“Oh you have really come out of your shell” . . . . One of my most hated phrases.

I had three different jobs over the years. Two of the three managers have used the phrase “You have really come out my shell” . . . usually following earlier meetings where they told me “to come out of my shell” or “speak more.” All I ever did was respond with “Ok”, but inside I was fuming. I think I should get a medal for not swearing at them until they understood how hated of a phrase that is for someone who is an introvert and an HSP. I have many hated phrases . . . but none have proven to be so equally meaningless and infuriating. This phrase can come in other forms like, ” Why are you are so quiet”, “You should talk more”etc.

In my professional life I have had the misfortune of always working with some variation of micro-managing control freak that dominates all conversations, must always be right and therefore does not really listen to others. With this kind of person I typically cannot get a word in edgewise, no matter how hard I try. I often just give up instead of wasting my precious social energy on these people. I have been places where that control freak is my immediate co-worker and when it has also been the manager (double slap to the face when she tells me to come out of my shell). The result is that I only get to speak when that extroverted, control freak, energy sucking vampire is not present.

Once I had a year of being the “go-to person” and not having to mentally prep for a battle to death if I wanted to give my opinion on something. I had a year to shine unobstructed. I got a glowing performance review marred only by that evil phrase “you really came our of your shell.” I hate this phrase because it implies there was something wrong with introverts and therefore something wrong with me. It is also a big joke because when they said “i really came of my shell” I personally did absolutely nothing differently. I didn’t come out my shell. I was never in a shell. I have never been in a shell. I am not and have never been a turtle. Although, I would rather be a turtle than hear this phrase ever again.

This would be preferable:

Green Sea Turtle. Chelonia mydas. Maui, Hawaii, USA.

 

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Gym class memories . . . so damn triggering.

One of my favorite blogs has had a lot of guest posts about the lasting effects of gym class. The last one was very appropriately named “How gym class ruined my life”. I didn’t even have to read the article or any of the previous posts to know the crap the writers likely had to deal with. For me it would be a lot easier and less time consuming to write the post “How gym class didn’t ruin my life” . . .. the post would be a blank page. Gym was torture from start to finish, in all five schools, and in all three countries I had to suffer through it. (Canada does not have a monopoly on shitty gym classes/teachers). I finally found joy in movement not because of gym class, but in spite of it.

I couldn’t do a hand stand, cart wheel, pull ups, run very far before I needed to walk some or run very fast. I was always picked last for teams. I was not good at sports and I knew nothing about the rules for anything because I also had not interest in watching sports. No one bothered to explain the rules. When I asked one gym teacher to explain the rules she snorted derisively at me. Teachers would shout “stop being afraid of the ball” when I hesitated. . . yup that totally made a difference.

Even when I manage to be moderately successful at something in gym class a gym teacher would destroy the moment. I remember being made the goalie for floor hockey once. I stopped two of three shots. I was thrilled. I thought I did a good job. It was comparable to what some of the other kids had done that day. The last shot that I missed . . .  the teacher screamed “that is what happens when you put her in the goal!”. And bam, just like that I was back to feeling like garbage again. She didn’t feel the need to say that to other kids who missed, just the fat one.

frenchi rollover

One day when team leaders were picking their teams the teacher ended the process by telling the last of us to divide ourselves equally between the teams ourselves. Only the fat kids were left and none of the team leaders were picking us. (Good job making your students behave like human beings Ms. Gym Teacher). As I walked to the back of team lines, I remember one team leader muttered under his breath for me to get in his line. So I was good enough for his team, but not good enough for him to admit it out load. The joys of being the fat kid.

defeated puppy

I had another teacher who decided it was a good idea to give us all step blocks and have us do complicated step aerobic combos cold turkey. I had never even touched a step block before. I tried to do the smart thing and only take one set of risers for my block so I could learn the moves hopefully without tripping. The teacher accused me of being lazy and copping out. She made me take another set of risers. I couldn’t follow the choreography and I slowed down to try to figure it out. She yelled at me “Too Slow!”. I sped up and ended up over stepping and rolling my ankle off the right side of the high step . . . I sprained it really badly. She scoffed at me from the front of the room. Didn’t bother to check on me. Told me to get back up and keep going. Well that was 18 years ago. Guess which ankle has been sprained many more times after being compromised that first time and has been permanently swollen ever since? What really terrifies me is that this women was given prestigious teaching awards for her work. My international school was thrilled to have recruited such a great teacher for their school. They were proud of her. If that women was the gold standard of gym teachers, than I don’t want to know what teachers other kids who hate gym had. And people wonder why I look at them funny when they suggest I become a teacher.

falling pup

I now love lifting. And I have found I am pretty good at it. I love researching kinesiology, anatomy, and physiology to help me improve my training. This love took awhile to find because I had to change how I thought about exercise in general. Exercise is not punishment. It is not a way to just burn calories. It’s only purpose is not to try force my body to be thinner. I thought the wrong way about exercise in general because of the horrible way I was treated in my gym classes (and in other situations that involved movement and body image). I was taught that I was not good enough, that my body was bad, that I was fat therefore I must be lazy, and I was lazy therefore I am fat. I was taught to hate exercise because of the judgey, body-negative, body-shaming, fat-bigoted students and teachers it forced me be in contact with regularly. I lost so many years of joyful movement because of them. When I train now I sometimes think to myself . . . imagine if someone had taken the time to build me up in the school gym instead of tearing me down for not having the right body type (or at the very least told the bullies to shut their traps). Imagine how much farther a long I could be with my strength training if all of school hadn’t been wasted being stuck in the “I am fat because I can’t do this- I can’t do this because I am fat” never ending loop of hate . . . all because of some shitty gym teachers and classroom bullies.

I don’t think there was a single gym class that didn’t end in this:

ruff day

I now spend my time trying to appreciate my body for what I can do instead of what it can’t. That is what the gym class should be about. Moving your body in a way that works for you not against you.

On a side note . . . I don’t understand how in the media everyone is so shocked about the fact that bullying happens in schools. How can they be shocked or surprised? In my experience the only kids that weren’t being bullied were the bullies. The bullies are also often the teachers. And even when the teachers aren’t directly doing the bullying they are still indirectly responsible because they enable or actively protect the bullies. That was my reality in school in general, not just gym class. The popular girl who was the teacher’s pet who shoved me off the play ground equipment from behind smashing my head into a post . .  not a single word was said to her even though the teacher was looking right at us when the girl shoved me. When the naive me thought ‘maybe she didn’t see’ and told the teacher and showed her giant egg forming on my head . .  the women told me to stop whining. That was only one example. I could write a book on all the horrible things that happened in school and teachers did nothing about. School equals bullying.

Me while I am forced to listen to co-workers beat themselves up for failing to adhere to self-imposed restrictive eating behaviours over the weekend . . .

frustration

If said tried to say something about how damaging their thinly disguised self-hate and disordered/restrictive eating is or about how triggering it is for me to listen to them as I battle towards true body possibility, understanding what my body needs, and having a healthy relationship with food. . . it would probably come out like this . . .

roar it

So I say nothing and try to do this . . . . .

inner peace

 

 

Being sick sucks . . .

Lifting heavy things is one my preferred activities. I have even made some good progress recently on some my weaknesses despite it being winter and having to walk to the gym. I was nailing morning training 4-5 days a week. It was good. Then my partner picked up some monster plague from work. Typically he suffers while I get away illness free. Not this time. I picked up the monster plague from him and have been a useless lump in bed for four days. A single flight of stairs makes my lungs hurt. But lying about all day also makes my back hurt. Lifting heavy things is often what makes my back feel better. So what is person to do when the preferred form of movement (or any significant movement) is out of the question?

Restorative yoga. Even while horribly sick I can usually manage 20-30 of super slow and gentle restorative yoga. I find it just enough to stave off my back pain until I am well enough to ease back into more active forms of movement.

lift heavy things

Best advice ever . . .

Wish I had found this ten years ago. . . been following these rules for about 5 years and they are prefect.

Christmas time rules All the time rules:

  1. do not go into debt trying to show people how much you love them
  2. do not go home to see family if it damages your mental health
  3. if someone comments on your weight, eat them.

Also:

my ass is cold

Happy New Years from Canada!

Shit people say the gym . . .

So some lady interrupts me in the middle of my bench press. (People . . . for safety reasons you should always let a lifter rack their weight before you try talking to them!)

Lady: “Oh! You are so strong!” She says to me while she flexes her arms in front of her. I was in the middle of a set so couldn’t respond right then. She then apologizes for interrupting me and moves off to collect some dumbbells.

After I racked the bar the lady came back.

Lady: “You are so strong. Are you a hockey player?” She is once again flexing her arms low in front of her body and shrugging her shoulders.

Me: “Uh . . . ? No. That would require that I be able to skate.” (I also seriously hate team sports . . . soccer, football, basketball, hockey, etc. If you are my arch nemesis and want to make me suffer horribly before I die make me watch sports for an entire minute.)

Lady: Looking surprised . . . “You can’t skate?!”

Me: “Nope.”

Lady: “Oh”. She looked a bit confused. I am not sure why. I know we are in Canada, but I can’t be the only Canadian who can’t skate.

She ended up asking me for some help with completing the workout plan she had. She had only been attending the gym for two weeks, and didn’t remember what all the short forms of exercise names the trainers use on the form stood for. I helped her out as much as possible while hiding my desire to go find the trainer who thought it was ok to write one cookie cutter workout plan to hand it to all new gym members and smack that trainer silly. (Seriously, my gym has one free plan they hand to all new members. A trainer walks the new member through each exercise once and then they are on their own.)

Walking home I kept wondering why this lady had decided to ask if I played hockey and made ape gestures at me. I don’t wear or carry any sports paraphernalia. I don’t watch the sports playing silently on the gym television. All I could think of is she maybe thought I had the body type of a hockey player? Again I hate sports and don’t watch them or play any myself. The people I know who do play recreational hockey are all of very different body types (tall, short, thin, fat, medium etc.). I personally don’t have an image in my mind of what a typical female hockey player looks like.

So when I got home I told my partner about this conversation. He said well a lot of hockey players are the stockier sort (he also did a kind of low flexing gesture with his arms) . . . and then he kinda trailed off like he realized that he may be digging himself a coffin shaped hole and jumping in head first. (I mostly just found this funny. I let him squirm a little in silence. Don’t worry. He still breaths. He did not commit suicide by spouse.)

So . . . average height, fat, and muscular equals hockey player? WTF?

I have put a lot of work into body positivity, ditching diet-culture, and bad gym-culture. I am ok with being of average height. I am ok with being fat. I will never have a thin body. What I do have is a very strong body that responds wonderfully to my training efforts by building muscle for me and letting me lift more and more weight over time. I love that I am able to build muscle and get stronger. I love muscle. I have more muscle then ever before and it has come from working out less and eating more. The only thing the “eat less and exercise more” shitty diet advice did for me was make me miserably underfed and over exercised.

I am bothered by this conversation mostly because it seems to suggest the idea that if a female is strong or is training for strength . . . she must be doing it for some (socially acceptable) reason, such as sports. She can’t just pursue strength for the sake of building strength.

 

 

I am still trying to sort out my own feelings about #metoo. In the meantime this article has some good discussion . . .

[note: this post contains descriptions of cases of sexual harassment and violence] I can’t help it. I know we’re a fitness blog, but all I can think about is the “me too” thing that took hold this week. Early this week, social media was overflowing with posts of “me too” in answer to this call […]

via We interrupt our regularly scheduled fitness programming for a commentary on #metoo — Fit Is a Feminist Issue