Sunday, February 04, 2007

Self portrait

Since the Bloggies linked to my site last week, I've received a couple of e-mails from people who wouldn't have normally stumbled across a bike blog like mine. A few commented that it's weird that I post pictures of myself wrapped in winter clothing until most of my identifying characteristics are masked. "Either go for anonymity, or don't" one (ironically, unsigned) e-mail said.

One thing I have never been is anonymous. And lately I've been admiring the work of Dirt Diva, the ultrarunning goddess also known as Catra, who almost daily posts interesting self portraits on her blog inbetween the 100-mile runs she regularly completes. Since I had plans to go to the gym, and there's nothing remotely scenic there (trust me), today I took a picture of myself ... getting ready to do a hamster wheel workout at the gym. I gotta say, it's really weird to post an unmasked picture of myself on the Web. It makes me feel so ... exposed.

Anyway, it's been about three or four weeks since I last visited the gym. It's the only place I ever weigh myself, and the number is hardly ever interesting. The last time I went, the scale registered 133. Today, the little needle climbed to 125, and just stayed there. I waited for a while. Nothing. I was feeling a little dehydrated, but not eight pounds dehydrated. Which means ... I've probably lost some weight.

But what really struck me is my initial reaction. I wasn't worried about muscle mass loss or water needs or nullifying all of my hard training through some kind of nutrient deficiency. No ... I was excited. Giddy. And then I was disappointed in myself for feeling that way. Disappointed that I was ego-tripping about a meaningless number when what I really want is strength and endurance, and disappointed that I'm letting society tell me what I need to do to feel good about myself. And as far as I can tell, society is still telling me to go visit a tanning salon already and try to stay away from the Fruit Loops.

Not that I'm going to try to gain it all back before my race. After all, that could very well be eight pounds less I'll have to haul across the frozen trails of the Susitna Valley. But it was a little dose of self-revelation, because I have worked hard to put all of those insecurities behind me. But really, I haven't.


  1. there's nothing wrong with hauling around less pounds. consider how much faster lance armstrong got after shedding mass during ball cancer. you don't have to be some frivolous starlet to appreciate being svelter (or the laws of physics. F=MV, yo) in my humble opinion willfully ignoring weight is just left-over feminist reactionary-ism. which is silly.

  2. How tall are you?

    You sure don't look like you weigh 125 pounds:-)

    Our 20 year old daughter is 5ft 4 and she has the same build as you and I think she weighs 110-120.

  3. I feel the same kind of conflict myself; I tell myself I'd like to lose weight because it will help me climb the hills faster, but I know a part of me wants to lose weight because that's what society says to do. It's so hard to shake that feeling.

  4. Hey, I recognize those eyes! There you are :)

  5. 8lbs you could be burning off during the sustina (when all your other sustina is gone). I'm 135lb and 5'11". I've put on weight sitting at a desk eating chocolate rather than the 150km days of our trans Canada trip and thanks very much but I like my boobs. Such a bad thing? TSK doesn't think so.

  6. I try to never weigh myself. Even at the doctor's office---when they make me get on the scale, I close my eyes and say, "Don't tell me!"\
    Numbers just make me neurotic.

    I have a pair of leather pants from my motorcycling days in my early 20's (I'm 35) that are my body-size checker. When I feel I've gained weight, I try on the old leather pants. If they're tight...I ski and cycle more.

  7. "Up in Alaska"
    "Jill's subarctic journal about ice, bears and distant dreams of the midnight sun".

    I visted your blog for its work through the lens of a talented photographer. I very rarely read the words, b/c a picture is a 1000...In AZ, the images are a cool vacation. Hopefully, you will come full circle and shoot the,"ice, bears and distant dreams of the midnight sun"

  8. George ... I'm 5'7."

    I don't know what I look like I weigh, but unless I go on the Master Cleanse for about a year, I'm probably always going to have a ghetto booty.

    I've weighed as much as 160 in the past (Most of that weight I gained during and after my cross-country bicycle trip, Trepid) I've always felt pretty healthy, so I'm not really looking to drop below 120.

  9. (or the laws of physics. F=MV, yo)

    Uh, "yo" - F does not equal MV. F = MA. MV = momentum (P), which is the first derivative of force.

  10. Is that the official "pull my finger" pose? :-)

  11. In the last two weeks I've lost a visible amount of weight. We don't own a scale so I can't say exactly how much but it is obvious.

    I'm getting skinnier because my doctor found an abnormality on my ECG (ElectroCardioGram). My colesterol was also a little high and because we're not sure just what's wrong with my heart yet I had to take lowering my count seriously.

    Gone are the chocolates and cheese that I felt I couldn't live without and I've not found anything to replace those calories. Well, anything I'd willingly eat.

    So, do I feel virtuous about my healthier diet? No. Am I thinking about how I'm taking steps to be alive to see my child be born? No. What I am doing is posing in front of the mirror and saying "Hey there handsome, you're lookin' fine!"

    Pathetic. Even more so because I'm male and face far less pressure to be thin and I spent most of my youth as poiny-haired counter-culture punk. Did I learn nothing from that? Truly sad.

  12. Oh, I meant to mention that it's your blog and you get to be as anonymous, or not, as you see fit. You have no resposibility to expose yourself, in writing or photos, any more than you feel comfortable with.

  13. Who cares about your weight? You're lookin' good.

  14. I am glad you posted a pic, maybe if I am walking down the streets of Juneau someday and we pass each other I will recognize you and say a big Hi Howdy lets ride bikes!:)

  15. Just don't get any ideas and start getting piercings and tats like Dirt Diva. My buddy the Dermatologist loves the tattoo "fad." It buys him a new Porsche every year from removing them.

  16. Oh, if I could weigh 125 again -- I could ride like the wind and run like a teenager; but I don't.

    You look awesome.

  17. I checked out the dirt diva site

    it is exactly why Baskin and Robbins has 31 Flavors

    as some people like natural vanilla
    and others prefer rocky road

    my tastes vary

    ice cream is one of my many weaknesses


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