Friday, June 19, 2009

Uncovering the Ugly Truth

I promised that I wouldn't hide behind my ego in this blog. I would be humble in my discovery of what it means to be a FunFitFoodie. So here goes...

I am currently dating a wonderful, skinny Chilean. Our bodies are a fantastic metaphor for how we interact with the world too--completely opposite. My body is soft, feminine, very womanly. His body is linear, angles, straight. Our bodies are opposite. How we deal with the world is too.

I am super sensitive. I cry at Finding Nemo. I don't watch scary movies. I have cried at work. Because I'm so sensitive, I've learned to be diplomatic with everyone, always. I don't want to hurt other people's feelings because I know how it hurts me.

Then there's my boyfriend. Straight and to the point. Honest without sugarcoating. He says things without thinking. How I ended up with this man, I have no idea.

Then add to this powderkeg our cultural differences. Latin American and South American cultures recognize the elephant in the room, which is refreshing and offensive. A fat person has a nickname Guaton, Gordo, Gordito. A skinny person is Flaco, Flaquito. A black person is Negro or Negra. My nickname is Gringa. So my honest boyfriend lives in a culture where people call it like they see it. There's no politically correct anything.

So, we were lying in bed together, my leg thrown across his torso and he grabs my leg with so much love and says "Que grandes jamones tienes!" Loosely translated as "what great hams you have." Or....he might have said "Que jamones grandes tienes!" Which would be "what big hams you have!" The position of the grande is super important but, all I heard was the grande and the jamon and both reminded me of what I would rather forget: that I have thick, womanly thighs, and I hate them. But because he said it with such love and adoration, I chalked it up to culture and forgot about it.

But some things aren't really forgotten, just merely stored up. So when the next day as we were joking around, he says to me, "We're going to work on your body, shape your legs a bit more, make them look even sexier," I just lost it. If he had said anything other body part, I might have let it go. But it was like unleashing a monster.

I know it was just one of those joking moments. He had no idea he had touched on something super sensitive, something secret, that I admit to no one.

This thigh-hatred goes so deep, it's a little ridiculous. But I can remember the horror of developing thick thighs. The horror of seeing my brother date women with skinny legs and fearing that no one would want me. The exhaustion of having to work expecially hard to win the approval of my ex-boyfriend: working out, eating or not eating, wearing my hair the way he liked it, trying to be sexy for him.

I wanted things to be drastically different with my new boyfriend. So, I consciously began to create a world of acceptance, working on my relationship the way I'm also working on all aspects of my life. I'm trying to walk a more accepting path.

I told my new boyfriend I loved his body, which I do. Even when he mentioned he wanted muscles, I would say that if he wanted muscles fine but that he was great as he was. I wouldn't tell him if I liked him with facial hair or not because I didn't want him to feel he had to look a certain way for me to love him. I have been treating him as I want to be treated. And he has responded. He's told me he loves my legs, my stomach, my breasts, my ass. He's told me wants me to return from the U.S. exactly as I am now.

But I ignored these lovely, ubiquitous compliments. Instead, when he said he wanted to "work on my legs" I told him he hurt my feelings and proceeded to cry (which is what happens when I'm super angry. I actually think this is improvement over how I used to be. I used to never say a word and hang on to the hurt forever. At least I said something, however inefficiently and emotionally it was said.)

His caring apology only made me cry harder. I felt sorry for the man. This man loved me, and though I value my mind, I still can't find my way to valuing my body. I hated that I had revealed to him what I wanted to keep from him of all people: that even though I have a BMI of frickin' 22 for godsakes, even though I workout every day and love dance, a part of me still thinks I'm fat. It's this part that has prevented me from getting a personal training certificate years' earlier. It's what has prevented me from properly marketing and giving my fitness book any credit. It's this part that makes my future precarious. Because I know what I want to be (a personal trainer, help others with body acceptance and living joyfully), but I will have to face my deepest and worse fears and put away forever the most hurtful critiques that I give myself.

I'm not sure how to do this but this argument with my boyfriend has made me realize more than anything that I must do something.

I wonder if you can perform an exorcism on bad body-self-esteem?

But it ends here. If I have to physically hold my legs and kiss them, I will. If I have to kick ass every time someone comments on my body, fine. But I'm going to wear a bathing suit this summer with pride (not the false kind). And I'm going to wear it now. Not after months of working out like a fool. Nope. I'm going to accept my legs. And anyone who doesn't like them or wants to "shape them" can shove it.

I'm going to love my body gosh darnit, even if it kills me!

Thursday, June 18, 2009


So, I just read through the cardiorespiratory training chapter in my personal fitness book and I realized that you're not actually supposed to workout at 85-90% of your maximum heart rate for more than 30-60 seconds! So yay, I'm not totally lazy!

Here's the things I'm totally boggled by:
1. After you workout, your body's metabolism is elevated, like a car's engine that stays warm even after the car is shut off. I finally understand why fitness experts have suggested morning workouts. Then your "engine" is burning more energy from the start of the day. The problem I have with that is that a lot of people aren't morning people and just won't get out of bed. I for one love mornings but I have yet to make it to the gym consistently in the morning.

For me, the afternoon is the perfect workout time. In my opinion, you should workout and be active at the time of day that's best for you, not the time fitness experts say is great. Workout at midnight if that's what works for you.

2. You also reach higher fitness levels if you split your cardio workout in two equal amounts of time (for example, cardio, weight lifting, cardio). Weird huh! I'm going to do more research to find out why that is because well, it's just fascinating to me why cardio split up would make your body work more than altogether. Perhaps the rest in between allows for recovery so that the second time you can work just as hard, if not harder than the first? I'll let you know what I find out.

3. That the human body is so efficient. Your body will adapt to whatever work you do and try to do it with the least amount of energy as possible. So if you do the same routine, you eventually plateau and stop improving your fitness level because your body has adapted to the routine. Isn't that amazing! Our bodies are incredible! They rock!

On a side note, in spite of all these revelations and wanting to be super fit, I swear to you the first thought that went through my head today was "Juan Valdez chocolate manjar cake." How's that for a balanced life!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Three Minute Step Test Queen!

I can't actually believe it but I excelled at the three-minute step test, a test that assesses your heart's capacity to pump blood through your body while you exercise. You do roughly 72 steps on an 18 inch platform for three minutes, rest for a minute and then take your recovery pulse.

The results were astounding. I'm actually super fit! I know this is just weirdest thing to say for someone who has been going to the gym consistently almost every day since March, but still, the only other time I've noticed a difference in my fitness level is when I was able to climb this monster hill in Algarrobo really easily (after having huffed and puffed up the same hill two months earlier). I still have the same legs I consider too fat (but am trying to embrace just the same). I still have the little pancita. I still have an ass. But there I was counting away and dude, my heart is fit! I calculated that I needed to be working out way more than I am.

Low and behold, I landed in the Very Good fitness level and calculated that my heart could withstand me working at even 90% of my max heart rate (holy crap!).

I then vowed I would go to the gym and workout at this new higher rate and really give my body what it needed. However, I ended up eating a chocolate croissant too close to my workout time and felt super duper sick (when am I going to learn that I need to not eat at least three hours before a workout?). Then the next day, I tried again, but no matter how often I started at pushing myself on the bike, I would get distracted by my thoughts and ended up in my comfort zone, at around 140 bpm--74% of my max heart rate.

This has gotten me thinking. How does the average Joe or Jane motivate themselves to the proper level of fitness? If I'm at the super high rate, and I can't seem to motivate myself to work at those upper levels, what happens to someone who's super out of shape and shouldn't be operating at more than 40% of their max heart rate? How daunting, especially since, if you don't have a high level of fitness, it's probably because there's something about moving and exercising that you don't like. What a vicious circle.

I would really love to dedicate my life to helping people adopt healthy habits and find some way to love eating healthily and also love moving. I'd love to find ways to help people be more motivated with me but also without me. I guess the trick is to discover what will motivate me first.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I miss trampolining more than any activity. So far, the Chileans have not caught on to trampolines, although I did see one in a park in Santiago. Unfortunately, I think it was for tiny kids and not for me.

If you live in San Jose or Sacramento, I recommend trying Sky High Sports. It's a trampoline warehouse for kids and adults. The adults can attend an hour of air-robics--an hour of aerobics on the trampoline.

My friends and I would drive an hour from Livermore after work to attend--it was THAT much fun.

If you can't find a trampoline center, try a personal trampoline. According to Fay Roberts, trampoline coach, "the trampoline is the second fastest calorie burner and an ULTIMATE complete body workout," but more than that silly weight loss message, it's just a lot of fun, which is really more important to FunFitFoodies!

So if you're bored with walking and want something that feels a lot like flying, step on a trampoline.

Oh yeah, and make sure to read about safety on the trampoline. This one's for kids, but it would work for you too.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Hip Hop and Baile Entrentenido--for the Masses

I love, love, love hip hop! Unlike modern which can be obscure at times, hip hop is for the masses, created by the masses. Even more impressive are the number of men dancing hip hop...straight men even! One of the greatest joys in the workshop for me was watching the men dance. It was hot!

Of all the types of dances I would recommend to a person with any type of body, it would be hip hop. It's fun. It's not terribly taxing either. We only had one routine in all three days that required any kind of floor work and it was only for a moment. With the right attitude, you can pull off anything in hip hop. Plus, they use really frickin' great, shake-your-booty music. You can't help but move to it! If hip hop doesn't do it for you, ty any of the ethnic dances like belly dance, hawaiian/tahitian/Rapa Nui, or Afro Peruano, Afro Columbiano, African. They emphasize and celebrate the best attributes of women. Having big hips, a large ass, and big breasts is great.

I love dance. I do. I can't imagine what I would do if I were obese and loved dance. I would hope that I would go to dance class anyway. But I do understand how difficult it would be to have a large body in a classroom full of skinny girls. And perhaps it's just as difficult to have a skinny body in a room full of fat people. For me, I have always been on the "fat" end of dancers in my dance class. To ignore that stupid voice saying, "You're too fat, too ugly, too blah blah blah" is incredibly difficult.

Man, I would love to teach a dance class for bodies of all sizes. Here, they have something called Baile Entretenido which I would love to teach. It's a mix of samba, salsa, merengue, hip hop, swing and jazz. But it's simple because it's the same routines almost every time. The instructor encourages you to simply move during class and don't worry about catching the steps. It's the only class I've ever been too where sometimes the energy is so high that after a routine everyone claps and laughs. Plus its just about having fun. No one's screaming at you or pulling their hair out because you're doing the steps wrong. That's the kind of thing I like!

If you know a type of dance that's for any body size, leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Belly Love

I'm obsessed with my belly. It is not a good obsession. I'm definitely not holding my belly and telling it how much I love it. No, instead I'm assessing its girth in the mirror everyday and scrutinizing my profile in the mirror, and even my distorted reflection in the shop windows. I know I'm being ridiculous because having a little belly is no big deal. I also know it's ridiculous because I wholeheartedly believe in body diversity and in living a healthy lifestyle without dieting or trying to reduce my body.

In order to rid myself of my negative belly image, I went to belliesarebeautiful and checked out other people's bellies. To be honest, at first I was super grossed out. Probably because I'm afraid of my own belly. Bellies are frightening to someone who has tried to maintain a high level of fitness her whole life. To love one's belly, one must embrace the fat parts of one's body and say, yep, these are super cool too.

Bellies by definition are the exact oppposite of what our beauty standard is all about. They're jiggly, they're floppy, they're rolly poly. They're fat. In fact, the belly can be sexy, our society says...but only if it's not there. If it's only a belly button (for women) or defined by the muscles beneath (for men), then you've got the sexy belly (non-existent belly that is).

I know that I'm a stupid product of my society. After all, how often do we hear how great the belly is? As I was looking for good messages on the Internet, I found this article by Judith Stone. I loved this paragraph:

  • I think it would be nice if hating the way you look weren't so good for the economy. We all know that advertising is designed to make us feel dissatisfied with ourselves so that we'll buy more stuff (like the weightloss products on which Americans spend $30 billion a year). We know, too, that women in ads, knockouts to start with, are artificially perfected beyond human emulation. We know, but we forget. I think it would be nice if the next time you took a look at one of these ads and asked yourself What's she got that I haven't got? you answered yourself: an airbrush.

One good belly message I could recall was from Pulp Fiction when Butch is talking to Fabian, his girlfriend, and she tells him how much she wishes she could have a little pot belly. I remember the scene because I was surprised that someone would want a belly, even if that person was a fictional character in a movie. I just never thought that it might be something desirable.

The only other awesome message I can think of is from the belly dancing community which embraces women with bellies. If you have a belly, fantastic! Wrap a scarf with bangles on it and shimmy away. Again, I remember being surprised when I saw a belly dancer perform and her body was natural, curvaceous and beautiful--but totally different than what beauty standards say is beautiful.

Of course, both of these messages don't really embrace true body diversity--they allow for a more curvaceous woman, but in the end, they don't really embrace the idea of a fat person being as beautiful or desirable as a thin person.

What's also interesting is that I've found when dating men, that they all seem to like the softness of a woman and have had no trouble embracing my belly and my thighs and my hips. If only I could enjoy and love my womanly body as much as men seem to.

I know I haven't advertised this blog site yet so I'm not expecting replies yet, but what do you think, invisible readers? Do you have belly love? What do you to embrace the soft parts of you?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Manjar Crepe in Mendoza

On the last day of my trip to Mendoza, my last meal before I headed back to Chile, I ordered a manjar-filled crepe.

Luckily for me it was the most wonderful tasting desert that was only shadowed by the layer cake at Juan Valdez (and just slightly).

The crepes were decorated on top with melted dark-brown sugar. It didn't look super appealing because the sugar reminded me of black caviar. But what it lacked in presentation, it made up for in taste. While the crepe and the manjar were soft and gooey, the sugar on top added another, crunchier texture which, well, made it a lot of fun to eat.

My only hope is that I can find something similar in Chile.

Check it out:
Doesn't it look like two slabs of cajun chicken? Yeah, not the most appealing looking but trust me, quite a treat!