If you were able to track the course of size acceptance on the Internet, you’d see that Mopie was one of the pioneers of the movement with her blog Big Fat Deal, and hers was the first weight-loss blog I ever read. She’s also one of the people who inspires me and is probably the only person that I’d sing horrible duets with in public. —Weetabix
To some, we are mythical creatures, much like unicorns or hippogriffs: fat girls who work out. But we do exist—I’m living, breathing, huffing, puffing, sweating, hyperventilating proof. In my quest for size acceptance, I’ve been preaching the gospel of health at any size. In my own life I’d gotten the “any size” part down, but I was struggling with the “health” bit. Sure I eat my fruits and veggies, but the most exercise I got on any given day was multiple trips to Starbucks. And sex, which totally counts. But anyway, for long-term cardiovascular health and in an effort to stop feeling like kind of a hypocrite, I decided to give this exercise thing a shot.
I’ve been working out three days a week for a little over a month now. I figured I’d start small—see if I could stick to a workout schedule and slowly get used to the concept of myself as a Person Who Exercises. I started with 20–25 minutes on the elliptical trainer (a machine that doesn’t put strain on the knees, which is important if you’re me), and am now up to 30–40 minutes and the indoctrination is totally working, y’all. The other day at work I was stunned to realize that I fervently wished, at that moment, that I were on the elliptical trainer. (To be fair, I was sitting in perhaps the most boring meeting to have ever taken place in corporate America. I’m pretty sure even the slide projector was bored.)
So I don’t hate exercise now, and in fact, some days, I downright crave it. Not only that, I’ve successfully negotiated around many of the traps that are set for a fat girl going to the gym. I avoid the shower issue altogether by driving straight home after a workout and showering there. I put on the tight spandex outfit without blinking an eye. (Who wants to sweat in a T-shirt? Give me a spandex sports bra and tank top any day.) I’ve learned to put a lid on the negative self-talk when I catch a glimpse of my fat rolls bouncing in the mirror. (I just shift my gaze to my thunderously bouncing breasts and assume everyone who can see me is in fact hot for me.) I’ve perfected my workout playlist (featuring “Read My Mind,” “Accidentally In Love,” and “Flathead.” And, um, Constantine from American Idol. Don’t tell.) So my transition into the healthier new me has been, so far, pretty smooth. Mostly.
I’ve been experimenting lately with the elliptical trainers with arms. (When I strike it rich and can afford my own Precor elliptical trainer, it will be a kind with arms. Precor, call me. I would make an awesome spokespie.) They help me push my heart rate into my target zone (currently 72% of my maximum heart rate for my age, thank you, I did some math) more quickly and efficiently. So today I marched confidently up to one of the Precor machines with arms, put my water bottle in the cupholder and my towel over the arms and my iPod on the magazine stand and hopped on…
…only to have the machine make an incredibly loud, groaning, creaking, horrifying noise. Oh my God, irony alert. “Ned, get the camera! The fat girl just broke the exercise machine!” So of course I was mortified and I broke the code of silence of the gym and loudly and blithely said, “WELL THAT WAS NOT A GOOD NOISE! HA HA! I GUESS I WILL GO TO THIS MACHINE OVER HERE. AND BY THE WAY THE MACHINE DOES NOT USUALLY MAKE THIS NOISE WHICH I KNOW BECAUSE I HAVE IN FACT HAULED MY FAT ASS ONTO AN ELLIPTICAL MACHINE ON NUMEROUS OCCASIONS BEFORE OH DEAR GOD WHY AM I STILL TALKING.” The slender woman next to me took pity on me and said, “Oh, that machine makes that noise sometimes.” By which she probably meant, “Oh God, shut up, I am trying to listen to Justin Timberlake over here.”
I did, in fact, shut up, mercifully for all concerned, and actually began my workout. However, 10 minutes into it I realized that in my frenzy to fling myself onto a machine that did not groan as if it had been possessed by Satan, I had left my water bottle in the cupholder of the machine of evil. I was thirsty and I was sweaty and I didn’t want to break my stride. Dilemma! So I waited until a tiny, skinny, blonde Cameron Diaz type approached the machine. I removed my iPod earbud.
“I’m sorry to bother you, but could you hand me my water bottle?”
“Thanks. Er, you know, I got on that machine, and it made a really horrible noise.”
Cammy—I swear to god this is true—looked me up and down. “Well, we’ll see.”
Oh, man. Now that stung.
Luckily for me and you and the honor of fat chicks everywhere, she got on the machine and it immediately made a horrible, grinding, apocalyptical creaking noise. I was panting and suffering and producing a river of sweat, but man, was I suddenly in a great mood. “Oh,” I chirped. “Yes, that was the noise, alright! Yesirree!” And so Cammy got off the machine and headed to a different one. And I felt a surge of vindication course through my veins. See, that noise wasn’t because I was a hippogriff. Precor wouldn’t do that to me. The machine was just broken or from the underworld or whatever, and now I knew it for sure.
But still—it was something that wouldn’t have happened to me if I were a thin person. It was a moment of feeling the self-consciousness that I thought I’d gotten past. But that’s the thing with the fat girl traps—when you least expect it, you’ll step in one. But there are compensations, I guess. If I were super thin, I definitely wouldn’t have the giant beachball boobs bouncing in the gym mirror. And then, would everybody in the gym still be hot for me? I sincerely doubt it.