Fat, Disabled and Thriving: Plus Size Activewear

I must admit, I have shied away from fashion posts for the past few months. At the time, I felt that I had a lot more to say about heavier/more serious topics, that wouldn't compliment fashion posts well. However, here we are... a time where I can bring fashion into the importance of discussing the politics of, and my personal experience with plus-size fitness. Note: I certainly will have more to say than this post will call for, and intend to delve a bit deeper in an upcoming post. 

CW: Weight Loss, Surgery Mention, Working Out

So, what have I been doing the past few months you ask? I've been in the gym. If you are a frequent visitor on my Instagram page, you may have seen many many of my exercise IG stories. It helps keep me accountable! Recovery, exercise and strengthening have literally become my job since March 20th (the day I moved into inpatient physical rehabilitation). I don't have a lot of structure in my life right now, but the gym has become a constant task on my calendar (which has been super helpful!!!).

Naturally, I have now developed a bit of an obsession with working out. However, I have not become *obsessive* about the gym, if that makes sense? 10 years ago, Erica would have become fixated on the gym and utilized it as a tool for weight-loss. Now, I have a healthy relationship with exercise, using it to promote healthy living & optimizing my human potential! This isn't a newsflash or anything... but it is important to maintain physical activity as much as possible. There are an infinite number of physical and mental health benefits! Plus, it sparks the effect of our fun neurotransmitters, dopamine & epinephrine - AKA adrenaline, creating a sense of euphoria.
Let me backtrack... after my surgery and before anything, I had to learn to walk again (mind-blowing, I know!). In addition to my 1-2 hours of physiotherapy & occupational therapy I had daily, I was expected to go to the common gym for another 1-2 hours daily. As exhausting as this was, it was a necessity; it was time to sink or swim. My goal was to be able to walk with only one cane, but it was a long journey from being in a wheelchair to that. I knew that I had my work cut out for me.

People started to recognize me as the "girl that goes hard at the gym" -- a title I've never held in my life. I had never truly pushed my body to its limits until then. It felt amazing and I was liberated. I started to see results: increased muscle tone, less pain, some weight-loss (important to relieve pressure on my spine - so health), and best of all-- improved balance and endurance. I wanted to keep going. Working out made me feel productive and accomplished... so I did just that! In the summer, I exercised 5 days/week through various methods (mostly gym & swimming). Currently, I exercise 5 days/week without much difficulty. However, this is largely due to the fact I am still off work and have lots of free time. P.S. I really miss my pool (it's outdoor) - so if you live in Toronto and have any pool/community centre reccos, please send them over!
LMAO this was a hilarious candid of me throwing punches & high knees
Usually, I go to the gym in my condo (especially because it's so cold in Toronto) but last weekend I worked out at Sugar Beach and then went for a long walk (in -10C weather). This shoot with Allie was honestly so fun (and I was full of energy!!!). Allie was even able to candidly capture me mid-workout in a few shots. After running across the beach at one point (see above), I literally said to Allie, "did you ever think you'd see me run in your life???". She replied with a hilarious but shocked "NO". I had a huge smug grin on my face. If I asked myself the same question a year ago, I would have agreed with Allie. A year ago, I was sitting on my couch for hours on end, struggling with crippling back pain. I finally allowed myself to feel pride about my accomplishments. I have to say, it was interesting to actually challenge my own preconceived notions of myself.
I was recently asked to be in a magazine (more on this soon!!!); the interview component required well thought-out answers and my position on fat politics. Naturally, this prompted me to do a bit of research and delve in deeper. I mentioned that there are many myths about fat bodies -- and it is especially inclusive of stereotypes. For one, it has become common for society to use 'fat' as a synonym for the following traits: lazy, unhealthy, slob, unmotivated, insecure, etc. Then, these stereotypes extend further to include the belief system that we aren't healthy, we don't care about ourselves/well-being, we don't exercise and that we are couch potatoes who just eat junk food all day. Society must recognize that these stereotypes & insults are contributing to the oppression of a marginalized group; it's called sizeism.

It is so important to showcase diversity in the fitness and health community. It's time to address and challenge the culture of discrimination, stereotypes, and body shaming (especially in the media). Let's work to change the narrative through the inclusion of marginalized bodies. I am fat & disabled, but I am thriving. I love pushing myself and testing my body's limits!
While shopping with my mom over Christmas holiday, I picked up this "Training" windbreaker from Forever 21 (link below). I was pleasantly surprised that it actually fit my bust well! I usually struggle with this, especially if the fabric isn't stretchy (such as this jacket). The only qualm I have is that it is pretty short. If you have a longer torso, it's probably not the piece for you (even I kept pulling it down). This summer, I reviewed Svelte leggings (see here) and I'm wearing them again here.
Outfit Details// Jacket: Forever 21+ (available here); Leggings: Svelte (available here); Vest: Calvin Klein Plus via Hudson's Bay Company (available here); Collared Shirt: Addition Elle (previous season); Backpack: Naturalizer (available here) Shoes: Guess (I can't find a link... except for a Valentino dupe)

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