Tag: Finally

The Ups and Downs of Finally Getting Fit

Slim Chance Weight: 220 pounds

Weight Lost in 2 Weeks: +2 pounds

Total Weight Lost: 33 pounds

The last two weeks have been full of ups and downs. Luckily, the ups are more exciting than the downs, though the number of irrational tears I cried might have made it seem otherwise.

The Ups

Dr. Peeke (the angelic doctor mentioned in previous chapters) has done it again: First of all, I still email her every day and she touches base with me about twice a month to make sure everything’s going well and to answer any questions I might have. That alone has been incredibly helpful.

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Around the end of December, she got an idea. Now that I’ve lost some weight, added significant activity to my life, and don’t get winded by the very idea of taking a stroll, Dr. Peeke thought it was time to up the ante. So, she asked the people at Anytime Fitness if they could hook me up with a gym membership and a trainer… for free.

Since Dr. Peeke is made of magic, the Anytime Fitness people agreed, and suddenly I have a gym membership for a year and a personal trainer who I’ll work with three time a week! For free!

First of all, I told the people at Anytime Fitness that I’d probably mention them in this column (because the whole point of this is to document my weight-loss adventure and suddenly spending days in the gym is definitely going to affect that journey). But I never need to talk about them and there’s no promotional deal going on. “Slim Chance” won’t turn into a gym commercial, I promise. Unless a gym out there wants to pay me like a million dollars. If that’s the case, I’ll happily sell out. (Sorry, Greatist.)

Anyway, I get to have a personal trainer for free! This is insanely lucky, and I still can’t believe it.

But there’s still a part of me that’s a little leery of personal training because I’ve had exceptionally bad experiences with it in the past.

I joined a big box gym when I was 19 and got a free personal training session. I’d never done anything like that and thought it would be fun—but the next hour was all my gym nightmares rolled in one.

Despite my total lack of experience and obvious not-in-shape-ness, the trainer was relentless. He didn’t listen if I asked to stop, I couldn’t sit down even for a second, and I had to beg to take a water break. After my brief sip of water, I sat down on a nearby bench, desperate to catch my breath. The trainer looked at me with such disdain—how could I commit such a sin as sitting down in the middle of a session?

By the end of the hour, I felt like I would die. Usually, after working out, even if it was really hard, I felt good. Not this time. I was filled with rage. “I’m never doing that again,” I said.

About six years later, my memory of that rage had subsided, and I decided to try training again. This time, I’d been working out consistently and wanted to jump-start my stalled weight loss. I was also experiencing a lot of knee pain and needed to up my fitness. In our first meeting, I told my trainer all the important details, especially the stuff about the knees. She nodded politely and then put me on the Stairmaster—the most knee-hurty thing on the planet!

So, when Anytime Fitness assigned Kaori Takee as my new trainer, I was determined to make this a better experience. I told her straight away that I was very out of shape, had to start slow, and that there were a lot of things I just couldn’t do yet. Of course, I’m happy to be pushed, but I’m not training to fight in the MMA, so I shouldn’t feel death’s cold grip at the end of our sessions.

Kaori listened, took notes, and started a fitness assessment. After watching me do 10 squats, she clocked all my major problems and gave me adjustments that I never would have thought of. I found out I’d been doing planks all wrong, but Kaori fixed my form without being judgmental or pushy.

During the session, she allowed me to go at my own pace. And that pace was slow. But Kaori immediately understood when I needed to stop and when I needed an extra push. In short, she’s the exact opposite of any other trainer I’ve encountered.

The Downs

Though my personal training sessions have been really good (I’ve done four so far), that doesn’t mean they aren’t hard. And they’re really hard for me. My body is basically loose Jell-O with grapes floating in it, and those grapes are my muscles. They’re in there, but there’s not much they can do when they’re surrounded by a thick layer of gelatin.

With each exercise, I’m amazed by how little my body can accomplish. During the workout, I have to fight myself from constantly thinking, “This is so sad. Why are you trying? Kaori thinks you’re an idiot. Why even bother?”

While we were doing a “dog peeing on a fire hydrant” type move, I almost burst into tears. Because I couldn’t believe that the act of simply lifting my leg was that hard. Later, I started getting dizzy (after some other innocuous-seeming move). Then, I got frustrated with getting dizzy, which led to feeling frustrated with getting frustrated, so I started to cry, which made my chest tight, which made it hard to breathe, which increased my dizziness tenfold. All of this mess over a workout!

Anyway, my mental health hasn’t been great, but everyone at the gym has been lovely. I need to get ahold of my negativity and turn it around.

Also, I gained two pounds this week. Guh. Now, my eating has been slipping a little. Nothing huge, but it’s obviously not great. And this new gym routine (about six days a week: three days of personal training for an hour, then 40 minutes of cardio the other three days in the gym) has made me incredibly tired. Like serious, my eyes and brain hurt and I have to take a nap kind of tired. That’s made me less than motivated to cook, so I’ve been relying too much on dinners of a piece of string cheese and a spoonful of peanut butter.

I know that I’ll lose these two pounds and many more. It’s a reminder that I need to stay vigilant about my eating habits. But more importantly, I need to get back to a more positive mindset. And I’m trying.

For now, when I get frustrated or worn out from doing the most basic workout, I’ll remember that it can only go up from here. I’m excited about how physically and mentally strong I’m getting. It’s all happening slowly. Very slowly. But I know I’ll get there.

Amber Petty is an L.A.-based writer and a regular contributor to Greatist. Follow along as she shares her weight-loss journey in her new bi-monthly column, Slim Chance. Take singing lessons from her via Sing a Different Tune and follow her on Instagram @ambernpetty.

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The Guys Finally Making Body Positivity a Thing for Men

We’re finally at a point where people aren’t ashamed of their stomach rolls and are celebrating their mermaid thighs. This is true body positivity. Hashtags like #effyourbeautystandards and #allbodiesaregoodbodies are wildly popular on Instagram, and there are dozens of Facebook and YouTube pages committed to celebrating “real” bodies.

But almost every single body-positive blogger, Instagrammer, and celebrity is female. It’s true that women’s bodies have historically been subjected to more scrutiny than men’s, and that has led to long-term consequences we’re still trying to correct. But men also face pressures—to be stronger, taller, more masculine—and we need to make sure the body-positive movement fights against those too.

We’ve seen the first baby steps: Major fashion blogs like Chubstr and Notoriouly Dapper provide resources and community for men of all sizes. But compared to the size of the body-positive community for women, the representation for men just isn’t there.

The most well-known body-positive bloggers—@bodyposipanda, @plankingforpizza, @yourstruelymelly—post in a universal language. Messages like “love your chub” and “every body is beautiful” apply to women and men, after all.

Still, there’s a lot of value in seeing people who look like you tackle the same challenges you’re facing in real time. It may seem silly to connect with a random person on the other side of the internet, but that’s exactly how many people find the role models they need.

We’ve seen how successful representation can be. As the movement has grown, there have been real, tangible changes in the way society and media treats women. Aerie has sworn off retouching its advertisements, and models Ashley Graham and Iskra Lawrence walk runways and land the covers of magazines without anyone batting an eye. Actresses who aren’t super skinny—Amy Schumer and Octavia Spencer come to mind—are getting interesting, complex roles in Hollywood, and more schools and parents are teaching young girls about body image from a young age.

It’s time to do this for men too. That starts by building the community from the ground up, and luckily the process has already begun. Here are four men at the root of it all—they’re actively representing different body types for men and calling for more body diversity in the media. Eventually we’ll need more people like them, but for now, following these guys is a good start.

Zach Miko

Miko signed to IMG Models’ newly minted “brawn” division in March 2016, making him the first plus-size male model to join to a major agency. He’s seven inches taller than most other male models, and he’s got a good three or four sizes on them.

Kelvin Davis

As a fashion blogger, body-positive model, and one of the brains behind the @EffYourBeautyStandards Instagram account, Davis is a busy guy. But he believes in what he’s doing: One bad shopping trip made him pledge to never apologize for his body again, and he’s encouraging other men to do the same.

Troy Solomon

Here’s a guy who has cultivated an impressive Instagram following with his style posts and, presumably, totally relatable love of tacos. Solomon isn’t shy when it comes to talking about (or showing off) his plus-size body.

Matt Joesph Diaz

On top of having a really inspiring story, Diaz writes a lot about the importance of expanding the body-positivity community. He believes it needs to be more of a priority, and obviously, we agree.

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Finally, Models Call Out Fashion Week for Promoting Disordered Eating

Leaders in the fashion industry don't like to acknowledge the pressure models are under to be thin—extremely thin. It's not just unhealthy, studies have shown it more or less promotes eating disorders. After years of mostly being silent, a growing number of models are finally calling out the fashion world.

Dozens of models, including Iskra Lawrence and Geena Rocero,
wrote an open letter to New York Fashion Week designers, demanding they "prioritize health and celebrate diversity on the runway." The models know petitions can easily fall on deaf ears, so they have a plan—an incentive—to get designers to listen.

Together, the models involved have millions of followers on social media. Designers who work to increase diversity on the runway will be recognized on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and those who don’t will be ignored. Simple as that.

Fashion Week starts February 9, and we can’t wait to see if designers listen to the message and include diverse bodies on the runway. In the meantime, go ahead and read the open letter in full below:

Dear Members of the American Fashion Industry,

As models, we care about each other’s health and wellbeing. As we look toward New York Fashion Week, we strongly urge you to prioritize health and celebrate diversity on the runway this season.

Concerns about the fashion industry’s promotion of extreme thinness are nothing new but a recent research study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders confirms that unhealthy weight control practices are a serious problem in the industry. Too often, models are being pressured to jeopardize their health and safety as a prerequisite for employment.

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental health concern and survivors often suffer irreversible damage to their health. That is why we have teamed up with the Model Alliance and the National Eating Disorders Association to address this issue.

Together, we are challenging you to make a serious commitment to promote health and diversity on the runway. Through our social media platforms, which collectively reach millions of people, we will recognize the industry leaders who step up to this challenge. Specifically, we will keep an eye out for diversity of race, size, age, and gender status, and we hope to see diversity within and across all of those categories.

No one likes the hassle or expense of increased regulations and paperwork. However, data shows that the American fashion industry has yet to prove that it is capable of following healthy practices on its own.

Now more than ever, we have an opportunity to send the message that diversity is what makes us strong. We sincerely hope that all of you—from designers and editors to agents and casting directors—will collectively harness the industry’s creative power to be forward thinking, inclusive, and do the right thing.

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