Whatever your body type, attitude and exercise are key to a healthier you.
Photo: Anne Neczypor by Rebecca Szymczak
Zero birthdays can be a little intimidating. Like any milestone, any achievement, they cause us to take a look around at our lives, and decide if we are where we want to be. In preparation for one of mine, I found myself dissatisfied with my level of fitness. At 5 foot 3 and almost 200 pounds, I hadn’t hit the gym since high school. So I did something about it. I began a yearlong quest for optimum fitness.
In the beginning, I tried meeting with personal trainers. The first was a woman who had a similar story, only now she was 125 pounds of pure muscle. Much like my first lesbian “trainer,” she inflicted a lot of her own hang-ups on me. Next, I tried a brawny gay guy. He made me feel bad about myself, told me everything I was doing wrong in our first hour together, and swore he was going to set me straight…irony intended. Finally, I took matters into my own hands. I became a student of the subject. I connected with other people who had gone through a transformation, or were starting to. I hit the books and read all I could about nutrition and exercise. And I started making changes in the way I spoke about myself, conducted myself, and, ultimately, treated myself. In the end, I decided it made a lot of sense to get certified as a personal trainer myself.
Since then, I’ve helped a few friends to set up fitness plans, I’ve taken a few paying clients, and I’ve even inspired some of my family members to take their fitness seriously. When I heard that Curve was doing a Fitness issue, my attention turned (as it often does) to my extended family in “the community.” I pondered the reasons why we, as lesbians, seem to have this recurring issue with weight and fitness. I was staggered to find that we are far worse off than the population at large. So now I’m happy to offer you the tools and insight I’ve gained over the past year.
There are three crucial elements that determine our health and fitness levels. They are: diet, exercise, and—a much stickier subject—psychology.
We are shaped by our thoughts. We become what we think.—Buddha
Are you seriously going to argue with the Buddha? I thought not. So let’s tackle this first: Do you think of yourself as a healthy person? A big person? A fit person? Maybe you don’t think about your level of fitness at all. You should. We all should. You only get one shell to house this spirit, this mind, this heart. If you knew you would have only one car in your whole entire life, would you pour sugar in the gas tank? Would you drive it recklessly? Let it overheat? I didn’t think so. Lesbians are generally better to their cars than they are to their bodies. Talk to a lesbian about her set of wheels and you’ll see her face light up—she’ll speak lovingly about it, whether it’s a 1985 Jeep Wagoneer or a brand-new Mercedes SL550. But ask a lesbian about her legs and she might not even answer you. She might become self-conscious, or apologetic. That’s nuts.
Negative self-talk is a much harder habit to break than an addiction to potato chips, and far more detrimental to a healthy lifestyle. Cut it out. Just because there’s a voice inside your head, it isn’t necessarily your voice, your true voice. If the voice inside your head is telling you that you can’t or won’t ever be fit, it’s not your true voice—it’s a demon at the controls, with its hands on the wheel of the motor vehicle called your brain. The demon has your true voice tied up and gagged, but she’s sitting right behind it. She wants to get behind the wheel and drive (lesbians always want to drive). Freeing her up and silencing the demon is your key to success.