Following my posts about my difficulties finding a wetsuit and getting my bike to work for me, I received a slew of mail from internet trolls trying to make me feel bad for doing what I need to do to accommodate my body while I train for an IRONMAN.
This is also something that I see sometimes in tri forums, Facebook groups etc. Insecurity among athletes sometimes surfaces in this junior high school “ha ha you’re not one of the cool kids” find-a-way-to-put-someone-else-down-to-make-me-feel-better kind of behavior.
This makes me think of Gertjie and Lammie. They are best friends who love to play together. Gertjie is a baby rhino and Lammie is a goat. This doesn’t become an issue until around 15 seconds when Gertjie tries to run like Lammie with, well… let’s call it limited success.
There is no shame in not doing things like a goat if you are a rhino. The thing about being a fat athlete is that stuff isn’t made for us, and many people don’t know how to work with our bodies, and this gets blamed (incorrectly) on our bodies and not (correctly) on the lack of accommodation and knowledge about working with fat people.
It took me three professional bike fittings at three different highly-reviewed shops to find somebody who actually had a clue how to make my bike work for my fat body (thanks Unlikely Cyclist!) If I had listened to the second dude I would have high rise handlebars and no blood flow to my hands right now.
It cannot be said strongly enough, this is not our fault. Unfortunately, if we want to participate in athletics, it becomes our problem. I’m here to tell you that it’s ok to do what you need/want to do to make fitness work for your body. Whether it’s because you’re fat, short, tall, injured, disabled, have limited mobility, limited flexibility, or any other reason. Our bodies are fine the way they are and everything around us should be made to accommodate the bodies that we have.
If you need an extra thick mat and 27 props to get what you want out of your yoga class, do that shit.
Need to take your bike from this…
To be comfortable riding it? Do it. (I did!)
If you need to modify the steps in a dance class to be comfortable, if a trike works better for you than a bike, if you need to get a bike with a motor to help you out up hills, if you need to adapt the technique of your activity to accommodate your body, if you need to ask the race director for permission to use gloves because you have Raynaud’s syndrome, if you need to ask your space for equipment rated for your body weight, if you need options to take the class seated, if you need to ask a space for accommodations for your disability, if you need to do something to make the movement you like work for you, there is absolutely, positively, no shame in that. (In fact, we shouldn’t have to ask but that’s another post for another time.)
The shame is on a world where people don’t have the resources and access to participate in the movement of their choice in a way that works for them (and in ways that are physically and psychologically safe), the shame is on the aspects of the fitness world that are not accommodating, the shame is on anyone who tries to make us feel bad for participating in fitness, sports, and movement on our own terms.
Maybe you’re a goat – and that’s fine. Maybe you’re a rhino – and that’s fine. Do what works for you and to hell with anyone who has a problem with that.
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I’m having a sale on my books and DVDs and downloads to help pay for my IM – you get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! To check it out, you can go to https://ironfatblog.wordpress.com/support-my-ironman/ No money? No problem! If you feel like it, you can leave a comment or send me an e-mail (email@example.com) saying something encouraging, that’s awesome too!
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