Earlier this week a pregnant woman was booted from a gym for not sufficiently covering up her bump. Planet Fitness’s bizarro dress code strikes again! The gym manager asked her to leave since her tiny tot-tent was ever-so-slightly showing thanks to a tank top that was riding up and was therefore in violation of the company’s “no midriff” and “no string tank tops” policies. This makes sense since last month a woman was asked to cover up her “intimidating” crop top or leave, before that a Muslim woman sued when they kicked her out for refusing to remove her religious headscarf and then a teen was told that her full-coverage tank top was making other patrons “uncomfortable” and she needed to change or get out. So at least it’s not just pregnancy discrimination?
It would be so easy to laugh at Planet Fitness and their silly, strangely enforced dress codes. But, little known fact, most gyms have a dress code policy. It’s not often enforced except for extreme cases but any gym big enough to have a legal department usually has a few rules about what constitutes appropriate workout attire. And all the policies sound a little weird, frankly.
“Ooh, that looks good! Can I have a few bites?” These words sparked the one and only time in my marriage I nearly punched my husband out. I wish I were exaggerating but it was in the depths of my eating disorder and I’d spent all day being “good” and counting every calorie and this dish was my reward. I’d portioned it perfectly and already entered the numbers into my (insane) food tracking spreadsheet. I’d been looking forward to eating it all day. (True story: when you’re starving, all you think about is food. I was obsessed with cooking shows, recipe websites, cookbooks and magazines, always planning the gourmet meal I was going to eat when I was finally “good enough.”) And of course I was so so hungry.
So when he leaned over and casually took a few bites, I went atomic. Realizing that I couldn’t articulate all the crazy thoughts in my head without sounding, well, crazy, I burst into tears and stomped into the other room yelling at him that he might as well just eat the whole thing now. As I sobbed in a corner, all I could think was “How could my beloved husband steal food right out of my starving mouth? Couldn’t he see how much this food meant to me right now? Especially since he could eat as much of anything in the whole house that he wanted and all I had was this. And now this was two bites less. How was I supposed to calculate the calories now? And if can’t count it then I can’t eat it.” I went to bed hungry. And furious.
Do you think Angelina Jolie poops a lot? I don’t normally think of the toothy actress much but the past few days I’ve spent a lot of time wondering about her and her dietary habits, especially as I’ve been spending a lot of time on the potty thanks to her. Constipation is very rarely an issue for me and the past week it’s been really not an issue, if you know what I mean. The problem, as I’ve decided through the process of elimination (hahah!) and toilet-googling (don’t lie, you’ve done it!), is the hemp seeds. Or maybe the problem is I took food advice from a celebrity. Or maybe the problem is I took food advice from an “unnamed source close to the Jolie-Pitts” when I read a concern-trolly article about Angelina’s new-found devotion to ancient grains (aka the “birdseed diet”).
I’m sure these were the prototype.
Remember that time I ripped the crotch out of my jeans when my muscular thighs Incredible-Hulked my wussy J.Crew’s? Good times! You may remember I finally found a pair of stretch denim jeans in a curvy fit that didn’t make my thighs feel like sausages on sale, bought two pairs and have been wearing them exclusively since then. Of course I’m not the first athletic person to come up with this solution. The pros do it too!
“I have an enormous butt,” Canadian Olympic skier Jan Hudec proudly declared in an interview with the New York Times about – what else? – jeans shopping. He admits that, like me, when he finds a pair that fits he wears them forever, even shipping them to his mom to fix when they get torn because the chances of finding another pair are so slim.
Clearly there are a lot of us that have a hard time finding denim that will fit the waist but still accommodate larger thighs, booties and calves. Many of us have noticed that as our squat weight goes up, our options when jeans shopping go down, which is why I was so excited to see Barbell Denim, a new company that designs jeans specifically with athletes in mind.
Face down on my yoga mat is my least favorite position. Mostly because I never remember to wash the thing and it does a really good job as a “sticky mat” as evidenced by all the little flakes of my skin all over it. (Side note: If I ever go missing, use my yoga mat for DNA evidence. It’s a gold mine.) As I lay there, I felt the heaviness on my chest — and not just the weight of my body pressing down on it. Sometimes with a heart break, it feels like my heart is literally breaking. My chest was so tight I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My shoulders ached from tensing up. My stomach churned with worry. I hate feeling like that but the more I try to push it away, the heavier all those feelings get.
So I’ll admit it: I wasn’t really paying attention to my yoga teacher. I was too much in my own head. And also I was really digging the music she was playing. (She loves neo-gospel and hip hop; not your traditional namaste birds chirping but I gotta say there is something so satisfying about flowing to Bottom of the River.) Then something penetrated my mental fog. “Lift up your eyes first and then raise your arms and legs,” she was saying. Eh, I thought, I’ve done Locust Pose a hundred times. I don’t need directions. But then she added, “You have to look up to lift up.”
Look at me doing my best farmer impression! It only occurred to me after we snapped the pic that the piece of hay in my mouth was laying on top of manure three seconds earlier. But hey, maybe I’ll start a new prebiotic trend: eating poo!
There are a lot of differences between Minnesota and Colorado – the accent (do you say “bag” or “bayg”?), the weather (I have never lived in a place with more Mother Nature temper tantrums than MN!), the elevation (I think I can finally breathe here?) – but a big one is land. In Minnesota land is cheap and plentiful (even if you have to wrench it from the tiny claws of a million mosquitos). But in Colorado, while land is plentiful it’s definitely not cheap! I’ve heard a lot of explanations for this, usually having to do with the fact that it’s a desert and water rights lead to smaller plot sizes, but what it meant in reality is that we moved from a sprawling half acre in Minnesota to a yard in Colorado so small I could mow our lawn with scissors. My husband wanted to plant a shrub in our backyard and I was like “Noooo! Then we won’t have a backyard anymore!”
“Silence is not the absence of something but the presence of everything”
Something happened this weekend. It was heart-rending and immense and the repercussions will reverberate for a long time. And all weekend I’ve been trying to figure out how to write about it, because that’s how I deal with stuff. But I can’t. For many reasons. But mostly because I don’t have the words. Sometimes the only thing you can say is nothing.
As I thought about my silence this weekend – gagged by my own emotions, clamoring to escape – I remembered how many times in my life silence has carried me, lifted me, protected me, even beautified me.Words do have power, yes, but silence is the force behind them. Sometimes silence is an animal lurking in the dark, a presence all its own. But there are so many many types of silence. Silence can be the worst kind of heartbreak. But sometimes silence is a gift.
“Wow, you’ve got a perfect snatch!” Yes, those words actually left my lips the other day. I was helping a friend with her kettlebell moves and that was it, I swear. Before we both busted out laughing, all I could think was only in the gym.
I don’t know if it’s the relative lack of clothing or all the weird body positions but there are so many things that we do in a gym environment that totally wouldn’t fly anywhere else. Just today, for instance, as I tried to work out the knot in my right butt cheek courtesy by rolling all over a medicine ball, I felt someone looking at me. Someone who was waiting for the ball. Sheepishly I rolled it over and mumbled, “Sorry, I’m done molesting it now. Your turn!” Or the time I had an entire conversation with a friend while I held bridge pose (lay on your back, hips up in the air like you’re petitioning the Goddess of Fertility) and she was rolling out her inner thigh on the foam roller. Neither one of us so much as blinked. Context is king.
“Leaving so soon?” asked one of the personal trainers as my friend and I were leaving the gym the other morning.
“Um, we’ve been here for an hour,” I shrugged apologetically although I really had no idea what I had to be sorry for.
“Really?” he cocked an eyebrow. “Then you must not have been working very hard.” This stung a little bit since he was the same trainer who had laughed when my friend misjudged the weight on the cable-row and fell over when we’d been lifting weights.
“But I’m all sweaty!” I blurted out and as my friend added defensively, “Well you didn’t see us on the treadmill!”
As we bolted up the stairs, I wondered if he was just trying to drum up business or if he really thought we were slacking – and if it was the latter, did he really expect people to spend more than an hour working out? Because – and as a former exercise addict, I can say this definitively – that’s crazy talk.