Monday, January 9, 2012

Does Size Matter?

Does size matter?

Sorry guys, not what you think.. so you can stop reading!

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while.  I’m stuck in this weird limbo between so many things. I’m a big girl for my height.  I’m a slow girl for my strength.  I’m a strong girl for my genetic disorder.  I’m pretty small for the Athena class. I’m annoyingly small for my counterparts who also write about size and weight loss!   I’m big and slow for my triathlon experience!  And I’m a tiny girl (5'1) for a basketball player :). Ok I don’t play basketball, but you get the point.  Does size matter?

I’m overweight, hence the tongue in cheek blog name.  I have 30 lbs to lose to be ‘healthy’; 40 if I wanted to be competitive in triathlon; hell I have 50-60 to lose to be anywhere near triathlon champions.  Here’s the thing, I have no desire to be THAT thin.  The champion women have no boobs, sorry ladies; I’m keeping my D’s, (so maybe 50 is the number).

I’m stuck in this weird limbo.  I’m athletically past many of my friends who don’t compete, but I’m also bigger than all of them.  I can ride longer, swim faster, and well… run/walk eh? Do a triathlon, let’s go with that!  They all look at me like I’m crazy.  (Although I truly believe, unless a MEDICAL condition is an absolute no-no, you can do ANYTHING you put your mind to)!!! 

Then move onto those I work out with: I sit in my spin classes looking at these fit people; the guy in front of me today had RIPPED calves!  I mean it could have been a college level anatomy class with his legs! I am clearly the largest person in the room by 20%.  I jiggle when I spin, regardless of how ‘good’ my form is!  I look around and see toned legs, tight butts,  tiny people, and lots of muscle – for a moment it’s depressing. Then, I look at some of THEIR form.  Many are hanging on the handlebars, have their seats basically at the floor, have their handlebars set at “Harley chopper”  - um ok? How’d you get those legs? Perhaps genetics.  I wasn’t blessed with THAT gene.  Then I remember what I tell myself AND others;  “it’s NOT about other people, it’s about ME.. how am I doing, am I giving my best effort?”  - OK step it up.. push harder!   STOP comparing myself to those peeps! 

Then move on to my friends who also have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.  They also look at me like I’m crazy, but for another reason!  It is sort of in ‘awe.’ Every time I go out and do something I think of every one of them, and everyone that CANNOT do this type of activity for that matter!  I look like a speed demon.  The fact that I rode a thousand miles last summer training was just unfathomable to them.  They didn’t care that it took me 10 + hrs to do the PMC day 1, they were more impressed with me DOING 110 miles! (followed by 82 the next day)!  I am so thankful that with this disorder, I have figured out how to make my body ‘work’ without hurting it.

I keep finding people that come to my blog, some leave messages (without contact info), and say “I used to do tri’s but I hurt this or that.” I really wish they would contact me so I could tell them there are ALTERNATIVE ways!   - Anyway, the thought of being ABLE to do this is amazing, ESPECIALLY knowing what is wrong with my body!  I get so caught up in why I can’t catch my ‘normal’ friends, and completely forget this part.  It has ZERO and I mean ZERO impact on my size. Just the fact that I can move and I’m off the couch, not in much pain is amazing!  (My Zebras, I do this for you, always)!

I have reached a point where I’m not sure where I FIT.  AM I Goldilocks here?  Surely there's a 'just right' place for me!   Those that I typically work out with (outside) have surpassed me.  They can run faster, bike faster, etc.  They have moved onto longer triathlons. I feel totally bad because I have to tell them – “LOOK I’m frickin SLOW” – they don’t get it, until they take a ride with me and are like “oh, Sh!t” that’s what you meant? – then they don’t come out again.”  Or I get invited to a run where I know I’ll see them in the beginning and I know they’ll go home before I’m done.  I can’t get past the ‘feeling bad.’ I need to find a new crop of ‘slow people’! The problem is I have DISTANCE!  A 12 mile bike ride seems like a warmup.  When I go, I want 20+!!  and I LOVE the 60+ mile bike rides!

I have found a group of Athena’s and discovered that I’m “small” to them.  If they saw me in the Athena category, they would ask “are you sure you are big enough to be here?” – Do I fit in? I’ve ridiculed people for being 6’1 and 150 and registering as Athena, perhaps I should stop that!  Why are they there? OR  Maybe I don’t “fit in” with the “real athenas” Maybe I do.. I feel like one.. I identify with One.. I love the Athena in me! I know she's there!

I’ve written about amazing Athena’s, losing 100+ lbs and doing triathlons, even IRONMAN– nope that’s not me.  But do I get a pass because of the EDS? (Why SHOULD I get a pass for the disorder? Just frickin do it, right? ). 

Size is so relative, what is big, what is small? What is normal? Really, it’s about HEART! And DEDICATION!  And the friendships you develop through the sport.

If you haven’t tried a triathlon yet, please do.  I promise you, it is NOT as scary as it sounds!  And for some of you that are scared to step it up in triathlon, DO IT!  You know who you are!!  You have all the heart you need!

Am I too big? Am I Too small? Perhaps I’m just right and size does NOT MATTER!

I do know I have heart, and crap, I don’t give up, that’s for sure!

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  1. As you know we are so similar in this matter. After having 2 kids I was once again fat (categorised obese), but because of all the exercise I do chasing my kids (that neighbours oddly continually marvel at me for), I am also probably at my fittest ever. A lifetime of being annoyed at people thinking that if only I exercised more I'd be thinner, no, that makes no difference for me, not even 1/2 a pound of it. You know the amount of hatha yoga I did, yes my body shape changed/toned but not my weight - actually it went up! And I feel your point about all the other bodies in the exercise room - I saw muscles on people I didn't know existed in some high level yoga classes. At this point I want to be thinner not for me, but for my son and daughter. At 25+ pounds already gone, I am certainly still not thin and I doubt I will ever be, but I feel happier for the role model I set. I don't care that my large ass is waving up and down on the inflatables as I chase my children around and around the bouncy castles at kids parties - I know all the other 'thin' parents standing and chatting in the corner aren't physically capable of what I am, and I know my kids appreciate me for it! - guess who ;o)

  2. Your post reminds us that treating your body well is about feeling well and not how we look. Not every one can or should be doing triathlon, but many of us can and should hold our bodies to high standards when it comes to getting into shape, especially those of us with EDS.

    I also believe that many of us, no matter how much we weigh, deal with size issues. For example, I have no hips, so I can never find a pair of pant that fit. I'm a small person with very long arms, so can find a shirt that fits. My ankles are narrow, but the rest of my foot is not, so I can't find shoes that fit well. Weight is the visible component of size, but we all struggle to "fit in" and we all find ourselves "sizing" ourselves up to others...