How to buy a sports bra

If you’re the type of woman who takes sports bras with spaghetti straps seriously, stop reading this now and race to the nearest stick-thin-supermodel website (I have no clue what site that might be).

I mean it! Stop reading now! You obviously do not need a sports bra, because you are flat chested and will not be able to relate to the rest of this post.

Go ahead; move along.

Okay, now that they’re gone, I can talk to the rest of you ladies, who know what it’s like to stuff your girls into a serious, industrial-strength undergarment:

In November I took up the “sport” (some might call it “exercise in self-torture”) of running. I hadn’t run in a few years, and I had exactly three leftover athletic bras in the bottom of a spare dresser drawer: two black, from 10 years ago – the first time I tried to be a “serious” runner – and a white one from a few years later. All three have shrunk over the years of bouncing, sweating and washing (but hanging to dry), and my body has gone the other direction. (I now refer to myself as full figured, with homage to the recently departed Jane Russell.)

I had been complaining about the old, uncomfortable bras for weeks, so when Bruce and I went to North Little Rock recently for my annual cardiologist checkup, we went on a quest for a sports bra or two (I had tried to find my old brand online and in local stores but couldn’t find my size in the style I need).

Let me tell you, there are gazillions of sports bras out there, but, for one reason or another, most of them do not work for full-figured women. Let me count the ways:

1. Most of them nowadays go over your head rather than hooking in the back or the front. I wish you could have seen me in the first dressing room, trying to pull one slightly stretchy (not too stretchy or it won’t support) contraption over my head and down into place without causing irreparable tissue damage (or under-my-breath swearing).

On second thought, I don’t wish you could have seen (or heard) me. It wasn’t pretty. At all.

I didn’t even get the thing all the way on before I knew (with that sick feeling a small furry creature gets right before the snake swallows it whole) that it just wasn’t going to work. It would have been stupid to continue trying.

But you know what was even stupider? In another store, I tried on another over-the-head contraption. Same result: Back over my head before it was fully in place.

(Why do they think pullover bras should even exist, anyway? The only thing I can think of is, they’re a fashion statement. For the women who are no longer reading this post.)

2. Most sports bras are too stretchy and not supportive enough. You know, for full-figured gals. The entire point (no pun intended) of a sports bra is to smash you flat so as to prevent bouncing – or so I thought, until I met the sports-bra saleswoman of my dreams (more on that later).

Don’t the sports-bra designers know that the women who really and truly need sports bras are those of us who weigh more than 80 pounds soaking wet? Last time I weighed 80 pounds, I hadn’t hit puberty and running hadn’t even been invented.

3. Sports bras for full-figured women come in exactly two colors: White and black. You could bust me (no pun intended, really) right here for being a hypocrite because of the whole spaghetti-strap thing, but we full-figured gals do like a little variety in our fabric choices every now and then. While I do not believe in wearing your underwear on the outside – as a fashion statement or, poor you, because it’s just so darned hot you have to take your tiny little shirt off when you run – it is nice to have more than two colors to choose from. I personally think white underwear is boring, and I like to have a rainbow of colors to choose from. (And, as far as the lack of variety in big-girl-sports-bra colors goes, thin women – and, apparently, designers – do not even realize this is an issue.)

(Apologies to those who think the preceding paragraph was TMI [Mom, that means “too much information”]. On the other hand, you may think this entire post is TMI!)

So, by the second pullover-bra fiasco, I had learned my lesson, meaning I had exhausted all hope of finding an appropriate bra in my new hometown and would have to go to my old, larger hometown to shop. (Do you know how much I hate to shop? Probably not, but that’s a topic for another day.)

So off to central Arkansas we went.

Bruce and I, intrepid explorers that we were (on that particular day, at least), went to two big-chain sports superstores and two locally owned running stores (we like the latter better, but the two big multipurpose stores were closer – plus we were also looking for bowling balls – so we went there first).

At the first store created exclusively for runners, a new place in the Heights called Go! Running, we found not only a brand I had never heard of (Moving Comfort) but some of the best customer service you could ask for. The owner, Erin Taylor (no relation to me), won me over with her knowledge, friendliness and willingness to serve, even though I left the store without making a purchase. She did order a bra for me, after I had tried on one that was close to my size. She explained that a sports bra shouldn’t just mash you flat and that this particular bra had features that made running more comfortable (I’m trying to spare you the details). She also told me I had several colors to choose from!

She had to take a phone call, so she told an employee what bra should be ordered for me (in a nice bluish-purple) and sent me to the front of the store to leave my contact information. (That evening when I got home, the employee called to say she was about to order the bra but that I would need to pick another color. My size comes in only two colors – you guessed it: white and black.)

After we left Go! Running, we went to Easy Runner, an older, more established store well known to Arkansas runners. (It has moved to the upscale Pleasant Ridge Town Center on west Cantrell Road.) There, they had the Moving Comfort brand in my size (but not the same model), so at least I know that this particular brand runs true to my size. I did not buy anything there but left convinced that the bra I ordered at Go! Running would work for me.

Afterward I wrote a thank-you note to Erin for her outstanding customer service. When she received it, she left a message on my answering machine to thank me for the thank-you note and said it was going up in her office.

I may not be rich, but I am willing to pay a few dollars more for an item (especially an item that is as much sought-after as this bra was to me) when I am treated with the respect, courtesy and friendly service that Erin showed me that day. (I got good service at Easy Runner, too.)

Tomorrow we go back to North Little Rock to finish painting the house and to plant some spring flowers, and I’ll go pick up my black Moving Comfort bra at Go! Running. I hope Erin is there so I can thank her again, in person, for treating this full-figured gal as though I were as fit and beautifully sculpted as a triathlete. And I will probably order a Moving Comfort bra in white and have it shipped to my house.

That, ladies, is how to buy a sports bra.

For another helpful  how-to, visit my New Year’s Day post, How to win a race without really trying.

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Ben inspired

Tuesday night, a young man named Ben Davis inspired me at the White River Road Runners club meeting. After he spoke to the group, I talked with him about blogging, weight loss, “going public” with your journey, and inspiring others. (Note that I’ve put a link to his blog, Ben Does Life, in the right sidebar of my blog.) Click on the video below to be inspired, and if you like it, go to YouTube to view his other videos. He has several.

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Random comings and goings

Previously I have posted “random thoughts” when I just wanted to ramble, but tonight I just want to get some activities off my mind that I have been wanting to post about.

In no particular order, but starting with today:

  • This morning, Bruce and I had a good time bowling in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Central Arkansas fundraiser Bowl for Kids’ Sake. Our friend Betsy asked us to be on her team, and since we love to bowl and hadn’t done it in a long time, we decided we could spare the time for such a worthy cause. Betsy is on the board of the local chapter of BBBS. She was sick and didn’t get any sleep last night, so we persuaded her to stay home and rest. Her husband, Tommy, their son, Shane, and Tommy’s boss, Dave, formed the rest of our team. When I find my camera bag that contains the disk reader, I’ll post pictures. (This was my second or third event to photograph since I’ve misplaced the camera bag. I think I may have left it at UACCB, where I took pictures a couple of weeks ago. That’s the last place I remember taking the camera out of the bag. It also contains the battery charger and our extra set of rechargeable batteries. Rats!)
  • Bowling, Part 2: I bought a bowling ball 10 years ago, for two reasons: I am a wimp, and I have big hands (thanks, Dad). Previously when I went to a bowling alley I’d go for the lightest ball possible, but those very light ones are drilled for … children. Oh, that I had skinny little fingers that would fit those kid-size holes! Today, Tommy and I shared my 8-pound ball, which hasn’t had much use in the past few years (when Bruce’s most recent Crohn’s flare-up started, and even when he was in remission, he just didn’t have the endurance to bowl. And busy schedules prevailed). I mention the lack of use of the ball because that is the reason I’m sticking to – after reading all the messages boards about it – for why chunks began falling off my ball today as Tommy and I took turns using it. (Here is the message board where I got the most satisfactory answer.) By the end of our two games, there were not only several chunks missing but several cracks in my pretty little bowling ball (took pictures of that, too). Never expected that in my wildest bowling dreams!
  • I have managed to finish reading Chapter 12 for my Intro to Business class at UACCB, but I haven’t even started Chapter 13, which I’m supposed to have read by Monday night. The chapters are long (but interesting), and I’m a slow reader – at least if I actually want to retain the info. I’m enjoying the class, but it involves a lot of work. Our semester project involves building an imaginary business. I never thought I would have so much fun creating a gourmet bakery from scratch! I’m making up stuff right and left, such as my children Cookie and Chip (who will help run the business and someday inherit it, along with their half-brother, Courtney) and the fact that I won’t have to ask the bank for any loans. 🙂 It has been a good experience, although – again – time consuming.
  • I had a nap this afternoon. Naps are gooood.
  • Here’s something I was supposed to do today but didn’t: I skipped the first Saturday session of the Women Can Run clinic. I think I was bitten by the so-what bug, which kind of makes me mad at myself. I applaud the clinic leaders for committing their time to us, but when they said Thursday night that they would not be there Saturday morning if it was “pouring down rain,” I lost a little of my enthusiasm (this was not the first time they had disappointed me). So when I got to thinking about my busy day ahead, even though I was up and at ’em in plenty of time, and even though it was not “pouring down rain” at clinic time, I didn’t go. My plan was to run later in the day, but I got to studying, napping, reading ahead on my Connect+Scripture chapters (because our pastor’s wife lost her grandmother this week and they are supposed to write Monday and Tuesday’s posts – and until a few minutes ago I thought I might have to write them both) and maybe watching a little HGTV (“Designed to Sell,” which is going to help us sell our North Little Rock house by osmosis), so I sorta blew off the afternoon run, too. Do I feel guilty? Yes. But what’s done is done (or not done, in this case). Tomorrow is another day.
  • Tomorrow: We have missionaries to Albania speaking not only in our Sunday morning service but at our community group in the evening. Can’t wait to hear their testimonies. I always love hearing what God’s people are doing around the nation and the world, sacrificing their lives in service to Him. And I don’t know a whole lot about Albania, so it should be enlightening.
  • We are 99 percent finished painting all the dark rooms in our NLR house, as our real estate agent told us to do. We are 100 percent finished replacing the 1970s light fixtures – the other suggestion she made. We drove down there six weekends in a row to get those jobs finished, even though it killed us to do it, not only figuratively (beautiful rooms had to be painted blah-beige) but a tiny bit literally: The last time we were there, we were both sick and just couldn’t finish (although we worked on it 11 hours that day, not to mention the 180-mile round trip). As providence would have it, a couple of days later my cousin Matt got frustrated with his apartment search and asked us about renting the house. Voila! He moved in Sunday, and he said he would finish the last little bit of painting. We’re so grateful for that! I haven’t heard whether he has done the painting, but our agent is holding a Realtor open house Tuesday. So not only is Matt finishing the painting so we don’t have to spend the time and gas money to drive down and do it, he’s helping pay the mortgage with his rent money. Also, he said he’d water our nearly dead landscaping. Click here for the listing, in case you’re in the market for a 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom, 2,600-square-foot house that has had extensive updates in the past two years.
  • There are so many things I want to do right now but don’t have time for (such as housecleaning!). I’ve decided not to take a class this summer, and also by then the running clinic will be over, so those two things will free up three nights a week (and Saturday mornings) for me, not to mention the time I’ve had to spend studying and working on my semester project.
  • The church blog has been a blessing and a bit of a burden, although it’s a nice burden to have. Because the whole thing was my idea (to challenge the church to read the Bible in a year and then to get church members to blog about it five days a week), I was put in charge of it. Don’t get me wrong – every single thing about it is good except for the fact that it takes a lot of my time. There’s really no way around that, short of getting Bruce saved so he can be co-editor and one of the writers of the blog. 🙂 What I love about it: It unites church members in a common endeavor, it gets us to read the Bible daily (something I’m prone to put on the back burner unless I have a formal plan), it challenges those of us who are writing to really, really think and pray about what these Scriptures truly mean, and it gives different perspectives on God’s word. Iron sharpening iron.
  • In November I started exercising again, and in February I joined Weight Watchers Online, and I am struggling with the Weight Watchers part. For one thing (and this is most of it, but it is really just an excuse), they made major changes to the plan but quickly ran out of the electronic calculators to help count the daily points values of foods. The old system, which offered the option of an electronic calculator or a free slide-rule that came with the membership packet, eliminated, by necessity, the slide rule. I have been checking the website every day for weeks (I read that they were supposed to have more in stock by March 5 – today), but still no calculators. So, unless I’m near a computer, I can’t count my points. Again, that is an excuse, because I certainly could figure out the points at home at night or in the morning, then make sure I eat the corresponding foods during the day at work. I used to be able to decide to lose weight (or most anything) and just do it – now, God is telling me that was all an illusion. Without His help, I can do nothing. But I haven’t really been crying out to Him for help. That is my fatal flaw. Busyness is the enemy here; that’s one reason I’m taking the summer off from school – I’m neglecting so many things right now, including my family and my health (physical, mental and spiritual).
  • I have an appointment Wednesday with my cardiologist in NLR. It’s supposed to be my second “annual” checkup since my October 2008 diagnosis of mitral-valve prolapse, but apparently the doc’s staff doesn’t send reminders and it is up to me to schedule the appointment. I’m a big girl, but I didn’t schedule it last fall like I should have. Why? Because I’m a big girl. Last time I saw him, he gently told me I need to lose “a few pounds,” and I haven’t. I’m embarrassed to see him when I’m nearly as heavy as I was last time. It is not for lack of trying, but I just haven’t succeeded. (See previous item for explanation/excuse.)
  • John Mark just e-mailed me his Connect+Scripture post, so it’s time to stop rambling.

Thanks for listening! Post a comment and let me know what’s happening in your life.

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