Of Asses and Butts. And Behinds. Posteriors, Too.

I’m just going to say this out loud—I want a better butt.

Okay...mine's not quite this bad.

Okay…mine’s not quite this bad.

I’ve discussed my dumpy butt before, and before I go any further, I should mention that I am not calling my butt fat. I realize I’m not fat, so let me preempt all the aw-shucks-Karen-you-look-great cheerleading comments.

But I, as most well-adjusted adults do, have a lingering suspicion that I could’ve been something special in my youth. If only this, and if only that. Pre-Paleo, I sincerely believed that it was all downhill for me, that I would gain a pound or two a year and end up overweight, unhappy, and on statins by the time I was 45. It seemed bleak.

But then the miracle of MovNat introduced me to Paleo, and it’s been nothing but uphill ever since. If you told 30-year-old me that I would be stronger and fitter at 35—and even lean!—with less effort, I would’ve laughed in your face. If you showed then-me a picture of today-me swinging from a tree, barefoot and covered in dirt, I might’ve been horrified. And then intrigued. But I never could’ve believed it would be possible, because when we age, we’re supposed to disintegrate, ache, and seek material comforts that make us feel “better” like custom orthotics and mattresses so cushy and overblown that they defy logic. Right?

Nope. And yet, despite my progress, I still have pancake butt. Or rhino butt. It has many names. But I get it. It may be genetic destiny.

But maybe not. I had a lightbulb moment at the most recent MovNat workshop I took in Portland. I looked around at the male CrossFitters in attendance, and to a one, they had round, high, tight little butts. This is not a normal trait in our culture today, so the sheer numbers I was seeing were not due to natural variation. How many times have you seen a guy’s butt and said, “Dayum! That’s a fine ass!” Not very often.

Look, I’ll admit it. I’m a butt aficionado. A cheeky-monkey. I’ve been a bum-looker my entire life. I can’t explain it, but there it is. I have a lifetime’s worth of cataloged butts in my mind. It’s a heavy cross to bear, but someone’s got to do it. And even then, I can’t remember a single time I’ve said “Dayum! That’s a fine ass!” in regards to a man’s behind until recently.

And seeing the CrossFitters’ butts made me think of my husband’s butt. I’ve often teased him about the fact that his butt stopped growing at age 10 while the rest of him kept growing. Seriously. Smallest butt ever. There’s not much there except a place where two legs come together, kinda like a frog, which is apt since he’s a fantastic swimmer. But lately, even he had a new, high little bump going on. His pants were less concave in the butt region. He’s been doing Men’s Health’s Spartacus Workout for nearly a year, and clearly, it’s paying off. He says it’s the split jumps.

Much better than slogging.

Much better than slogging.

So back to that suspicion of mine that I could do better. I was always athletic, but I just didn’t have those involved parents that made sure I was properly engaged in activities. Having a kid now, I don’t blame them, what with all the driving around and disruption to normal life. If I wanted to join something, my father would pick me up and drop me off, but if I wanted to quit, no one argued. So I drifted a bit. With my sprinter’s frame and athletic capability, I always thought I would’ve been good at soccer or gymnastics, but they weren’t explored in any depth. I excelled at PE—LOVED rope climbing!—but nothing ever came of it. Why? Because you get to be an adult, and unless you know better, you believe you have two options: 1) distance running, and 2) slogging at a gym.

Now? Oh man. I wish I’d known about CrossFit or Parkour when I was younger. I would’ve torn. That. Shit. Up.

I thought to myself, “No time like the present,” and tried out the CrossFit gym, thinking it would be a good winter option for me while I waited for better weather to continue my outdoor workouts. There were many things I liked, and I learned some important form techniques when dealing with heavy weights. I love the gym owners who are super friendly and cool. But a few things nagged at me, namely static stretches and ridiculously high reps of anything. I still have a knot hiding behind a shoulder blade from a Cindy WOD done back in November. To me, that isn’t fitness, it’s torture. I totally get its appeal, and I would’ve eaten it up with a spoon 10 years ago, but now I’m more interested in serving my body in a safe way that doesn’t involve pain or risk of injury. The social aspects of CrossFit, while helpful in many regards, can also serve as an unseen peer pressure to go beyond your limits. Which is great when it doesn’t kill you, bad when it does. But you never know which is which until the next day when the damage is done.

Lest you think I’m a pansy, I’m not. I understand my edge very well and I like to challenge it. I’m not against hard work, but I wanted smart work. I can’t think of a single reason why anyone would need to perform 132 push-ups ever. And why? I mean, are we ever just hanging out on a savanna in a plank position when, suddenly, a lion comes out of the tall grass at us and if we don’t perform 132 push-ups, he will eat us? I hope you just said “No.”

So…where am I? Oh yeah, I want a better butt and CrossFit was a red herring for me. It obviously works for some people’s butts, but it wasn’t going to work for me.

So there’s this guy, you might know him, Clifton Harski. I took my very first MovNat workshop with him in Eugene, OR back in January 2012. He left MovNat the following May to put out his own shingle in San Diego as a trainer, and I kept seeing his offers popping up in my Facebook feed, one of which involves online coaching. So I took the bait.

None of this, thank you.

None of this, thank you.

Why? Because I was tired of dicking around and being inefficient. Because I wanted results. Because I wanted someone who understood the philosophy of MovNat so I didn’t have an internal battle going on with myself every time I had to perform a maneuver that didn’t agree with my understanding. And he promises a better backside. Also he’s a cool dude and he knows his shit. Bingo!

I’ve been at it for several weeks now. He has me on 3 structured workouts a week using kettlebells, a pull-up bar, an exercise ball, and other various paraphernalia. Then he has me doing 10-minute mini-workouts on off-days to get me out of my chair where I sit typpity-typing all day.

The toughest thing has been making it all fit into my life. My life is pretty unstructured, which is problematic for me since I operate great within structure, which in turn is the reason I injected some into my life via Mr. Harski. Luckily, my work projects have been fairly quiet, so I can use the couple of hours a few times a week that my daughter is in pre-school. The challenge will be to continue the routine even when projects start to stack up again.

The first week was painful, but appropriately so. How do I know? I was able to recover within a few days. And now, a few weeks in, my jeans are feeling a bit tight in the seat. I have a feeling that in a few months, I will understand the frustration of so many women before me who can’t find jeans that fit their posterior.

Oh darn.

P.S. – If you’re in the San Diego area and not going to Clifton’s classes, I hate you for wasting such a valuable resource. Go!

Programming Note: I had intended to discuss a little more about yoga and its influence on my training, but clearly some more background was necessary here first. I promise more on that to come soon.




16 Responses to “Of Asses and Butts. And Behinds. Posteriors, Too.”

  1. Thanks for this. Laughed out loud several times.

    • That’s because:
      a) You’re intimately acquainted with my rhino butt, and
      b) It’s your froggy bottom I’m talking about!

      But don’t worry, honey. I thought of your butt the whole time I was looking at those other butts!

  2. great post. Have you looked at the work of Esther Gokhale? She wrote a great book (awful title that the publishers made her use) “8 Steps to a Pain Free Back.”

    In short she suffered from back pain and wondered why people in the developing world/hunter gatherers who have much more physical jobs than we do and often sit more than we do do not suffer from back pain.

    She traveled around the world to figure it out. She discovered that the way that these people sit, stand, walk and lie down is completely different than the way we normally do.

    In short it generates movement from the posterior chain.

    Take a look.


    • You know, she presented at AHS last year and I missed it because I think she was the first presentation that day and due to a combo of the 3-hour time difference and being up all night drinking, I couldn’t even fathom trying to make it. Now I’m bummed! I’ll make sure to drag myself out of bed next time. Thanks for the reference, will have to check it out!

  3. If you are able to get bubble butt let us know, mine also could use some plumping (and getting rid of cellulite on it :(, but that is a new can of worms)

    • From my experience, your mileage may vary, unwanted fat is usually best addressed via diet. And let’s please remember that we ladies are supposed to have fat there! For me it’s certainly not about getting down to 10% body fat or anything like that, just a matter of nano-tweaking.

      If it makes you feel any better, we all have cellulite. Nearly all of us. I have a friend who has amazing legs and butt, and even then, still some bump-a-loos. It happens, not letting the ideal be the enemy of the good and all that. :)

  4. Hey Karen,

    1. Are you going to Paleo Fx in Austin this year?

    2. For a butt, look into Squats (deep squats, or below parallel), kettlebell swings, Squats,lunges, squats. Also might want to try variations of the squat (front, back, box).

    Take care and enjoy the rest of your week,



    I’m coming up on 46 and have yet to take a statin or pretty much any drug in the last few years :-)

    • Alas, I won’t be going this year. I had to choose between that and a 7-day MovNat retreat in Costa Rica. Hard choice, I know! ;)

      Yup, Clif’s got me doing all that and more. Because of MovNat, I’ve always done deep squats, but now we’re working on them with weight. Which is all stuff I can certainly do on my own, but having access to someone who knows their shit and can correct my form via Skype is pretty cool. Pretty easy to injure oneself doing these things or miss out on some benefits due to bad form. I’ll talk more about that next week.

      And of course you’re doing great at 46! You’re a kosher caveman! ;)

  5. I second the deep squats, deadlifts, and lunges. Also don’t forget jumping too. Polymetrics I think is the workout term for it though.

  6. Awesome that you’re working with Clif!

    Plyometrics applies to more than just jumping technically. Jumping has great benefits too, as with kettlebell swings. I mostly practice Parkour (some lifting too, but not near as much) and well…yeah, it gets good results. Even if I can’t compare to Clif on that front (or back). :p

  7. Ah, Karen, you crack me up! A catalog of butts. Could be worse things. I think.

    While I’ll add my hat tip in your better butt quest, the more intriguing thing I personally took from the article was your fascination with them in the first place. I think it’s very interesting how different societies judge/appreciate certain physical attributes, and how individuals and groups withing those societies vary as well.

    I have a very funny story about a butt (mine) when I was a freshman in college. Apparently you’re not the only one fascinated with them, and, well, some gals ain’t shy about it!

  8. Love your writing! Kettlebells are amazing for butts… I remember how much my behind burned after my first workout with kettlebells.

    Any noticeable changes in the shape of your posterior now after almost a month?

    • Thanks! Unfortunately, my progress was stalled a bit due to a helluva flu, but I’m getting back in the saddle now. Will update on the SOMB (State of my bum) soon.

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