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Lindsey Kuper

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The way my body looks [Mar. 10th, 2004|07:13 pm]
Lindsey Kuper
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I've been training for a marathon. As of this afternoon, I've officially covered 100 miles in my marathon training program. I'm in my seventh week of training. My longest run so far has been 10 miles. When I train, I take a two-minute walking break every three miles.

I'll admit that when I started the program on January 27th, I had some mistaken expectations. In particular, I was expecting to have lost more weight by this point. When I started the program, I weighed 158 pounds. I'm 5' 6 1/2", by the way. I now weigh 156 pounds, which gives me a BMI of 24.8. Anything in the range 18.5 - 24.9 is supposed to be healthy, so I guess I'm at a healthy weight. Up until now, I had been calculating using a height of 5' 6", which gave me a BMI of 25.2, so I guess that extra half-inch really does make a difference.

I know that this is a marathon program, not a weight-loss program; the goal is to to be able to run 26.2 miles on May 31st, not to lose weight. But I guess I thought that weight loss would be a more evident side effect. To be honest, I thought that I was going to look really good when I got to here, the 100-mile mark. The fact is that I just don't really look any different. I have flabby arms, love handles, and a very big waist compared to the rest of my body, just like I did on January 26th. My legs look good, but they looked good on January 26th, too.

This is not to say that there haven't been changes to my body. My thigh muscles are getting to be rock-hard. The backs of my thighs are firmer than they used to be, and there's slightly more muscle definition in my calves. My resting heart rate is about 64 -- I'm not sure what it was before, but I know 64 is supposed to be good. And a three-mile run, which is a staple of the training program and which was once a considerable effort for me, now feels almost effortless.

But I'm still frustrated over the way my body looks. Or, more specifically, I'm frustrated over society's reaction to the way my body looks. When I went to the Underwear Ball a week and a half ago dressed in skimpy lingerie, I got a lot of "Wow, I'm so proud of you for wearing that" and "Good for you" and that sort of thing. One girl saw me and said, "Yes, you have a body like mine" and gave me a hug -- as if to say that she was glad that someone else was there with a similarly flawed body. What the fuck? When I tell people that I'm training for a marathon, their eyes inevitably run over my body. They sometimes say things like, "You mean a half-marathon?" or "Are you walking it?" Um, no. It's a marathon and I'm running it. Why do people have to be so condescending?

As I sit here, thoughtfully poking at the rolls in my stomach and trying to decide whether I want to write about this on Plans, I wonder how many other women athletes there are who are frustrated and pissed off because so many people misjudge them based on their looks, rather than on their actual ability.

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Comments:
[User Picture]From: underwhelm
2004-03-10 07:13 pm (UTC)
I'm reading this and appreciating that you wrote it, even if I don't have a substantive response.

You look different, but your project isn't about how you look.
People aspire to sensitivity, but that often comes out as poop.
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2004-03-11 09:24 am (UTC)
Well, that's okay because writing it didn't really bring me to any substantive conclusion. I mostly just needed to vent, and I appreciate your appreciation. =)

People aspire to sensitivity, but that often comes out as poop.

Heh. Yeah, and I'm guilty of that too. I guess a large part of the reason the things those people said bothered me was that they didn't know what I was going through with training. "You have a body like mine"? Not unless your body ran six miles today. No wonder athletes stick together. I'd be more likely to identify with people who were doing the same thing, regardless of their outward appearance.
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[User Picture]From: leadsynth
2004-03-11 07:23 am (UTC)
Talk to a doctor.
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2004-03-11 08:43 am (UTC)
Talk to a doctor about what? I had a physical two weeks ago. I said I was training for a marathon, and they said, "Oh, okay." They didn't say anything was abnormal about my weight, heart rate, etc.

I've looked like this for years, but I figured I would lose weight if I ran more. Well, I'm running more, and nothing has changed. So, as I said above, the problem is my mistaken expectations. That, and whatever it was that made me feel like I, an obviously fit person, needed to lose weight in the first place.
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[User Picture]From: leadsynth
2004-03-11 01:11 pm (UTC)
Tell your doctor you're interested in losing weight. They might be able to help.

Seems as though lot of people who are on a weight-loss program, don't make progress because they don't have the self-discipline, but I think you have the necessary self-discipline.
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[User Picture]From: anderbug
2004-03-11 08:05 am (UTC)
I totally feel the same way you do m'dear. I bike upwards of 100 miles a week in season, and off season I run as much as I can stand the treadmill. I also lift weights. But I still have people look at me in disbelief when I tell them about it. And I still am disgusted by how my legs look when I run (I gain weight in my legs, not my stomach). I try not to be, but it is hard. Also, I am one of those rare women who seems to gain muscle mass in my arms. So when I lift, my arms get *big*. And I certainly get funny looks when I order a cheeseburger in a restaurant. I actually had a girl I didn't know very well say "Oh, so and so told me that you were I biker, so I figured you would order a salad or something". Which is totally screwed up. A salad?! I would keal over if I ate only vegetables! You are a beautiful person m'dear. And if you take a look in the mirror, I think that you will realize that you are better off in so many ways from training. You may not have lost as much weight as you wanted (although muscle weights more than fat...so that is probably a deceiving measure) but you are probably brighter, more alert, and more beautiful for it. Healthiness is beautiful. And for that matter, so are curves. We are built with them for a reason.
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2004-03-11 09:16 am (UTC)
I bike upwards of 100 miles a week in season, and off season I run as much as I can stand the treadmill. I also lift weights. But I still have people look at me in disbelief when I tell them about it.

Yeah, that's exactly what I'm talking about. Somehow people equate activities like that with being thin. It's true that it's unlikely that anyone who works out as much as you do could be very overweight, but there's a whole spectrum between thin and very overweight.

See, you have a great body -- a small waist and big, strong thighs (which have to be in incredible shape from all the biking you do). There are a lot of women athletes like you. I suspect there are a lot of women athletes like me, too (small thighs and a big stomach), but our bodies are such that we can suck in our stomachs and momentarily resemble thin people, so I think we're harder to find in public. =p

I do know that I'm better off in a lot of ways from training. Nevertheless, thanks for reminding me. =) It gives me a sense of accomplishment, I've gotten to know some really cool people...and I do really dig the changes that I've seen so far.
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[User Picture]From: geminus
2004-03-11 11:22 am (UTC)
i think your training program is awesome. i don't know how much a weight-difference it's made, but then i don't ever remember conciously thinking about what you look like in terms of weight. what i do remember is all the happy posts about how good you feel about running, so that's cool. and also, look at lola, who's a great distance runner. she's pretty buff, yeah, but a tall, lithe athlete she's not.
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2004-03-11 07:55 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's true about Lola. By the way, she said something once about my form being wrong. I should ask her about that. I dunno -- I mostly just run the way my coach taught me to do it back in high school, but maybe my coach was on crack.
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[User Picture]From: theguiterrorist
2004-03-11 12:22 pm (UTC)
Having worked in the PEC for all four years, I can honestly tell you that not all female athletes fit the lithe description we usually call "athletic," yet are still in very good shape physically. I wouldn't sweat it all that much.

As for the Underwear Ball, the fact that it is the Underwear Ball changes the dynamic of responses a bit: Overt comments on how someone looks take a different meaning when everyone's in their skivvies.
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[User Picture]From: anderbug
2004-03-11 02:39 pm (UTC)
One other thing Lindsey--do you know Andy Cook ([cook]) She is built the way you are...except more so. I have never seen a nicer set of legs on a lady, but she has very narrow hips, a thick-ish waist, and a large chest. She has completed a marathon, 3 (I think) half-marathons, numerous long-distance trail runs, climbs upwards of 4 times a week, bikes, swims, and is aspiring to an iron woman before she turns 30. She is one of the fittest women I know personally (and gorgeous to boot) but gets frustrated by people misjudging her on sight. Just one more instance of how you are not alone in this.

By the way, since it is quite obvious that running makes you insanely happy, I will personally come and *kick your ass* if you stop. Got me?
;)
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2004-03-11 07:52 pm (UTC)
Wow! Of course I remember Andy, but I didn't know what an athlete she was! She probably doesn't know this, but she's one of those people I admire because she's crazy good at math. Now I think I admire her even more.
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