Bulky but Still Beautiful: Representations of Healthy Femininity in the CrossFit Narrative

The end of summer has come, and the quiet blog is testament to how much of a whirlwind it’s been. Between my half Ironman debut, defending my thesis, and starting a new gig at Hybrid Fitness Centre, I’ve had a pretty amazing summer, I’d say. I’ll leave the part about how I dropped a barbell on myself (a wakeup call, perhaps?) out of it and just say that while I’m sad to see summer come to what feels like a quick close, I’m excited for what fall has in store: teacher’s college, working at the gym, and gearing up for some updates to my services–coaching stuff–that I’m anxious to share with you all soon!

But in the meantime, I’m going to share my thesis. The link is live, and so far I’ve had 52 downloads according to the email that came my way earlier this week! I’d like to see the fruits of my labour over two years of my life read by a few more sets of eyes, so if you’re interested in sociology, health, the body, body image, CrossFit, femininity, etc. then do me a favour and take a looksie–it’s available through Western for download.

Here’s my abstract to whet your appetite:

“Positioned in the area of feminist cultural studies, this thesis examines representations of femininity, fitness, and health in four key publications related to the fitness programs offered by the CrossFit™ Corporation. A critical discourse-analytical methodology is used to deconstruct notions of fit femininity in the CrossFit narrative. I argue that themes on femininity reflect contemporary healthist ideologies that promote concerns for health as an individual, moral responsibility, and normalize entrenched notions of the female body as a project to be managed. Drawing on the language of feminine empowerment, the CrossFit narrative constructs the ideal female body as one with increased muscularity and functional abilities, while also offering up a singular feminine ideal that reproduces ideological views sustaining unequal gender relations. An overarching dominant theme of the CrossFit narrative stipulating a need for constant improvement, anchors a discursive effect promoting continual consumption and self-monitoring of, and for, health.

Keywords: CrossFit, Gender, Femininity, Critical Discourse Analysis, Consumerism, Healthism”

…enjoy! I’d love to hear some of your feedback in the comments. I may be done this Masters, but I hope that this is just starting the discussion.

some sort of idea

Do you have any thoughts on CrossFit media?
Have you ever done a CDA? 
Have you written a thesis? 

 

less layers, more judgement?: bodies in the summer

I have always loved the summer. With it comes so many good things: a break from our routines, extra sunshine, long bike rides, ice cream cones, and tan lines, to name a few. With it too comes less clothes. This week, I stumbled onto this ecard, which I think is a touch on the unnecessary side.

no one wants to see

 

Today I thought of it when I read an article from the guardian about being fat in the summer. In “Yes, I’m fat, but spare us the cruelty this summer,” the author talks about her experience being big and being told that her body is too big on a seasonal basis. People, in the summer, feel more compelled to comment on her size, which the author admits makes the hot months uncomfortable. She calls for people to give her (and other fat people) a break during the already uncomfortable summer months when it comes to judging them for their weight.

I don’t have a lot of experience being told that my body is too fat in the summer. I do know what it’s like to be uncomfortable in some capacity because of the shape of my body in the hot months (hello, prickly heat from thighs rubbing during a run) and I certainly have experience wishing that it was fall so I could cover up.

No matter what size we are, the summer is a time when there is more of us exposed. Whether we’re overweight, underweight, or just think we’re too much of this or not enough of that, the summer and it’s lack of layers can make us uneasy. I agree with the article’s call for less commenting on each others’ bodies.Our reactions to how someone else looks have more to do with our own relationships with our bodies and ourselves than anything, and I don’t think we should take those out on other people–whether it’s the norm or not.

Where I disliked the article was with the way that the author frames fat and refers to her own body. I think that it’s interesting that this kind of article where there’s a call for people to back off with the body judgement is so harsh towards the fat body of the author herself. Her body–fat or not–deserves her love.

Self deprecation when it comes to our perceived faults–in this case, a fat body–might make it easier to take. But unfortunately, making fun of our own bodies just makes it worse and gives permission to other people to do the same. While I applaud the honesty:

“I suppose the facts of a fat summer are ones I accept and embrace every time I get a Big Mac (which is more often than I should, and yet never enough), and I’m self-aware enough to know that being this big isn’t good for me, that barbs from strangers on the street are mixed with truths.”

…I definitely get why someone would be judgemental. Our culture views health as a personal responsibility and if it comes down to eating or not eating Big Macs, I am not surprised that people think someone “should” be smaller. For the fat acceptance movement, I think this kind of article sends the wrong message. If we don’t change the way we look at “fat” and the way that we think about people’s bodies becoming fat, I don’t think we are going to change the way people relate to their bodies or look at other peoples’.

That being said, I am on the side of the fence where I think people should take responsibility for the way that they treat their bodies. Healthy is healthy whether your BMI falls in a certain range or not. You can’t necessarily judge a book by its cover–or a person by their body size/shape–but you can judge yourself based on your actions. It’s easier not to eat healthy or to exercise and to try to change the way that we feel about our bodies, but I think we’ll feel better about whatever size body we have when we can rest assured that we are doing our best to be as healthy as we can and taking care of our bodies. To me, that’s what body acceptance is about. I feel better about my body when I know that I’m doing things to take care of it. I know that this “It’s OK to have this body if you’re healthy” conditional approach might not win me the favour of some advocates out there, but I also know that if we want a healthier world people need to value their health and that means encouraging healthy behaviours.

In short, I agree with this article and with the idea that in the summer and year round we should back off with the comments and judgements regarding other peoples’ bodies. But I don’t think that in the process we need to normalize that someone who’s fat must necessarily be eating big macs or not taking personal responsibility for their health, nor should we excuse unhealthy behaviour as part of our journey towards acceptance. Skinny or fat, taking care of yourself and taking responsibility for making healthy choices is a win.

What do you think about this article/topic? 

 

 

Making progress

Howdy there…this time from London and my futon. Boy oh boy did I miss my space!

Right now it’s a bit of a disaster since my suitcases exploded with laundry…

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…and we all know how I feel about laundry.

Needless to say, I don’t feel too bad putting off the finishing touches of my unpacking and cleaning til tomorrow when I’m fresh…

Now for the good stuff.

Today was amazing. Warning–I’m terrible at race recaps, so bear with me!

Bluewater is like Christmas. Going home for this race means seeing so many familiar faces and being literally outside where I grew up. I did the duathlon for two years before making my switch to triathlon last year, which makes this my fourth time doing the event. It’s one of the ones people do year after year after year, and not just because the church ladies cook up a storm (too bad my camera was dead and I didn’t get any photos from the post-race spread). This year, I finished in 1:05 on the dot, which was almost 2 minutes faster than last year! It’s not a massive improvement, but I’ll take it. The results went up quick but I was mostly pleased that my stomach cooperated, I felt strong, and that I got to do the race!

I did snag some photos from the race (my mom took some, I took some, friends had cameras!) and it was all smiles and sunshine.

That pretty much sums it up, although I did have a near heart attack about 5 minutes before the start when I lost my goggles. And of course I didn’t have my spares. I asked all around the people on the beach and then finally with 3 minutes to go ran my butt up to transition area and offered to kiss the first person to lend me a spare. Luckily a kind kind soul gave them to me (and only teased me about following through on my offer) and I was able to adjust them and swim! AMEN for nice triathletes.  The 400m took me 9:12, but there’s a nice chunk of time for the run back to transition in there. I was faster than last year and felt loads better, so that’s a good thing, especially since I’ve done ZERO open water swims.

The bike felt awesome. I passed a lot of girls and guys alike (that’s normal — I am a cyclist and not much of a swimmer so it’s bound to happen). I even spent some time in my drops…which was new for me. What better time to experiment than during a race, right? (joke) The 18km took me 34:22, which is one of those times I’m proud of but nothing out of this world–though considering the biking I’ve been doing, I’m happy my legs were feeling good and not too tired from the mountains. Yay!

Another thing I’ve done NONE of this year = bricks. I guess all the bootcamp workouts have confused my muscles enough that a casual 4km run after the swim/bike wasn’t too much of a shocker. Maybe I should have run harder, but I finished up in 19:05, which really surprised me. Faster than 5:00 kilometres without training on purpose? I’ll take it with a smile!

Like I said, I ended up coming in faster than last year. I placed second in my age group again and this year I was third overall for the girls. That felt awesome–it was like the icing on the cake, especially since I went in with no real “training” per se! I also won a raffle prize–a $25 gift card for running room. Lucky bum, huh?

Props go out to all of the people who raced today! There was a lot of first timers, some comebacks, and a whole lot of great work out there. I was so glad to see SO MANY people I know. Did I mention I love this race?

Justin’s a friend from Western tri club – matching age group plaques!

Look who showed up — Dave and his wife Dina made their way out to say hello! 🙂

Amy’s a yoga instructor who makes me smile every time I see her! She killed it this year and was such a ray of sunshine/cheerleader even while neither of us could really breathe…

Haley also did great and cheered like a champ even during the race!

…since my stomach was off, I stuck to a bland tuna sandwich (blechhhhh sums up how I feel about this) and a cookie. My dinner tonight was delicious and brought me back to how I normally eat. Snacks today were all over the place: dried fruit, an apple, two bananas, a LARA bar, a granola bar. I’m so ready to not be flying by the seat of my pants, it’s not even funny!

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first things first, back to my kale!

20120721-204449.jpgBack to the good stuff..

The post-race fun just made things even better. We started off on a patio…

And then made our way for a refreshing dip in the river. This is kind of a Sarnia rite of passage and it felt so good today.

someone’s on their own countdown!

Made it!

The river run was on my summer bucket list, along with a whole whack of other things I’ve been crossing off. Like drinking long island iced tea (it’s a rough life, ya know!)…

Now that I’m back in London, I’m feeling better and better–and I don’t just mean my stomach. This morning and the past few days, I’ve been feeling so gross. Dreading coming home and feeling fat and miserable. But ya know what I realized today?  When my friends asked me to stick around after the race, I wanted to say no. I wanted to come back right away and do…what? I don’t know. Be miserable? Binge? That’s definitely where I was at a year ago…but it’s not where I am today. There’s something empowering about realizing that you can choose something different and even if you start to stray from your healthy/happy/new ways, you can get back to where you need to be. Since it feels so good to choose the happy thing (going for a drink even though I felt “fat”, racing even though I hadn’t trained and thought I’d end up “slow”, spending time with friends instead of being miserable), it’s starting to become my automatic choice, I think. And that’s the way it should be…apparently happy is not only healthy, it’s also faster than last year, friendly. and all around awesome. 🙂

And now for the perfect ending to a pretty much perfect day — first my decaf coffee/nightcap (cuz I bought a bottle of deliciousness and had to give it a go) and then the face plant into MY OWN BED!

Have you ever done a triathlon? What’d you think? I love it — the physical part is challenging, the camaraderie is unbelievable! Nothing like any other kind of race — there’s competition but it’s such a different kind. LOVE. I think I re-caught the bug here…

What are you doing this weekend?

PS: Speaking of Christmas…

Short and oh so sweet

Well, I am home from my trip to Toronto.

It was short, and as you saw, oh so sweet! Lots of wine, lots of chocolate, lots of catching up.

I thought I’d be exhausted after the double dose of spin I got into in the morning–yeah, I’m hooked again on spin classes! There’s a reason why I became an instructor and bought a bike in the first place, and I’m remembering it this week. Also, there was one of my fav instructors back after having a baby so staying for her class after a seriously sweaty and awesome one by another really awesome teacher’s was easy. 🙂

The drive to Toronto was easy too–I had company from Mel and Nina, which made it fly by!

When I got there, Bonnie and I headed for massages. Like something out of Austin Powers, but awesome. It’s tradition!

Our friends who are in Toronto for chiropractic school joined us for a long overdue reunion, dinner, and wine!

With the wine drinking and awesome company came a really amazing conversation. The kind that makes you want to smile for the next few days (I’m in perma-grin mode, despite a hangover). We talked about a lot but some questions really struck awesome insight:

  • What holds you back/has held you back?
  • What does your life look like in 10 years?
‘Twas awesome. I’m realizing more and more how cool the people in my life are and how this happy, positive wavelength I seem to be riding is contagious (or I’ve just been ignoring the fact that it’s out there until now!).
I blame it a bit on buying this book for Bonnie for her birthday (on Angela’s suggestion)–“Four regular guys on a mission to complete a list of ‘100 Things To Do Before You Die’ and to help and encourage others to go after their own lists.”
You know we ate this up!
It also sparked my own mental summer to do list, which I started today as I drove back to London (after breakfast, of course).

Sneak peak of the summer 2012 (epic?) to do list, which I think will be worth a page of its own on here:

  • feed ducks – starting it off with a bang 😉
  • go on a roller coaster
  • beat everyone up a mountain on my bike
  • bike to sarnia
  • watch a sunrise
  • sleep under the stars
  • do a mud run
  • write for a new magazine
  • trail run
  • go on a road trip
  • meet someone famous
  • do yoga on the beach
  • try long boarding
  • go to an outdoor concert
  • eat something I grow
  • bake with flour from Arva – it’s close and it’s supposed to be delicious!
  • go sailing
  • go boogie boarding 🙂
  • ride a century
  • ride a tandem bicycle
When I got back to London (after two pit stops and a snack), I met up with friends for a swim! We did about 2400m, which felt okay (considering Bonnie and I got only a few hours of sleep after talking our hearts out at bedtime!).
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After the swim, I was ravenous. Repeat of yesterday’s turkey sandwich, loaded with sprouts and tomatoes (I’m craving veggies)!

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This afternoon I spent at Starbucks, working away on a freelance assignment and trying to sort out the continuing education credits I need to get this month to keep my fitness certification current. Progress!

Now it’s nearly time for me to head to yoga with my friends!

How’s your week going?
What’s on your summer to do list? 

TGIF on time

After last week’s failed Friday post that ended up being on Saturday, I’ve made sure I’ve been paying attention to things going on this week and making some bookmarks to get this Friday post fired off for you guys!

Did I mention I love Fridays? And life?

5 inspirations

1. 

2. 

3. 

4. 

5. 

4 things I am adding to my summer to do list

1. Healthy Living Summit – With Chelsea, Meg, and I hope Bee, maybe Courtney, and whoever the heck else wants to jump on this awesome train. Takers?!

2. Canyon to Coast Jasper to Banff 500 Cycle Tour – Click on the link! This is my grad gift and I am freaking excited. 106 days (but who’s counting?). The description is good — “This tour for serious cyclists features the incredible beauty and diversity of British Columbia’s interior and coast. On this 520k / 320 mile tour you will not only get to ride the entire Icefields Parkway from Jasper to Banff, but you will also get to see some of the hidden and less visited gems in the Canadian Rockies and ride all of the amazing climbs to stunning vistas. This tour is geared toward ambitious intermediate to serious road riders and features 5,300 metres or 17,500 feet of elevation gain.” but the picture of the bear is funny. So long as I’m faster than one other person on the trip, I’m going to be good.

3. Yoga Slackers Adventure Summer Camp – This one I’ve not signed up for and think I might be jam packing my August a bit too much but I want to do it so I thought I’d share! A girl can dream…of slack lining, doing yoga, and trail running like a kid for a week, can’t they?

4.

including but not limited to: biking anywhere and everywhere in Ontario, trail running our faces off, kayaking, jumping in the river, eating copious amounts of fro yo and ice cream, hanging out on Barney's patio, doing ropes courses, going rock climbing, going to as many concerts as possible, signing up for races galore, etc. etc. etc.

3 blog posts you should read

1. Angela’s “An Injury Update & Finding the Silver Lining” : “When things happen in our lives that take us off our planned course (and they will), it’s a great time to stop and think about what other doors have opened. It can take time to figure out, but that’s ok too. Do a bit more of what feels good to you each day, and a bit less of what doesn’t.”

I think she was speaking to me! Injury or not, it’s a good message! Look at the opportunities, not what you might have missed out on. An injury blows, yes indeedy! But my own injury taught me a lot, got me back in the pool, and I’m not going to lie and say I’m not SCARED of getting hurt again, but I do know that I am bigger than letting my ability to run or bike or do whatever determine my happiness or self worth. Yeah, it blows not being able to do what you want to do. But if I’d been down in the dumps for the last 3 months because of my hip, I think I’d have missed out on the best semester of my life. An injury doesn’t stop you from living your life or give you an excuse to be miserable—it took me a lot of tears and being miserable to realize that, but life is too freaking short! You could be in the best shape of your life and die tomorrow, and if you spent your whole life working out and controlling things in order to be that fit, what do you have to show for it?! Toned biceps in your casket? Yeah…I’m seizing the day!

2. 7 Essential Steps to Giving Up the Fight with Food and Your Body  at Body Love A- The steps are awesome but so are the questions she asks of you at the beginning. And she ends things with “Your thoughts are creating your reality,” which sounds kind of familiar to a little epiphany I had this week, doesn’t it?

3. Tina’s Motivational Musing: This Is What It’s All About  post – her message = “Don’t let life pass you by. Take care of your body so you can live life abundantly. View a healthy lifestyle as a blessing to help you get the most out of life, instead of an obligation or obsession that robs the life out of you.”

And that’s a good message worth checking out! Did I mention I love her blog?!

2 things that made me drool this week

1. boys

2. Leanne’s 20 Healthy Gluten-free Power Snacks post filled with tasty looking eats I really want to try! Gluten or no gluten, they look good. Yummmmm.

1 new blog I found/loved this week 

1. Medical Marzipan – Learning to Love Your Body One Day At A Time – check it out. “Medicinal Marzipan is a blog about learning to love yourself a little bit more every day – to the best of your abilities and without any regrets.”

Sounds like a good goal to me!

Happy weekend!

What’d you stumble on this week worth sharing?

Things to do when you can’t sleep

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…NOT. I am stressed. I know this for many reasons including the fact that I can’t sleep. For someone used to going to bed at 10:30 and waking up at 5:30, being awake at 2:30 (I tweeted to mark the time) is not ideal. I tossed and turned for a while and finally got hungry enough to just get up. I admittedly had a real coffee later than normal yesterday, but I think my mind racing had more to do with not being able to sleep. Eventually, I unset my alarm and got up, snacked, and worked on my take home exam/essay some more. Things to do besides worry about not being able to sleep:

  • read blogs
  • write in your journal
  • embrace the opportunity to have a true “midnight snack”
  • research wild trips you’ll likely never be able to go on—or find one you actually want to try! (I am particularly drawn to the semester long treks through NOLS)
  • finish the draft of an essay you’re worried about
  • read a book
  • paint your nails
  • clean
Those come from experience. Enjoy.

My midnight snack of choice was a boring bowl of greek yogurt that got more exciting when I added a spoonful of peanut butter. I think there’s a saying that a spoonful of peanut butter makes life complete? 😉 20120410-073052.jpg I almost repeated my morning snack, which was similar—greek yogurt with honey, cocoa, and a few Mini Eggs. I think my thoughts just caught up with me at night because I was going all day and didn’t have time for them to sink in or swirl around my head. After my morning post yesterday, I ended up spinning at the gym before heading to The Gazette. I ran into Nina and ended up eating lunch (turkey sandwich with leftover kale chips). I love seeing her, but realizing we are almost done this semester and that she might not be here next year makes me uber sad and reminds me of all the other good friends who are going to be friends from remote locations after this year :(! I worked for a bit but I started to get really anxious about my assignments so I went to the library. I saw Ellen, who has a knack for making me happier, and sat in the less stressful cafe part of the library where eating my afternoon granola bar wouldn’t piss everyone off and where my stress levels wouldn’t increase by association. 20120410-073032.jpg Afterwards, I went for a swim! Luckily I had company, otherwise I’d probably have bailed. I did a short set with more kicking than was originally planned to save my shoulder a bit of stress. It really didn’t hurt much, just felt tight, so I don’t know what to do. I have a massage (for my hip, mostly) on Thursday, but I think I’ll see if getting her to loosen up my oh so stressed back/neck/shoulders helps things out. I also have physio on Friday so I can bring it up there too! After the swim, I had dinner with Nina (spinach salad with leftover sweet potatoes, salmon, cranberries, and pecans) and after arming myself with Mini Eggs, we met Angela for a night of studying at Starbucks. Studying with friends makes me more likely to smile and not to go into tunnel vision about “never finishing this essay” or about “having nothing to do in the summer”—common worries for me during the final stretch here! So, even though it’s kind of a stressful time, I’m trying really hard to spend as much time with people as I can and to enjoy the last bit of time here! I had a few “OMG I AM SO GLAD I’M COMING BACK NEXT YEAR” moments yesterday. Not only does taking time to see people and to just slow down keep me sane and make me happy, it also is important since the semester is coming to an end and I’m realizing how much I’m going to miss these folks. And, tear. 20120410-073036.jpg This morning I woke up a little full from last night’s middle of the night snack, sad that I missed swim, but ready to get on with my day. I started things off with a few of my favourite things: cereal, coffee, and blogging. It’s on to working on my exam, trying to make it to campus, spinning, and teaching bootcamp. Busy is better than bored! Do you get stressed when things end/change? What do you do if you can’t sleep? What kind of trip would you go on if you had unlimited money and resources?