So, as I apparently feel compelled to mention each time I post, I’m in grad school right now, studying and teaching literature. I’m in the thick of end-of-term paper-writing and paper-grading, so I’ve been getting a lot of visits from students in my office, which is shared with several other grad students. This office is at on the top floor of a four-story building; there’s an elevator, but it’s not immediately obvious that it exists unless you already know where to look.
Let me tell you a little secret, Shapelings, especially those of you who have mentioned in various threads that you don’t feel bad about your weight except when you get tired going up stairs. Here it is: everyone gets tired going up stairs! Watching undergrads and grad students of all builds and levels of athleticism arrive at my office sweating and catching their breath has been a great lesson to me in how we beat ourselves up undeservedly. Thin students, fat students, bookish students, athletic students — all of them arrive in my little office needing a moment to catch their breath, many of them arrive sweaty, and almost all of them apologize to me for it. After observing this phenomenon for a couple weeks, if a student apologized for huffing and puffing a bit, I began telling them two things: 1) everyone feels like that after those stairs, and 2) that’s why I take the elevator.
Last year? When I didn’t have that office and would only have to go up to the fourth floor twice a week for class? I mentally beat myself up every time I got to the fourth floor, feeling terribly embarrassed for being red-faced and warm as I entered class. My classmates don’t seem to get sweaty! Something is wrong with me — I’m so out of shape! Sure, I walk several miles each day with no problem, but I must be a beast because I’m the only one sweating! It wasn’t until I was running late one day and hopped in the elevator — already occupied by two of my classmates — that I figured out that other people were just choosing not to take the stairs. And when I realized that everyone else was taking the elevator, I also realized that the only reason I wasn’t was because I heard the voices of a thousand women’s magazine writers telling me that taking the stairs was a great way to tone my thighs during my everyday activities.
The point of this post, then, is to remind us all of the obvious: Human bodies sweat. Human bodies get tired. Human bodies do some things with ease and some things with great effort. I’ve seen giant football-playing dudes and lithe 18-year-old girls come up the same set of stairs sweating at least as much as my 28-year-old, nerdy, untoned self. Find an activity that your body really likes to do — whether it’s yoga, walking, gardening, or Dance Dance Revolution — and give yourself a break on the other stuff. I’ll see you at the top of the stairs.