Underneath my yellow skin

Exercise tropes I disagree with

For years, I would hear people say that running is so great beacuse you get that runner’s high. I hate running, so I dismissed it out of hand. I’m not saying they’re lying ,but that it just never did it for me. Running was the absolute worst, and I only did it when I was forced to (such as in school).

Then, there was all the fluff about how walknig is great because anyone can do it! We all (most of us, bodies willing) do it every day so how hard can it be? Just walk for thirty minutes a day! Which, ok, not terrible advice in itself, but I hated walking as well. I did it as my only form of exercise when I was in the Bay Area for a year to attend grad school, and I walked four miles a day. I hated every step. I did not get any kind of joy in doing it, and it was grim.

It wasn’t even a neutral feeling. I just hated it lots. Once I started Taiji, though, it was–well, I hated that, too. The only exercise I didn’t hate was dancing, so I was happy to put on music and dance around my living room. With Taiji, though, I decided to stick with my second teacher because…I’m not even sure why.

It wasn’t until she pressed a wooden sword in my hand that I felt the click people talk about when it comes to exercise. Here’s the thing. I was deeply depressed for most of my life. I found nothing positive about anything, and if I wasn’t feeling crushed by life, I was numb.

I felt nothing. So maybe it was asking too much from the exercise to give me a boost. But everyone said I would get that boost from exercising. And I kept feeling like I was a failure because I kept resenting the exercise. Hm.

The thing that most people weren’t saying, maybe because it seemed obvious to them, was that you had to find a form of exercise that you enjoyed in order to get that euphoria.

Side note: In the weekend Ask A Manager thread, there’s a question about how to make small talk. The original poster (OP) asked how people got beyond the weather, but still kept it in the small talk realm. First of all, if you live in Minnesota, you never need to move past the talk about weather. But, the questions people brought up were interesting. Food, for example, is not something I want to talk about because I have so many dietary restrictions. It’s boring to talk about what I can eat. Though I will say that my current obsession with Indian food will work in a pinch.

But I don’t want to talk about my favorite food because what I like to eat and what I can eat is very different. If I didn’t have restrictions, I would be eating way more dumplings and mac ‘n cheese than I currently do.

Another is asking if people are from the area. Which, as an Asian American, is very touchy. Talk about your initial microaggression! When I was in college I got asked all the time where I was from. That was inevitably followed up with, “No, where are you really from?”

At Slate, there was a white woman who said that she got asked where she was from and it wasn’t a racist question in and of itself. She said if it’s followed by, “No, where are you really from?”, then yes, that’s bad, but the qusetion in and of itself isn’t a bad one.

Here’s the thing. Fuck you, white woman. No, seriously, fuck you. She was so close to seeing the truth and then just veered hard away from it at the last moment. Also, that question has never, ever, and I mean in the history of ever, NOT followed up by “No, where are you really from?” And the fact that as a white woman she’s asked where she’s from, but  that’s not followed up by, “No, where are you really from?” means it’s not an inherently racist question….dude. Can you not see the problem with that reasoning?

When I was in my late twenties, I decided to stop dating white guys because every white guy who wanted to go out with me ended up having an Asian fetish. My best friend argued that I couldn’t prejudge all white guys like that, and it’s one of the only times we’ve had a heated argument. She’s white, by the way.

This was before Asian women became exotic, must-date-flavor of the month (which, to be real, is a problem in and of itself) in a state that at the time was probably 95% white. Which meant that the default was to date white women. Blond white woman, to be even more precise. Therefore, any white guy who considered dating an Asian woman had a fetish  because he REALLY had to buck the tide to date me.

Then, let’s add to that that every white guy I dated to that point had fantasties about submissive Asian women, and, yes, I was not willing to give white dudes the benefit of the doubt. That’s the weirdest stereotype to still persist, by the way. Asian women are some strong-ass women. There was a joke in the Asian American community I ran with at the time that if two Asian American women met, they would either love or hate each other on sight. It wasn’t far from wrong, either.

Wow. How the hell did I get this far off track? I was talking about exercise and then I ended up at racism in dating. It’s not that dissimilar, though. The fact that people often center their own experience is what pushes both of them. In the case of exercise, people who get that runner’s high assumes everyone does. Or could. It’s the same with FromSoft games. People who are good at them think that everyone can be good at them. So it’s actually not the same as microaggressions in dating, but fuck it! It’s my post, and I can do with it as I will.

I’m grateful that I’ve found something physical that sparks joy in me. By the way, it’s so funny that Marie Kondo has admitted that she’s let her standards slip since she’s had children. Evidently, cleaning has not sparked joy since she’s only getting an hour of sleep a night. Heh.

I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t found my passion, the Taiji weapons. And, more generally, weapons in general. Non-shooty ones, that is. They are so beautiful and feel so good in my hands. I’m currently teaching myself the left side of the Saber Form, well, refining it, shall we say.

I can say without a doubt that I get that euphoria from doing my weapons. Not every time, but enough that it keeps me going. When I do a form that is so connected and fluid, it’s the best feeling in the world. Even when it’s more rote, it still feels good when I’m done. I always feel better after my morning Taiji than before I did the routine.

I feel more focused, more settled, and more myself. I am ready for my coffee and to start my day. Yes, I exercise before I drink my coffee. It’s just how my schedule works best. I get up and put on the coffee. I take my meds and feed my cat. I brush and floss my teeth. I do my Taiji. I drink my coffee as I go about the rest of my day.

My morning Taiji routine is an hour now. A far cry from the five minutes I forced myself to do a decade ago, every day, as a nod to the fact that i should be practicing at home. What started as an obligation is now something that starts my day off right. I would feel something was missing if I didn’t do it, and more to the point, my life would be worse–so much worse–without it.

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