Exercise, Fat, Health at Every Size

Open for Discussion: The Jiggle Factor

Sorry about the light posting this week, folks — I’ve been working on a couple of other writing projects. But I know you all do just fine without me, so here, have a topic:

For many overweight exercisers, every step of a workout comes with an unintended cascade of motion — breasts bounce, belly fat shakes and thighs rub. The added jiggle and friction of moving body fat is more than just bothersome. It can alter people’s gait and make them more prone to injuries and joint problems. The discomfort prevents many overweight people from exercising altogether.

On the upside, Kelly Bliss is quoted extensively. On the downside, you’re grinding your joints to a pulp! Sigh.

What do you think, Shapelings?

105 thoughts on “Open for Discussion: The Jiggle Factor”

  1. I don’t know what they expect us to do EXACTLY. I mean, shit, do we or do we not exercise??

    My response is sort of whatever. Although I do appreciate the advice about an encapsulated sports bra and the supportive clothing for all my lovely parts.

  2. Okay, I have to say that I’m surprised at the way the article was written. With all the “obesity epidemic” propoganda, I was expecting something a little more… I dunno… rude, I guess. That’s not quite the right word, but it’s the closest I can come up with.

    But they’re right. A lot of us larger people would probably exercise more if it weren’t for the jiggle factor. Not only does it make exercising physically uncomfortable, but that’s one of the biggest reasons a lot of us fatties don’t want to go to the gym — we don’t want people staring at our fat jiggle.

    That’s one of the reasons that I prefer to exercise in my own home. I can jiggle all I want, but nobody has to see it, because I can keep the blinds closed. I know not everybody has that option — hell, I didn’t until we moved in July (our old living room was simply way too small) — so a lot of people who would like to exercise decide against it because they don’t want to be humiliated.

    I’m not sure I buy into the whole “if you’re fat and you exercise you’re going to give yourself arthritis” thing though. I mean, sure, some people are going to get it, but arthritis is just as much a hereditary condition as it is the result of one thing or another. Not to mention the age factor — most older people have some form of arthritis; some simply have it worse than others.

    I just don’t know what to think, really. On the one hand, the article (for ONCE!!!) sounded like a piece of REAL reporting: just the facts, ma’am. But on the other, they threw in “facts” that aren’t necessarily true. Fat isn’t a one-size-fits-all issue, regardless of the specific topic.

  3. Look, technically anyone with excess weight is experiencing the same thing. Your body will move and shake when you’re moving and shaking it.

    Anyhow, a personal experience of mine was back in April of 07 I decided to get back into exercising. I began a pretty regular regiment of cardiovascular and weight training. Early in my knees were just in absolute pain. I consulted a doctor about it and he suggested continuing my work out and focusing on building the muscles in my upper thighs and calves to take some of the pressure off of my knees. It took about a month, but eventually the pain subsided. My knees will always be a weak spot for me, but the stronger the rest of my legs are, the less pressure there is for the knee to do all of the work.

    Anyhow, you can’t “protect” people. Some people will experience arthritis with or without exercise. Some people will break a hip slipping on the wet bathroom floor. Others will work out weekly and experience little or no pain for a number of years. Naturally your body deteriorates over time and no amount of NOT exercising due to weight will stop its deterioration. Suggesting avoiding exercise is even conterproductive to ensuring the deterioration isn’t as swift.

  4. Although I do appreciate the advice about an encapsulated sports bra and the supportive clothing for all my lovely parts.

    Me too. In fact, I ordered an encapsulated sports bra yesterday!

    but that’s one of the biggest reasons a lot of us fatties don’t want to go to the gym — we don’t want people staring at our fat jiggle.

    This is a huge point I think the author missed. It’s all well and good to focus on the physical discomfort of exercising with a fat body, except I don’t think that’s what actually keeps so many of us out of gyms. I mean, you can remove the pain of the jiggle factor, as they point out, by swimming. Terrific all around exercise, and I know tons of fat people who love to do it. But wearing a bathing suit in front of other people is an emotional minefield even for thin people. For all my talk about body acceptance — and my willingness to be seen in clingy yoga pants — I still struggle with that one myself.

    So once again, the effects of fat prejudice are ignored in favor of a “poor fatties and their health problems” angle.

    As always, however, Sarah is an inspiration.

  5. I tend to feel like as a fat person, you walk around carrying your weight all the time, so your muscles and bones become strong enough to perform whatever motions are needed. So I’m not sure it is any more dangerous to ramp up to more vigorous exercise as a fat person than a thin one, though of course that depends on the individual. I mean, not everyone can or should run because of their joints or various other reasons, but I’m not sure how much of that is purely due to weight. I do think we probably need to stay on top of replacing shoes and such, since they are likely made to absorb forces produced by much smaller people (I doubt the engineering of that stuff has changed a lot since the ’50s, for example). That is just a guess though.

    The supportive clothing thing is a must. I used to run or walk in huge baggy cotton t-shirts, and the looseness of the garment would chafe me and they would get all twisted up and heavy with sweat. I have recently bought some closer-fitting, “performance fabric” type stuff to work out in and it looks much better and feels and performs a million times better, both from the keeping my flesh supported standpoint, and also just not having all that extra clammy fabric flopping around. Nice expensive bras have made a huge difference too (unfortunately since I would rather spend $10 at Meijer, but it is not to be).

  6. I know way too many people who appreciate jiggling to worry about what the rest of the world thinks when I exercise.

    I’m conscious of my joints when I choose exercise because I intend to exercise for the rest of my life. I think be just as cautious if I were thin. I know too many people (thin and fat) who have destroyed their knees running or playing contact sports. (And since that’s their thing, I respect their choice.) But for me exercise is strongly tied to my mental well-being. I want to still be curling, swimming, skating, biking and doing yoga when I retire. We’ll see how it goes :-)

  7. So once again, the effects of fat prejudice are ignored in favor of a “poor fatties and their health problems” angle.

    As always, however, Sarah is an inspiration.

    I heartily agree! That woman blows my mind — in a good way!

  8. I know a lot of fat people (we’re a fattie family and have been even through the potato family and Depression: “solid” farm stock, y’know) and I’m an exercise fiend. Love it.
    This hasn’t been a big problem in terms of discomfort in our grouping. I don’t trampoline, granted; that might be a weight issue. But a jog isn’t a problem for me. My mom walks for exercise, quickly and uphill on the treadmill.

    Now, my achilles is prone to injury, but I first got that injury a long time ago when I was young and lighter because I pronate quite badly. My most recent injury I don’t think can be attributed to my weight, but rather because I was a moron who wasn’t wearing adequate shoes.

    One of the problems I have with this: when you’re starting a new exercise routine, everything can be sore for a little while, and jiggling will remind you that things are sore. For a new exerciser, the whole thing can feel … pathological? “Oh, I’m fat and therefore injury prone because of my abnormal jiggling”, seems like an understandable misinterpretation, when really it’s just about building up your abilities slowly and with respect for yourself.

    Of course: not all large bodies are the same. So I imagine people’s milage may vary. Maybe there are people for whom this is an issue. There’s swimming, and yoga, and cycling, and other lower impact sports which might work quite well and be self-respecting.

  9. I think this is one of the reasons why I’ve always adored water based exercise. Not only do I not notice the jiggle factor, I feel graceful in the water. I’ve never felt that way on land equipment.

  10. I am so the stereotype of the fat person who sits on the couch all day. I find working out in any capacity completely boring. It’s not that I don’t appreciate sports, because I find them entertaining, it is just that I don’t like sports PRACTICe, in general I find doing anything over and over and over again so completely boring.

    The most successful I ever was at working out regularly was when I had a personal trainer, he was great and I had someone to talk to to keep working out from being so boring. (But it was still pretty boring… once he told me about his new hobby, he was so excited, these were his exact words “So, I’ve started doing this new thing, I’ve started reading.” So yeah, we had a TON in common. )

    I did take some dance classes and some martial arts classes and I liked them, but I didn’t like them more than I liked NOT going to dance class or martial arts class.

    I have started excersizing regularly though, because I have a dog. He needs to be walked every day, so I walk him, and sometimes we run just to see how far he can drag me. But I am still bored.

  11. My mom used to teach water aerobics, she loved it, it was great for her because she has a lot of physical problems from a bad car accident. I think she had a lot of people in her classes who needed a good low impact work out. She was in pretty good shape.

    (She had a stroke so now she can’t drive, so she doesn’t teach anymore, but she does still do her workouts in the pool. And of course, she has to lose weight, because obviously all post menopausal women who work out every day don’t lose weight because they are cheating on their 1300 calorie a day diets, not because of hormones or anything. GRRR doctors and fathers.)

  12. Shinobi, not, of course, that you should feel obligated to exercise, but since you’re taking the dog out anyway and are bored, have you thought about books on tape? I don’t have a car and spend a lot of time walking to get places and they are a LIFESAVER for me on days when I just don’t feel like I have that much to think about when I walk. :-) I’ve started downloading them to my iPod.

  13. I really dislike “hamster wheel” exercise, too. That is partially why I am reluctant to get a car; errand running on foot has been my principal form of exercise for years.

    And for that very reason, I can’t see myself taking up running or anything else “high impact.” My knees are my transportation, and my legs are built funny as it is (knock-knees, one leg slightly shorter than the other). I’m not about to take the risk.

    I got over the bathing suit thing for good while living in Phoenix. When you have day after day of 115-degree temperatures, you tend to say, “Fuck it, I’m going in the water, you can look the other way if my thighs disturb you.”

    But at least this article acknowledges what Marilyn Wann once called the “if you don’t fit in you don’t do fitness” problem, which is glossed over in so many media accounts of fat people and what so many thin gym rats don’t bother taking into consideration when they go on their “fat people are so lazy” rants. They think they wouldn’t care about being pointed and laughed at and mooed and oinked at, if it was them. But if it happened over and over again, every single day? I think they’d be whistling a different tune.

  14. That’s why I like belly dancing… jiggling is good! Our instructor is always telling us we need to jiggle more to make our hip scarves jingle better.

    This post has inspired me to order a sports bra online. As a G/I/J cup (depending on the manufacturer) it’s really hard to find one that fits and is supportive, but I found out my favourite bra manufacturer makes one that should fit, and that got great reviews, so we’ll see.

  15. shinobi, on the subject of books-on-tape, there is a really great public radio program called The Story (thestory.org) that has a podcast you can sign up for. It just has various people telling their stories, whatever that might be… check out the archives at the web site to get an idea of the kind of stuff that is featured. I keep meaning to start putting the podcasts on my ipod for my workouts; music is nice, but it can start to feel constricting like my feet have to keep rhythm with the beat of the song. Anyway I am making the workday go faster as we speak by listening to my podcasts of the program. Well, that and posting here, of course. :)

    I actually like working out and it helps with my depression, but I do feel sort of stupid on principle at times, just diligently running to nowhere on the treadmill or the elliptical. It’s like “what kind of society do we live in where we have to mindlessly run on a hamster wheel once a day?” So at least you can console yourself with the fact that walking the dog is useful. :) I feel like it’s maybe actually better to live a generally active life (walking the dog, gardening, walking to the store, doing yard work and housework) than do what I do, which is sit on my butt at work all day, drive 100 miles a day plus drive to the store and to do errands (I live in the suburbs), and later watch TV for relaxation… oh, but in between there I pay the gym lots of money so I can go in and run to nowhere for an hour. It seems screwed up.

  16. spacedcowgirl, thank you for explaining it to me. I’ve always, since the leotard days of my youth, found leggings and the like completely comfortable, and currently wear danskin yoga pants that go on like a pair of tights. Every once in a while I will wear sweats at home, but I never like it, and your explaination makes me get it.

    For me, it is not the jiggling that embarrasses me nearly as much as the panting and sweating. I am in ass shape usually (every once in a while I am not) and I go out of my way to steady my breathing in front of people. I did it more when I was bigger. As a really fat woman, I hated representing the stereotypes.

  17. For me, it is not the jiggling that embarrasses me nearly as much as the panting and sweating. I am in ass shape usually (every once in a while I am not) and I go out of my way to steady my breathing in front of people. I did it more when I was bigger. As a really fat woman, I hated representing the stereotypes.

    Lord, I know. Isn’t it horrible? My skin gets very red when I work out, and to make matters worse I hate hot weather and sweat a lot compared to other people. This seems to be true no matter what size I am. I remember rushing from the campus gym to class after a workout and shower, and being so self-conscious because the sweat was pouring off me and I knew everyone thought that I was struggling to walk at all and about to have a heart attack. And if I have to climb a lot of stairs around other people, like in a parking ramp or something, I practically asphyxiate myself keeping my breathing quiet. Never mind that everyone breathes harder going up several flights of stairs. Gah.

    I agree with you, leggings are much more comfortable than pants. I find that bike shorts are the only shorts that I just put on and wear and never think about. Loose shorts ride up and have to be pulled down all the time. There is just no comparison for comfort and convenience.

    As far as tops, they are sort of pricey, but I have bought a few of the Lands’ End activewear shirts (tank and short-sleeve) and I really like them. They are close-fitting and lightweight but not tight, and they have a shelf bra which, although a joke on its own, can add a touch more support if you are already wearing a good sports bra. Like all LE clothes, they run kind of big.

  18. feel like it’s maybe actually better to live a generally active life (walking the dog, gardening, walking to the store, doing yard work and housework)

    scg, I agree with you that it’s better to lead a generally more active life; that’s one of the reasons I like it so much here in the UK.

    There’s shops within walking distance of almost everywhere (unless you live on a farm or in one of the tiny little villages that have nothing but a post office/general store). I am fortunate enough to have moved to an area where I can get almost anything I need within a block from my house, and I’m still close enough to the town centre that if I need to go there, I can walk there as well (it’s about 15-20 minutes). I walk my kids to school and back every day (although I admit, it’s only a 5-minute walk; where we used to live it was more like 20-30 minutes), I walk them to their eye appointments.

    But I don’t have to do all of these things every day, so I felt like I needed even more exercise. That’s why I spent £20 on exercise DVDs (I got 3) and bought an ab roller through a catalog. There is a gym within walking distance (it’s right behind my kids’ school) that I could go to, but I chose not to take that option just yet. I tell people that I’m saving money by working out at home, but if I’m going to be honest (and this is one of the few places I feel I can be, so I will), I’m scared. I’m scared that if I go in there, I’ll be stared at, laughed at, humiliated, the works.

    If they had a Curves or something similar out here, I’d probably be more than happy to go, but they don’t. (I belonged to a Curves back in 2001/2002 and I loved it and didn’t feel self-conscious in the least, but more than half the women there were at LEAST in the “overweight” range, if not bigger, so we all felt at home with each other.)

    But, having lived in the ‘burbs of Chicago for most of my life, I know that I’m lucky in the sense that I actually have the OPTION to walk everywhere. Not everybody does, and I know that, because I used to be one of those people that had to drive 20 minutes to get ANYWHERE, for ANYTHING.

  19. I think if you’re not used to exercise then it doesn’t matter if you’re fat or skinny: it’s probably not going to feel very good. One thing I thought the article overlooked was simply how to get into exercising regularly – starting slowly and finding exercises that made your body feel better and that you enjoy and not working too hard for your current fitness level.

    I work out at home. Initially I was going to say that I work out at home because I’m a suburbanite and the gym is inconveniently far away, but I do think – esp. after reading through some of the other comments – that the atmosphere of the gym matters quite a bit too. I jiggle and sweat and breathe heavily. I’ll never be one of those women who wears mascara while doing situps.

  20. You know, I’m not in ass shape (at least, I shouldn’t be, I go to the gym every day) and I still sweat way more than anyone else in my dance class, and way more than I used to. I do not, however, sweat way more than my dad, who has been running regularly for probably 30 years and is not fat and still ends up DRENCHED. Like so many other things, normal variation (i.e. genetics) plays a huge role.

    But of course, even though I know this, nobody else knows it, so I’m still self-conscious about being a fat girl and sweating. :) I even had a doctor yell at me about it once — like I was supposed to just stop by thinking about it!

    I should have told him to make a lamp of me and run from me by my own light. (Huge nerd points up for grabs here.)

    Never mind that everyone breathes harder going up several flights of stairs. Gah.

    A few weeks ago, I very nervously asked my boyfriend “so… do normal people really not breathe harder after running up stairs?” I had interpreted all the “well if you get winded going up the stairs” talk as “you should not experience increased heart rate or breathing at the top of stairs, no matter how fast you went up them.” There’s a post percolating on this one… the fact that we imagine these impossible benchmarks of fitness and assume that we’re totally out of shape because we don’t adhere to them.

    My sports bras and workout clothes are cheap and suck, so thank you all VERY much for giving me more things to spend money on. :P I generally work out in yoga pants and a tank top, nothing high-tech or sweat-wicking. I have three sports bras; one is a little too small and none of them dry very fast. I need new workout clothes.

    But despite the crummy gear, I don’t really feel like I jiggle that much on the elliptical, certainly not enough to negatively affect my joints. (I jiggle in dance class, but as Becky said, that’s the idea.) I think it’s the fetishizing of running over other exercise that really leads to knee problems etc.

  21. I don’t really think about the jiggling, but I do get annoyed when my parts get in the way of doing things, i.e. suffocating myself with my boobs when I do a downward facing dog or being unable to stretch as far as I actually can stretch because of the mechanics of rolls getting in the way. I find that almost all fitness instructors are unwilling or unable to suggest modifications that might work in such cases.

    My other big issue at the gym is trying to be the “perfect” fat woman. Like you, Roberta, I am extremely conscious controlling my breath, but I also notice myself trying at every opportunity to have the “best” form, the “best” technique, etc. to try to deflect any negative comments. I know that I’m defensive about it, and that probably doesn’t help.

    The other day I was meeting with a trainer at my new gym, and she of course assumed that I have high blood pressure, diabetes, and have never worked out before in my life. I took some kind of perverse pleasure in telling her that my blood pressure is on the borderline of too low and that I already exercise quite a bit and know *how* to work the machines, etc. It’s dumb, because it’s not like it makes me any better than anyone else, but it makes me feel like I’m “representing” fat people well. Stupid, but there it is.

  22. I have become very bored with my gym workout (hamster on a wheel), but I’ve been doing yoga and recently started volleyball training. Additionally, since the beginning of fall I’ve been ice skating again, yeeha! (The only good thing about winter IMHO… ;-)

    I have noticed that my fat gets in the way, especially teh boobies. There are some yoga positions that I can only do in an altered version because I feel like my boobs are going to suffocate me. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a really good sports bra yet, but I’m still looking. Other than that, I don’t really have a problem with the wiggle and jiggle.

    Regarding the high impact on joints/whatever: I have very weak ligaments and have to be careful exercising (very long warm up, extensive stretching, bandages for my ankles and wrists). Maybe the injury risk would be lower if I lost weight, but I doubt it; the ligament problem is genetic, not weight induced.
    IMO, the same rule applies for thin and fat sports newbies: Your body has to get used to the new movements – some bodies adjust better or are stronger than others. It’s not necessarily a matter of fat or thin, you just have to listen to your body and meet its needs.

  23. Meowser, I’m amazed you did anything in Phoenix. I could barely drive myself to the store some weeks – I would hose myself off on the porch, then just sit under the big living room fan, evaporating. My husband was amazed by how active I suddenly was when we moved to Denver, and it was cool enough to take a walk or clean the house.

  24. The comment about bigger people taking a wider stride makes me think. A couple of years ago I broke my leg, and after I healed I noticed that my gait had changed quite a bit. Previously I walked with my feet so close together that often I’d end up with scuffs on my pants from the heel of the opposite shoe brushing by; after the injury I definitely did not place my feet so close together…until after, quite some time later, I did enough balance and agility training to bring me back somewhat near baseline.

    So I wonder if what they’re actually measuring here is people who’d benefit from a little extra work in the balance and agility arena, not so much an effect of extra weight per se (although it would make sense to me that people with more weight to carry could outstrip untrained stabilizing muscles faster than lighter people).

  25. LilahMorgan, I ordered this one: Panache SuperBra. If you don’t normally wear British bras, make sure you check the size chart because the cups are numbered differently than American bras.

    Nicole and Karin, I hate that (the boob suffocation thing). Every time it happens I think: “Maybe it’s time for a reduction.”

    I work out at time too – a little bit because I feel uncomfortable excercising in front of other people, partly because it’s easier to get motivated to do it at home then to leave my house and go somewhere, largely because I like my dance tapes way better than I like the treadmills and stuff at the gym. Although my mom has been taking Aquasize and highly recommends it, I might try that. Especially since osteoarthritis does run in my family, so it might be a good idea for me personally to do more low-impact stuff.

  26. Kate, spot-on – not the jiggle itself so much as people’s reaction to it.

    I ended up real pissed today because a discussion on why most women (and this meant MOST women, not purely the fat ones) in the UK don’t get enough exercise, degenerated into guy trolls saying how it was disgusting that there weren’t any attractive thin girls left for them….one having the cheek to claim that if a guy says he finds his fat wife/girlfriend sexually attractive, he’s lying. Wow, thanks for telling me all about my relationship dynamics when you’ve never met either me or my husband! (OK, vent over, back to the thread…)

    To be serious…the concensus was that girls at school felt self-conscious about their bodies, and it went on from there. I can concur, I think. At my school, the tiny short gym skirts (which they had to send off for by mail order – so you got your waist measured by the skinny gym teachers, publicly, and commented on if they thought you were fat) really didn’t help. Neither did the teachers themselves, who had a generally sadistic streak about forcing people to do things their abilities really were not up to. Or the ordeal of team games, and I want to make a point to teachers here – getting people to pick their own teams is bad.. If you are desperately shy, fat, and crap at hockey, or as I was, all three, you are going to be the last one standing there and see the team that gets you pulling ‘oh God!’ faces, every single time. And do they not have any idea how that feels, week after week, year after year? I do. So, a whole farrago of stuff that put me off that at school…and I haven’t even mentioned ballet class, but that had the same issues, only double. (And trust me, when you take ballet and you’re size 14, it’s not just the skinny girls snickering at you – it’s also the pushy stage moms who tag along to watch their little darlings.)

    All in the past, but it did take me a very, very long time to be at all comfortable with any form of physical movement in public. I did, a few years ago, start swimming for the first time since childhood. I tried the pool in the hotel on vacation, realized how much I enjoyed it, and carried on for a while after I got home. I’ve been lazy about it lately, but meaning to get back into it. It would still help immensely, though, if pools had more adult only sessions, because I get very uneasy about being in pools with teenage girls.

    And, I’ve been looking for a dance class. I used to Morris dance for a while, would you believe, which is great exercise and great fun, but we moved and lost touch with the group. And I’d kind of like to try ballet again, but only in a safe, body-friendly environment. It’s definitely more the self-consciousness thing rather than any physical discomfort on my part.

  27. Re: boob suffocation, so far, that only happens to me in shoulder stand and plow. Nicole, if it’s happening in downward-facing dog, I’m thinking your upper body might be too bunched up? If you really lengthen your spine (i.e., stick your ass in the air with all your might, which might involve bending your legs), your boobs shouldn’t suffocate you.

    As for rolls preventing you from stretching as far as you could, it’s a bitch, but the most helpful thing I’ve found is to focus on, once again, lengthening instead of, uh… folding? Like a lot of fat girls, I’m really naturally flexible, so my inclination is to focus on touching my head to my knee or whatever as the goal. But if I focus on lengthening my spine and keeping it straight, like you’re actually supposed to, I find I can’t get my head to my knee — without the fat rolls even having anything to do with it — but I get a much more intense stretch, with proper alignment, to boot. It just doesn’t look nearly as cool as putting your head to your knee like it ain’t no thing, sadly.

  28. Nicole, Karin-

    I finally found a yoga class I like (one where the instructor really is trying to help her students work towards being comfortable holding the poses as opposed to “tightening” anything). Usually I sign up for one, hate it, and then stop going back after the 1st or 2nd time. So I love this one, but I have no idea where to put my belly and boobs when in the lunge right before warrior. I might not have the right lingo, yet, but if you know what I am talking about and have any ideas, I would love it. Sorry for the topic departure.

    Re: the jiggle. This might be totally gross, and I can’t really believe I am telling people this, but I walk super fast, and I like to watch the shadow of my love handles moving on the sidewalk or trail. It really looks cool! Try it!

  29. That might not be clear…the problem is when I am in a lunge with my hands on either side of my front foot, I really want to kick my front leg out to the side to leave room for my belly in the front…That is what I need help with.

  30. Boob suffication, I’m so glad I’m not the only one! Of course in fathletes on LJ we had a discussion this week on a yoga instructor who couldn’t understand that Child’s Pose is not restful when everything is crushed and you feel like you can’t breathe and your knees are killing you.

    But on the arthritis front: I’m not convinced that it’s completely due to “fat”. I know for me personally, I have knee and hips issues when my weight redistributes itself meaning that my mass is pulling me in new directions. Of course stretching helps (gotta love being a fat girl and having a Physical Therapist remark on your tight ass, too bad it’s that my glutes were tight because my gait was very much off) some with alignment issues, but it won’t fix it all. Plus in the studies did they document the aches and pains of the subjects whilst exercising? Did they document doctors responses? Many of us fatties know that you can get bad doctors who tell you that your ankles hurt because you need to lose weight when in reality it’s that you’ve chipped off bone in your ankle and you’re crunching it hard when you run (um hi yeah that would be me thanks). Lack of treatment will also cause future problems.

    And in my case, it has nothing to do with the people in the gym- it has everything to do with the fact that gym clothing isn’t made for fat people. Yes I know Junonia, but really? I want functional quick dri stuff, not cutesy crap that is supposed to be worn baggy thanks. Plus I think that $60 for a pair of shorts is obscene! Cotton is nasty when working out and leaves me needing to do laundry every day when I work out because the wet and stink factor is just too high. I’d give anything to be able to walk into REI and buy everything I need there, but I’ll be buggered if that will ever happen.

  31. I go to Curves to work out. Now, I know the guy to started this joint isn’t exactly the BEST guy out there. I didn’t know prior to signing on.

    I really like Curves for a couple of reasons. I’ve had a gym membership and used it religiously for about 3 months and then dropped off. I’ve had a gym in the office building I am working at and have used it religiously for a few months and then it dropped off. With Curves, I have been going week after week for 8 months. It doesn’t seem as tedious as going to the gym and running on the treadmill and then lifting weights. It’s fast paced and the environment is comfortable.

    The Curves work out is suppose to be 30 minutes and you’re done. But overtime you’re working up your endurance, so I change and alter the amount of time I spend there. They let me bring in personal weights and it’s JUST women. Women of all ages and sizes. The only problem I have is, their machines are hydraulic resistance and after time, you’re just not GOING to build the muscle you can by lifting real weight. So, I may be left to joining a real gym once my membership is up with Curves.

    Sorry, this wasn’t an advertisment from their marketing department. I’m just saying that I’ve been the hampster on the treadmill, and though I am willing to push and push to reach goals…sometimes I need a little more to keep me going with an exercise routine. For some odd reason, Curves really works with me.

  32. I really enjoyed the boob jiggle analysis. Like we didn’t already know all of that.

    I’m just getting back into doing yoga, after gaining some weight over the past few years. it’s not the jiggling so much as the smooshing..

  33. Astrobabe-

    FYI, REI has started making some of their stuff in up to 2x. Also, I found a link on the fatgirlonabike blog to terry bicycles, and they sell stuff up to 3x. The jerseys are wicking fabric, and some of them look like wicking tshirts instead of bike jerseys (no pockets in the back or anything).

  34. Meowser, I’m amazed you did anything in Phoenix.

    LOL. That’s where the POOL came in! Getting myself all wet, including my hair, would give me a good hour of movement afterwards, especially if I went directly indoors into the AC. (Outdoors, of course, you’d be bone dry in 10 minutes.) There’s a reason there are more swimming pools per capita there than anywhere else; even the cheapest apartment buildings usually have them. A lot of the time I’d just leave my bathing suit on indoors until it dried.

    Is there anywhere in Europe that gets that hot? Where people actually live, I mean? I’d think if you mentioned the whole “fresh-local-sustainable-walk-everywhere” thing to most people living in a climate like that, they’d just laugh hysterically.

  35. Kate–It’s true that I can decrease the boob suffocation by lengthening and improving my form, but it’s still not as comfortable as it would be if I could strap those babies down. ;)

  36. the problem is when I am in a lunge with my hands on either side of my front foot, I really want to kick my front leg out to the side to leave room for my belly in the front

    Kristin, go for it. My yoga teacher has specifically told me that’s fine, and it’s even fine to keep the wider stance for warrior.

    Ditto child’s pose, Astrobabe. You can spread your legs and let your belly hang in the middle — just try to keep your feet and knees parallel. And if your knees hurt, just don’t do it. Lie on your stomach or something. You shouldn’t have to be in pain.

  37. Kristin-
    I had heard about that. However 2X no fitty the boobs that went from B to D cups nearly overnight and well. . . .I’m the pissy type who tends to tell REI which orifice they can shove it in because they don’t carry the bigger sizes in the stores, only online so I can’t try stuff on. I’m still pissed that my old local stores (in MN) begged for the extended size Denali pants and got told no. And ohhh lookie they’ve decided that no one is buying them and stopped making them- perhaps that’s because no one has been able to try them on! Excuse the rantiness, but I hate that crap.

    I have to admit that Danskin is my store of choice now. Paiva was pretty good as a size 18 they had stuff i could wear, but they shut down this fall because Finish Line decided that they weren’t profitable enough. Through them I’ve actually learned that Ryka pants often fit me in L for both yoga and running and that Puma XL tops can sometimes help keep the boobs in check. Finding those sizes now has become a bit harder.

    And at fathletes someone mentions a Terry Bicycles sale the other day. I was tempted by the clothes, but again, not knowing how the sizing works makes my a bit shy about purchasing.

  38. Kate-

    Oh I gave up on childs pose. My knees can’t do it at this point in time. It took me finding a good instructor who told me to do whatever was comfortable. It’s “restful” pigeon for me all the way baby.

  39. kristin: My (teacher-approved) solution to the “doing lunge with boobs” thing is simply to use two blocks to rest my hands on instead of the floor. Keep the front leg straight and just put the blocks at a height that’s comfortable. For me, that height varies from session to session, but it keeps me in better form without feeling suffocated.

    It can be a little awkward in the transition between poses depending on which pose is next, but so far it’s helped quite a bit.

  40. Say, while we’re talking about us large folk moving and jumping and LANDING, does anybody have any advice on what gym shoes are best for, say, a tall 250-lb woman?

  41. Re: fat yoga – I totally recommend (and can’t believe nobody else has mentioned yet) Megan Garcia‘s DVD and book, as well as the (hilariously 1980s) VHS Yoga for Round Bodies. Megan’s technique is really helpful, because she actually has alternate poses and ways of handling mobility or flexibility issues, as well as boobage and what she calls “moving the flesh.” The book is especially helpful in covering a wide variety of poses and how to try them on regardless of body type/size/shape.

  42. Tricia and Kate: Thanks for the advice! I will try both things and see which works best…

    Cath- I do a lot of hiking and backpacking, and I have found that my trail shoes are much better than any sneaks I have tried. I wear Keens and Vasque. I have wide feet, but both of these fit me in the normal sizes, since they are made for wear with thick socks.

    Astrobabe- I have never lived near an REI, but I do know your pain. I got pissed when they took plus size old navy stuff out of the stores, because they never even had the section at any of the ones I shopped at. Like, how are you supposed to sell the shit if you won’t even carry it in the store?

  43. Astrobabe> I bought some stuff from REI in 2X – 3X and the fit varied. I bought some “compression shorts” in 3X, and they are falling off my size 26 arse. I’m going to return them and get a 1X and 2X instead. The top in 2X fit my 22-24 C-cup top very well. (I have no choice but to buy sports clothes off the intarwebs as there is absolutely nothing available in Australia.)

    Cath> What gym shoes depends on what you’re going to do, but cross-trainers are “general purpose”. An athletic shoe store run by actual runners/athletes is probably the best place to buy (as long as they’re not nasty to fatties, which in my experience, most aren’t, they’re usually very helpful and friendly) – they know better which shoes are the best for what purpose and foot shape/gait than the average mall store employee.

  44. This is probably because of my specific issues, but I have had some problems with plantar fasciitis and I find that a flat, stable, really supportive shoe is essential. I get one of the New Balance styles that is made for this purpose (if you google New Balance and plantar fasciitis, people have put lists together of which ones are the most stabilizing) and wear it with Powerstep insoles for even more support. Many NB styles are even made in the USA. My current pair are Brooks that were made in China, and although it may or may not be significant that they are falling apart more quickly, I do resent that they were certainly no cheaper than the NB and I know the extra money ain’t going to whoever sewed them together. So I’m going back to NB next time. The ones I have had have seemed durable and well-made.

    It can suck because you are by no means guaranteed to get a nice or knowledgeable person on the first try, but I think the old suggestion of going to a locally owned running or athletic shoe store and having them watch you walk, examine the wear on your current shoes, etc. and give a recommendation is still good. You might have a couple stores in mind so you don’t feel obligated to buy from the first place if they rub you the wrong way.

  45. Ah, the boobs. I’ve yet to find a sports bra that a) fits me, b) actually keeps the jiggle within reason, and c) is something I can afford. Junonia is out on all three of those.

    Even finding good bras is a real problem as cup sizes vary from style to style even within the same company and band size. I usually shop from Ample Bosom, but again with the different UK sizing. And, now that I’m going up by both band and cup size – hello 40H-HH-I?! and dear gods I fear when I have to order the maternity bras – I’m having real trouble paying $65+ for a single bra that may or may not fit and might not be returnable.

    I, too, get easily bored going to the gym, so now I stick with the bellydancing, walking, gardening, and home exercise plans. I find the best thing for weak knees are lunges, especially the one which goes clockwise (so you’re stepping out to 12, 1, 2, 3, etc with the right leg, then 6, 7, 8 etc with the left). I also love aerobics and step aerobics.

    If anyone has good tips on comfortable walking shoes, bring ’em on!

  46. Walking shoes:

    Back in ’92, I was living at a group home in Chicago that was the beneficiary of the 5K segment of the Chicago Marathon (some of you Chicagoans may know what I’m talking about). Nike sponsored us that year, and gave every resident of both the girls’ and the boys’ homes a free pair of Nike Airs if they agreed to walk in the 5K. I did, and those shoes lasted me for YEARS. I only got rid of them when they were starting to fall apart, and even then they were still comfortable — just a little air conditioned. ;)

    I just WISH I could afford to buy a pair of my own now. :(

  47. I’ll never be a gym bunny, but thankfully none of these issues are too bad on a bike. And I don’t even care how big my (padded) bum looks in lycra shorts. But oh do I wish I could find a bike specific waterproof jacket in my size – preferably in a bright colour with lots of reflective panels including on the arms. I thought I was onto something with Terry’s sale, but they only have *normal* jackets in their plus sizes. Grrr.

  48. Cath,

    I’m 250lbs, though not tall, and I love my motion control shoes. Like I want to marry them and have their motion controlled babies. When I started running, I had regular sneakers and my feet were in agony, but now they’re basically pain-free.

    If you go to zappos and search for ‘motion control’ you’ll get a lot of options.
    These are my shoes:

    They ain’t pretty, but they are just fantastic.

    As for the article, I’ve never really been self concious about exercise. Probably b/c I’ve always gone to Y’s and similar places where there are a lot of different types of bodies. Now I just run outside and, for the most part, the other runners are all really nice. We all wave at each other and smile as we pass. It’s possible that some of them think I’m too fat to be out there or that they think my jiggle is gross, but since we spend maybe 20 seconds looking at each other, it doesn’t bother me.

    When I started running, I was really afraid of joint issues b/c that’s all I heard, but so far I haven’t even had a twinge. But I also do yoga and make sure to work on keeping the muscles that help support my knee strong.

  49. Compression issues in yoga – my (teacher-approved) solutions:

    Lunge – both hands on the inside of bent front leg
    child’s pose (i’m with kate)- spread your knees baby!

    In other compression poses, I have found it helpful to physically move my belly and to make room for the pose. I have also read (Mega Yoga) that an option is to use a strap to bind your breasts during poses that cause boob suffocation. I haven’t tried it yet, but have been considering it for my home practice just to see if it works.

    As for work out clothes – any help in finding good quality workout wear would be appreciated. I don’t care what the price is at this point, I just want it to do the job!

  50. Any advice on finding a women’s US size 8 1/2 EEEE in ANY type of shoe? I have been seeking for ages and come up with nothing. Not even nurse shoes. As an added bonus I also need a split size (EEE on the left) and have a standard heel.

  51. In lunges, I sometimes find it helpful to almost think of it as a mild twist — lengthen my spine forward and twist a smidge, starting with my belly, until my belly and boobs are to the inside of my leg.

    We (anusara style) also do all standing poses with the feet at least four inches apart from each other horizontally, so that the legs are coming straight out of the hip socket rather than angling in to keep the feet on one plane. I think that helps create a bit more room for belly and boobs (and puts less stress on the hip and knee joints).

  52. Cath, I am a tall (5’11) 264 pound woman. I have a special runner’s shop in the city I live in (in Germany, sorry!) and they have a video monitored treadmill. I had to run on the treadmill so that the salesperson could see how my feet/ankles bent and turned and then I tried on a shitload of shoes until I found a good pair. I currently have a pair of Brooks, but I don’t have the problem that they’re falling apart. I had that with Adidas shoes, though.
    I think it was already said, but take an old pair of sneakers with you so that the sales personnel can see how you walk (in case they don’t have the video monitored treadmill).

    Re. Child Pose/Yoga: My teacher always offers alternative poses, in case boobs or belly rolls get in the way. She advised me to put my head on my clenched fists or on a yoga block when doing the child pose; it’s much more comfortable for me.

  53. Cath-

    I’m going to second the New Balance recommendation. I’m about 5′ 3″ and 220 pounds. I carry most all of in south of my waist and it’s in my junk mostly (butt and thighs). New Balances are my savor because I have plantar faciitis and flat feet after 10 years of doing ballet as a child. As a result, my joints get bashed around alot because the flat footedness makes my ankles roll out (suppinate). New Balances have the stability I need.

    That said- some cross trainers also have stability control as well. Generally I look at Reebok these days for that. Nike. . . .well Nike’s put me in pain when I’m not running in them most times because the construction is to make you roll out. That’s not true of the Air+ Zooms, but I keep those for running only as those have the iPod+ hole. I’m not sure about your feet, but I’m a 9 N, and I find Nikes just about right in width, but feel like I slop a bit in Reeboks- so Reeboks may be better for those who have wider feet.

    Generally- I’d recommend going to either a New Balance store near you or a general running store. Get and idea from the sales people what will address your issues (stability, etc). Often they’ll tell you what you need to look for including issues like what color rubber to look for in the arch etc. If you do go to a New Balance store the shoes will be pricey. However New Balance goes through different colour combos every year like nobody’s business, so if you get the shoe model number you can search the ‘net or your local DSW for “last year’s colours” and get a pretty good deal.

  54. A thought just occurred to me. For those of you looking for good running/walking/whatever shoes and you know what you want but have a limited budget, try eBay. You won’t ALWAYS find what you want, but you might — and having a look certainly isn’t going to cost you anything but time. :)

  55. Kristin I LURVE YOU!!!!

    I hadn’t thought of trying Zappos again cause the last time I tried I found Nothing in my size. Not even ugly shoes. But today I found 44 (count them FORTY-FOUR!) results to my search! *squeeee!* There’s even *gasps for breath* Boots! With good Tread! *happy dance*

  56. Adi- I am smiling right now, I am so excited for you. It is like the day I walked into Macy’s after boycotting department stores for years b/c they never had anything cute for me and finding what I call my “party dress”. Yay Adi!!

    Yoga update: I just came from class, and my instructor told me to keep the right alignment and use my fingertips. She doesn’t allow “props” b/c of the danger of them slipping. It worked wonderfully…and I did my first shoulder stand!

  57. Kate and other people are way farther into yoga practice than I am, but I thought I’d mention one thing I learned about myself. I now retry the poses my tummy “prevented” after every 3 or 4 months of work, and I am surprised to learn that I can now do a lot of them, even though I’m not at all a smaller person. (Exercise has never once caused me to lose weight, although I do change shape as I try new things). A lot of the problems doing poses I was ascribing to ‘fat being in the way’, and it turned out (for me), it was the newness of the exercise and the level of immediate difficulty.

    I have been learning that a lot of the things I’ve ascribed to being fat – like sweating, or breathing, or fat-being-in-the-way, or whatever — are *actually* just what I’m like at different levels of fitness, combined with how I like to work out. I *like* being sort of bombastic and working up a sweat and breathing hard, and so if I’m working at what feels like exercise, that’s what I’ll be doing.

    Of course, at 140 pounds I was ascribing it to being fat, even when I wasn’t fat at all: and 70 pounds later I was still ascribing it to fat, even though the traits hadn’t at all changed in me.

    That’s sort of shitty logical thinking, on my part, but the shame just runs so deep.

    Which is why this blog is a godsend.

    Also, on shoes: the thing I learned after blowing out my Achilles the first time is that I have to 1) change my shoes a lot more often than I had been because I cover a lot of distance both in walking and running, and 2) never get a “running” shoe, but rather a cross trainer or a walking shoe with good support, because I pronate.

  58. I’m curious – the article talked about the jiggling being painful. Does anyone find that it is? I mean, I jiggle when I’m doing somthing active, no doubt. But it doesn’t hurt at all. It actually feels pretty good. On the other hand, my boobs and belly aren’t very big, at least proportionately. Is it a big boob thing?

  59. I think it might be, Dee. I’m a D/DD/E (depending on the bra, of course) and if I do something like run, my girls bounce so hard that I feel like I have to hold them down to stop the pain.

    I also have another problem, with my stomach, due to having a large baby and pre-eclampsia (which caused me to gain 70 lbs. of water weight). It stretched my belly out to such an extent that it sags way lower than it should (and you can tell it’s empty skin, too) and that bounces too when I do something like run or jump or whatever. While I can’t say that it really HURTS, it is definitely UNCOMFORTABLE.

  60. Well, Dee, it’s only painful for me if I decide to jog, because I have some D cups sitting on my chest ( I’m looking into those sport bras everyone suggested, but for the time being, I wear 2 to try and hold em at bay).

    It just depends on the time of the month for me too (close to my cycle everything is SO tender that I just want to pop my boobs off for a while till they stop hurting).

  61. What they neglected to talk about in the article is that there are plenty of options for exercising that do not involve jolting and jarring your body around. Even if I was thin, I wouldn’t be running and playing racquetball (things I used to do.) My dad, who has always been in shape and always played a lot of sports, has had to have two knee surgeries, four hip surgeries, and has arthritis in his ankles. He’s hardly walking now. Genetic, sure, but totally exacerbated by the long-term stresses he put on his joints.

  62. Dee, I don’t find the jiggling in my thighs and belly painful or uncomfortable. But yeah, with the boobs… well, they don’t jiggle so much as bounce up and down, which can be a little uncomfortable. More so the closer I get to my period… by the end of the month, it hurts to just take off my bra, never mind let my boobs bounce around.

  63. Dee I do find it uncomfortable with respect to the boobs. Take last weekend for example: We took the doggie to the beach in Malibu and we (me and doggie) ran up and down the beach lots whilst I was in my two piece TYR suit. Felt good at the time but damn did my ribs hurt all of this week because of the bouncing.

    And depending upon clothing and type of exercise chub rub and friction from not being able to buy shorts that are quite the right leg diameter also makes this uncomfortable or painful.

  64. I’m I guess more “inbetweenie” sized most of the time (I’ve ranged over 16-20ish), but I’ve never had difficulty finding work out clothing. I generally don’t go in for technical materials, though, because I am cheap. Also practically all of my gym tops — typically XL baby-Ts with Nike or Adidas propaganda — come via Xmas presents (I think they’re mostly purchased at Kohl’s and Target).

    Sports Authority has been surprisingly good to me. A *lot* of their stuff is too small (even sometimes when the particular garment is also made in sizes larger than they’ve chosen to stock), but I’ve managed to find stretchy Champion capris (my all-time favorite gym bottoms), Moving Comfort sports bras (highly recommend the Maya for D/DD cup people), and Under Armor tops and undies. Once I saw a cheap tri wetsuit that claimed to be my size (!). Also lap-swimming suits (speaking of which, wtf Speedo: why must your mainline 14/38 and your bigger-suit 16 be so far apart in size? Lame!).

    Here in SF we have a store called Sports Basement, where I have learned that Marika makes some pants that fit me at my largest, although overall I would recommend their things for a taller woman.

    athleta.com is a little pricey, but it seems like almost all their house brand items come in plus sizes and are well made and kind of generically stylish. I have a pair of super-soft workout capris from them that have lasted me at least 5 years (although they’re admittedly not my favorite since they tend to jiggle right off if I jump rope or something).

    activa.com is practically useless, *except* for a zip-up Enell knock-off bra that I found to be a much better fit for my petite-bustiness as well as a lot easier to get into (the Enell is probably still the thing for taller people). It’s my preferred top if for some reason I’m going shirtless.

    OneHanesPlace has been good to me for cheap gym pants. I’m not sure how much the stuff I would’ve bought there has been moved to Just My Size.

    For a long time Newport News had very cheap stretch pants (capris and bootcuts) that I used to wear to the gym all the time. Haven’t looked in a while, though.

    Junionia…well, I have to say I’ve never been satisfied with their stuff (except for my unlined rain pants). I got a pair of pants that were oddly too short (wtf, I’m 5’1″) and also bigger than I would’ve guessed from the size chart…I still wear them because I am cheap, and I guess they’ve held up well, but still.

  65. I am loving all this yoga talk. I haven’t stretched out properly for two weeks now because we haven’t had dance class and now I am thinking that as soon as I write this comment I’m going to eat my dinner in pigeon pose. Bellydancers love that pose, for some reason (other dancers: am I right?)–when we do it for cool down everyone always makes crazy orgasm moans. It’s awesome and pretty belly-friendly, too.

    This discussion also makes me glad that my preferred types of exercises are those (walking, dancing) that don’t require any other special equipment than yoga pants and maybe a fringe belt. I hate sports bras with a very special, tender hatred.

  66. I’ve gained 50 lbs in the past year and have noticed there are some hip hop moves that are actually easier with extra pounds (especially on the hips and boobs). As long as your muscles are in good shape, you can use the weight of your fat to generate some *terrific* momentum and really extend those moves. It’s kind of awesome.

  67. I liked the article, mostly because when I tried to pick up running again, I gave it up because of jiggle — only I wouldn’t really call it jiggle, exactly, since it was much more extreme. I felt like I was being pulled down with every footfall, and could feel it in my boobs, my hips, my belly . . . It was painful.

    In any case, I like some of the recommendations for how to deal with that, and I like that people are doing research into dealing with it better. I’ve given up on running, though. I wasn’t really fond of it to begin with, and I’ve got other kinds of exercise I prefer to do.

    One thing I didn’t like in the article was this:

    In September, the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise published a study by Dr. Browning that compared the walking biomechanics of 20 adults, half of them obese and half of normal weight. Although both groups had similar strides, the heavier exercisers landed with their feet farther apart then slim exercisers. The wider steps may be the way overweight people stay balanced, compensating for a larger belly or backside. Or the wider step may simply be a function of leg thickness or large thighs rubbing together.

    I’m not convinced that wider steps are a problem; it seems just as plausible that narrow steps would be problematic. I dislike using skinny people as the norm, then saying that anything fat people do differently is problematic.

  68. Mary Garden: YES. I’ve heard some bellydancers refer to “reverb” when learning how to do a 3/4 shimmy…it really does help to have some ass!

  69. I loved the article and the commentary, but now I am depressed. We had to give up our YMCA membership a couple of months ago due to cost. I am rapidly realizing that because I have bad lower joints (genetic- my dad is going in for a full knee replacement in a few weeks) there is nothing I can do that doesn’t require equipment or specialized instruction (especially to compensate for the joint issues). I had built my workout around the pool (I live in Phoenix) and the circuit machines, especially after getting another injury that stopped me from using the treadmill and the bikes.
    This is turning into a whine, so I will stop now. I just miss working out.

    Oh wait- I am fat! I am not supposed to enjoy working out, right?

  70. My problem isn’t jiggling, which is admittedly painful in the chest area for me, my problem is that I overheat anytime the temperature creeps over 60 degrees fahrenheit . Nobody but nobody is willing to keep their gym at 55 degrees, so I don’t get out much when it gets warm outside. My husband is born and raised southerner, with no protective layer of body fat to speak of, and he dreads going out with me to exercise. I’m speedwalking in a short sleeved shirt, he’s huddled into a quilted jacket whining about wanting to go home.

    Can’t wait till it starts snowing.

  71. How often do you guys do yoga? I’m just getting started, and I’m not sure about the frequency

    As often as you can. A daily practice is the ideal, but it can take some time to work up to that, and it’s not for everyone. So my advice would be the same as it is to anyone starting any exercise program: begin with a small, manageable goal. Maybe that’s one 90-minute class a week, or maybe it’s a 10-minute daily practice. When you’re comfortable with that in your routine, try two classes a week, or a 20-minute daily practice… you get the picture.

    What I’ve found with yoga (and I’ve heard many other people say it, too) is that the more I do it, the more I want to do it. So if you start small and find you love it, you’ll probably increase the amount you do it just because you want to. And if you don’t love it, you should quit yoga and find a form of exercise you do love. :)

  72. Regarding jiggling, I’m 5’3 and 136 lbs and even down at 122 lbs (which is tiny), I jiggle in various places. It’s not very painful, but practically everyone jiggles. High-impact workouts bring out the jiggle in you.

    Regarding shoes, I think I tried on every running shoe in the tri-state area and I can tell you, if you do not have narrow heels like I do, avoid Adidas and men’s Nikes. (Yes, men’s Nikes come in women’s size 7.5 — they call it size 6.5 men’s and running shoes have some awfully weird sizing. I’ve NEVER worn a size 8.5 in shoes, ever, and all of a sudden, in New Balance, I did.) It’s generally accepted that you do NOT run in anything but a running shoe, but I’m not sure how much of that is perpetuated by the running-shoe establishment. However, for just general gym experience, cross-training shoes are cheaper and probably work just as well.

    As a note, I think exactly one New Balance shoe — the 992 — is made in the United States. I wanted New Balance because I thought the majority of them were, but they aren’t. (Plus, they don’t fit me properly.)

  73. Er, the first part of the comment was basically meaning to say, the idea of being able to work out without a jiggle is another one of those Unattainable Ideals.

  74. When I check nbwebexpress.com, I get 45 results under Made in the USA, including the 587 which is the one I had last time. I hope that’s correct–and it may very well not be, the information might be old… grr–because I was all excited about finding a shoe that fit that is also USA-made…

    Anyway, they do fit me wonderfully (what with the wide widths, and the super flat, stable construction) and held up better than my Brooks, so I guess I’ll go back to them anyway. I’m about due for some new ones. I have heard a rule of thumb (no idea if this is right) that you should replace running shoes every 300-600 miles. I cover about 20 miles a week, so I need to start trying to replace my shoes every 6 months or so, especially since I am on the heavy side for a runner. Now that it’s dark so early I have to use the damn treadmill, and something about my gait on the treadmill vs. the sidewalk can be hard on my hips anyway (something I am trying to figure out how to correct), so I don’t want to exacerbate it by wearing old worn-out shoes.

    As a tip, if anybody does decide to go with their walking shoes, and needs stability moreso than cushion, I would look for their “Rollbar” technology to narrow down some models to consider. I think it is some kind of rigid thing that runs through the shoe and is kind of code for which of their shoes are the most stable. I have started wearing rigid shoes pretty much all the time–including some cheapo Birkenstock knockoffs that I wear in the house instead of slippers–and that more than anything has pretty much eliminated my heel pain/plantar fasciitis.

    The guy that recommended the Brooks did sell me a men’s model, which I appreciated in terms of “thinking outside the box” and considering function over form. My foot is definitely more “like a man’s” in terms of width and shape. They are good shoes and have never rubbed or hurt my feet, I just don’t like them quite as well as the NB.

  75. Oh, and the picture of the 587 on zappos.com says “Made in the USA” in huge letters on the back of the shoe (since now I seem to be obsessed with finding information about this), so if that turns out not to be true anymore, they had better update the photo! Talk about misleading…

    I agree with you that nobody is going to not jiggle under high-impact exercise. I saw pictures of Katie Holmes after the NYC Marathon and I was surprised she wasn’t bleeding from the nipples. It appears the girl ran/walked the whole thing without a sports bra on, just one of those stupid shelf bra camis. It makes me want to curl up in the fetal position and die. No matter how small your boobs are (and mine aren’t huge, just floppy), that little bit of movement and chafing over time is going to add up. I think good sports bras and compression garments are probably more comfortable for most people, not just us fatties. The yoga discussion reminds me how much I hate a huge t-shirt coming down and suffocating me while I bend down to stretch or whatnot. YMMV though.

    Oh! Someone asked about functional workout wear. This is NOT ideal but if you happen to fit a straight size, the C9 stuff from Target is cheap and actually very functional. If not (and isn’t this always the way) Lands’ End seems to have some good stuff–I have been happy with the functionality and fit, though I haven’t checked out this season’s lineup–and it comes in plus, but costs a lot more.

    For sports bras (and again I hate to “recommend” Title 9 because they like to act all inclusive but carry NOTHING above an XL, so in general I hate them… yet they do have a few bras in large CUP sizes at least) I like the Moving Comfort (I believe this is right) Maia (or what T9 calls the “2-in-1” bra). The underwire is even more helpful than I thought it would be in terms of support, and is very comfortable. And since I am vain, I also like that it looks more like a normal bra and doesn’t give me squished uniboob.

  76. Damn, I wrote this huge post with workout wear shopping suggestions last night and it got eaten.

    I agree on the Moving Comfort Maya. If you live near a Sports Authority you can get it a lot cheaper there than from Title 9, depending on what sizes they’ve decided to stock this week. Sports Authority in general is one of those stores that seems determined to only carry misses items but sometimes fails. My favorite workout pants (some Champion capris I’ve never seen online) and lap-swimming suit (so much cheaper than ordering from Speedo) come from there, and once I saw a cheap tri wetsuit that claimed to be in my size (!).

    Online I like Athleta. It’s pricey, but I think just about every house brand item is available in plus sizes (alas, even they can’t prevail upon Water Girl and Prana and whomever to believe active women come in sizes larger than 12), well-constructed and sort of generically stylish. The things I’ve ordered there have held up for years.

  77. Kimu, I found and released it, so your work is not lost! (Everyone should just let us know if your post goes to spam, so we can release it and thus train the spam filter better.)

  78. Stephanie- as spacedcowgirl says there are a number of made in the USA shoes from New Balance.

    And for New Balance experiences for people who wonder:

    Y’all got me to go get new shoes last night. I’m flat footed, and roll out my ankles and have grumpy toes in that they don’t like being squished. The Pasadena New Balance store had me try on about 25 different shoes in different sizes, widths etc until we found the perfect shoe for me- the 575 in black after a bit more than an hour in the store. Unfortunately not made in the USA, but will allow me to walk in shoes that aren’t flip flops and start working back and forth from home an work (1.5 miles each way) once we deal with this potential thyroid issue that is knocking me on my bum.

    And spacedcowgirl- the 587 is made in the USA. New Balance even has a special list of made in the USA shoes

  79. Astrobabe–so awesome about the new perfect shoes! Good luck with the thyroid issue and I hope you are soon enjoying your walks to and from work. It sounds like a great store too since they worked with you until you found the right shoe.

    As you can see I am kind of a hypocrite about made in the USA stuff since I am recommending the C9/Lands’ End workout wear (the C9 mainly due to price, for folks on a tight budget I think it is about the best you can do for functional workout wear), but I personally am trying to shift more of my purchases in that direction, so I appreciate the info!

  80. Hmm . . . I remember reading an article recently that said that NB can’t afford to make any of their shoes other than the 992 in America, and that one has a special flag on it and only comes in red-silver-blue. I guess the article was mistaken. All the shoes I tried on — which ranged from their $65 normal-people shoes to some scary expensive correct-underpronation (my problem) running-only shoes — said “Made in China”.

    My biggest problem with New Balance isn’t where the shoes are made, though — they just don’t fit my feet.

  81. I’m really late , but Peggy Cappy’s “Yoga for the Rest of Us” and Megan Garcia’s megayoga.com both have modifications.

    There is a lady here in NYC who does workshops for IDEA trainers (who, nomenclature aside, still don’t appear to have a clue IMO as to how to adapt exercises for bodies different than their own) as to what trainers need to do differently to work with large bodies. I’ll tell her about the site here.

  82. Oh, also – many telephone books under butt for child’s pose — or you can ask/inform the instructor before class that you’re going to do Dead Bug pose.

    Very comfortable if your hamstrings are stretchy (and you carry more weight at the bottom than the top, which doesn’t seem to be the norm for Shapelings commenting here but is a whole separate issue) and, as a bonus, ticks off the snarky girls with rabbit face who ask after class, “How come you get to do that pose instead?”

    Um, ’cause I’m aware of what my body can and can’t do, after years of struggling to do exactly what you can do and feeling inferior? And ’cause I like to mind my own business?

  83. Stephanie, you may very well be right. I am going to check it out next time I’m at the shoe store.

    I think this highlights a good point, though, that one size definitely does not fit all when it comes to shoes. I used to buy the running shoes with the thickest “cushion,” figuring they would support my weight better. Turns out they are totally unsuitable for my feet. The NB are perfect for me but don’t fit you well at all. By the same token I read the blog of a heavier (though not as heavy as me) runner and she found that the stabilizing shoes wreaked havoc on her feet, and needed to switch to a very cushioned pair instead. So you probably can’t go by others’ recommendations unless they share very similar foot shape/issues/arch/etc. with you.

    There is probably something to the argument that wearing “too supportive” shoes weakens your feet, and that humans evolved to go barefoot so there is really no need for super-high-tech shoes. In the same way I believe that in making a final choice, you definitely have to trust your own instinct as to what is comfortable and fits well. But I still sort of feel like the best thing is to consult a professional to help you sort out the dizzying array of shoes that is out there, especially if you have foot problems (bonus points if they have a treadmill in the store where they can observe your gait, and that you can test-drive shoes on). They may observe something about your feet that didn’t occur to you. In my case the cushioned shoes feel good in the store, whereas the stabilizing ones feel flat and “hard.” I can only tell once I am actually running that the stabilizing ones are right for me.

  84. I found that the ‘stability’ shoes made my knees hurt. Now if I see any grey around the base of the shoe I know that they’re not for me. I’ve had a lot of luck with Nike, actually. Various styles but they fit my awkward feet.

  85. The biggest reason why people of any weight do not exercise is because it generates feelings of extreme displeasure that build until they become intolerable.

    I know there is no point in me saying this except that I know other people feel this and I don’t think it’s anything to be ashamed of or overcome. Anymore that sticking with a relationship that causes you discomfort ought to be stuck with because it builds your ability to cope with discomfort.

    It is assumed that exercise is healthy, but what I’m unsure of is whether being active is itself a product of health if it is faking it, is not necessarily healthier. For some obviously this works and it is healthy, but I can’t help thinking that the steep rise in injuries that follow fitness booms reflect that ignoring discomfort can only add injury to insult.

  86. When I said – I don’t think its anything to be ashamed of or overcome….

    I should like to correct that and say that -I don’t think it’s anything to be ashamed of, or overcome by force.

  87. I’m not doing yoga much these days, but I got one of the best things ever from the couple of classes I went to (after years of DVDs at home): A loud breath. The instructors *wanted* us to breathe loudly, and one even said that if the person next to you should be able to hear you breathing. Once I just let go of all the “OMG, I’m breathing too loud, they’re all going to think it’s because I’m fat, they’ll hate me” angst and breathed as loud as my body wanted to breathe, it was SO much easier to connect to my breath. My whole yoga practice improved from that. (Also the knees-out modification to Child’s Pose. Holy crap, who knew that was a resting pose?!)

    My best friend and I just joined a gym, too, and while I haven’t gone by myself yet, everybody there has been concentrating too hard on their own workouts to bother saying shit to the fat chicks. Yeah, my face gets all red and I breathe hard sometimes — I’m working out! If I weren’t sweaty I’d be doing it wrong.

    In fat, I haven’t been to the gym for a week and I can’t wait to get back. My gym offers four free appointments with a personal trainer, too, and I’m excited to talk to one; I’ve gotten over my fear of not knowing how to use the equipment, but I would like to know which ones would be best for me to use. (Also geeked to hear that more leg strength will help my poor arthritic knees — which were arthritic when I was young and thin, too, so it ain’t the fat.)

    All the comments here have been so great to read!

  88. wriggles, I agree with you. Not everyone is going to enjoy exercise, yet exercise seems to be a key component of HAES. It is sort of troubling because it is assumed that eventually everyone will find something that they enjoy, but I don’t know if that is true. And especially if your life is super-busy (long work hours, commutes, kids, home-ownership, etc.) is it really better to sacrifice sleep or reading a book or whatever to get in your “hour a day” or half-hour a day? I don’t know the answers to these questions. And I also agree that I don’t know if it is actually good for you if you hate every moment of it. These are not easy issues.

    For example, I myself appear to hate yoga. I tried starting with the beginner DVDs and the OCD that comes up where I feel so much frustration if I can’t get the pose exactly right becomes (as you said) intolerable to me. When I am running I enjoy striving to get a faster mile time, or feel good when my heart rate is lower than it used to be, or train to increase my stride rate. If I have a bad run or I can’t improve these numbers, I don’t seem to stress too much. But I find the effort to “improve” at yoga to be annoying and unpleasant and uncomfortable. I don’t know why that difference exists. I could try giving it another chance but I’ve already given it several, so basically I’ve decided I don’t want to do it anymore.

    Also, I do enjoy the act of running and I rarely get to the end of the workday and feel strongly that I don’t want to run. The prospect of doing it sounds OK to good generally. So you could say I like it for its own sake. But the biggest benefit I get out of it is it really helps my depression and seems to help calm my ADD-leaning brain (unfortunately, the days when it makes the largest dent are those rare days when I really, really don’t want to do it, but I have learned over time that those are the most important days to do it because they are the days when I will feel dramatically better when I am done). So there is some delayed gratification there too. It is sort of complicated for me.

  89. The whole thing about being overweight changing your stride and therefore stressing your knees unduly is crap. Seriously, I was diagnosed with that sort of knee damage several years ago, long before I reached this weight. And what the doctor told me when he diagnosed me was that because of the angles created by the female pelvis, most athletically active women will wind up with that sort of knee damage.

    So, no, it’s not the weight or at least not solely the weight.

  90. I read this today


    and I thought y’all would appreciate one of the discrepancies that neither the authors nor editors mention: the “when not working” clause. If I were a bricklayer or ditchdigger or even a nanny cleaning houses and running after rich people spawn, I most CERTAINLY would not need, nor feel the need, to engage in physical activity at the end of my 17-hour day. But look at the unhealthy poor people! They don’t understand that one needs exercise for good health!


  91. Is this the thread where we get to ask about workout partners? (I saw some of you all talking about rock climbing somewhere. Scary. Rock on.)

    Is there someone in NYC who might be interested in going to Pilates with me? Duets are so much less expensive (and frequently also somewhat less demoralizing, there’s two of you instead of just you vs. the instructor :-)) than privates.

  92. Well, this is a bit late, but I have something to add about the embarassment factor of going to the gym when you are jiggly. It’s something that always used to bug me, and made me not want to hit the machines, because I felt like people were totally judging my athleticism…. and then I realized that, if anything, people at health clubs tend to smile at the fat people on the machines, in a friendly way. I find myself doing it too sometimes- when someone who is fat is on a machine in front of me, I kind of cheer them on in my head, because it is scary going to the gym and because, athletic though you can be at any size, it does burn more calories to do the same workout- it’s harder. That’s why I used to love going when The Biggest Loser was on- all those people would be TRYING so hard, I’d have to just say to myself, “c’mon Caro, look how hard they’re pushing it, you can’t do five extra minutes?” And then I would.

  93. Caro, I hear you, but I’ve also heard lots of stories of fat people feeling really patronized by people who will come right up to them at the gym and say stuff like, “Great job! Keep going!” or even, “Keep it up and you’ll lose weight!” A lot of people assume that if a fat person’s at the gym, A) it must be a recent development, and B) they must be doing it to lose weight. When in fact, that fat person might have been exercising regularly for ages and just still be fat, and they might have no interest in losing weight.

    I totally take your point, but it’s good to remember it can go too far the other way, too.

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