surgery to fix the first joint problem, I am still not one hundred percent. My child now weighs 30 pounds, a good 50th percentile status for his age—go little boy!—so holding him in the crook of my arm and climbing one, two flights of stairs is something more of a challenge for me. I’m sick of it. But the list of what I’m sick of when it comes to my body is alarmingly long:
- I’m sick of people gently suggesting I think about stomach surgery (and hello, the data just aren’t there to show it’s a good idea for most people who option it)
- I’m sick of sweating while walking quickly or up a hill
- I’m sick of feeling my knees crunch
- I’m sick of swollen ankles at the end of the day
- I’m sick of wearing 3XL and looking like a stupid version of James Gandolfini
- I’m sick of feeling sluggish and easily tired
- I’m sick of my blood pressure medicine
I also have to say, for once in a public space—or more accurately, outside of my own head—that unlike the progress I’ve made in many other areas of my life, like identifying and communicating about my feelings, getting a handle on my finances, doing the whole gender transition thing, finding my confidence as a writer, my ballooning weight has not budged one bit. And since I’m being honest, I think a big part of it has to do with a trauma history in which I learned to cope with stress from an assault with food, and then serendipitously figured out that more weight might make me less of a target (big lesson: it didn’t). It’s also been a counter-intuitive suit of armor around body dysphoria issues, because I have pretty wide hips, so a cushiony stomach and generous glutinous [sic] maximus help me feel like my pelvis is somehow masked. But living in this body this long, some things like those fragile lower joints, are starting to break down. Claiming to be pro-fat at 43 just comes with some new territory that the 27-year-old me didn’t have to face.
So, I am venturing back to the gym for walks on the treadmill and bouts with weights. I also plan to flop about with some slow laps in the pool. I recognize that these activities are undertaken by fat people all of the time, myself included. But I need to eke out some kind of progression toward better health for the sake of myself and my oh so sweet family. I’ll still laugh when people use my nickname of “Everest” instead of my actual name, but maybe it’ll come with a tablespoon less sadness on my part because I’ll be trying to look at my future without an indefinite sense of hopelessness about my fitness level. I’m certainly not telling anybody to go on a diet or start working out, and I’ll cheer on my friends who have already taken up some kind of physical regimen, but mostly this is just where I’m at right now.
The first person to tell me I’m throwing fat people under the bus. . . well, just don’t do that, okay?