Fitness for Fat Nerds: Snot, Spit, and Tears

Alternative title: The Gross Stuff

Fair warning. This post is going to contain some frank discussion of less than fabulous bodily functions. (So if you’d like to avoid me discussing farting, etc, just skip this post.) I know this can be rough on us grown-ups, and it’s even tougher for those of the female persuasion because the social norm is that girls aren’t supposed to have bodily functions.

Because everyone knows we’re not actually human.

I started off writing these Fitness for Fat Nerds posts because it was all stuff I wish someone had told me when I started exercising. Well, this falls under that category. I’m not going to claim that all these things or even some of them will happen to you, so don’t worry about that. But if they do, I want you to know it’s okay. It’s not because you’re going to die or because you’re a fat nerd daring to exercise. People have various biological fiddly bits, and we emit fluids and smells and other things we like to pretend don’t exist.

Hey, that’s life.

This is obvious, and I hope by now you’ve realized that everyone who has exercised ever sweats. There is nothing wrong with it. But I wanted to throw this out there because women in particular get discouraged from ever looking like we’re anything but dry and sparkly and appropriately rose-scented, and it’s total bullshit. Your sweat is effort, my darlings. The sweatier you get, the harder it means you worked. And frankly, even the most awesome deoderant that has ever been invented is not going to be able to hold out against a truly excellent workout.

Everyone smells bad after they’ve worked up a sweat. That’s what showers were invented for. Revel in your sweat and workout stink. They’re badges of honor. And if anyone ever, ever gives you crap about it like those little assholes did to me in junior high, you tell them that Rachael says they can fuck all the way off.

The only downside of sweat, to be honest, is that it gets in your eyes. And if you’re a real sweat-monster like me, you can also inhale it up your nose. The former is awful and stings like hell, the latter just fells incredibly weird. This is why bandannas and sweatbands were invented. Don’t feel bad about using them.

Also if you do a lot of cycling, you will occasionally get sweat splashback from other riders. It’s a thing that happens, and not something to worry about. You’re not going to catch a disease off of it, sweat really isn’t that gross (it’s basically water and salt) and keep in mind, you’re probably splashing the people behind you. It’s a thing that happens.

Snot happens to me with distressing regularity. Mostly when it’s cold out, but I got hit with a bout of the runny nose today while I was riding my bike, and it was oh my god it’s hot degrees outside in Houston.

All you can really do about it is sniff, blow your nose if you have some kleenex around, or my favorite, do the classic and subtle nose wipe on the sleeve maneuver. This is not acceptable behavior in normal social situations, but you’re going to sweat through that shirt and chuck it in the wash as soon as you get home anyway. A little snot isn’t going to make a difference one way or the other.

I also spit a lot when I work out. I have a problem anyway with mucus at the back of my throat, so I’m well-practiced at it. You’ll notice spitting is a pretty common thing if you’re going any kind of distance. Breathing through your mouth a lot tends to dry things up and make your spit thick and clingy, the sort of thing that then makes it harder to breathe. It happens, even if you’re drinking plenty of water.

If you get a throat boogie or some nasty, thick spit? Don’t choke yourself trying to swallow it. Spit and keep going. Just aim properly away from other people. (And particularly if you’re riding, spit down, not out. It keeps your spit from hitting other riders in the peloton, which they appreciate, believe me.)

People seem to find it appalling in particular when women spit. Let them clutch their pearls; it’s not your problem unless you spat on them.

I’ve noticed my eyes, like my nose, tend to run when it’s cold. Also when I go really, really fast on a bike or have the wind in my eyes. I only mention it because it’s in the title of the post. Carry on.

Farts (and worse)
This was something I mostly noticed when I was running. I don’t know what it is about vigorously bouncing along the trail, but it can feel like you’ve taken everything in your intestinal track and compacted it downward. This can lead to some absolutely awe-inspiring farts.

This actually freaked me out enough the first few times it happened that I checked with a friend of mine who runs a hell of a lot more than I do. It’s a Thing That Happens. Really, it’s just polite to spare a moment of pity for anyone who is downwind of you. (And hope that you’re not about to run into someone else’s noxious cloud before it dissipates.)

It goes beyond that as well. I’ve had a friend or two, while trail running, that have had to take a furtive dive off into the bushes. I’ve managed to avoid that myself, but again, it’s a Thing That Happens. It doesn’t mean that you’re dying or ate something bad.

This is a thing that’s happened to me, due to both running and overexertion at kung fu. This is actually the only thing on this list that I’d count as bad and something you want to try to avoid, because it means you have pushed yourself way too hard. If you start feeling sick or dizzy, stop. Put your head between your knees.

Also, give yourself sufficient time between eating and exercising. That really helps the not-barfing efforts as well.

The Red Tide
This one is just for the biologically female fat nerds of a certain age range. And I actually don’t have a whole lot to say about it, since recently I’ve started just taking birth control pills continuously so I can avoid having a period altogether. (Seriously, birth control pills, where have you been all my life?)

I will say I always hated exercising while I had my period, because I’m not a fan of tampons, and a sweaty pad is a thing of horror. While sometimes exercising seemed to make my flow temporarily stop, other times it would just sort of back up and then fwoosh. The sort of fwoosh that happens at the worst possible moment.

So I suppose file those under the heading of, “things that have happened to another girl.” As far as I’ve known, ladynerds who don’t have my issues with tampons do just fine using those.


Those are the major gross things that I could think of off the top of my head. Did I miss one? Have a, “Is this normal?” question? Throw it in the comments.

Leave a Reply