In Which Catherine Is No Longer Lazy

Posted by & filed under Catherine, Cycling, Exercise, Gadgets.

So I recently started jogging. I know, I know, I’m ruining my image as couchbound layabout, but it’s true. (If, by chance, you were unfamiliar with this image, let me take this opportunity to spoil all chance of being thought of as in particularly good shape.)

I’m tall. Really, really tall. (Yes, taller than that one friend of yours. No, I don’t care if he’s single. A swimmer, you say? Does he have a sister?)

Now, what you may not be aware of is that there tends to be a few downsides to being tall.

On the plus side, I never get heartburn and laugh heartily at the signs that read “please ask for assistance for items on this shelf” at the pharmacy. On the other hand, humans tend not to have joints built to handle a larger frame, and with much greater distances to pump, our hearts don’t work as long.

One other issue tall people can face is actually pretty difficult to claim as a particularly bad thing, — though it is if you’re as unaware of it as I was. Differences in proportion and scale being what they are, I can gain 20 or 30 (or 60) pounds without anyone really noticing much difference.1 Including me, unfortunately. (Yes, that’s right. I just complained about my appearance being too forgiving. Stone me now.)

However, as ridiculous a “problem” as that is, it’s actually not super for one’s health, particularly if you don’t realize it for a year. In late 2008, wracked with knee pain so severe that my doctors had been talking about osteoarthritis and the possibility that I might be unable to walk by the age of 40, it was discovered that I was just in disastrously poor shape. In fact, despite walking fairly regularly and having a “healthy” BMI[2], I’d managed to develop virtually no muscle mass whatsoever.

On the one hand, this was a relief. On the other hand, it would have been nice to have had no culpability whatsoever.

So, back I went to physiotherapy. Again. Years ago, I tore the crap out of my rotator cuff while working as a shop assistant in a giant ladies’ clothing store. Carrying jeans, yes. You see, the thing about jeans for tall women is that they have to be much longer, contain more fabric, etc. The thing about bones for tall women is that they don’t just tend to be longer, they also tend to be bigger. So we’re not talking about carrying around Size 0 capris here, we’re talking dozens of pairs of Size 16 and 22 jeans, each leg several inches longer than what a regular store carries. It adds up, trust me.

Messageboard testimonials suggested Vancouver’s best physiotherapist was Kelvin Tam of Kelvin Physiotherapy Clinic. I am pleased to report that this appears to be highly accurate.

“So let me guess,” he said, looking at my chart. “You hurt your shoulder playing volleyball?”


“Basketball? Softball? Soccer?”

“…lifting pants?”

I think Kelvin still thinks I might be making that up. This would be much better if I hadn’t seen him a further time for my elbow, suffering from both golfer’s and tennis elbow — from using the mouse too much. I had to make a significant lifestyle change there too as well.

Annoyingly, if I had injured my shoulder or elbow playing sports, I probably wouldn’t have had this problem with my knees. Of course, I likely wouldn’t have suffered those injuries either.

So, several months of physiotherapy and exercise later, I’m finally moving up from walking to jogging. So far, things seem to be working out okay. I’m currently in week two of the Couch-to-5K Running Plan from Cool Running. So far, so good, but it’s pretty exhausting, I have to say. I suspect I’m still not quite in good enough shape, given my struggles last week, so I’ve inserted a second “week one” into my own exercise regimen.

I’ve also been eying the Nike+iPod gadget for my iPhone — which is ridiculous, frankly. I don’t need that and I really don’t want to use any of their social media features like sharing how far I’ve run/limped about. Let’s all just assume that things are going really well for me, okay?

Anyway, dealing with sports bras and running shoes is novel, but dealing with bikes is fun! Yes, I’m secretly an aspiring bike nerd, and I’m finally able to ride one again. Sadly, it turns out that Catherine-sized bikes are fairly difficult to come by, but I’m pleased to report things are progressing smoothly despite that. I will post details of the great bike-building project shortly!

[1] Case in point: as of the writing of this post, the last time a close friend has called me a “skinny bitch” was approximately 36 hours ago.

[2] Seriously, Body-Mass Index is the worst possible measure of physical fitness there is. Not only does it have trouble scaling at the top and bottom ends, but it doesn’t even account for what that mass consists of. Ouch.

6 Responses to “In Which Catherine Is No Longer Lazy”

  1. Rob Cottingham

    One, congrats on taking up the sportiness (and now I understand the “bike porn” tweet).

    And two, you are one seriously funny writer.

  2. Ariane

    wow catherine, if i hadn’t just had one of the worst months healthwise on record, i would seriously think i should join you on your attempts to exercise — i don’t know anyone who’s in bad enough shape that they could… (what’s the opposite of keep up? keep down?) …keep down with me. despite our opposite poles of the height spectrum, i tend to be super underweight, and can easily lose weight but have a hell of a time gaining it, and 3 lbs is a lot on my tiny frame. we should start some kind of club. …when i move to mt pleasant. ;-)

  3. Catherine Winters

    Yeah, my metabolism’s changed a lot over the past few years — when I was younger, I could barely keep it on, and in retrospect, I wasn’t skinny, I was sick. T’wasn’t good. Things are going better now though, even if I have to have a nap after cycling or jogging.

    And yes, you should move to Main Street as soon as possible. We should get lunch or something sometime when you’re feeling a bit more up for it!