Saturday, June 19, 2010

Barriers to Exercise: Some Dude on the Street

So, the other day I went out for a vigorous walk. I had my ipod set to a couple of my favorite podcasts (yes, I listen to recorded talk and news shows while walking outdoors....I'm weird), my shoes, my sports bra, the perfect workout outfit (big t-shirt, mid-length yoga pants) and I had a tight schedule for the day. You see, I have the gym at work (I work at a University and the gym is REALLY nice and only $15 per month) and for the winter, I shared a Y-membership with my parents, but they weren't using it enough and I only used it on weekends, so the expense got to be too much. But that's okay, because in good weather a vigorous outdoor walk does the trick and of course I've been meaning to dig those Pilates DVD's out of the exercise basket anyway (Pilates, even the beginner's mat workout is AMAZING).

Anyway, so I set out and at the beginning of the walk a man stops me--he's new to the neighborhood, retired physician and he wanted to introduce himself and give me his testimonial about how he had diabetes and lost 30lbs and its gone. He stopped me because I'm a fat girl and he wanted to encourage the exercise I was obviously engaged in (I'm sure he meant well at first), but then he wanted to TALK, like really talk. He asked what I do and because I have fourteen jobs and can't really identify which one exactly defines me as a person, I mentioned the first couple--those that pay the bills. So that led to an inquiry into my schooling--since I have two master's degrees, including an M.Div that apparently was an invitation to talk about religion. I tried to be polite, really I did, but when one has an M.Div the assumption generally is that you are a fundamentalist Christian, or at least a conservative Christian--and I'm not. Instead of telling him my actual beliefs, I just let him know my denomination, I'm a Unitarian. To which he decided to lecture me about my faithless, godless tradition. I don't need to argue with this guy, I don't really care about his opinion, I care about my walk. But I'm pissed at this point and now I don't have enough time to actually workout. I decide to go home, get dressed for the day and TAKE BACK MY WALK THAT EVENING! Of course, it rains--it rains the rest of the weekend.

So, what was the problem here:

1. He thought that by sharing his 30lbs success story, he was encouraging me, which is fine, but isn't the fact that I'm ALREADY WALKING indicative that I'm encouraging myself?
2. I need to learn how to not be completely honest with people--I need to be short and sweet and extraciate myself quickly when I don't want to talk. I'm rudeness averse, but there are ways to be not a push over and also not a bitch.
3. I was fixated on the walk and since I couldn't walk outdoors, I didn't try to find another solution or means to exercise (the earlier mentioned Pilates dvd's perhaps?).
4. I'm overbooked--this was a weekend day. But so is life and sometimes overbooking is really just having a schedule. So, I'm not going to beat myself too much over this because my plans did include other people that I wanted to hang out with that day and making plans is generally good. But, my weekday overbooking can be problematic and I really want to find time to workout at least four times per week, aiming for five. So, I need to re-evaluate "the books."

So, readers, what's your advice? How do I deal in future? Since this is called Fat Feminist Fitness Blog, I think that all three of those catagories play into the scenerio. I think that his patriarchal privilege (and sense that I should listen to him attentively is related to both his standing as a retired physican, a man judging my body, and cultural expectations that I be flattered by his uninvited attention), the fat--he took my fatness as a sign that I needed to be told I was fat because goodness knows fat people, especially fat people engaged in EXERCISE do not know that they are fat, and fitness, I really am trying to achieve fitness, not just some beauty ideal.


  1. I usually retort to people sharing their weight loss stories with what I have lost, 147lbs so far and then politely excuse myself back to my workout. They usually wanna keep talking but can not keep up :)

  2. 1. I personally give off an angry black woman aura so people don't approach me on the street.

    2. As a fat person who doesn't want comments. I exercise in the privacy of my home using the Leslie Sansone DVDs or throwing myself a private dance party.

    3. Any "real exerciser" always has an aresnal of activities that they can do. Therefore, one set back will not derail them. So I say you need to find at least 3 activies you can do in a day and make sure you do one of them 5 times a week.

    4. You don't have to stop being honest, but always remember if you put it out there someone just might call you on it and you have to either take it or defend your position.