Pride, Rides, and the Bicycle Film Festival!

First and foremost, let me say to everyone – HAPPY PRIDE! While the focus of this blog is primarily, well, chubby cycling, I cannot let Pride go by without giving a shout out to the LGBTQ community and their allies. You guys are rock stars!

This weekend was also part of the annual Bicycle Film Festival in NYC. It’s over for this year but it’s their 17th straight year, and it’s a great, affordable time out. I went to see Program 2 on Saturday, 6/24, so I’ll be reviewing that one. But before we get to that that biking – my biking!

We started off by biking down to my regular shop, Toga Bike Shop on the UWS. If anyone is looking for a bike shop in NYC I highly recommend them. They are professional, their bike selection is great, and if you buy your bike with them you get free basic tune ups for life, and reduced rates on other services (I swear I’m not endorsed by them – I just like the shop). There are some bike shops with cheaper and second hand inventory, and staff that are just as helpful, but I definitely felt that as a first-tim bike buyer a couple years ago, Toga was the place for me.

Anyway, we had them look at my squeaky brakes, and the other issues, and a decent tune-up definitely helped the bike, and made it a heck of a lot more pleasant to ride. I still want to get a new bike eventually. I’m looking into a hybrid, because the folder isn’t fantastic on hills, and also I like to go on longer rides upstate and folding bikes aren’t exactly great for long, multi-terrain rides. I think I’ll be looking into a hybrid next year.

After that we biked down to Anthology Film Archives, so overall the journey was about ten miles.If you’ve never been to the archives, they’re pretty darn cool. It’s an old building that usually has some neat things showing.

The BFF is great because it has free valet bike parking, as well as Clif bars (they’re a sponsor)! They also usually have some useful messenger bags, hats, and/or other merch up for grabs (all for free). Tickets run at $14 a pop per program, which isn’t too bad, and they also sell passes for the whole week. Here’s a pic of me and Tim (the boyfriend), at the BFF after the ride:

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We went last year too, were we saw Sven: The Final Year, a documentary about Sven Nys, a competitive cyclocross racer with two world championship titles, seven World Cup series titles, and over 140 competitive victories to his name. It’s a touching film about his last competitive season, and I highly recommend it.

Now on to the program I saw yesterday. The BFF usually shows a few short films before the main title, so I’ll give a brief overview of those as well:

Cycologic is about a young woman in Uganda who is determined to bring cycling to her resistant city. Overall, it was interesting. I would have loved if the film were a little longer, as it left me feeling a unsatisfied, and wanting more story. It was overall a good film considering it was a just a few minutes long – and gratifying to see that it’s not just NYC where people hate cyclists, haha.

The next short film was a 25 minute piece, with the lofty title of Tall Bikes Will Save the World. It was a pretty light-hearted and funny piece about a group of brothers who build tall bikes , as well as other kinds of Franken-bikes. It was fun to see they way these bikes were made, but I definitely cringed watching these guys perform crazy tricks. One of them even got doored. It was definitely interesting. Will tall bike save the world? Likely no, but it made for an entertaining film. I’ve included a pic of the tall bikes from the film below.

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The last film, The Bullit’s Burden, was a 50 minute documentary , and the main event of the program. The Bullit is a cargo bike developed by Hans Bullitt Fogh, and sold in the shop Larry vs. Harry in Denmark, although they are owned by people all over the world. The film started out a little slowly, mostly talking about this unique bike and the equally unique fandom – for example a hardened bike messenger from the UK and a strangely happy Danish family, who seem far too well-rested for the number of children they have, in my humble opinion. Everyone who encounters one seems to love the Bullit, however the film took a sharp turn half way through, and focused on a  tragedy within the Bullit community, and the way the community rallied in response.

It could have been a very inspiring story, and it still was, for the most part, but the film lost direction and didn’t always make it clear who was talking to whom, and about whom people were speaking. I think it’s worth a watch, but the makers of the documentary could have done with a little more focus and explanation. Both my friend and I left a tad confused, and we had to check in with each other and my boyfriend to ask things like, “Wait, what was that one part about? Who was that one guy talking about in that one interview?” Honestly, with just a few more subtitles the film could have been more cohesive. However, I’m now super into Bullits. So it worked that way. They’re just cool! Look at them!

After the film festival, my boyfriend and his best friend had a surprise for me, so we walked our bikes a few blocks (our friend did not bike there), and my surprise was –

A CAT CAFE!

I love cats. I love cats so much. I’m a crazy cat lady without the cats. They’re perfect little arseholes and I won’t hear otherwise. Anyway, here are some pics from the cat cafe (not bike-related, but I can’t help but share).

So I had a beautiful day of cycling, and then I got to see bike films, and play with kitties! We biked back after dinner, which made Saturday just about a 20 mile day. Not bad at all!

Today, I biked about 15 miles, 7.5 miles each way to a potluck that my improv group was hosting. I made bread, drank a beer, a mint julep, and a vodka cranberry, and then switched to water for a couple hours so I could bike home!

We biked over Randall’s Island, which is a gorgeous ride if you ever have the time. It’s the strange little slice of quiet green in a big, loud city. I almost regret putting it in this blog in case it becomes more crowded – but luckily about three people read this, so I think my serenity spot is safe ;).

So I’m home, having biked 35 miles over the weekend. Not too bad considering I’ve only just started to leap back into it!

That being said, I’m pooped. See you all next time!

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Um. Hi.

So, it’s been a while.

Hello Internet. I feel like I’m running into a bad ex except the bad ex is me and this blog has every right to be reproachful.

I had a bit of a downward turn with my cycling, and with my fitness journey in general. It was like nothing was sticking, and as the weather got colder and we headed into a New York winter I found more and more reasons to sleep in later and get on the subway, rather than be up and bright-eyed and bushy tailed about cycling. I kept telling myself that I was going to bike again when the weather got better, and it just never totally happened.

To be fair to myself, I haven’t not biked at all. I rode to the Redhook Crit and back, and went on some smaller rides. I haven’t ceased biking entirely, but it definitely hasn’t been my primary mode of commuting. So, I’m determined to get back into the swing of things this year.

At the risk of sounding like I’m making excuses, my bike has also become increasingly difficult to ride. I own a montecci folding bike, and while it worked relatively well when I got it two years ago, it’s become increasingly finicky and difficult to ride since. I’ll be posting the link to montecci website at the bottom of this blog post. The brakes are now continually sticking, which makes rising it an absolute (literal) drag because my wheels are constantly fighting to…move. I’m not good with the technical terms. I some how lost a screw from the hinge on the steering neck (or long front bar thingy, if you’re me), so there’s a definite wobble when I ride. My brakes squeal, and I’ve had to replace five of the back spokes. It’s terrible on potholes and hills too, which if you ride in New York…forget about it. You have to be able to handle those two things.

I initially got a folding bike because I worked two jobs and it was totally convenient. I’d ride to one, zip crosstown on lunch, and then I’d fold it up in the back of a car (I was a nanny). Now that I work a 9-5 though, I’m not sure that the foldability of the bike is outweighing the…suckiness of it.

It’s possible that I rode it a little harder than intended. I’m not sure that these bikes are necessarily made for 16 mile round trip commutes every day, or long trips to upstate New York. Basically, I really need a new bike. Unfortunately, I’m somewhat lacking the funds at the moment. I think what I need is a good hybrid bike, something that works for commuting and longer trips, but those run a pretty penny.

My boyfriend is trying to convince me to buy one secondhand, just find one of craigslist, but I’m nervous. I don’t feel like I know enough about bikes to do that. He says he’ll help me, of course, but wandering into a bike shop I already know and trust and just having them recommend me a bike seems so much easier. What if I buy a total lemon? What if I’m riding it home after I buy it and it collapses under my chubby butt and I’ve wasted all that money? Why are bikes so damned expensive anyway? Sure, they save you money commuting in the long run but damn, it would be nice if they weren’t quite so much to begin with.

Anyway that’s really just one excuse in a long line of excuses. The fact of the matter comes down to me really just not trying hard enough. So I guess it’s time to pick myself up, dust myself off…and get back on the bike.

Sorry, couldn’t resist. Anyway, keep your eyes peeled for my next post. I’m seeing a couple things at the Bicycle Film Festival this weekend, and I’ll post reviews for all (4) of you. Or like, whoever stumbles on this darn thing.

Thank for reading.

** This is the bike I have:

http://www.montecci.com/folding/

30 Miles in My Body

hastingsonhudsonThis weekend I rode 30 miles, a little over actually. Not all in one stretch, like my last long ride, the one which inspired my first blog entry, but in two stretches. My boyfriend and I rode from our home up to Hastings-On-Hudson (pictured above), parked out a tavern for a bit, and then rode back.

I’d definitely recommend the ride to anyone who’s interested. We took the South County Trailway up, which is gorgeous and definitely a nice way to spend a sunny day, although the sun got pretty tiring after a while. And we took the Old Croton Aqueduct Trailway back. It was a little rough for my tastes, but I also started out tired, since it was the second leg of our journey.

I rode my boyfriend’s second bike this time, instead of my own folder, and I have to say I think some of my struggles have been due to the type of bike I’ve been riding. For city riding, the folding bikes truly are amazing and can’t be matched in terms of convenience, but they suck for getting up hills! I had a much easier time on a longer ride on a more standard bike, which of course has now got me thinking about my next one. My boyfriend has a saying, and it’s one I’m finding more and more appealing:

“How many bikes do you need? One more than you already have – up until the point that your significant other threatens to leave you.”

Lucky for me, my significant other is a bigger bike junkie than I am. So we took a beautiful ride at a strolling pace, and then stopped at Hastings-On-Hudson to look a the view and grab a beer. It’s funny, but I had no idea until I started how much cycling and beer go together! I’m not kidding. All the organized rides my boyfriend goes on seem to end at a brewery, and I have to say there isn’t much that’s as satisfying as a crisp, cold beer after a long ride. stellahastings

As you can see, I take cycling culture very seriously.

The ride back was a little harder. For some reason I was in a bad mood. Maybe it was the adrenaline crash from resting after biking 15 miles, or maybe it was the beer or the heat, or maybe it was the picture.

The picture at the top of this entry almost didn’t get posted. I asked the SO to take a victory shot for me, and yeah, I pretty eagerly grabbed his phone to look at the picture after it was done.

And I saw a chubby girl. I saw belly and fat arms and a round face. That girl didn’t look like a cyclist, and it didn’t matter that she was one. She may have ridden 15 miles, but she was fat. All my preachy feel-good stuff went out the window as I silently made a cropped version of the picture, cutting out my lower half and going from the shoulders up, and then cheerfully agreed to go and get a beer, even though the blood was pounding in my ears at the thought of how fat it might make me. Who cares that I had burned enough calories to drink that beer? I was already in the downward spiral of hating myself because of one unflattering picture.

I got over it eventually, and we sat outside in the sun and shared food and drinks, until the sky started to dim a little, and we decided we wanted to head out before it got too dark. It was about an hour and a half home, after all. So I changed back into my cycling clothes, and we started home.

The journey home was harder almost immediately, because my legs were already tired and slow from the ride there, and the route back was tougher. Instead of a nice smooth Greenway it was a muddy single-file path, which was broken up by a few different roads along the way. It was pretty tough, and I did my best to push through the aching legs, knowing I was sweating far more than I usually did.

We got lost at precisely the wrong time. We had just passed Yonkers, and we were so, so close to home. I think I actually whooped when we made it into the Bronx, knowing that we were finally back in New York City. But when we got back into Inwood I hit a wall, and somehow we got lost trying to get onto the Hudson Greenway. We hit a dead end, and then had to turn around, and then we were by the side of a highway and I stopped, my lungs pulsing as I started to cry, taking big, panicking gulps of air and babbling about how I couldn’t do it, I can’t do it, I’m so fat I’m so useless I can’t do it –

I’m going to live on the side of this road now. There’s no bus, no subway, and no cab can get me here. I’m going to live by the side of this road because I’m not moving anymore. I can’t get back on that bike.

My boyfriend came to comfort me immediately, of course. He took my shaking shoulders and told me it was okay, but also promised me I could do it.

We were three miles from home. On a normal day, I barely notice three miles, but after twenty-seven it seemed like the most impossible thing in the world.

And of course, my first thought was not that I was tired, and not that I had ridden further that day than I ever had before, it was that my bad, terrible body couldn’t do this thing. I was too fat and if I were thinner, I’d be a better cyclist, a better girlfriend, a better actress and comedian, a better person.

And then I started to breathe, and I listened to my boyfriend’s soothing words, and I remembered something a friend of mine – a badass sexy and totally fit soul cycle instructor and dancer – had said to me only the day before, when I mentioned I wanted to take one of her classes.

“Before you take any Soul Cycle classes, you’ve got to love that body you have now, because it is incredible.”

My poor body. Here I was berating it when it had taken me twenty-seven miles on a bicycle! No bad body could do that. It tensed up and made me cry and panic because it knew that I needed to rest. My body takes care of me, and I take care of it.

All of this racing thought took maybe five minutes, and then I got back on my bike and I rode home. My body took me home. I took my body home.

So I decided to put the photo I hated right at the top of this page, because I love the body I have now, and there’s not a damn thing wrong with it.

Sick and (Flat) Tired

Anyone who knows me knows that I get sick fairly often. Actually, really often. In fact, I might be harboring some germ right now, who knows? If the Apocalypse happens one day because of the development of some mystery disease, I’d definitely be one of the top picks for a potential patient zero. I’m what Elizabethans would have called ‘sickly,’ and what some people might call ‘bad stock.’  It’s extremely frustrating when it gets in the way of life, specifically, cycling.

I overcame a nasty case of bronchitis this past week, which meant that I couldn’t really ride (and I also had to croak my way through a children’s musical I do). It was really frustrating, but made me think about what I’d said before about when to push yourself, and when to concentrate on self-care. Bronchitis is definitely an occasion that calls for self-care. Any kind of of exercise while you’re under respiratory duress is a big no-no. I’d planned to cycle a bit last Saturday, at least, but in the less-than-a-mile cycle to my boyfriend’s house I found myself coughing like crazy while my throat burned and I got light-headed. So I made the annoying decision to put off cycling until the cough was completely gone.

To be honest, these past weeks have found me in a big pit of feelings about my limitations when it comes to fitness and health.

The thing I’ve found with cycling, is that if I stop doing it, even for just a little bit, it’s all the more difficult to start again, both mentally and physically. Cycling is an adjustment, and something that you have to work your life around. It’s super convenient to spend less on public transit and get your workout while you’re commuting, but less convenient to lug a bike around the city. People get judgey if you take a bike on the subway, but sometimes it’s a necessity. Sometimes I bike too far in one direction and hit my wall, and other times I might go out drinking with friends and I don’t want to risk riding home. And yet every time I’ve taken my bike on the subway some stranger has decided to say, “Why not just ride it?” Or something along those lines.

But I’m getting off topic. I went for a ride when I was feeling better, this Sunday. I rode from Washington Heights to Long Island City, which is only about 10 miles, but goes over the Queensboro bridge, my Moby Dick. It’s funny, but when you drive over a bridge, or even walk over one, you don’t think about the fact that bridges are essentially just hills. Believe me, you never forget it when you cycle. Half of your time is spent in burning pain and then the other half is spent hurtling down at break-neck speeds while riding your brake for your life (if you’re me, and get bit freaked out by going downhill really fast). Still, ten miles shouldn’t have knocked me on my arse, but it definitely did.

To be fair, I rode a little further than 10 miles, I’m sure. We rode around Long Island City a little, and then rode back over the bridge of Eternal Suffering and back into Manhattan, but from there I could only make it to Columbus Circle before I gave up and had to get my bike on the subway. I’d estimate I only rode about 16 miles that day, and not always at an intense pace, and yet I felt awful, like crap. I nearly cried. This was towards the end of the day, and I felt like I’d failed. I couldn’t even get myself home on my bike. What good was I?

It’s hard to deal with the feelings when they come up like that, when I feel like I should be better, fitter, stronger.

I also had another incident that made me feel pretty inadequate as a cyclist. I was cycling home on the West Side Bike path and I got a flat. I got off the bike, inspected my poor little flaccid tire, and walked my bike along until the next exit at 125th street, where I got the subway home.

You see, I didn’t know how to change a flat tire. I didn’t have a patch kit with me, and I felt stupid, walking along with my bike. I disrupted my boyfriend’s night, because when I got back he had to take a break from his work and show me how to fix it.

But listen to what I just said (wrote)! I learned how to change a tube, and not only that. I learned how to patch one too. Every time I feel down I have to force myself to remember what I have already achieved. A bad day for me now is stopping at 16 miles.

Self-care goes beyond drinking tea when you have bronchitis. It goes beyond taking your bike on the subway when you’re tired. Self-care is about kindness. I need to forgive myself for not automatically being the best cyclist in the world, and for not being able to ride 26 miles (my longest ride so far) everyday. I need to be patient, and I need to remember that I am doing well.

I ride, I cycle, and I care for myself. I will get better. But I am doing well now. The world is my Greenway.

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Making Exercise Stop Sucking

Working out sucks, am I right?

Really, it’s pretty awful. You’re sweaty, everything hurts, and it’s hard. Why do people do this? Those crazy Beautiful People who spend all their times in gyms are probably so mean because they work out too much.

At least, that’s what I used to think. And to be honest, it’s still the way I feel a lot of the time. Learning to change your attitude to exercise is hard, particularly when you’ve felt one way about it your entire life.

Another reason people seem to avoid exercise is because of the kind of judgement that tends to come along with that culture. If you’re overweight and you’ve ever walked into a gym, you’ve probably experienced it in one way or another. People looking at you with a sort of patronizing encouragement, or disdain. For may years, I imagined what those people were thinking when they looked at me.

Well done, Fat Person. Well done for stepping into a gym. You’ve probably never seen one before. You’ll be on your way to being a nice, normal Thin Person soon. 

Ugh, what is she doing here? Why don’t you get out so I can go back to grunting needlessly loudly while I lift weights?

Whether or not people really think this way, it’s definitely weird to be one of the non-fit people in a gym. In a gym there are those who have made it, and those who are starting. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of in between, which is perhaps why the gym branch Planet Fitness is so popular, given their whole ‘judgement-free zone,’ angle. It’s a clever marketing technique to get people like me, who have always felt uncomfortable at gyms.

But I don’t think it was just the gym discomfort that was preventing me from exercising more; it was a lack of joy in the matter. I realize how hippy-dippy that sounds, even as I write it, but if I have discovered one thing, it’s that you have to find a kind of exercise that you like. I’ve never liked running on treadmills or sweating on elliptical machines, but even when I hated riding a bike…I liked riding a bike.

It was really scary, the first time I got on a back since I was a child, and it was scary when I was learning as a child too. I was never athletically inclined, more likely to spend time reading books, watching movies, or doing art of some kind than I was to play sport or run around outside. I also excelled naturally at some things, and so the things I found difficult I tended to abandon.

And yet here I was, almost twenty years later, literally getting back on the bike. I wobbled around and couldn’t totally remember how to change gears, but beneath the white-hot fear I was feeling coursing through my body and causing my knuckle skin to stretch as I held on to borrowed handlebars for dear life, there was a joy too. The air smelled amazing, and the wind whipping around my face was refreshing, and yeah, I thought, I could do this again.

And so I did. And for me, that was the key. It took me years of huffing around and trying different things before I realized that, not particularly shockingly, you are much more likely to keep up with a form of exercise that you genuinely enjoy. While I had enjoyed exercise before, cycling had a few advantages. I love vinyasa flow yoga, and still go to classes, although not on a regular basis. It’s great for strength and flexibility, but not so good for cardio, not to mention that classes can get expensive. I also did Tae Kwon Do when I was a teenager, but after a particularly nasty knee-sprain I had trouble going back, and was constantly re-injuring myself. Cycling was low-impact enough to spare my poor knee, and it gave me the cardio workout that yoga didn’t, and aside from the cost of a bike (which at the time was nothing – I was borrowing a friend’s) it’s free!

The other thing I realized about cycling is that it has a purpose, and that was something I enjoyed. I would get so bored when I used to go to gyms, sweating away to my workout-mix which was never quite enough to make me want to keep running on this mat to know where. Cycling gets you places! I’ve realized that productive exercise really appeals to me. I can get on my bike and take a beautiful trip, and get myself from point A to point B, and that works for me so much more than working out at a gym. It means that exercise becomes part of my life, and isn’t something I have to fit in, but genuinely something I can integrate to my daily routine. My commute is my workout. Going to hang out with my friends is my workout.

Unfortunately I’m not commuting every day at the moment. It’s been partially weather motivated, and partially because I’m still on my way to obtaining the fitness level I need. My commute ends up being about 7 miles each way, and so far I’m pretty happy with a few times a week, and confident in the fact that I am working it up to more.

There’s another thing to combat, when it comes to changing the way I view exercise, and that’s the fact that it’s hard. It’s hard not to view working out as a ‘punishment’ and other things – food, wine, rest, as ‘rewards.’ That is not to say that those things are not important, but it was hard to realize that exercise is its own reward. It was so easy to say, “I had a hard day, I don’t have to work out today. I’m upset today, I can’t face working out.”

This doesn’t have to be the way things are. Self-care is important, and I absolutely recognize that. I’m not saying that pushing yourself beyond your physical or emotional limitations is a good thing – but maybe pushing against them a little is okay. Testing yourself. You may end up finding more joy than you expected.

PhillyI didn’t get a chance to bike this weekend. My boyfriend and I went out of town for the holiday, and ended up taking a walk in the woods instead, followed by a walking mural tour of Philadelphia. It was hard, we both have blisters, but it was a lot of fun, and just a testimant to how much fitter I’ve gotten since I started my journey with cycling.

It’s hard not to see exercise as the enemy, or as something you have to get through in order to do the things that you really like. If someone were to ask my advice on how to get over that, I’d say I’m still working on it, but finding the joy and the beauty in it is so important. Cycling isn’t for everyone, but for me, it gets me in touch with the prettier things that I often pass by and don’t have time to observe during the day. Riding alongside the river to work wakes me up better than a cup of coffee, and walking until I got blisters gave me a amazing day. I’m not advocating for exercising until injury, or pushing past limits, I’m advocating for finding the joy in something that until recently, seemed hard and joyless.

 

 

 

The Chubby Girl Cyclist

So, here I am. The Chubby Girl Cyclist. In the past year I started this journey, and now in an effort to not make overly-emotional posts about cycling on facebook, I’ve turned here, to a blog. Like every other millennial on the planet.

I swear I’m not always this maudlin, I’m just weirdly self-conscious when I write.

So, cycling. The name of the game. The green way to commute. The reason my sit-bones are screaming at me. No, really. I’m pretty sure my sit-bones haven’t not hurt in a vague way for about 6 months. Now, however, they’re screaming. And that’s because I, a chubby girl of a weight I’d rather not disclose, biked 24 miles yesterday (more, if you count the periods my boyfriend and I spent lost).

I’m loathe to go into my complicated journey with weight, partially because it’s not a new story. I’m a girl. I wasn’t that chubby as a kid, but I was a bit chunkier than my friends. Looking back on it, it was seriously a difference in body type, at least up to a certain age. However, despite being a ‘normal’ sized kid (we’ll get into my feelings about weight and supposed ‘normality’ at a later date) I remember always feeling self-conscious and being distinctly aware that other people were thinner than I was.

I felt this way before I was six.

And the weird thing about being afraid of being fatter, is a lot of the time, it makes you fatter. I ate because I was scared. I ate because I was sad. I ate because it made me happy, and then of course, I became the thing I was afraid of being: chubby.

This blog is not (solely) about my weight issues. But there’s one painful story I feel like I have to share. When I was in high school, I had a crush on a boy. I was 15 or 16, I don’t totally remember. I’d gained some weight over the summer, which I always did, and he turned me down when I asked him out. I instantly became convinced that it was because I was too fat, which I now think is hilarious, because I was thinner then than I am now. My weight had yoyo’d before, but I was determined to change that. I went on a crazy intense diet, I did a bunch of cardio, and I lost forty pounds in four months. I ended up getting the boy, and we dated for a month, because it was high school and high school is stupid. We had very little in common, and my radical weight loss did nothing for my self-esteem.

I was, at this point, obsessed with numbers. Certain numbers were ‘good’ numbers, while others were ‘bad.’ I became obsessed with the idea that I could only weigh numbers that ended in zeros or fives, and if I went under, I had to go down to the next number, not up to the previous. For example, at one point I weighed 126 pounds, and felt desperately that I had to get down to 125, but I overshot and went to 124, which then meant that I had to go down to 120.

While I never got unhealthily thin, a good friend of mine recognized my obsessive behavior, and after a harsh talking to, I started to relax my feelings about numbers and food. And I ended up gaining back the weight, and then some. The problem was, I never learned how to change my life, I only learned how to think about numbers and pant-sizes and how my collar bones looked. I ignored the fact that I was tired all the time, and that I couldn’t go out with my friends without compulsively checking the menu for ‘good’ foods.

Ten years later, I am heavier than ever and I have finally realized that food is neither morally good or bad, and in fact the idea of ‘good’ foods and ‘bad’ foods is a gross one that only encourages shame and stigma. Food is fuel, food is enjoyment, food is something you put in your mouth and chew and you like it or dislike it but it’s not good or bad.

I really didn’t want to talk about my weight so much, but part of the reason I am starting this blog is to cope with all the feelings that becoming physically active has stirred up in me. Like food, they are not morally good or morally bad. But they are something that I’m going to write about.

When I first wobbled onto a bike in the local park by my house, children laughed. Maybe they didn’t but I think I’ve mentioned that I’m a big paranoid mess of paralyzing self-consciousness sometimes. I’d ridden a bike briefly as a kid, but I wasn’t good at it, so I stopped, which the more I think about it is kind of a pattern in my life. There are certain things I naturally excelled at, and other things I didn’t. My boyfriend is a big cyclist, and I was attempting to take up cycling because it was important to him, and so therefore should be something I could at least struggle through for a day. I cried (I’m a big cryer, you’ll learn this about me), and I hated it. I swore I would never get back on again. But I did, and then I did again, and even after I landed face first going downhill on the central park loop and totally busted my face open, I got on again.

What. Was. Happening to me?

I laughed at all the douchey cyclists on West Side Bike Path, dressed like they were training for the Tour de France. I chuckled at my boyfriend’s ‘padded panties’ as I call them, until I got a pair of chamois of my own and discovered they were a god send for sit-bone and nether region comfort.

And yesterday? Yesterday I biked 24 miles for the first time, and it nearly killed me. My legs today feel like jelly, but I have never felt more proud of myself. For the first time in my life I am focusing on being fit, not thin, and strong, not skinny. I see my legs getting stronger. I feel my stamina increasing, and although I still think about my weight, I don’t see it as a sign of failure anymore. 24 miles in a day when I could barely stay on the bike a few months ago isn’t failure.

I am a chubby girl cyclist, and my journey has only just begun.

Ps. I promise to talk more about…actual cycling next time. Thanks for reading!