Unmentionables – Part II

Because knowledge is power, I’m sharing some of my favorite brands for fluffy ladies.

A word of caution – for the sake of your skin, do not try to go the el-cheapo route with workout clothes if you can avoid it. You want to avoid chafing, rashes, welts, etc if you’re participating in high-impact activities on a regular basis. Invest in a few quality pieces and launder them with care.

Dear Kate – I wear several of their underwear styles but I favor the “Hazel” for workouts. I don’t bother with the barrettes – my breasts give those thing the side-eye “please girl, that thing couldn’t hold a chicken breast!” Their 3x size was fitting me when I was over 300lbs, so they really do provide a true “plus size” cut. I now wear the 2x. I keep them looking like new by following their care instructions to the “T”. I know what you’re going to say – the price! I hear ya, sister. However, consider building your own set of 3 to take advantage of their coupon or sign up for the mailing list for another coupon opportunity. They are well-constructed and long-lasting.

Zella – I really like their tanks. The fit is generous without being baggy. They are soft and hold up to a multitude of washings. I am a pear-shape and these taper nicely at the hip instead of bunching up over my tummy. Their pants run a bit small if you have large hips and a generous bum like myself.

Old Navy – I know, I know. Didn’t I just criticize them in the last post? If cost is the difference between you getting out and getting moving and you staying on the couch, then buy stuff at Old Navy! They ALWAYS have crazy coupons. So it’s not really a financial loss if you get a pair of capris for $10 and have to replace them in 6 months. They size up to 4x (about a 24) and they have high-waisted pieces that are great for avoiding the dreaded “muffin top”.  Their pieces will last quite a while for lower impact activities or if you don’t run crazy amounts of miles in a week. I actually wear their little short thingies under fit n’ flare dresses instead of spending a fortune on Spanx. Again – launder carefully to keep the fabric in good condition.

Katie K Activewear – A newer kid on the activewear block! Their pants definitely make me feel that my jiggly bits are secure. The fabric is super soft and they offer fun prints and colors, proving that you don’t have to be saddled with an army of black leggings for workouts. Their tanks are very form-fitting but they just debuted a looser-fitting tee that I am eager to try. They size up to 3x. I am currently a 22 in most pants and their 3x fits me quite well (thunder thighs and all). They offer a coupon code if you sign up for their email list. I snagged a pair of capris from their sale section for $44. The shipping is pretty speedy and their customer service superb.

Lineagewear – I love these leggings for yoga and barre classes. The prints are super fun and they will be sizing up to a 4x after completing an Indiegogo campaign! These legginggs are really stretchy so you may be able to size down. I don’t recommend them for running because of the fabric (not enough moisture wicking for me) that they use but you can make that call for yourself.

Enell – some of us don’t need a sports bra so much as industrial-strength ace wraps. Nell provides a lot of support by keeping the girls tucked in close with a mid-length, front closure bra. No underwire. It’s not especially sexy, but you won’t be in pain after that 5-miler or kickboxing class. I like the higher coverage for yoga when I don’t want to unwittingly flash my classmates. Lane Bryant also has some pretty good sports bras that allow you to adjust the shoulder straps.

Lane Bryant – Yes, another one from the blacklist. Their Livi Active line is getting better even if it’s not my favorite. Most of their pants will not hold up for high-intensity activities where you sweat heavily. I find the material gets water-logged and sags. I tend to favor their tops as they provide a roomier fit than other brands and are better at wicking sweat than their pants. Avoid anything with the word “stretch” in the description. “Stretch” has no place in fitness wear. They used to have a great capri/legging that actually had compression, but I’m pretty sure it’s as elusive as the Vaquita.

I also find Zeazorb powder and BodyGlide to be essential for avoiding chafing and rashes, especially in the summer.

To prevent nasty fungal infections like intertrigo – always change out of wet clothes ASAP and dry your skin before putting on clean, dry clothing.

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Unmentionables

Chubby folk fall under that low rung of society beneath children and the elderly.

Those who should be neither seen nor heard.

Obviously, if you allowed yourself to balloon to the size of a larger zoo animal, you clearly could have nothing of skill or value to contribute to society, right?

I have certainly spent a large portion of my life trying to make my body appear small in a variety of settings that clearly illuminated just how I fit…

…into the seat at the movies or the theater

…into that airplane seat belt

…into the roller coaster car

…into the crowded elevator

…into the revolving door

The thought of donning form-fitting workout wear and bouncing up and down is terrifying for many of us. It wasn’t until recently (like in the last 3 months) that I stopped wearing workout wear that was several sizes too big. Exercising as a 300lb woman felt not only humiliating but physically impossible. And even if you’re a badass body positive babe who could give a flying fruitcake about what your “imaginary audience” thinks, there are very limited options on the market for holding all of that fluff together.

Companies like Lane Bryant, Forever21, Old Navy, and Torrid insult plus-size ladies with their poorly functional line of “athleisure” wear. How am I suppose to run that race in all that cotton!?

Companies like Nike, Under Armour, Lululemon, Athleta – should I go on? – make a thinly veiled attempted at clothing the curvy lady by providing “special sizes” that they lump with maternity wear. Seriously? “Special Sizes”? It’s like a size 20 is a disease or something.

Oh, and by the way, you can never get those sizes in the store – yet another slight that aims to highlight just how little we think of those who aren’t a size 00-10. You’ve got to spend an arm and a leg on shipping only to realize that their size 20 must have been meant for a husky 10 year old and not a grown-ass woman with breasts and hips. And if you happen to find a retailer that does offer “extended” sizing, chances are that they just blew up an outfit like a marshmallow in a microwave without any thought to proportion so that the size 8 woman gets a well-fitting garment and you get a trash bag.

With all that being said, who wouldn’t be uncomfortable throwing themselves headlong into a hike or run or spin class? Who would want to attempt a downward dog pose while worried their capris will split? Who would feel confident and comfortable moving their body and sweating in front of others?

Up until now, I refused to do jumping jacks unless someone was ready to secure all the jiggly bits in place with Duck Tape.

This summer, I really wanted to focus on working through my insecurity of being a literal hot, sweaty mess in front of other people. Naturally, I signed up for a 10k on August 28th (The Philly 10k) to force myself to run through the summer – a time when many Northeastern US runners slack off significantly because of heat advisories and crippling humidity.

Summer smashed into Philadelphia this week. I am already dreading July. We went from cold and rainy to 90 in the span of a week. I completed my first 10k training run (following the Hal Hingdon novice plan) today with an easy-peasy 2.5 miles at 0900 when it was already 77 degrees. I wouldn’t call myself a trail runner, but I much much prefer a good trail to a sidewalk or road. The trail has the added benefit of a lush tree canopy that prevents the sun from bearing down on you as if you’re a sunny-side up egg egg in a cast-iron skillet. The trail also provides fantastic scenery and enough flowery Honeysuckle perfume to ensure that I am not focusing on the body odor that must surely be emanating from every pore.

It was a sweaty, sweaty run. There was also very frizzy hair and cheeks so red you’d think someone had been chasing me. It was also a great run. I changed my intervals from 3:1.5 to 2:1 and felt that my run:walk transitions were much smoother and my pace got a wee bit faster.

IMG_2725

I relish the sweat now. It’s a badge of honor.

I just make sure to wear one my trusty hats to keep it all out of my eyes.

 

Dead F*cking Last

IMG_26785 for CHOP Run – Philadelphia, PA – 5.21.2016

One of my worst fears came true today.

I finished last in a race.

Not last as in “back-of-the-pack” last.

The Philly Fire Department paramedics were stalking me with their ATV — last.

The geese on the trail were out-pacing me — last.

Last two feet over the Finish line — last.

I am-going-to-throw-in-the-towel-and-quit — last.

D.F.L.

Dead. Fucking. Last.

Thinking about it one Bloody Mary, one beer, and several hours later, though, I am A-ok with that.

My anxiety failed to convince me that I wasn’t worthy of finishing. For the first time in life, my body is overriding the self-doubt and self-deprecation and my legs are carrying me; propelling me forward like the coupling rods on a locomotive, further and further. I am actually almost glad that it happened so that I could stop agonizing over the some-day possibility, dust myself off, and say “so what!?”

As trite as it sounds, I feel that I am a winner. I am never going to “win” any race I enter but I am slowly conquering that part of me that refused to even make an attempt.

“A winner is just a loser who tried one more time.” (George M. Moore, Jr.)

I am glad that I have kept trying. That even though my original goal was weight loss, that I have not let a scale dictate my accomplishments, that I have exceeded the meager expectations I set for myself, and that I continue to seek the life the exists outside of my comfort zone.

Every time my nerve denies me (which is often when you are stuck inside the insecure body of a 320lb person who just CAN NOT be you), I channel my inner Cheryl Strayed, remembering my favorite words from Emily Dickinson, and I go above my flippin’ nerve. Nothing I accomplish ever seems pretty (there were two Beauty Queens in this race – WITH tiaras) – it is sweaty and uncomfortable, skin chafes, my hair gets frizzy, and my thighs ache the next day. It gets done, though.

Dead Fucking Last will always trump D.N.F.

Did Not Finish.

{This experience also provided me with a rare moment of grace. Another race participant, whom I loosely know through the Philadelphia running community, re-entered the course AFTER he had finish his race to find me and run with me to the end so that I did not have to finish alone. I will always remember the instant, warm sense of comfort that comes when someone else reaches out to convey that “hey, you’re not alone in this”. I will strive to pay forward that kindness to someone who may find themselves in my shoes.}