Working out and working against stereotypes: it’s time to embrace moving and equip yourself with clothes that fit
I wasn’t always overweight.
I wasn’t born overweight, and wasn’t overweight as a kid.
But, like most young people, I discovered diet culture as a teenager and became insidiously influenced by the beauty standards imposed by society, the media, and other important players in the image industry. As I became immersed in that world, I started to thicken. Repeated dieting, genetics, performance anxiety, stress, depression, auto-immune diseases, seasonal depression, and so on: there were many factors that played a role in my weight gain. None of the causes are really that important. But that’s something I’ve only recently come to understand. Sometimes, it takes nearly a lifetime to realize something so simple.
As a result of all these influences, I grew thicker almost constantly over the years — except for a few quick weight losses, thanks to a handful of “miracle diets” that made me gain back pounds even quicker than I lost them. Everything over the years has led to my silhouette today.
What always hurt me the most, beyond the low self-esteem over my appearance that I carried with me for so long, was the popular notion that fat people are lazy, not good at sports, or not good at any physical activity at all.
Because of this widespread belief, for a long time, I avoided moving like the plague. I convinced myself that people would make fun of me at the gym, the park, the pool, on the lake, in the mountains...everywhere. While every fibre of my body (and my anxious mind) longed to use my energy towards physical activity, I withdrew into myself, convinced that my body was not built to move.
When the pandemic hit with full force in March 2020, I decided to make the best of the lockdown and start moving. For the first time ever, I didn’t do it to lose weight, but to simply move. To sweat, release my energy, loosen my joints, strengthen my muscles, improve my cardio, eliminate stress, and produce endorphins. I decided to tell no one, afraid that I would fail at my little personal mission (spoiler alert: I did not fail...far from it).
Shop Joanie’s top running picks
We walked, we ran (this one was more difficult as an old ex-ballerina injury revealed that some pain never goes away), we swam, we pedalled, we rowed, and we tried a whole range of different physical activities. My favourite? Cardio exercises inspired by mixed martial arts, or MMA for those who are familiar with the sport. It’s so fun and liberating — I hope everyone has the chance to try it one day.
Once I integrated exercise into my schedule, I decided to only workout when I felt I needed to, and avoided falling into the trap of overtraining and repeating exercises until I got sick of them (direct consequences of notorious diet culture). I focused instead on a technical but essential detail: my athletic wardrobe.
Exclusively made up of old, dingy t-shirts, half-broken bras, too-small shorts, and sneakers that were more cute than practical, my closet seemed to be screaming: "Help!" But a fat babe knows the reality of finding athletic clothes too well: I know that searching for active and outdoor clothing that fits me like a glove AND is top quality means looking for a needle in a haystack.
That’s why, when Altitude Sports reached out to ask if I’d like to test their plus-size athletic wear, I jumped at the chance.
Shop Joanie’s choice of casual working layers
I chose three ensembles for several occasions: a soft fleece, jogging pants, and casual sneakers for working from home; fitted leggings, a tank top with secret pockets, and ultra-light running shoes for working out; plus a hooded zip-up jacket, waterproof pants, and super comfortable hiking boots for enjoying the great outdoors.
To be honest, I didn’t expect the clothes to fit me as well as they did. As a tall, large woman, I’m used to exchanging more than half the pieces I purchase online, since sizing guides vary so much. I’m telling you: Altitude Sports gets it right.
The guides are clear and precise, and the clothes are so well designed that they fit the body perfectly, on top of being high-performing and high-quality. Let’s just say that my lousy old t-shirts, half-broken bras, too-small shorts, and impractical sneakers have been put out of rotation. And they’ll never see the light of day again.
Shop Joanie’s choice for Fall hiking
Today, I’m so much better equipped for moving in my daily life, during workout sessions, and on my outdoor adventures. Feeling good and looking good has never been so easy.