In the Middle of Things

My friend Jennifer recently asked when I was going to update this blog again, and the answer I had at the time was, "Unknown, because I'm not certain what I have to say?"

Everything in my head pertaining to fitness and health is kind of a big scribble right now.  And rather than hide and say nothing, I'm going to try to unpack it.  It's going to be messy.  But it's where I'm at, and the truth, they tell me, is powerful.

So here it goes: I'm struggling with post-partum body issues.  I thought that I'd made my peace with my post-partum shape, but as it turns out, that was more a surface-level peace, because clothes shopping was really triggering, along with the gym, and seeing pictures of myself, and on and on.  I was okay as long as I didn't think about it.  But that can't really work long-term.

The culturally expected thing to do about that is to try to lose weight and get in shape.  Before I dismissed that entirely, I wanted to do a deep dive into what that might look like.

I thought about going Paleo again, because I'd had success with it in the past.  For a moment, I even considered Keto, because the results reported by friends have been crazy.  But my partner's friend is having to do a very low-carb diet in order to reverse his diagnosis of Type II diabetes, and after watching him do it, my partner reported back that it takes a whole lot of planning, energy, and willpower -- to do the research on what foods you can eat, read labels, ask lots of questions about ingredients, and default to the safe things at restaurants.

I think that back in 2012-2013 I had that kind of time and energy.  I was also skating 3x per week and didn't have much else going on other than that.  I didn't have a kid.  I had a lot of time.  I don't have those things now.  It's worth noting that I do meal plan and prep on the weekends, and I've been pretty good at making plant-forward, healthy breakfasts and lunches this year.  I feel good about that.  But taking it to the next level, committing to another Whole30, or Keto, or even a pretty primal set-up takes a lot of resources -- resources I don't have at the moment.

The reason I don't have those resources is that I'm working on a pretty big project right now, and I've shelved nearly everything else in order to work on it.  I'm also a working parent with a very clever, sweet, feisty two year old.  So time and energy and effort are limited.  I'm lucky if I can get to CrossFit two times a week at this point.

That's the other part of it, by the way: I don't have a lot of time for exercise right now either.  I used to make it to CrossFit at least 3x per week.  I'm struggling to do that now with the daycare schedule.  The times don't line up quite right, and every time I have to leave CrossFit early, I feel really shitty about it.  It seems rude?  I don't know.  Everyone is super understanding at the gym, but I feel terrible about it. 

And then I have to rush through traffic to get to my kid on time, because the gym is further from her daycare than my work is.  So my compromise has been to work out at work's exercise room on Wednesdays when I have to pick her up.  I'm lucky enough to have a partner who retrieves kiddo on Mondays and Fridays, so I can hit CrossFit then, and that will have to be good enough for now. 

I feel like a huge traitor for even having these feelings at all.  I've worked so hard to be body positive, to make peace with my body as it exists, right now.  A lot of the time, I feel pretty okay about it.  But the weight I've gained around my middle from having a baby has literally changed my shape.  I used to be more of an hourglass, and now I'm more of an apple. 

I know that this is part of the wild changes of life, of pregnancy and childbirth, of being a mama.  I know that my body will never be the same, and I wouldn't want it to be, because I have her, and she is everything.

MamaKiddo.jpg

Still, it would really help if clothes fit better/differently, and if gaining the weight hadn't shifted me solidly into plus size clothes.  I think being on the edge of straight sizes can be challenging in this very particular way: because it feels like straight size clothes should be in reach.  But they're just out of reach.  And you think, oh hey, if I dieted, maybe all that would be accessible to me.

I'm not trying at all to equate that mental gymnastics with the very real oppression and discrimination fat people face every day.  I recognize the thin privilege I do have in being a big size 14/small size 16.  I still have access to a lot of things that larger people do not.  And maybe it's stupid to even care about this at all.

But there's still that horrible small whispering voice in the back of my head, saying "If only.  If only."

The Measure of Our Greatness

I am totally having a rough morning today.  Ill-advisedly, I stepped on the scale, and the number wasn't great.  But for the first time ever, I stopped the negative thoughts before they could really ramp up, picked up that scale, and gave it to my partner and told him to hide it in our basement.

Fuck the scale.  I don't want to get triggered every day by what my weight is doing.  Weight is an inexact measurement anyway - it can fluctuate rapidly over the course of a day.

I know my weight is up for a couple of reasons:
1. I spent a week in South Carolina eating less-than-nutritious food, because I had very few options, would offend my relatives who had made some of the food, and because I just couldn't bring myself to get overly fussy when the point of the trip was to have a family reunion for my mother in law who has lung cancer.  In the face of lung cancer, weight gain doesn't seem that damn important.
2. My partner made homemade sushi this weekend, which was totally fun and absolutely delicious.  Not eating the handmade sushi your partner offers you?  That makes you an asshole.
3. We also went out on an amazing date to Nopa last night, where I didn't overeat, but I did give myself the space to choose whatever I wanted.  And last night, that was ratatouille with duck egg as a shared starter with my dude, their amazing, delicious burger, which is seriously one of the best burgers I've ever had, and dessert.  Because I am a grownup lady who really loves food as art and nourishment, and that is how I wanted to nourish my body.
4. Ladytimes

Knowing all that made it a little easier to dismiss the lame internal voices in my head and get rid of the scale.  Maybe someday I'll sledgehammer that jerk, but for now, baby steps, you know?

What really got me to do it though was that I read this AMAZING ARTICLE by Ladybud this weekend.  No really, it's literally the best thing I've read all year: Fuck Diets

Read it.  Be incredulous.  Laugh at all the cussing.  Then seriously, ask yourself the hard questions.  Why do we want to be smaller?  Isn't that literally the dumbest thing ever?

Thinking about it this morning, I made this illustration for y'all:

Self explanatory.

Self explanatory.

"...that’s the rub, right there. Exactly why do we want to be smaller? What exactly is the appeal of being smaller? How does it benefit us? Does it make us better mothers? Better students? Better lovers? Better artists? Scientists? Friends? Does it make us more badass badasses?
No, no, no, no, no. You must see that it doesn’t. It doesn’t do anything but make us smaller.
Babies and puppies are small.  So are dimes and Skittles.  You’re a fucking woman.  A woman! You are entitled to occupy as much fucking space as you like with your awesomeness, and you better be suspicious as fuck of anybody who tells you differently."

Couldn't have said it better.  I mean, seriously, why do I want to be smaller?  I'm already a not-big person.  I'm not even technically plus size.  I'm at the upper end of normative sizes, and I have a bottom that stops traffic and decries gravity, as well as ripped arms that refuse to fit in skinny lady arm blazers, but so what?  Maybe clothing makers should actually create clothes that fit badass, CrossFittin' ladies like me.  Maybe it's the INDUSTRY that's the problem, not my body.  And perhaps it's time I stopped giving in to the idea that I must change, and instead starting fighting the activist fight of getting the industry to change.

"That’s a valid message for women and girls: grow, expand, branch out, open up, get bigger, wider, faster, stronger, better, smarter. Go up not down. Get strong, not skinny.
Language affects our thinking whether we like it or not. Every time we tell ourselves, “I’ve gotta get down to a size whatever,” or “I’ve got to get rid of this gut,” we discount who we are RIGHT NOW. And fuck that shit. Who we are right now is okay. Instead of encouraging ourselves and other women to get smaller, we ought to be focusing on what will make us better. Better. Not smaller.
You are not here to get smaller. You are not here to have a thin waist and thighs. You are not here to disappear. You’re here to change the world! Change the fucking world, then! Forget about “losing a few pounds.” Think about what you could be gaining instead.
Think about the possibilities, we could be so much greater, so much more powerful if we refocused our energies. So stop your fucking nonsense with the Slim Fast shakes and the diet pills or whatever the fuck. CUT THAT FUCKING NONSENSE OUT. Get out there and learn and grow and be amazing. Accomplish something real, right now. Don’t wait until you reach your super-whack “goal weight” which no longer has any bearing on real life probably. Your gratification, your happiness and your unconditional acceptance of yourself will do something for you that dieting never will: it will set you free and unlock your true potential."

That's the rallying cry right there fellow badasses.  I am done with my scale and trying to be smaller for the sake of being smaller.  I want to be better.  Stronger, smarter, kinder, more engaged and creative and in-tune with what's going on, just better.

So whaddya say?  Are you in?  Let's do this thing!