So it’s been about a year since I forswore dieting forever (and slightly less long ago that I last updated this blog, amirite?). I am not as big as the world, although I am as fat or fatter as I ever was. That gets to me sometimes, but when I consider the alternative (more dieting), I recognize that I am happier being fat. I am less happy, however, being inactive. I called a moratorium on exercise as part of this no diet resolution, for a couple of reasons. One, diet and exercise were too inexplicably bound in my head to separate them out in a healthy way. On Weight Watchers, you earn “activity points” for exercise, which you add to your daily points allotment. Exercising thus meant being able to eat more plus also being a Good Little Dieter, and as a result I had lost all concept of movement for the sake of feeling good or just fun. Two, my preferred method of fitness, yoga, had become much more challenging what with all the boobs and the belly and the arm fat getting in the way, and I needed to back away from my regular practice, which involved A LOT of plow pose (aka chokingonmyownboobsasana), and reconsider.
So back away I did. At times I could feel my body screaming for some action, but inertia set in, plus I’m a busy otter and I wasn’t sure how to fit fun exercise in with work and activism and familyfriendsfun. Then my knees started to really kick up a fuss (maybe someday when I’m feeling super whiny I will treat the fatosphere to a tale of my orthopedic woes BUT NOT TODAY!) and my hips and ankles followed shortly thereafter and I realized that I really had to do something about this. Of course, the problem with knee problems is that recursive loop of “I can’t exercise because my knees hurt but by not exercising I am allowing all the mechanisms that support my knees to decondition, making it impossible to exercise, etc. etc.” But the solution to the problem with knee problems is pretty simple, if you have access to it: swimming. And being an otter, I love swimming about as much as I love anything else on the planet, aside from a few selected people and beer.
So first, I bought a bathing suit. I will tell you a little about this QuikShape High Front Tank Suit from Junonia: the torso is about five miles long, and the straps are about ten miles long, while I am a long-legged and short torsoed lass. As a result, the suit fits me kind of like a slouch sock, and with the long straps, this is not a high front tank suit on me at all. Nor does it provide much in the way of boob support. It also doesn’t have a lot of stretch to it, so when I first pulled it out of the package, I was like HOLY WHOA because it is just HUGE. Also, it is a BEAR to pull on. Like, this is not the suit to try and don if you are in the mood to look in the least bit graceful. You think pulling on Spanx is ignominious? Try putting this suit on while maintaining your dignity. YOU CANNOT DO IT. And if you or the suit is the least bit damp, there’s no chance. But whatever, it’s a bathing suit. The chlorine levels at the Y are so high the whole thing will be nothing but wispy strings and sprung shelf-bra elastic in six months anyway.
Next, I researched pool options in my area and, as you have no doubt surmised, settled on the YMCA. That shit is cheap! And they have a warm little overchlorinated pool and water aerobics classes taught by this guy, whose teaching method involves putting on some god awful new metal radio station and standing on the side of the pool admonishing us to “Tread water! One minute!” while occasionally referencing cinema classics such as Saw, Saw II, and Hostel. I am not sure which one of us is the bigger age-related stereotype, frankly – him and his torture porn or me and my floppy boobs and general disdain for youth culture.
But still, despite (and yes, perhaps also because of) the quirks in the process, I am happier than a clam splashing around twice a week in water aerobics. The Y also has a few yoga classes. I accidentally took a Vinyasa class last week (generally, I go Hatha or go home, although I do love me some Iyengar, as long as they aren’t kicking me or shouting at me to get into plow. GOD WHAT IS IT WITH THE PLOW POSE???) and found it tough yet profoundly enjoyable. Soon I will bring my bike to the shop for its annual tune up (and my annual lecture on the perils of storing a bike outside all winter in Chicago), and by then, by golly, I will know the meaning of “Fit and Fat.”
I said all that to say – Three cheers for being active. I actually feel better already. I am less distressed about being as fat as if not fatter than ever. I’m in a better mood, because I get to play in the pool twice a week. And I don’t give a hoot how many points I earn for it.
Now, as a reward for reading all of that I will tell you a hilarious story: Last night I went to water aerobics and I locked all of my clothes in a locker with my combination lock that I have used three times (last night being the third) and proceeded, wearing the above mentioned suit and some flip flops and carrying a ratty, old, small towel, to the pool. Class was fun and challenging, and we did a lot of lap swimming, which I love, and I contemplated having a talk with the kid teaching the class about his penchant mentioning violent, misogynist movies to a class full of women considering that, if we’re in line with the statistics, there should be at least two women who have suffered some sort of violent sexual assault in her life, but decided to wait. After class, I observed proper skin and swimsuit care techniques and jumped in the shower to rinse the chlorine off, pulled off my swimsuit (NOT EASY), toweled off, took my suit for a whirl in the totally clever little swimsuit spin dryer, and returned to my locker.
And forgot my locker combination.
I knew it was all prime numbers, and I knew there was a teen, a twenty, and a thirty-something number in the combination, but after standing there naked and damp, half-wrapped in a holey towel insufficient to actually cover all of the body parts I generally prefer to keep covered when I am in public, and trying various numbers for about ten minutes, I realized I would need to take drastic measures.
My Y is old. Wicked old. So the fixtures are old and the bathroom stalls were built at a time when people were shorter than they are now by at least three feet. The toilets are about eighteen inches off the ground and there is not a lot of knee clearance between the bowl and the stall door. And it was in this stall that I attempted to do the impossible: put a slightly damp QuikShape High Front Tank Suit from Junonia on my slightly damp body in a tiny little cubicle while under extreme stress while trying not to actually touch the toilet.
I more or less succeeded, strategically placed the towel to cover the parts of my body that I was incapable of wrestling the damp suit over, and flip-flopped sheepishly to the front desk. “Something terrible has happened,” I confessed to the twelve-year old working the front desk. “I forgot my locker combination.”
The front desk guy looked at me and said, “I’ll have to see if there’s a female maintenance attendant on duty, and she can come and cut the lock.”
“What if there is no female on duty?” I asked warily.
“Then you’ll have to wait until we close in three hours and I will go in and cut the lock for you.”
I looked down at my ill-draped form, looked back at the kid, and checking what little dignity I had left at that point, straight up begged, “Please don’t do that to me.”
We connected then, me and the kid. Maybe he has a clumsy mother, an amusing aunt, or a generally frazzled older sister, but his oft-pierced features softened and he said, conspiratorially, “I will just give you the bolt cutters, but if anybody asks, you tell them you work here.” I could have kissed the little fucker.
Luckily, a female attendant was on duty. Even more lucky was the fact that when faced with the choice of two identical locks on side-by-side lockers, I guessed the correct one, and was rewarded with comparatively well-fitting clothes! Dry clothes! My transit pass! My house keys! My jacket! I COULD GO HOME! I had averted the terrible possibility of pleading with the driver of the 152 to let me ride his bus for free in a wet bathing suit. For now.