Tuesday, April 20, 2004

I was surprised and a bit irritated to discover that most of the women in my sprint triathlon group are athletic already.

There were maybe 5 women or so who might be called slightly overweight. I was hoping to find more women at my level to commiserate with on the whole running issue, but the majority of these women were raring to run miles and miles and miles.

Nevertheless, it is inspirational to be around this group. This weekend we met in the early morning at a track. It gave me such a jolt to look out over the track in the soft grey light at a pack of women running steadily around and around. It felt powerful. It felt like an exponential multiplication of female energy. We caused a stir; all the men on the track wanted to know what was going on, and when we said we were training for a triathlon, they were clearly impressed. Heck, I'm impressed.

I didn't get a chance to run, though, because of my recent knee injury, which has me much more depressed that I could have anticipated. It's only a minor strain, but I'll still need a few more days to recover. It reminds me how clearly my mood is tied to my physical well-being and my physical self-image, and it makes me sick to think about the emotional challenge that would be posed by a serious injury.

I've made some financial decisions lately that have made me much more relaxed in general and provided a sense of freedom and lightness. I hope this attitude lasts in terms of my fitness decisions as well.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

About two months ago I slammed a telephone pole with my car. The telephone pole survived, but my car did not.

After a few weeks of rental and parental cars, I was on my own. And because of an inherent laziness, of a conviction that I attract shady con artists and of a non-existent budget, I’ve avoided shopping for cars.

So I started taking the bus, which meant walking to the bus stops to and from my home and office. I like public transportation. In fact, I’m enamored of the idea. Whenever I’m in a city with a subway or a high-speed rail, I’m faint with giddiness. And I’m happier in the mornings after a brisk walk, and I enjoy the chance to people-watch and read my books.

So, in riding the bus my commute went from 15 to 40 minutes. And despite my tolerance and frequent enjoyment of the bus system, the time spent waiting for busses and bus transfers began to irritate me.

But then, one Sunday, I decided to try and find a residential bike route to my office. And after some tooling around, I found an acceptable route that avoided the busier streets. And it only took me 20 minutes.

I really like this route, even though most people feel that I’m riding through the “dangerous” part of the city, which is actually code for “dirt poor” and “crawling with people of color.” It’s gorgeous in the early morning, when the air still holds a chill and the streets are quiet. I have time to look at peoples’ houses and wonder about their lives. I have time to breathe in lungfuls of sweet, scented spring air. I have time to fall in love with the soft green of budding trees.

I’m going to incorporate this ride into my triathlon training. I’d like to ride to work at least 2 – 3 times/week, even if and when I do buy a new car.

This week, I joined a local group training for the June Danskin sprint triathlon in Austin. I’ll only be able to attend half the sessions, but I’m hoping the all-female support will be helpful.

Today, after work, I’m going to walk the ½ mile or so to the natatorium to swim. Then bus it home with my wet hair and fins sticking out of my bag.

Running is the only question mark. Since I ate pavement falling off my bike last Saturday, my knee has been very painful. I’d like to treat it gently before I start trying to jog again.

Finally, I’ll start this Thursday a twice-weekly strength training workout at the hospital gym across the street.

As for changes in my eating habits, Lord, I don’t know if I can even add that to my plate. But I certainly know from past experience that I can be extremely physically active, and look and feel more toned but still weigh the same.

So, eating. The only commitment I’m willing to make right now is to cut back on sweets and white flour. I WILL NOT start eating food that tastes bland and fake.

Who knew that slamming into that telephone pole back in February would be helping me now in April to treat my body with more care and respect?

Monday, April 12, 2004

I'm back here at this space, over a year later, because I went swim suit shopping.

And as much as it pains me, this seems to have brought to my awareness a current of dissatisfaction with my body that I have fought the good feminist battle to whip.

I think my body is gorgeous. I'm shapely in the classic way. I feel a great deal of acceptance towards myself. When I look at my body I see a fleshy unruliness, a substantiality, a presence.

I also see the shadow of an athlete and the physical manifestation of bad eating habits. The very fleshiness that I fiercely adore -- seen from a slightly different perspective, either due to lighting or a mental shift -- is a daily reminder of how I injure my body in incremental ways.

What I've always disliked about dieting, and about body image issues in general, is the emphasis on control, on coercision, on a discipline enforced by shame. Being so anal in other areas of my life, I'm not eager to introduce more tasks that make me gaze at my navel longer than I'd like.

But I care about the health and potentiality of my body. So here it is: I want to lose some weight (between 10 and 30 pounds) and I want to be stronger.

I have entered a sprint triathalon for June. I am making the committment to chart my trajectory toward that event. I am making a committment to care for myself, in the most exuberant, accepting way I can envision -- by cultivating a physical self that functions with energy and skill.