Category Archives: HAES

Long time, lots of updates!

It’s been a shockingly long time since I updated here! And so much has happened. I believe last time I posted, I was still doing my remedial squats; since then I have competed again but not added any kilos to my squats sadly.

I did a competition last month in which I was hoping to get a 290kg total. Unfortunately my squats & deadlift didn’t go to plan (I wanted 105kg and 130kg respectively) but I did get a new bench personal best & total personal best. I finished with 102.5kg squat, 57.5kg bench & 125kg deadlift for 285kg total at 71.6kg bodyweight.

I’m not going to any national competitions this year, but I will be doing a divisional competition in November. Then in January I’m 40 (eek!) which means I’ll be eligible to compete at the British Masters in March! It’s in Belfast next year, so a road trip (or plane trip) is in order with my other masters pals!

In other news, I wrote a blog post for So She Lifts about creating a female-friendly gym environment. I was inspired to write this after volunteering at 3 women-only sessions at my gym, designed to introduce women to powerlifting without any pressure. I think the gym will be doing more of these sessions, maybe once every two months – it all depends on whether we can get people to volunteer to coach.

I also changed jobs! I got utterly fed up with my old job and am now working at a tiny startup. I was a bit nervous about moving away from corporate life & back into startups as I was worried my work-life balance would suffer. But my new employers are very cool and relaxed about working hours, so I haven’t missed a gym session yet.

Because I’ve moved offices I had to leave Urban Kings (the MMA gym I was a member of) and have joined a cheap Fitness4Less gym near my new work. I’ve done a few bodypump-style classes there, as have discovered that I don’t actually mind running on the treadmill so much (shock horror!). So far I’ve worked up to trotting at 6.7km/h for 30 minutes non-stop! Amazing! I’ve literally never run for that long in my LIFE! Seems aged nearly-40 my cardio fitness is better than ever :bicep_emoji:

I’ve been back from Las Vegas for 3 days and have not yet made it to the gym. I had planned to go back tomorrow, but the jetlag (8 hours difference between London & LV) has completely kicked my butt. Happily, I managed to sleep past 4am today, so I think I’ll go lifting tonight. I’ll probably have to take it easy, though, as 8 days in Las Vegas was not kind to my body (or my skin for that matter!)

I have 6 weeks to prep for my next competition, which means getting my strength back and also (argh) sorting out my weight. I haven’t dared step on a scale since I got back, but I know my strength has pretty much g-o-n-e and my knees are super-sore (the left one especially).

Having to think about (and manipulate) my weight means I have to slip out of the “body positivity” mantle for a while. I read a really good discussion on Twitter the other day on what body positivity *is*, and for me a fundamental aspect of it is accepting & loving your body as it is and not trying to manipulate it to make it smaller to fit societal norms.

I have to make myself lighter to fit weight classes (because I’m not a good enough lifter to qualify for the British standard at 84kg – and I want to be a British standard lifter) but I absolutely will not deny that I feel happier seeing that lower number on the scale. And that makes me sad because it means I’m not over that societal pressure to be thin(ner). But then who is, completely?

Obviously this does not mean that making yourself lighter or thinner is “bad” – as with everything in life, you have to do what makes you happy; but I don’t think you can disguise any form of reducing your weight/size under the banner of “body positivity”. It’s like the good fatty/bad fatty dichotomy – if you only think people can be larger if they also fit some narrow definition of “healthy” then that’s not body positivity either.

Anyway, you should go read the thread – it’s good, and it features some of my favourite people! I am always learning.

Of course, just because I’m having to manipulate my body to make it smaller doesn’t mean I don’t support body positivity full stop – I just can’t call what I do “body positive”, you know? It’s not my place to appropriate it.

The other day I read a great post which was a nice postscript to my rantette about “healthy” food that “works” – Pork, Plums & Fodmaps on NorthSouth Food. I knew about the Fodmap protocol when I wrote my post but completely neglected to mention it, and the fact that on it, lots of “healthy” (oh that word) foods are actually unhealthy. Apples, cauliflower, avocado, etc etc. For Miss South, a healthy diet consists of “white bread all the way, very little fruit and only certain veg“.

Healthy is relative, y’all.

This week I’ve definitely been eating unhealthily for me, as work has been a stress-fest and I’ve only been able to power through my afternoons thanks to milk chocolate Hobnobs. I’m definitely enjoying not having to make weight at the moment (in fact I took a packet of dark chocolate digestive biscuits to the gym on Saturday and have been eating them in between squats). Once my boyfriend goes away on business again in 10 days I will probably be back on the green veg & meat again (but definitely not low carb because my guts are still not normal!)

I don’t start my new program at the gym until Monday, which is a 6-week runup to the Greater Londons on November 22nd. I haven’t been completely aimlessly working out, though – I still have to see if my new Adidas Powerlift shoes actually work for me; plus on Monday my coach got me to try a new setup for bench press. He’s getting me to ditch the blocks I usually use, put my feet back underneath me further (as opposed to having them under my knees), do a larger arch and aim to hit the bar on my bra underwire instead of on my boobs. It already feels like it could make a difference.

I also received the IPF Technical Rulebook yesterday which I have to study in anticipation of my IPF referee’s exam on the 19th October! Exciting times!!

Radical fatty resources

A few days ago I replied to a Facebook post asking how plus-sized bloggers get their confidence, suggesting some resources to read. That gave me an idea to write a blog post about some of my favourite fatshion bloggers and radical fatty writers. Then, today there’s a lot of stuff in the news about obesity, how the UK now has the fattest/unhealthiest/obese-est (all used interchangeably, sigh) people in Europe etc etc, so writing that blog post definitely seems apt. Not least because I keep meaning to get back to writing about fat acceptance more on here!

I started reading about fat acceptance back in 2008 or so, before I started lifting (I was exercising a bit towards the end of that year) and I’m happy & proud to have stuck with fat/size acceptance & body positivity stuff despite being barraged on all sides by the usual fitspo nonsense.

My FA journey came in two stages: initially I got into fatshion blogs & normalised the idea in my head that larger women can and do look awesome in directional, fashionable clothes. The second stage was more radical – reading feminist writing on fat acceptance, acknowledging that appreciating your body for what it is, and loving it as opposed to punishing it, is a radical act.

These are a selection of links that I’ve read/treasured/appreciated over the years, it’s by no means exhaustive – if you have some favourite links, please share them below!

Fa(t)shion blogs

Fatshionista on LiveJournal

The original site I started with. I don’t read it much any more, but if you’re an LJ regular it’s worth checking out.

Gabi Fresh

The. Best. Seriously. I love Gabi so much – she’s responsible for me wearing miniskirts for the first time at 32 and feeling AWESOME in them.

Curvy Girl Chic

Alison Teng’s blog, and she is flawless.

Arched Eyebrow & Pocket Rocket Fashion

Two London girls I love and who come to my gym!!! *dies*

The Curves Have It, Fuller Figure Fuller Bust & Curvy Wordy

Three awesome lingerie (and clothes) bloggers who have given me serious bra envy (and resulted in my owning far more Curvy Kate bras than are strictly necessary!)

The Wardrobe Challenge

If I’ve just spent a fortune at ASOS, Hanna is usually responsible.

Radical fatty resources

Shapely Prose

Now archived, but IMHO the seminal resource for fat/size acceptance.

Dances With Fat

Ragen Chastain is a dancer & choreographer, who completed a marathon & got a whole heap of shit for it. Check out her hate mail if you want to see what trolls think of fat people exercising.

Golda Poretsky

Holistic health practitioner & body love coach, Golda also gets a whole heap of hate for helping people love themselves. Her TED talks are worth watching.

Fierce, Freethinking Fatties

FFF is a collaborative blog that I don’t always 100% agree with, but is always thought-provoking & well-written.

Fat Body Politics

Quite a new one for me, but excellent reading so far.

Fat Nutritionist

Michelle is fat, and a nutritionist. I know, right?! The two are not mutually exclusive, who knew?

Health At Every Size Blog

The original resource for HAES info, originated by Linda Bacon.

Obesity Timebomb

Definitely the most radical on the list, Dr Cooper’s writings are pretty provocative and controversial. Which is why you should read her.

So, your turn – what are your favourite fa(t)shion, FA, HAES & related resources? Any vital ones I’ve missed out?

52 Weeks to Your Best Body Ever, by Hanne Blank

I haven’t talked enough on here recently about fat acceptance/size acceptance/body positivity, and I feel I should remedy that a bit, especially given I’ve decided not to make weight for my next competition & instead just compete at whatever weight I happen to be on the day. This most likely means I’ll end up in the 84kg class.

The way the GBPF works, if you put down a weight class on your entry form but turn up on the day as underweight, you aren’t allowed to move down a class. So if I put down 84kg on my entry form & turn up 72.0kg on the day, I’ll have to lift in the class above, IYSWIM. Given my natural, not-trying-to-make-weight weight is anywhere between 72-74kg, this might happen. I’m not doing a bulk or anything like that, I’m just not going to make weight (that extra weight I carry isn’t bulk, it’s chub 🙂 )

I won’t deny I’ve gone backwards & forwards about doing this. For starters, if I squat 97.5kg+ at my next competition, then I won’t be able to set the Greater London divisional 72kg record, which is an arse. But I’m trying to weigh up if I want a divisional record or a 100kg squat more. Second, I don’t half feel out of condition at the moment. Not specifically because of the extra weight, but because I’ve not been going to conditioning recently (because of holidays/conferences) and I can only go to yoga once every two weeks now (because of the meeting schedule at my new job). Part of me wants to say “Just go back to eating no bread/no dairy again! Lose that gross belly!!!” But I don’t want to do that – I want to get back to how I felt before I saw the nutritionist & before I injured my back – 74.5kg, feeling strong as hell, and drinking half a litre of milk every day.

Then the other day I saw that Hanne Blank is doing a “52 Weeks to Your Best Body Ever”. Hanne Blank, if you don’t know her already, is a brilliant writer & speaker on body positivity. Her book The Unapologetic Fat Girls’ Guide to Exercise (and other Incendiary Acts) is fantastic. Last year I did her 100 Days of Body Practice in which I walked to & from the station every day, and found it very positive (I now walk to the station all the time; although I’ve moved house and my then-7-minute walk to the station is now a 20-minute, 1-mile walk!)

So when I saw Hanne advertising her “52 Weeks to Your Best Body Ever” program on Twitter I jumped at the chance to sign up. I like think I’m already pretty savvy, body-positivity wise, but one can always learn more and by supporting Hanne I hope she can spread the size-positive gospel further & wider. Every little bit of positive reinforcement helps!

I’m so excited to start on this, and I wish Hanne every luck in the world. Please go check out her fundraiser, and her books; and I’ll report back here about how I get on!

fitspo boobs

I have talked at length before about the minefield that is being a chubby chick who lifts and doesn’t want to lose fat/get lean. Back when I used to read a lot of lifting/fitness blogs, a trope that came up time & time again was that women might not want to lift/get lean, because leanness means smaller boobs. The refrain from those bloggers was usually that abs > boobs; and lower body fat = health, which is allegedly a better payoff than the joys of big boobs. I’d respectfully disagree, for myself personally, as I won’t deny that one of the reasons I don’t want to get lean (along with sheer laziness) is that I like my boobs & I think I look pretty good at 30% bodyfat.

Probably not surprisingly, I get a lot of hits on my blog from people searching for boobs. In fact, probably 40% of my hits are boob-related.

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 16.20.22

So in the spirit of giving the public what they want, let’s talk about boobs – guided by some of my blog hits.

big boobs fitspo

So yes, I am large of boob. I have always been large of boob, and honestly, it’s not something that has ever bothered me. I never liked wearing button-down shirts anyhow.

There are a lot of myths about having big boobs that seem to endure – that they’ll inevitably give you backache; that only larger boobs sag; that they will prevent you from exercising etc. In my experience, none of these are true.

For starters, life with large breasts is 100x easier if you have one thing nailed down: wearing the right bra. Not even just the right sized bra, but one which fits your breast & body shape. If you’re currently struggling with uncomfortable bras, feel at the end of the day that you just can’t wait to rip your bra off, have backache and/or shoulder pain, then take some time to check out the many bra bloggers around these days. Don’t rely on getting a bra fitted at Marks & Spencers (or other department store where they wield a tape measure).

My favourite bra bloggers are Fuller Figure Fuller Bust, Curvy Wordy, Thin and Curvy and Weirdly Shaped and Well Photographed. There are loads more out there if you have a good Google. These ladies really know their stuff regarding bra size, breast shape and bra types. There’s so much more to it than just size – boobs can be shallow, top/bottom heavy; shoulders can be narrow or wide-set; and all these things make a huge difference to how your bra fits & feels.

With regards to sagging: I’m afraid, IME, boobs tend to sag whether they’re large or small. Sure, the effect of gravity means larger ones might seem more likely to, but a few visits to the communal changing rooms at your local swimming pool will reveal that pretty much all boobs succumb to its effects eventually. And guess what? It’s natural. No, it might not be desirable (to our Western ideals anyhow), but nature’s a bitch like that.

As for not being able to do some exercises: this is true, to an extent. There are two things I can’t do easily – one is upright rows with a bar (my boobs just get in the way); and the other is a shoulder stand (my boobs sort of fall onto my windpipe and I can’t breathe). Everything else, though, is fine – I can live without those two. Sprinting? Yes, it’s possible; you just have to (wait for it) wear the right bra.

booty and small boobs fitspo

This is, of course, another perfectly cool configuration. In fact it seems to be the default one. Rock on, my small-boobed sisters! (But do it in a good bra.)

32ff selfie

I am a 32FF. FF, eh? My boobs must be THE SIZE OF MARS! Except they’re not.

You see, there’s no such thing as “FF-cup” boobs. Or “DD-cup” boobs. Or even “A-cup” boobs. Why? Because band size is as important as cup size.

I’m going to refer to George’s excellent posts about bra sizing, here (and steal a few of her pictures).

Take a look at this picture:

dplus

Image via Fuller Figure Fuller Bust, from Curvy Kate

Yes, both of those women are wearing D+ cup bras. The bras are by Curvy Kate (who I recommend highly!) who only make bras in a D-K cup. Do they look like D cups to you? The secret is in the band size. As band size decreases, cup size decreases too – so the cup on a 38D and the cup on a 28D (which these women likely are) are very, very different sizes.

Here are some other great images of D & DD cup women:

dd-cups

Image via Fuller Figure Fuller Bust; originally created by Lobby Biuściastych/Stanikomani

And finally, G cup women (the band sizes are European, so e.g. a 65G is a 30G in UK sizing):

g-cups

Image via Fuller Figure Fuller Bust; originally created by Lobby Biuściastych/Stanikomani

OK, these ladies all have ample bosoms, but we’re not talking BOOBS THE SIZE OF MARS, are we? So if you’re someone who thinks that anyone over a DD cup has hilariously over-inflated comedy boobs, or is a virtual cripple, think again.

I do find it irritating when women in the public eye mislead us on the size of their boobs. For example, the lovely Coco Austin (I’m a huge fan!) has her measurements on various websites as a 39D or 34E. Looking at the images above, do you think that’s right? For starters, her back is tiny, far smaller than mine – and I wear a 32 back. Secondly, a 39 back size doesn’t exist anyway. Thirdly, those implants are much more than a DD or E.

Back in ye olden days I used to do web development for an “adult entertainment” company (hey, porn sites need web devs too!) and even then the bra size mislabelling annoyed me. There seemed to be this idea that models could only be labelled a DD/DDD at most, so once they were obviously beyond that, the magazines & websites would add inches to their back sizes (no matter what size the model was wearing in her daily life!). So you’d wind up with a very petite model, with a tiny back & large implants, being labelled a “40DDD”. No, no and no!

Please, media, can we have some realistic bra sizes used? If nothing else, it’s going to make women who do wear DD+ bras feel less, well, freakish.

So there you have it. If you think big boobs are a barrier to exercise – they’re not, you just have to work with what you’ve got. And if you think DD+ boobs are comedy melons, maybe I’ve helped change your mind (or not; I guess the idea of “big boobs” is pretty arbitrary – if you think anything over an A is big, then so be it).

As for my favourite bras – personally I couldn’t live without Freya, Curvy Kate and Fantasie. My sports bra of choice is the Freya moulded sports bra (seriously, I can leap about in this thing and my boobs stay put). Hopefully I’ll review a few more sports bras on here in the next few months.

And finally, here’s me & my boobs, Google boob hounds. Happy Googling.

I got my eating plan from Derry Temple today, with the intention that it’ll help me get down to <72kg for April 26th. I was worried it'd be massively restrictive but it's not too awful-looking – the main things I need to change are reducing my dairy intake; quitting the Total Breakfast (…I hardly knew you!) in favour of protein & fat; and reducing my daily fruit portions to one. I guess the breakfast thing means I need to get out of bed earlier so I can cook & eat at home. HORRORS.

He also measured my bodyfat % (with calipers). I haven’t had this done since I was working at the BBC & before I started lifting (just over 5 years ago). Back then I was 76kg & 42% bodyfat (age 32). Today I was 74.5kg & 30% bodyfat (age 37). So if my crappy calculations are correct, that’s around 9.5kg of fat lost & 8kg of muscle gained in 5 years, without any significant changes to my diet.

(I’m also taller than I thought – 159cm instead of 158! I’m a giant!!)

I admit, I’m pleasantly surprised – I had estimated I was maybe 32-35% bodyfat, judging from how big I am & how I look (not that I’m much of a judge of these things!). I do feel like a bit of a traitor for being pleased, though – I’m not as fat as I thought, am I a big fakey faker in the FA world? I definitely feel I belong more in the HAES & FA sphere than in any fitness community; after all, I am still nowhere near “socially acceptable” body parameters, and I have no intention of slimming to a size 12 or 20% bodyfat or whatever it is we’re meant to have for “health”. Plus, let’s face it, the fitness world can be full of sniping, put-downs & douchebaggery, and I don’t want to be associated with that.