Monday, January 26, 2015

Weight. Weights. And My Body Syndrom.


Wassup my People of the Journal? Has winter treated you kindly? I am so not into this season, like you wouldn’t believe it. Too many layers of clothing, too little sunlight, too many chances to catch a cold and be miserable for weeks. Perhaps it’s because I was born in summer. Then again fall is my favorite season. A combination of summer and upcoming winter, without the snow. Perfect combo of two.

Well, adding to the dislikes of winter, I always gain a bit more weight now. Some would say it’s normal because the body stores in more to keep you warm. I guess partially is true. And also, partially is because we eat more “piggishly” during the holidays and every ounce added to our cute asses takes double the time to get rid of. And this is exactly the reason behind this blog. Why do we get rid of fat? Why do we do sports? Why do we fight for and against our bodies?

We all have our reasons for sure. I assume the primary reason is because we want to get thinner. But be aware that thinner doesn’t mean healthier. We’ll get back to that later on. Some people do it because they like to stay fit and strong and the scale doesn’t dictate their happiness. Some because they have a very sedentary life and they need to put some action in there if they don’t want to die young and crippled. Some because they suffer from different medical problems that need to be addressed through some kind of sports. Some out of pure pleasure and the rush for adrenaline. Some find in movement and sports of any kind a release valve for daily pressure. For healing old emotional wounds; getting rid of fears, phobias etc. Think someone who has endured some form of mental or physical abuse starting to practice mixed martial arts or boxing or combat training in any form. It helps teaching them to control the fear of being faced with violence. To stand their ground instead of fleeing, emotionally wounded, back to their inner protective shell. Whatever the reason, whatever you chose to do in terms of movement, it’s well done as long as it makes you feel good about who you are, the way you look and the way you feel in your own body.

My reason? Well, I have a congenital kidney malformation, meaning I was born with both my kidneys on the left side. Yeah. They are both well, one smaller, one bigger, functioning fine, only that they decided to be together. Haha. It’s all about love with me. No problem there. The only downside to my “buddies” as I call them, is that they weigh too heavily on one side so they constrict many of my movements. Therefore I cannot exercise in certain ways. I don’t even have the same flexibility on one side of the body. Usually my right side. I have a hard time working out my abbs. I can’t do certain weight lifts that involve my back, I can’t jump high too much or run all the time because it makes them “bounce”, so there is a chance they might “slide” down. Sliding, no good! My kidneys are the reason why I decided to teach my body that “it” and I can get over this weakness and stay strong and surpass the medical limits they imposed on me. And that we can do things “together”, step by step, and grow stronger and build resistance. So I always “communicate” with my kidneys and ask them permission to do some exercises. Haha. Don’t laugh! It’s true. Whenever I have to change the sets of exercises I do, especially abdominals, I try them out, and then I wait for about three days for my buddies to give me the green light. If I don’t get fever shots and lower back pain, we’re good to go, they like it and they’re fine with the exercises. I also keep a food regime where I don’t eat too salty or too many spices, almost nothing fried because they don’t like it. Never walk around either with my waist line “uncovered” because I need to keep them warm. They are quite sensitive when it’s cold. In turn, they have behaved absolutely exemplary when I had health problems, like infections of some sort, that would have otherwise gone straight to the kidneys and cause inflammations and whatnot. People with these kind of malformations are prone to infections much more than the others. Is like when you have a cold and instead of getting laryngitis, you get pneumonia right out of the first. It’s like that with me.

My other reason and this is purely medical, is that I was born with a hormonal imbalance. Namely, my testosterone level can grow up to three times its normal level. Which, as you can imagine, for a woman, is not good. A level so high, depending on the body and metabolism, can cause different malfunctions. With me, it causes an increase of muscular mass as well as massive pain during my “monthly visits”. And a higher level of libido. Haha. As my doctor says ‘”Now you know how it feels to be a man.” Pffff! I try to look at the bright side of that statement. Haha. Don’t get shy on me now. We know all this exists and it happens to many women out there, with or without my problem. And we alone know just how horribly bad those pains can be. It’s like almost giving birth every month. Gents, believe me, you think you know pain. It’s mean of me to say it, but it’s true. There were times when I was literally sitting on my head crying to be put to sleep until it was all over.

As my fellow sisters probably know, hormonal problems are not physical therefore cannot be treated through surgery or anything of the kind. The main solutions as I keep being told are birth control pills to level the estrogen to the testosterone, or have a baby. Both of them - hard to attain haha. Taking birth control pills for many years, in time, like any drug, causes a form of immunity and the body will trick you and will find new ways to go back to its natural state. So if ten years ago I would take pills for 6 months and then for another two years I would be perfectly fine, now I take them for a year and a half and I can barely make it 6 months without going all ”manly” again. No. Having a higher level of testosterone doesn’t influence my boyish attitude. That is just me haha.

At this point, when they change my treatment, my weight starts fluctuating and it takes me between two to four months to get it back to normal. It means I have to change my training regime at the gym. Usually by doing less toning and weight lifting and replacing it with more hard core cardio. This is, my main reason for going to the gym and so far, God willing, I’ve made it for two years without fail, every other day. You may think it’s a simple task to go there and just mount some machine, pull on some weights, run on the treadmill and drink some water. Well, after you’ve gone for this long your body, like a smart kid, will tell you “I know that. Not working anymore. I know that too!” I have to watch my food, monitor my weight also. People say stop letting the scale rule your life. And it’s very true. The “skinny fat” people weigh less. And if they just do cardio they will weigh even less. But if they tone it they will gain weight, yet look better. Muscle will always weigh more than fat, but muscle burns more calories than fat. So if you workout properly, you might realize you’ve “put on weight”, but in fact you feel your clothes hanging on you, or your body shifting in form. That’s a good thing.

Talking about shifting. Let’s take a look at what women were like for the past decades. Namely, what was considered an attractive woman back in the 40’ or 50’ up and notice the difference.  
The 40's

The 50s

The 60s

The 70s

The 80s

The 90s

It's true, all these pictures illustrate fashion models. Regardless, you can see with the naked eye how the woman has become thinner throughout the decades, leading to our current beauty icon of usually skin and bones. Personally, I can't say I’m a fan of a certain image of the woman, but I have to admit I am into a plumper, fuller kind of body shape. It's not that I stick to my "own body type" to justify not being up-to-date skinny. The thing is that I have been very, very skinny back when I was doing ballet; so much that my head master at school used to call me “the thread girl: with no ass and no boobs”. And it was very true. At 5 feet 7 (meaning 1,70m which is also my height now as well as when I was 14) I was weighing 48 kg (105 lbs). If the wind blew any harder, it would have swept me off my feet on the street. When I was stretching, you’d think I had to pair of breasts: one was the actual -0 cup size breasts, the other, my pointy ribs sticking out. And I still thought I was fat! (Slap! Slap!). But that was ballet and those were the requirements. Incredibly so haha I was eating like a pig back then, but being so much younger, my metabolism was higher, plus I trained like 4 to 6 hours a day.

After I went to college and stopped pretty much all physical activity, I gained all the weight that I was missing. Nothing fitted me anymore. I was in total crisis and depression. Then, little by little, as I also mentally developed (haha) I realized that my more mature way of thinking couldn’t and didn’t fit that skinny ass body anymore. Last year in October, after learning the news on my Grandpa being so gravely sick, I lost weight with sleepless nights and I went down to 59 kg (130 lbs). And man, I didn’t like what I was seeing in the mirror. A flat, tall, lean but sort of dry, tasteless body. I went back to 61 kg soon (which is my range about now – 134 lbs) and I am happy. I can’t go to aerobics class. Because I can’t make it from work at certain hours. Because I don’t have the patience to learn all those schemes they do and also battle for territory with 30 other people in an overcrowded sweaty hot class. Plus my kidneys can’t take that kind of cardio or intense movements. They need rest in between. And I have a bad right knee (meniscus comes out now and again haha) and ankle (broken about three times) which also need to be minded for. They are little bitches. Suddenly, they can hurt and bye bye working out for a few days. Ballet does that.

So I pull iron as they say. With the big boys. Now this is funny. When you go to the gym, you see most girls do cardio and rarely venture among the weight lifters. So when little old me started doing this, first they looked at me suspiciously. You know, going through all the phases of mocking me, flirting with me, ignoring me, trying to communicate with me and failing at it miserably haha. Eventually, they figured, I wasn’t there to find “friends with benefits” haha, nor to spend time flirting – I have so little time anyway to indulge in stupid games! – or show my ass when I workout (very important!!! Sometimes I think this is an underground culture at the gym for some girls!) So they started teaching me stuff. As they say “I earned their respect” haha. Soon enough, they started taking pride in me doing heavier lifting, more complex exercises. I have a couple of workout mates there who are my pride and joy. They give me strength, assist me with the exercises, teach me new things and advise me when I go wrong. I’m happy to be one of the guys now haha.

It’s not the same with the girls. Some see me as a show off because of my workout routine, as they watch me sweat my ass off from the treadmills where they spend hours. Some try to copy me. Some (very funny!) look at me with some sort of envy when I talk to the guys. And I mean my guys not all the men in there! – because otherwise I keep very silent and to myself (which makes me look even more like a bitch haha) It’s just very easy to give the wrong impression to people and I’m not there to bond and socialize. I’m there to workout. The thing is, most girls fear lifting weights. They think is going to make them bulky. Not true. Not true at all! It’s true, the muscles are better defined and they become a bit visible once you start toning, but if you do the right lifting and reps per exercise, you won’t become a body builder. You’ll just become stronger. I love the feeling! I can’t explain it. It gives me energy; it fits who I am now. A more cerebral, spinal, level headed woman than the young lady I was ten years ago. I believe the way I look now shows my mental attitude. The way I see it, with my ongoing smiling and joking attitude, if I were very skinny looking, many people would find it hard to take me seriously. For me, the way I look, the way I present myself from a body perspective balances my “happy” attitude and adds “weight” to my personality. Haha. If you know what I mean (plus I have a few colleagues here telling me and I quote “I’m losing my ass when I get too skinny!” hahaha. These remarks must be appreciated at their true value haha).

Now it’s time for my judgmental paragraph. And that’s only because I feel I’m entitled to it considering that at my 32 years I don’t do sports for pleasure anymore. More like a stress release and also due to medical issues. Let’s start with the “mean” judgment. I disagree with those people who, suffering from no medical condition, simply allow themselves to get dangerously overweight and never do anything about it, but complain about having strokes or heart attacks at the age of 30. As well as those who are highly overweight because of a combination of reasons and when they are offered assistance they dread working hard for it, literally enslaving their families to help them move around, clean themselves etc. I have seen some very unfortunate cases on TV. That’s not ok to be selfish this way. Plus some medical interventions cannot be performed on the morbidly obese unless they drop to a certain weight, only diet and a tiny amount of exercise can do. But they don’t do it. No one’s fault there. Also, I can't believe some women, even though naturally skinny, continue losing weight to fit the "fashion model" picture, instead of strengthening their bodies. And then you wonder why some faint in the gym. 

On the other hand, I admire those who do something for their health and well being. Those who acknowledge they’ve got overboard, they seek help and then they do everything in their power to help themselves. I admire those who love themselves for who they are. Just because I know how hard it is sometimes. Society or our own standards of social acceptance and beauty make life really hard. Not all people are born skinny, not all people can become skinny even after heavy workouts because it’s not in their nature and their bodies want to be the way they have naturally been programmed. Which is fine. Some people suffering from medical conditions cannot control their weight as much as they’d want to. My respect for your efforts! You understand that movement is not about the body on the outside but about being healthy on the inside. God knows I fall prey to my own deceptions about how my body should look like. I know for sure I never want to be that skinny again. But I also want skinnier legs or a flatt belly (never gonna happen haha). Sometimes I get them, sometimes I don’t. But who cares as long as when I look in the mirror I find the woman I like? Men. They care right? Hmm. I don’t think I remember a man taking me to bed ever worrying about my non-flat belly hahaha. I mean when you’re naked (or at the beach – for some no difference if you’re going nude haha), that’s the time we fear the most, with our bodies submitted to scrutiny. It’s all in the attitude ladies. After all, we’re basically a bit of an animal. We spread the pheromones around and other people pick up on them. If you are too aware of your “defects” they will be more visible to others. Be aware of them, but know they are something that is part of you, not a flaw and people will be blind to them. Instead they will focus on what’s really important. Your beautiful face, your eyes, your attitude, you’re awesome sense of humor.

Well, time to wrap this one up. I hope I made my point. Gym, any form of sports, don’t mean competition. Unless you choose to be in one. You are where you are because you want to improve something about yourself. Not change. Improve. Improving your health, your body, your level of acceptance towards yourself. Self-confidence does everything. And believe me, if I haven’t reiterated this enough, I know just how hard it is to like yourself, especially when perhaps other areas in your life don’t work out either. Problems with your boyfriend, too much stress at work, an argument with a good friend, sick family members, plans that don’t seem to come around the way you have planned them. And then you come home and look in the mirror and think all your dieting and hard work hasn’t gotten you anywhere either. So you take a piece of chocolate (that’s why I never keep sweets at home hahaha). Well, think that if you get a call the following day from your man asking you out to make up, your boss is out on a business trip and your best friend sends you a nice email, that, on top of finding out your keen is feeling much better, suddenly you’ll feel like you’re not as unfit as you thought yesterday. That there is nothing that you can’t go out there and adjust, in your own sweet time. And no regrets over the chocolate ok? When it is needed, it is needed haha.

I hope you guys stay strong and motivated in all your decisions. Know that we all start somewhere and we are all shy about our first attempts to try something new. Going to the gym, jogging and so on. The idea is to start and not let go. Find people who are into it because of the same reasons you are. People who support you, who will be happy for every small achievement. This is not about performance; it is about progress. Stay away from people who try to make you feel like you are not where they are, that somehow they’re doing something better than you. Exchange information because you want to learn something new, not to make comparisons. Don’t be afraid to try new things within the limits of your capability. Do not ignore your body! It’s your best friend and the most intelligent (and cunning!) trainer. Push when you believe you can and don’t let it tell you that pain means to stop. But if you understand your aliments and weaknesses properly, you’ll understand what truly hurts and needs to be readjusted (don’t get stubborn just to prove yourself you can. You’ll only hurt yourself!) and when your body is trying to trick you because you’re stepping outside the comfort zone.

Be who you need to be and look the way you want to look.
Your body. Your rules. Keep them both healthy!


PS: By the way, today is gym day again. Haha I need more cardio in my life and I am not necessarily happy about it. Oh well…

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