The beauty of a fitness routine versus having a joint-eater to be thin
Growing up I was often referred to as Flamingo Legs. In my Puerto Rican neighborhood, I was considered thin. I was often told I had to fatten up. I then went to a private boarding school where the majority of the students were white, non-hispanics. I was then considered average build. I was definitely not viewed as thin. At college, I hung out mostly with white women who although my same height were probably on average 6 pounds lighter than me. I was then considered chubby. However, whenever I spent time with my family I was viewed as thin. Although, I was subjected to this phenomenon that I call perception yo-yo, I didn’t suffer from body image issues. I held to my core and I felt fine.
Upon graduating from college, I he a few months before I moved to a new town and started my first real job. I didn’t have much money during that time and thus I subsisted on ramen and a few other low-cost foods. I went to visit my friend at her family’s house. Upon seeing me, her mother exclaimed “Oh my . You are so thin now now. You look beautiful.” I smiled and nodded and thanked her. However, that exchange stayed with me. I looked great now because I was essentially poor and starving. What kind of messaging is that?
When I was in boarding school one of these tall thin girls proudly bragged of having had a tapeworm. She also reeked of ketones from starving herself every four out of seven days. Eating disorders ran rampant in high school. But why wouldn’t they when after suffering through bouts of hunger, people profess your beauty?
This idea of hunger, tapeworms and beauty remind me of a celtic tale of a mythical entity called the Joint-eater (also known as just-halver or Alpluachra). It is an entity, perhaps an elf that dwells underground, that jointly eats the food we take in. Thus, it is called a joint eater. I would suppose its akin to what many think of in terms of tapeworms. You take in food and this joint-eater chews up your food inside. Sadly, I believe many women would give up almost anything to have a joint-eater within them.
Once I was firmly embedded in the routines of my first job and had started to save money, I also became interested in my fitness. I started walking to work (a 45 minute walk), I bought a home exercise machine and exercise videos. I wanted to be healthy and I wanted to lose weight. I wanted to fit I to those pretty clothes that I could somewhat afford then. It worked. I lost ten pounds, that I managed to keep off for over a decade. I got into a routine and tradition of fitness. Whenever, where-ever I can, I walk. I run on the treadmill every day, more or less. I would say I do close to two hours of cardio each day. My doctor recently advised me to cut back on the cardio and start Pilates. I do agree its time for a new exercise routine.
You may wonder why I exercise so much. First off, I want a healthy body and thus far it has worked. My annual physical results comes back pretty close to perfect. Hispanics tend to have a lot of problems with their health often due to lack of exercise. This lack of exercise is at times due to the heavy workload schedule as well as a built environment that discourages exercise. As a result, my genetics predispose me to certain health problems. The other reason why I work out so much is because I like to eat and I do not have, nor do I wish for, a joint-eater. The eternally-pouty, hungry-looking Victoria Beckham was once quoted as saying that nothing tastes as good as skinny looks. Wow! That is a mouthful. I agree that some foods are just not worth the caloric intake or hours of exercise that would have to follow. However, our bodies are meant to be nourished. Food and eating are one of the key biological drives propelling us forward. Our bodies appreciate being fed. Of course, in moderation. There is no need for deliberate starvation. Thus, I exercise so that I can enjoy a good delicious hearty meal.
While I love exercising and running on the treadmill, I also enjoy giving my taste buds a good workout. There have been so many dinners where my colleagues don’t enjoy a good meal because they adhere to a standard of beauty that says skinny is better than eating. To each his or her own I suppose. When I look at my colleagues refraining from that bite of delicious pork with fig, I am glad that my daily routine includes exercising.
Now mind you, I also get upset when people see me enjoying a good meal and then note “wow. I wish I could eat like you but I don’t have a fast metabolism like you do.” I just want to wear a bib at restaurants that notes “I do not have a fast metabolism. I do not have a joint eater. Its called working out.” Women have cattily sat next to me at a meeting and just outright marveled at my metabolism in a way that seems like they are casting me the evil eye. It is amazing the assumptions people take on. In no way do I have a fast metabolism naturally. If all the women in my family were lined up and viewed from the back, people would think there was a J-lo competition. My genetics are earmarked for a curvaceous body. I like having curves but I readily admit to keeping my curves at a more miniature size compared to the rest of my family.
At the end of the day, I routinely exercise to be healthy and fulfilled food-wise. It is now part of my DNA. I just wish people wouldn’t praise or expect starvation on my part. I also wish they wouldn’t assume I don’t work hard for my body. It is an interesting, frustrating phenomenon to be heralded for starvation and envied for incorrect assumptions on the part of others. There is no joint-eater here. It’s just good old fashion exercise, as well as a healthy appreciation of good food.
Inspired in part by the daily prompt of tradition
Other thoughts on time after time