Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Fat Woman goes walking

Fat Woman was going swimming. Fat Woman had the swimsuit on under her clothes, had filled up all her bottles with her toiletries and had edited the gym bag to reflect her trip to the pool. Fat Woman even had her waterproof MP3 player charged up ready to provide Power Ballads as she splashed up and down the gym pool in her best impression of a hippo. Fat Woman doesn't actually make hippo noises but suspects that the simile is accurate for those who actually see her in the water.

Fat Woman was feeling virtuous that she was on the way to fulfilling her goal of 17 hours of exercise in the month. Fat Woman has worked out this is four hours a week plus one extra hour on a Sunday, which she plans to do the day before she is called to account by her personal trainer - if the personal trainer remembers. Personal Trainer is young and good looking and awfully nice but not brilliant with paperwork and schedules. Fat Woman is committed to weight loss and fitness so is making a realistic effort to do everything that Personal Trainer recommends, short of switching her 20g of golden syrup for honey, because there is barely any nutritional difference between the two and she only has porridge once in a blue moon. This has become a point of principle between Personal Trainer and Fat Woman. Fat Woman reckons that anyone eating something called a "Power Bar" packed with whey powder and soya lecithin is not really in much of a position to comment on the nuances of processed food.

So Fat Woman had pulled on her swimming costume and was hot footing it to the gym. Actually, Fat Woman was driving to the gym rather than footing it or walking or cycling or any other healthy travel form. It was the driving, or rather the Fatmobile, which spoiled Fat Woman's swim. The Fatmobile was emitting an awful scrapping metallic sound from the rear passenger wheel. Fat Woman doesn't know much about cars but she does know when something is WRONG WRONG WRONG so Fat Woman drove all the way around the mini-roundabout and went back down the High Street to the nice local garage with the nice and knowledgeable mechanics. The nice garage mechanic took Fat Woman's keys and went for a short drive in the Fatmobile. Returning seven minutes later Nice Mechanic confiscated the Fatmobile as being dangerous to drive. Fat Woman was very glad Nice Mechanic had identified the problem but was rather sorry her swim was off.

Fat Woman was even more sorry that her nice swim in the 85F(29.4C) pool with a lovely hot shower afterwards was replaced by two 12 minute walks in the freezing cold. Fat Woman is claiming that walk as a whole 25 minutes for her exercise total and is not admitting to anyone in real life that actually the last thing she wanted to do on this cold day when she had severe Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness was go swimming.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Fat Woman goes to spinning class

Fat Woman was getting a little tired of aquarobics but all the other classes at the gym seemed to be permanently full. Fat Woman's swimming coach runs the spinning class at the gym. Mr Swimming Coach convinced Fat Woman that spinning class was an excellent activity and that she should try it. When Fat Woman explained about the class always being booked up Mr Swimming Coach announced he was in control of the class list and could put her name on the the top before he opened up places for public booking. Fat Woman was very impressed by this display of power and influence and was delighted to accept a place for the following week. Frankly, Fat Woman was swayed by the enthusiasm and the idea of getting a hot ticket.

Fat Woman went to spinning class. Spinning class was full of very fit people. Not just thin people, but muscley super fit people who eat quinoa and go on 15 mile walks up hills. Fat Woman doesn't find thin people intimidating but she is just getting used to fit people and isn't quite sure if they are going to patronise or pity her. As Fat Woman has no airs about her gym presence she prefers the patronising: sometimes it's well meaning and comes with useful knowledge.

There were some disappointed super fit people hanging about. They were hoping Fat Woman wasn't going to turn up so they could attend the class instead. This made Fat Woman feel rather bad and a usurper. Everyone else in the class obviously knew these people and was sorry they couldn't join in with their spinning class friends. Fat Woman felt rather sorry that she'd taken the place of someone who really, really wanted it and could make good use of it.

Spinning class has loud music and lots of energy. For a  few minutes Fat Woman thought she might have found a new, fun class she could go to every week. This positive feeling lasted four minutes.It was the spinning bike itself that was the problem for Fat Woman. It was the first piece of gym equipment Fat Woman had experienced that fulfilled the often-repeated gripe that gym equipment excludes fat people. Fat Woman had always been under the impression this was a moan by super-super-SUPER fat people who were so fat they couldn't stand on the treadmill without it breaking or whose fingers were so fat they couldn't close their hands around the free weights. Fat Woman was never quite that fat, although admittedly she was getting close once. Fat Woman ran into reality with a bang when she sat on her spinning bike.

Spinning bikes have foot straps. This is so your foot doesn't fly off when the pedals are moving faster than you can keep up with. Fat Woman has super comfy 6E trainers for her wiiiiiiiide feet. If you have very wide feet and would like some very wide fitting trainers, Fat Woman can recommend www.widefitshoes.co.uk. They have a very good self-fitting guide. Fat Woman bought a lovely comfy pair of black trainers of the DB brand from Wide Fit Shoes. They were worth every penny.

So Fat Woman crammed her 6E feet into the pedal straps. The class was one hour long. At 35 minutes Fat Woman realised she could no longer feel her feet. Fat Woman's feet were properly numb. So very numb in fact that if she had looked down and her feet has been removed Fat Woman wouldn't have been surprised. But Fat Woman reasoned that this wasn't a problem as she wasn't really using her feet other than to connect with the pedals, and besides, nothing was actually hurting, so there was no reason to stop.

The pedals were part of another cause for concern for Fat Woman. Spinning class is not just about sitting down on a spinning cycle. In spinning class sometimes you stand up whilst pedalling and sometimes you do something they call "hover" where you are standing up but are bent over at the waist. The first time the instructor shouted "up!" Fat Woman sprang up along with everyone else. One revolution of the pedals was enough to invoke Fat Woman's first rule of exercise:

Fat Woman will not do anything which involves putting all her weight on to one knee and moving upwards.

Think about it. If someone dropped a 200lb weight on your knee joint it would hurt. Now imagine that 200lb extra weight being actually on your body in the form of fat. What do you think it would be like trying to lift that amount of extra weight? Stair climbers, treadmills with high inclines and cross-trainers are the biggest dangers to Fat Woman. Even the act of climbing steps means Fat Woman has to be careful that she isn't trying to pull her whole weight up by just one leg. Try it next time you're on the stairs and you'll see what  is meant. When Fat Woman rose off her saddle her weight landed on her right leg, pushing her right pedal down and lifting her left pedal up. Then Fat Woman had to push the left pedal downwards by putting her weight on her left leg. Fat Woman's knee went NO!

Fat Woman listens to her knees. Fat Woman has to listen to her knees because they are inclined to give her hell if she doesn't. It's as yet undetermined if this is a problem with actual joint or just the muscles or ligaments or something, but the knee doesn't hurt so long as Fat Woman sticks to the flat or non-load bearing exercise. When her knee said NO! in such a firm and decisive way Fat Woman was ready for it. Fat Woman had come prepared to spend most of the class sitting down. In fact, Fat Woman had cleared this with the instructor beforehand. It was perfectly okay to sit down, and Fat Woman wasn't embarrassed about the accommodation. Fat Woman was perfectly prepared to spend the rest of the class sitting down whilst everyone else stood and hovered and crouched. After all, the rest of the class ate quinoa and went on hill walks. Fat Woman is just a fat woman.

The saddle of a spinning bike is very narrow. Not just normal person narrow, but narrow in the style of racing bike. Much, much narrower than the exercise bikes at the gym. After five minutes sitting on the very hard and very narrow saddle Fat Woman knew that it was going to hurt. Fifteen minutes later Fat Woman was very uncomfortable. Half way through the class Fat Woman was in pain. Not so much pain that she was going to admit to being unable to last through a spin class, but quite a lot of discomfort all the same. This is because where a lean person would have muscles next to the hard saddle, Fat Woman has soft rolls of fat. By sitting on this hard saddle Fat Woman pinched some of her soft rolls very, very hard. Do you know how painful it is to be pinched? Try in on yourself. Now get a six year old without restraint to do it. That's what it feels like.

Fat Woman found herself between the proverbial rock and the hard place. Sitting on the saddle for a whole hour was utterly horrid, and was why everyone else was so keen to stand up and "hover". Yet standing and pedalling was going to be a whole different level of pain for Fat Woman. What was Fat Woman to do?

In the end Fat Woman compromised by standing up when everyone else stood up (Fat Woman even "hovered") but not pedalling. This turned spinning class from a punishing workout into a cycle ride in the park, albeit one with unusually loud dance music and silent but sweaty companions. The first 40 minutes Fat Woman was working incredibly hard. The last 20 minutes Fat Woman had so many stand-up breaks that she barely broke a sweat.

Here is a summary of reasons why Fat Woman won't be going back to spinning class for a bit:

  1. The class is full. Fat Woman would have to fight for a place every week and displace someone else.
  2. The class is full of super fit people who seem to be on a completely different plane to Fat Woman.
  3. All the super-fit people in the class seem to know each other already. It feels a little like breaking into a clique. Okay, some were friendly and it probably wasn't really a clique but it felt like one.
  4. The music was really, really loud but at the same time not the kind Fat Woman particularly likes.
  5. The class is a bit too early for convenience.
  6. Sitting on the narrow, hard saddle hurt Fat Woman quite a lot. 
  7. Lots of the class is standing up and "hovering".which Fat Woman can't do.The choice is either hurt a knee or lose exercise time.

Don't think that Fat Woman didn't enjoy spinning class. Fat Woman has dropped a comment card in to the gym asking if there could be a beginners spin class. Fat Woman would get a cushion and put up with 1-5 but the addition of 7 means that Fat Woman needs so many accommodations she might as well do a programme on the stationary bike listening to her own music at a more convenient time and not have to deal with the guilt of taking up a place someone else really wants.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Fat Woman talks about herself

Fat Woman is fat. Really fat. Not "Ooh, you're a bit chubby" fat or even "Good gracious! You've piled on the pounds" fat but really, really fat. Fat Woman is so fat that she doesn't know anyone who is anywhere near as fat as her. In fact, Fat Woman is possibly the fattest woman in England. Besides people who get featured in the newspapers, of course.

The thing is that Fat Woman doesn't really mind being fat. Fat Woman has always been fat, ever since she can remember. Being fat as an adult is so much easier than being a fat child.  Fat Girl was the fattest girl she knew all the time she was growing up and was lucky that her parents loved her and her mother understood and that she had the confidence to do things and make friends. Still, Fat Girl being fat was a problem for a lot of people. Some of the people who didn't have a problem with Fat Girl being fat had an issue when other people took issue, but for Fat Girl and now Fat Woman being fat is only a problem when it's a problem for other people.

Now Fat Woman is in her 30s lots of people are much fatter. She is still the fattest person she knows, but she has seen some fatter people on the streets. Fat Woman has a wonderful husband, friends, lovely family, and everything else she wants. Fat Woman buys lovely clothes and shoes that fit her, travels, works and has fun. Being fat only affects how other people see you -up to a point.

As Fat Woman got older she got unfit. With a horrible job her weight hit 360lb. Fat Woman went on a calorie controlled diet and lost 70lb. Thyroid issues and cancer of a loved one derailed Fat Woman's weight loss, until Fat Woman had regained more than half the weight. Now Fat Woman is back in pursuit of fitness and health. Weight loss may come with that, but fitness is the goal.