Exercising for Strength

[Please avoid if references to calorie counting, restriction, or binge eating is a problem. This also goes for most of the links.]

Lately I’ve been reading two very different blogs for their exercise content.

One is Shaunta Grimes’ Tumblr, where she’s discussing her “100 Day Experiment” with Health At Every Size®.  Shaunta had begun her weight-accepting journey years before, but still counted calories and tried not go above 1800. Unfortunately she’d end up binging periodically.  During the 100 Day Experiement, Shaunta began eating at least what her body needs,  getting enough sleep, and exercising in slowly increasing amounts.  Shaunta began with exercising 10 minutes a day and has since added swimming & weight lifting.  Shaunta is thrilled to have more energy, be sleeping better, have less edema, and be stronger. She also hasn’t been binging. She has lost a small amount of weight but remains above 350lbs.

The other is 300 Pounds Down. Holly, the author, had weight-loss surgery in 2011 at 417lbs.  She’s lost 200lbs at the moment and intends to lose more (hence the name of the blog).  Holly began exercising for 30 seconds, increasing 30 seconds a day, working up to walking 5 miles a day.  An injury sidelined her walking, and then she began lifting weights with Crossfit.

Obviously these are two very different narratives.  But: both women began exercising while weighing over 350lbs. (Kinda like me.) Both began very gradually and increased slowly but steadily. (Yup.) Both women are getting stronger — and delighting in that fact! (Yup…)  Both have more energy.  Both are happier.  And both are encouraging me to continue my own exercise efforts.

I support bodily autonomy, including the right for each person to decide whether to exercise. I choose to exercise for my own selfish reasons. I support others in making their own choices. Both of these blogs have helped me to reflect on my own experiences with exercise and on my own victories, like “lifting 40lb boxes” and “better at carrying things upstairs”.

(And yes, I’m aware that Shaunta & Holly have very different blogs!!!  Shaunta, like myself, is a HAES proponent;  Holly has weight loss as a primary goal.  Shaunta is  deliberately eating more than she had before; Holly is deliberately eating much less & differently than before.)

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4 thoughts on “Exercising for Strength

  1. Thanks for sharing. When my mother was growing up, her mother militantly restricted calories for her kids to keep them thin, especially her daughters. When my mother was married at age 22 or 23 and no longer under my grandmother’s supervision for most meals, she started eating more and occasionally binging, and she has been obese ever since.

    In college I had a girlfriend that was between 300 and 400 pounds that had been very thin from diets anorexia from ages 12 to 16 or so. When we were dating her eating habits were normal.

    Between those two anecdotes and Holly’s story, I wonder if long term calorie restriction, especially in childhood, makes fundamental changes to the metabolism that make it more likely you will become ‘morbidly’ obese.

    • There is observational research showing that dieting is correlated with weight gain, which certainly fits my — and many others’ — experience. (One summary: http://mann.bol.ucla.edu/files/Diets_don%27t_work.pdf )

      I should note that Holly considers herself a recovering binge eater whose particular trigger was sugar. Her description of eating a gallon of ice cream & bags of “fun-size” candy each day would support that. It certainly makes me side-eye my relatives who’d refer to having 4 Oreos as “binging” on cookies.

  2. This is slightly tangential, but I was wondering how you deal with triggering topics like what’s discussed by Holly. I just had a look and I already find myself feeling really queasy and anxious.

    • Well, you probably saw my warning at the top of the post, but did you realize “excercise” is in the subject as a warning too?

      For myself, yes, it can be difficult to read many writers on health, nutrition or exercise because most tend to demonize fat people. It helps me, in reading Shaunta’s posts, that talking about calorie counting doesn’t bother me the way DOING it for a week does. It also helps that I’m not a binge eater.

      I DO find many of Holly’s references to “when you weigh 417lbs you can’t do *thing I do daily at 430lbs*” maddening, but that’s a different thing. ;) I remind myself that it’s her shorthand for “before exercise program,” that she’s 6 inches shorter than I am, and everyone has different experiences.

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