“So Sarah,” you might say as you crawl around this blog, “a couple of times you’ve talked about ‘fitness sites/mags/whatev’ and ‘thinness sites/mags/whatev’ like they’re two different things and also like ‘thinness sites/mags/whatev’ are bad. WTF are you talking about? They’re the same thing, right?”

Uh, no. No, they aren’t. But you do raise an interesting and, to be perfectly honest, disturbing point: because of the way fitness programs and diet plans and workout gadgets are marketed nowadays and because the “thin=fit” mentality has been so relentlessly been drummed  into our collective heads thanks to books like Skinny Bitch (which I freely admit to pirating for the purposes of seeing what kind of stupid shit the thinness industry is pushing these days, no way in Hell am I going to send a single red cent towards the pockets of the utterly clueless people responsible for that book) and TV shows like The Biggest Loser (if you think for one second that the  “trainers” on that show care one bit about helping their contestants become healthier, you might want to read this), you wouldn’t know that they’re not actually necessarily synonymous.

So how can you tell the difference between someone pushing thinness and someone pushing fitness?

Pick up a “fitness” magazine or book and look at the cover. Or pick a “fitness” website and glance at the index page.

(Spoiler: if it’s geared towards women, there is a 99% chance that it’s a thinness mag/site/etc., sry2say. If by chance you have found one of the 1% that actually pushes fitness, please link me to it.)

Do you see any of the following:

  • A blurb promising exercise routines to whittle x inches off your waist/butt/thighs/ankles/whateverthehell in some ridiculously short timeframe
  • A blurb to the effect of “Lose x pounds in y days!” for values of x > 10 and y < 30
  • The words “skinny,” “lean,” “thin,” or “bikini-ready” preceded by some variation on “get your [insert body part here]”
  • A cover model (almost always female) with a tape measure around her waist and a jubilant expression on her face
  • A  cover model (almost always female) with a concave stomach, thin legs,  and no visible muscle anywhere
  • A blurb to the effect of “eat this to burn fat” or “never eat this diet-wrecking food” or some such thing
  • A blurb implying that losing weight, by itself, will automatically improve performance in some athletic activity I am looking at you, Runner’s World and I can tell you from personal experience that no, this is not fucking well true oh I said I wasn’t going to say “fuck” in this post didn’t I, oh well

If none of these things appear on the cover, you might have an actual fitness magazine in your hands! Congratulations! Now open that sucker up.

Does it contain any of the following?

  • Ads for diet pills of dubious composition (i.e. stimulants and diuretics)
  • Even one warning to women to lift light (< 15 pounds) weights to avoid “bulking up”
  • Emphasis on aesthetic results rather than athletic results–look for verbiage like “do this routine to sculpt your butt/tighten your arms/whittle your waist” as opposed to “do this routine to make your [whatever] stronger”
  • Warnings that “even one latte/cookie/Hershey’s Kiss can undo ALL of your hard work” (no. no, it can’t. One latte every day, maybe. One latte a month or even a week, no. Again, trust me on this one)
  • Any suggestion that the desired result of an exercise program should be “to fit into those skinny jeans/that bikini/that little black dress” or other such language suggesting that fitting into the conventional beauty standard, not being able to run a 5K, bike 50 miles, lift things that weigh more than you do,  etc. etc. should be your “fitness” goal
  • Listing all the dangerous health issues linked to being overweight but ignoring the equally if not more dangerous health issues linked to being underweight
  • Any article in which BMI (as measured by plugging your height and weight and no other variable into a formula) is treated as a reliable measure of overall health
  • Articles illustrated by photos of people who are all pretty much the same body type (women: tall, long-haired, thin with little or no visible muscle aside from the occasional faint six-pack, boobs between B and C, tight perky butts, conventionally attractive faces; men: tall, muscular but not too muscular, conventionally attractive faces)–no, it doesn’t count as  representation of diverse body types if the only deviations from the standard you see are a) size 10s sadfacing at their scales or b) Headless Fatties
  • If it’s an Intarweb thing where audience participation is allowed, how is fat hate handled by the admins? Is it handled at all? Is “I bet you’re fat” considered an acceptable response to criticism of an article? Is “and you’re proud of that?” or “great but you still need to lose x pounds because BMI” considered an acceptable response to an “overweight” person who has lost less weight than the commenter thinks they should–especially if that person has met or exceeded other actual fitness-related goals? FitSugar I am looking at you.
  • If it’s a forum, or has one: how are pro-ana posts handled? Are they handled at all? What about “thinspiration” threads? If someone who claims to be eating 500 calories a day posts to ask how they can lose more weight, how is that handled? Are people encouraged, explicitly or implicitly, to criticize other peoples’ bodies (i.e. the “OMG look at [celebrity], isn’t she fat?” post–especially when the “fat” celeb isn’t)?
  • Does it in any way shape or form, explicitly or implicitly, even once, say that fat and muscle on a woman’s body are equally unattractive?

If none of these things appear in the mag or on the site, congratulations! You have found an actual fitness resource–oh wait, there’s one more thing…

  • Does the mag/site/etc. endorse, link to, or otherwise support mags/sites/etc. that are thinness sites?

It doesn’t matter how good that source is. It does not matter how sound their advice is or how diverse their model pool is or how responsible their ad department is. If they are saying “look, here are resources that we think are good and that you should also look at” and those resources are telling women not to do too many squats because that could make their butts bigger, they are still propagating the whole goddamn “thinness = fitness” meme I have just spent way too many words bitching about.

“Okay,” you say, “so what’s the problem? I still don’t see why you talk about thinness mags and sites like they’re  a bad thing.”

I dislike thinness mags and sites that present themselves as “fitness” mags and sites for the simple reason that they are misrepresenting themselves. They are not about fitness. They are about losing weight, and they don’t much care whether that weight is fat, water, or even muscle. They present the number you see on the scale or on a tag in your pants as a measure of overall health.

This is not okay.

This is what leads to six-year-olds deciding they need to go on a diet. This is what leads to people watering their babies’ milk or formula down because they heard it was full of fat and calories.

This is what leads to a 150-pound size 6 woman who has finished one round of P90X and is halfway through a second and who can run a 10K and who bikes a 75 miles a week and who knows, logically, that she is perfectly healthy, to look at the scale and still, somewhere in the back of her head, think “ugh.” Yeah, that’d be me. Because at one time, I couldn’t tell the difference between a “thinness” resource and a “fitness” resource, and by the time I realized there was a difference I’d already internalized the bullshit they push, and that is some hard shit to uproot let me tell you Internets.

Thinness and fitness are not the same thing. I don’t care who told you they are. They’re not. Sure, a lot of fit people are thin. But not all of them. And not all thin people are fit.

They are not the same thing. And if you talk about them like they are, I’m going to judge you for it.

Spoiler: if it’s geared towards women, there is a 99% chance that it’s a thinness mag/site/etc.

Comments Comments Off on Fitness vs. Thinness: the post I’ve been meaning to make for a while

RW has been teetering towards the “thinness magazine*” side for a while now, but I’ve just kind of gone “meh” and tried to ignore it because it was still a great running mag. Now every month there’s a “how to lose lots of weight!” blurb on the cover and today’s e-mail… there were five little topics there, these were three of them. Ugh. Unsubscribed, finally.

That’s one thing I’ve been loving about P90X (got it as an early Christmas present, just started the second month, love it to little bitty bits)–they emphazise fitness and health over weight loss and tell you not to stress about the number on the scale but measure your progress by how much stronger you get and how much better your endurance is and all that.

*someday I will do a post about the difference between “fitness magazines/websites/etc.” and “thinness magazines/websites/etc,” but that will require me to be able to discuss the subject and explain why treating “thinness” like it’s synonymous with “fitness” is stupid without just typing the word “fuck” eight thousand times

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So basically, I’ve been on the bench since early July thanks to my fucking foot. The good news is, I don’t think the problem is what I originally feared it was–that being a stress fracture. The bad news is, I’m going to need new shoes before I even start running again because it seems that the shoes, those shoes I thought were so wonderful and that felt so lovely at first and that had saved my knees and shins, had all this time been wrecking my fucking foot.

If anyone has any suggestions for shoes for a heavy girl with tiny flat feet and who is a midfoot striker and who also still overpronates like hell, please do tell me; I suspect my problem may be that I’m erring on the side of too much support but at this point who th’hell even knows.

Anyway, since I’ve been unable to run, here’s what I’ve been doing:

  • Walking! blaaaaaaaaaaaaah yes I know it’s good for me but blaaaaaaaaaah
  • Biking 25-30 miles every Sunday! Yeah, I started going to a UU church about 13 miles away from home. The ride is actually not that bad. The first week I came home and just sort of fell over and went to sleep and thoroughly wrecked my sleep schedule for about the next three days; now I come home, shower, and go OK TIME FOR CHINESE FOOD and walk to the buffet.
  • EA Sports Active: More Workouts! For some reason, I played this twice after I got it and then… just sort of forgot about it. I dusted it off a few weeks ago and tried it again. Finally played with the obstacle course. Fun!
  • Various and sundry DVDs! I got this 5-Day Weight Loss video Gaiam puts out, which has these various 20-30 minute workouts on it. The next day I went through and put every Budokon video there is on my wishlist. This is yoga+martial arts, basically, and when I say “martial arts” I mean as in white belt-level shit like I remember from tae kwon do way back in the day, and it still left me a rubbery wreck by the time it was done. So, y’know, it must be doing something.

    And then there’s the 10-Minute Solution pilates DVD I scooped up at the grocery store. Word of advice to those of you who might snort and sneer at pilates: don’t. I sure as hell won’t. Not after I spent the day after my first experience with this vid with every muscle between my rib cage and pelvis going FFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUU at me every time I moved.

  • The Effing Elliptical! Yeah, I’m pretty much bored with the effing elliptical. But I still use the damn thing. Mainly because I have discovered that a Pokewalker does register “steps” taken on one.

None of which is running, which makes me unhappy.

FFS, I was supposed to be training for my first half marathon right now. Which I didn’t even bother to register for, because no way in Hell am I going to be ready for it. I didn’t even sign up for the Race for the Cure. I’m doing the Fort Bend Memory Walk with the Houston Area Ghostbusters at the end of October (shameless plug: donate $10bux, receive special purple HAGB dog tag), and we have this rookie in the franchise who keeps bragging about how he’s going to run the whole thing and then run back and meet us to walk with us before we’re even half a mile in and I kind of wanted to strangle him, why don’t you just give me a nice paper cut and rub some salt in it and rinse it off with lemon juice while you’re at it?

I’m thinking maybe sometime soon I’ll go for an easy mile or two in my trail shoes, since for some reason they never seemed to give me any grief.

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It only took me what, almost a year, but I finally ran a sub-40 5K. On dirt roads with hills, no less.

They gave out the bears at the finish line. The number on it is my place.

Soooo I’m thinking I’m not going to sign up for the Sylvan Beach Du after all. I wanted a triathlon. And they have one, but they call it a sprint and it’s… um, not.

It’s closer to Olympic distance, in fact (1K swim/18 mi. bike/ 5 mi. run) and while the run is maybe half a mile longer than my average morning run and the bike is pfffff nothing, there is no fucking way I am going to be ready for a 1000-meter open water swim in two months.  No way. So I thought about the du even though that’s not really what I wanted to, uh… do. It also doesn’t help that Sylvan Beach falls on the Sunday before I am to bug off to San Antonio with the Houston Area Ghostbusters for a comic convention and the last thing I need to be doing is shitting bricks about a big race and a big convention at the same time.

So I found another tri that actually IS a sprint. The entry fee is only $5 more than the Sylvan Beach Du, and it falls a couple of weeks after ComiCon. The problem with that one is, it’s a pool swim. Which in and of itself is awesome, but it also means that before I can even sign up I have to get my ass to a pool and see what my 300m swim time is, because I have not Clue Fucking One. And to that end I finally broke down and found a tankini top I can wear my sports bra under and got a cap and some goggles and will perhaps some day this week trudge over to the pool and see what I can do in the water.

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…or maybe not, but my 13-minute mile days are well and truly over and good fucking riddance to them.

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So where’s the “Top 10 Ways To Tell Him He’s A Shallow, Sexist Rear End in a Top Hat” article?

In less ragey news, I finally took the new bike out for a proper ride Sunday morning. It still needs some adjustment and after years and years of mountain bikes and cruisers with nice fat tires, riding a thing with tiny skinny tires makes you hyper-aware of every bump, crack, hole, and foreign object in the road, but oh man it’s nice.

There was a very strong wind blowing that morning, so I got to see how it handles in all sorts of wind conditions! With a strong tailwind, it goes fast! It cuts through a headwind like butter!

…and a strong crosswind will blow me right over if I’m not paying attention. D: As it was, I was glad I decided to take it for its first real ride on back roads, because more than once I got caught in a gust that blew me to the other side of the road.

I checked with ForecastFox after I struggled home from the grocery store on my old heavy Skyliner later with that same wind right in my face. 26MPH. No wonder it was kicking my ass.

Comments Comments Off on the worst part of waking up is rage in my cup

I finished about six minutes faster than I expected to.  Now before you go HOLY SHIT THAT IS AWESOME, bear in mind that I was told somewhere to estimate my 10K time by doubling my 5K time and adding a few minutes, and I added ten minutes on account of hills to come up with 1:30.  So, uh… yeah. That last hill going past the Aquarium kicked my ass, but then there were belly dancers at the bottom of it, so it was all good.

I ended up not wearing the Tyvek Ghostbusters uniform and instead made one out of a decent T-shirt and shorts. My disguised Camelbak worked great, except I must not have washed it out well enough before I used it because the water tasted horrible and I ended up not drinking it unless I absolutely had to and only a sip or two at that, and got most of my water from the stations.

The costume was a big hit with the other runners and the people at the water stations, but I ended up losing the contest to a pair of Oompa Loompas.

So, I survived a 10K. I did not run the whole thing, but I did run the vast majority of it. Which tells me two things:

  1. That I should have no trouble finishing a 2 mile/18 mile/5 mile duathlon in three months*, and
  2. I would not be entirely crazy to sign up for the 2011 Aramco Half Marathon

* I’m not even worried about the bike ride. That used to be my daily commute to work and back. Now it’s a trip to the mall and a side stop at the grocery store on the way home. I just need to log some more time on the road bike to  get used to the little skinny thing.

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So, I totally got revenge on Week 5 for the ass-kicking it gave me this past Sunday.

Which is good, because guess what came in the mail yesterday?

ok how do we do this…………….

lets DO this thing

lets make this shit work

where doing it man


(fun fact: repeating the last two lines of that stupid comic got me through my very first 5K)

(another fun fact: yes, Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff is a terrible, terrible, terrible webcomic; that is intentional. SBaHJ is actually the deliberately-terrible creation of another webcomic character who is basically the second coolest sonofabitch in the whole world next to his brother)

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New stuff!

The time to replace my Adrenaline GTS 9s had come. How did I know this? I knew this because around mile 1.5 of the EP5K, I realized I had sprouted a blister in a place where I had never, ever, ever, EVER gotten a blister from running before.

So after trying on a number of new and exciting shoes… I ended up with a shiny new pair of Adrenaline GTS 10s. Well, I do like the way they fit my teeny tiny narrow flat feet.

Freezin’ race!

Last week I ran a 5K in near-freezing temperatures. I had been told it would be in the 60s that day. Which it was… just, y’ know, NOT UNTIL WELL AFTER THE RACE, when I went outside to wait for my stepmom so we could go eat dinner armed with hat and gloves and jacket. “WELL, THIS IS JUST COMPLETE HORSESHIT,” I said as I went back in to change into cooler clothing.

Also I ran that race with a goodie bag hanging on my arm. I was told there would be a gear check. If there was one, I didn’t see it. Oh well.


I am running my first 10K in less than a month. In costume. AAAAAAAAAHHHHH. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH. AAAAAH.

…okay, no, although I will be walking parts of it I know I can do it, and if I can run the entirety of a 5K with a heavy bag hanging off my arm in near-freezing weather and nearly PR in spite of all that shit, I’m sure I can run/walk a 10K in a pair of Tyvek coveralls (I will hack them off at the knees if I have to) and a small hydration backpack disguised, with the lightest possible materials, as a proton pack. …yes, I am running in a Ghostbusters uniform, there’s a costume contest with a “movie theme” division, if I can’t bring home some actual race hardware I can at least gun for a costume prize, shut up.


I started week 5 of Freeway to 10K yesterday and nearly died. WTF, I thought, why is this so hard all of a sudden? And then I realized that the pace it had me on was something like a 9:30 mile, when left to my own devices I run a 12:00 mile on a good day, and there were six seven-minute intervals of my ass running a 9:30 pace. Do the math. SHIT MAN NO WONDER I WAS DYING.

Oh, I ran all the run intervals, all right. I ran every fucking second of every fucking one of them. I had to bump my walk breaks up to two minutes instead of the measly single minute they give you, but by God I ran every second of every run interval.

More new stuff!

I spent my tax refund on a new raceworthy bike! It is by no means top-of-the-line, but it’s light and fast and it fits my little short self and it will do. I rode it around a little Saturday–after fifteen or so years of riding nothing but mountain bikes and cruisers, a road bike is going to take some adjusting to.

I also spent a chunk of the remainder on a Moving Comfort Maia bra, since I’d heard good things about them.


I will say this. As an elliptical/cycling/weightlifting/other low-impact activity bra, it’s awesome. As an everyday bra, it’s PERFECT.  I had to go back and get another one just to wear as a normal bra.

As a running bra, on its own, it’s crap. Sorry. I love the bra, it’s just not worth a shit for running.


If I put it on, and then put the Enell on over it… HOLY IMMOBILIZED BOOBS, BATMAN.  Alone, neither of these bras could tame the Twin Towers. Together, THEY ARE MIGHTY VS. BOUNCE.  Sure, there’s still some jiggle, but WOW.

And finally, my position on the barefoot-vs-shod running debate!

does that about sum it up?

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Accused of starving their newborn daughter to the point of emaciation, a Bellevue couple now faces felony charges on allegations they were more worried about their infant’s appearance than her health.

And it just keeps getting worse from there.

I could go on about this being the sort of thing that’s bound to happen in a thin-obsessed society like ours, but I don’t have the spoons to deal with this bullshit today, so let me leave a thousand words’ worth of my thoughts on this whole mess:

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