Friday, September 25, 2009

Go Figure

I once dated a guy who told me I was too fat. His reasoning? The insides of my upper thighs touched each other.

I'm sorry to say that, presumably because I was young and brainwashed by our weight-obsessed culture, his comment affected me for years. It became a measure by which I assessed my own fitness, which was never poor, but wasn't always peak, either. I recall with dismay the internal monologue: My thighs are touching! Crap! Gotta run more! (Wrong.)

This past March, while still eating flegan, I dived into a fitness regime unprecedented by anything I'd tried before, including my distance running days. A friend put me onto bodyweight training and Tabata, hill sprints and weight lifting.

In my typically obsessive manner, I devoured literature on the subject of strength training and HIIT (high intensity interval training). Plenty of science backed it up, but the best proof of all was the changes in my own physique. By June, I was leaner than I'd ever been. My biceps earned admiration from colleagues, and the shadow of a six-pack appeared in my midsection. I was getting close to doing the first pull-up of my life. And, my thighs didn't touch. Score!

Then, something changed. Along about July, my fitness efforts bogged down in a quagmire of fatigue, bloating, and poor quality sleep. I looked pretty good, but I felt worse and worse. What on earth was I doing wrong?

My research led me first to the possibility of removing grains from my diet. It took me two months of reading to accept that the "healthy whole grains" that comprised nearly half of my daily intake could actually be wreaking cumulative damage on my intestines due to glucose intolerance, or simply the toxins such foods contain.

By the time I was convinced that going grain-free was worth a try, I'd also come around to understanding the detrimental effects of excessive carbohydrate intake. Thus began my shift to primal eating, which I embraced whole-heartedly by mid-August.

Now, looking down the barrel of October with a growing set of Tuesday Tallies documenting my new eating patterns (low carb, high fat, moderate protein) and continued bodybuilding and sprint workouts, I have replaced bloating and fatigue with muscle mass and power.

There's just one problem: My thighs touch.

I confess this bothered me, when I first noticed it a few weeks back. Were the primal advocates wrong? Would all that new thigh muscle make me look fat? How about the newly-defined obliques that both strengthened and thickened my core? Was I losing the figure I'd worked months to achieve?

Yes, the questions bothered me...but not nearly as much as the thought of giving up my workouts. After all, my primary goal had always been to achieve a high level of functional strength and cardiovascular endurance -- and I'd never felt better nor been more powerful! No way was I going to sacrifice athleticism for cultural ideals.

All the same, I was most gratified to stumble across the photo below.

I'm no professional pole-vaulter, but I'm proud to say that my physique doesn't fall too far short of this chick's. I'm no guy, either, but I think she's pretty damn hot -- sculpted obliques, touching thighs, and all.

Go figure.

Related Resources:

The Definitive Guide to Grains from Mark's Daily Apple

The Real Truth About Those "Healthy Whole Grains" from Fitness Spotlight

Unexpected Effects of a Wheat-Free Diet from Heart Scan Blog

The Definitive Guide to Fats from Mark's Daily Apple

Fats: The Real Story and Why You Need Them from Fitness Spotlight

Saturated Fat Intake vs Heart Disease & Stroke from Free the Animal

Sugar is Poison -- a link from Fathead to Dr. Lustig's excellent video presentation. Highly recommended!


Anonymous said...

Very thoughtfull post on fitness. It should be very much helpfull

Karim - Mind Power

Michael - The Fat Loss Authority said...

Damn straight she's hot!

Great post and very cool of you to share a personal experience as hurtful as that one. First time here but will be back in the future!


Heather said...

I have an ex-boyfriend who offered the very same assessment. Till then, I'd never noticed my thighs (or other women's thighs for that matter). After that, I noticed thighs--my thighs, other women's thighs, women who had space between their thighs....

I don't really miss him.

equusapparatus said...

Oh, you're so nice. I have a tendency to make rude hand gestures or do other not-so-nice things when I get called 'fat'.
Nobody's gotten any closer to calling me 'fat' than 'curvy' in years.
Go figure.
Also, she's extremely hot, and my thighs touch and I'm proud of it. That fat and muscle keeps the horse between me and the ground, so I intend to keep it!