A while back, in anticipation of an actual vacation, I asked a few online friends if they would be so kind as to "pen" a guest post for me while I'm away. I realized after the fact that the women I've asked all have voices that have become important to me - all for different reasons. So I'd like to share them with you.
Another voice from my #healthyme journey, Cheryl is an inspiration. There's an odd community - rather, an unexpected (for me, at least) community - on Weight Watchers Online. When I joined Weight Watchers in February, I started reading the blogs - more online journals, really - of other folks on this journey. Cheryl's was one. Exceptionally smart (graduate student of the Nth degree), savvy (fantastic writer), and stylish (even her progress pics she posts are in stylish gear), she's turned into support for me as I succeed, waver, and get healthy. So here's what she has to say.
As a lady with a strong sartorial perspective, I never reconciled with the fact that my fitness wardrobe was pitiful and depressing. When I began working at a gym as a teenager, I basically wore a version of my adolescent gym uniform to work out: oversized cotton t-shirt, sub yoga pants for terry shorts.
I collected any free, screenprinted t-shirt and saved it for the gym. I have the “Karate for Kids 1999 SoCal Championship” and the concert T from when I saw Britney Spears in Vegas in 2001 (i.e., the Good Ole Days), and in 2007 added my “UCLA Class of 2007” T to the rotation. Since I would NEVER wear a screenprinted T in normal life, I suppose I enjoyed having a place to wear shirts with sentimental value.
Not even joking, the only reason why I stopped wearing them is that I gained weight a couple years ago and they felt too restrictive. My cotton yoga pants didn’t mind the weight gain much, but the t-shirts felt awful with the extra weight. Even though I buy new clothes for my regular wardrobe, oh, all the time, I am terrible about maintaining a good fitness wardrobe. The question I’d like to grapple with is, does it matter? Should we care what we dress like when we exercise? Should we save the money for Marc Jacobs dresses and Anthropologie finds?
I’ve really struggled with this question, but I write today to argue that there are real benefits to putting effort into your fitness clothing, and that you really can wear fitted, neon hued gear before you look like an Olympian, and it can actually be slimming and conducive to a good workout. You can also find decent quality gear without stepping into a Lulu. So here is my argument:
When I decided to make a commitment to health in January (I know, cliché of cliches), I was forced to buy workout clothes that fit, and I dreaded the task. Here’s the thing about fitness apparel: it is made for people who don’t need to work out. Most workout gear is not terribly forgiving, and I think I avoided the spandex and lycra in novel shades of pink because I didn’t think I could wear it, ever. I decided on these slimming (note: ‘compression’ is a good word) microfiber pants at a huge discount, this racerback from Target for even more slimming action, and then these shirts in an XL to wear over them (I needed my Cotton T!). The cotton T wasn’t even oversized. It was fitted over my hips. I weighed very close to 200 lbs.
So I wore this (I bought a few colors of each: light gray, dark gray and black of all of the above), and wore the ensemble to the gym for cardio and lifting, to my yoga classes. When I started Couch to 5k in late February, I started to wear the same outfit running. Of course, by then, I had lost about 15 lbs, and the t-shirt was now “Loose” like the tag promised.
I had never been a runner, and C25K was the first time I had ever run a mile non-stop. It was also the first time I experienced MarathonTattoos. After a run one day (and this is March in Chicago, so it’s not like it was 80 degrees), the now loose cotton T’s seams were below my armpit became moistened. To continue to TMI you, the moist seams rubbed against my arm and my side with every step. I had a huge rash on my side. It took one Google to find out that cotton is THE WORST material to workout in. It soaks up sweat, making the garment heavier, and if it’s rubbing, it will cause chafing (YES IT DOES). Just like you don’t wear cotton backpacking, you don’t wear cotton running.
So what to do? I was only about 20% to goal at this point, and I really didn’t want to spend all my cash monies at Lululemon or Lucy, but I needed to size down my tops. I ended up finding this top at Target in great shades (I literally own every color), and it is a great middle ground between fitted and loose. I wear it with my slimming racerback underneath, and it makes for great running, yoga and gym wear. If one top rides up or slips in an inversion, I still don’t show bellow. I also find sleeveless workout tops (something I never did in the past, no matter my weight) really beneficial in a workout, and really liberating. Also, it’s great to look at your arms during a workout and see the muscles working. I had a moment in Warrior 2 a few weeks ago where I had to do a double take on my biceps.
So that solved my top problem. Now, as I’ve lost over 30 lbs, I alternate between the fitted racerback and the looser one, with or without the extra layer.
crops and shorts.
They are great. They run a little big, so as a bottom heavy 8/10 at the moment, I absolutely needed a M in both, but they are surprisingly high quality and fit great. I ended up buying these mesh panel crops and these shorts in several colors. I have gotten compliments on both (who gets compliments on workout gear?).
My last secret weapon is color. I always veered towards neutrals for my workouts, but this year I decided to jump on the neon trend bandwagon, and buy a lot of neon for my workouts. I own these in yellow and in pink, and I try to incorporate as much color into my workouts as possible. It energizes me, and putting together an ensemble makes me more excited to get dressed for a workout in the morning. I revel in adding as much gratuitous neon as possible to every workout.
Wearing workout clothes that fit me, don’t interfere with my workout, and show off my curvy, but shrinking body have done wonders. Not only do I feel more athletic, but my workout are also better now that I’m not weighed down by heavy pants and soggy cotton Ts. I also am more excited to get into my workout gear, and less embarrassed about being seen in my workout clothes.
If you are in a workout rut, or putting off workouts because of the outfit, my prescription is more neon.