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."

Confession

I've thought a lot about this post. Even so, it may come out like a grab bag of thoughts. And there's some pretty serious stuff in here, just be forewarned.  We gonna get real.  Real real.

For the past few weeks, I've been really angry at my body.  I know it hasn't seemed like it.  There have been victories in there too, and moments where I've been very happy with it.  But this body journey?  It's complicated, difficult, and life-long.  You don't ever get to a place where you're done.  You can't mark it off a list.

And I am very much struggling with that.  It's been especially hard lately, because of my injury, because I've been gaining weight, and because, without disclosing too much here, I'm on a fertility journey that isn't going so well.

I realized yesterday that I feel like my body has betrayed me, and I am so angry about that.  It got itself injured, it's failed to get pregnant, and it's been slowly gaining weight over the last 6 months.  And that all feels bad.

The injury is healing, and the pregnancy stuff takes time and is a whole separate thing, so let's focus on the weight gain for a moment.  Despite my best intentions to deal with it, and a little denial that it was happening, it's now a thing.  My ring and some of my clothes aren't fitting properly, and that's triggering to me nearly every day now.  And even though I feel like I shouldn't let that bother me, and that letting it get to me is a betrayal of the body positive community, it really does get under my skin. 

Feeling the tightness of your clothes is uncomfortable.  I feel too big to be contained by them.  I have some pretty damn cute clothes, which is making it all worse.  I don't want to buy new clothes - I want to fit into the clothes I could wear six months ago. 

Wanting to lose weight is a really loaded thing.  I feel like I should clarify what I want, because what I want (weight loss) is going to be either evaluated as a superficial concern, considered a backlash against all the body positive work I've done over the past few months, or dismissed as less valuable than a getting stronger goal.

But sometimes, when a lot of your clothes are tight, and you feel heavy and stuck, and you realize you've been (okay, confession time) binging a bit because you are just so angry about it all, an answer gets teased out of the mire.  And that answer is complicated, and goes against what you thought you wanted.

My big epiphany yesterday was that what I am most angry and sad about is the realization that I will have to be mindful about food for the rest of my life.

I can't just eat thoughtlessly anymore like I did when I was 21.  For one thing, it makes me feel shitty and over-full, and for two, that's how I gain weight - by looking the other way, because I am bored and tired of thinking about it.  For the rest of my life, I'm going to have to be aware of what I eat.

And that felt like a big loss, somehow; the loss of innocence, maybe.  And the withdrawal of some level of relaxation/pleasure/ease, etc. - basically, the loss of my binging coping mechanism to deal with discomfort.  It's easier to check out.  It's more fun, it feels good, and you get to be someone that everyone likes, someone who is very easy to please because they eat everything.  I miss being able to be that person.

But I also know that the cost of being that person, the mood swings, the weight gain, the frustration over the weight gain, the tight clothes, the feeling of being undone and having no control - that's not worth it.

So what now?

Well, that's the interesting part.  I'm working on some kind of plan to get me back into my pants.  I do know that it won't be ridiculously restrictive, because we all know how badly that goes for me.  I know that I need to grieve the loss of my coping mechanism of eating mindlessly (a.k.a. binging).  My therapist says I need to find something I can actually live with. 

My plan is to do that - to find a workable, long-term plan - and then espouse it forever, to identify with it readily, and use it to make choices easily.  Because I do think it works better to be able to say, "No, I'm choosing not to eat that" vs. "No, I can't have that."  In the former case, I am empowered to choose what to eat based on my principles, values, and desires.  In the latter, I am following a system someone else has designed.  I want to be empowered and embodied, not be a sheep, mindlessly following rules other people have set.  Damn the Man.

I'll keep you posted.

And P.S. my new plan will still include one of these from time to time, because consistent, infrequent indulgence is really important.

Pebbles Donuts. My favorite is the Salted Caramel.

Pebbles Donuts. My favorite is the Salted Caramel.