Food for Thought On Exercise and Weight Loss

img_7471.jpg By Naomi Kolb

While the recent sunny days have given us a tentative promise of the beautiful seasons to come, some not-so-beautiful conversations about our bodies have also begun taking place. There’s a certain rhetoric around “shedding the layers of fat” that we gained during the winter, or hitting the gym to get “bikini body ready” that seems to get more prevalent as we draw tantalizingly closer to spring break. I recently started working out more and was floored when someone asked me how much weight I was trying to lose. The answer? None. There have certainly been times in my life before this that I was actively trying to lose weight, but my relationships with food, exercise, and my very sense of self were deeply fractured during those times.

It was jarring to again be exposed to the idea that working out is often synonymous with losing weight, or that losing weight prior to being able to don a swimsuit during spring break is some sort of inherent expectation. So why am I working out then, if not to lose weight? For one, I love the way that yoga makes my body feel and how strong I feel while doing it. For another, I want to be able to go camping and hiking with my friends without getting too fatigued. Lastly, I’m doing it just because I’m finally able to try to develop a healthy relationship with exercise.

My desire to work out is no longer fueled by the hatred, self-loathing, and internalized fatphobia of my past. Rather, it’s become a new and exciting way for me to connect with myself, my friends, and the world around me. So let’s stop associating working out with losing weight, and let’s start looking forward to a spring break hopefully full of radical love and acceptance for our bodies no matter where they’re at. 

A Queer Complaint Against Valentine’s Day

ec08db75f9ef95c1180ca428f5ecf0e1 By Naomi Kolb

It’s been hard to miss the fact that Valentine’s Day is this week with the bake sales, posters, and sex-themed events that have been seemingly taking over our campus lately. I’ve been actively trying not to be bitter about Valentine’s Day because this is the first year in awhile that Cupid forgot to fire the magical arrow that would land me a cutie to spend it with. Rather than being bitter about “not having anyone” to spend this holiday with though, I’m making genuine efforts to appreciate the love that I already have in my life. Just because I don’t have a romantic partner this year doesn’t mean that I don’t have anyone at all.

One of the legitimate complaints that I’d like to lodge against Valentine’s Day is the fact that it totally overemphasizes romantic and sexual love as the be-all-end-all, and specifically straight romantic and sexual love. None of that represents what my or my friend’s lives look like in college. For the most part, we’re a bunch of queers stumbling through loving each other in the best ways that we know how. The love that I have in my life right now might not consist of Netflix and Chill or romantic dinner dates, and I’m OK with that. The love that I’ve got in my life right now is singing at the top of my lungs while making dinner, calling my friend two time zones away to read her a passage from a book that I love, listening to previously unspoken poetry over Saturday morning brunch, and is certainly more than enough to fill my heart with even if I don’t have a romantic partner this Valentine’s Day.

I’m not ready to write off Valentine’s Day altogether – I’m not saying screw romantic love, screw relationships, or screw straight people. However, I am definitely saying screw the idea that you need a romantic partner to be happy and fulfilled. I’ve never been happier than I am right now, and I’m doing it without a traditional romantic partner by my side. This Valentine’s Day, I’m going to be busy loving myself and loving my friends more than ever before. Maybe Cupid didn’t miss me this year after all – maybe he just aimed his arrows towards unexpected places that still landed exactly where I needed them to be.