Honoring the Journey

I’ve been struggling a lot lately, more than I probably ever have, with body image.  My teachers have told me in the past that this is probably a good sign—when we are close to transformation is often when we struggle the most.

It’s funny: I know the most about body dysmorphia and weight gain/loss, and body composition, and the rest of it, than I ever have, and yet my negative self-messages are at an all-time high.  Usually, even when I’m not liking my body, I can find something, one thing, I love about myself.  My hair is a good one; I have great, thick, healthy hair.  But even my hair isn’t doing it for me lately.  That, combined with a bunch of changes due to hormones (going off the pill is a bear) is making me feel like the careful equilibrium I’ve maintained over the years is slipping, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.

Lacy said to me in an email a few weeks ago, “You may just have to accept that you’ve gained weight.”  When I first read that, I felt like I’d been punched.  What?  Accept that I’ve gained weight?  No way!  That careful web of denial and telling myself “it’s not that bad” have been working for me.  It’s comfortable.  And furthermore, admitting that would be accepting defeat!  But she was on to something, I think, and I’m going to expand on it.

It is only when we can accept where we are right now, and honor our body’s journey, that true change can become possible.

We say this stuff a lot, right?  But I think there’s a little holdout voice in everyone that thinks, Oh, yeah, I know, but if I could just do X, if I could just lose X, if I could insert-your-own-adventure-here, I could accept myself.

No.  Now.  

I have to accept that I’ve gained some weight, but more than that, I need to honor the journey that my body has been through.  You know what?  We don’t always have control over our bodies.  I certainly have no control over these hormones coursing through me.  If I have a baby, I most definitely will have very little control over my body’s transformation.  As we all get older, we have no damn say in what happens.  This weight gain?  It’s practice.

It’s practice for letting go.  Ultimately, it’s not up to me, what my body becomes.  I certainly have some say—I can choose to feed it whole foods, move it in a way that brings me joy, get enough rest to replenish it, and nourish its spirit by honoring it and turning in, rather than tuning out.  But—nature has a part to play in this too.

I might have these grandiose ideas about being a size 6, but it may just not be in the cards.  It may be more important for me to work not on a perception about who I should be, but on being my best self in any given moment.  And that person might be someone whose arms are so ripped from pull-up practice that they hardly fit in her damn blazer.  But is that really so important, that blazer?  It’s just a thing.  What’s important is the journey, the holistic view of a person.  My arms, out of context, would bother me.  My lame inner voice would default to assuming that I’m a lazy, self-indulgent fatass, who has ever-expanding upper extremities.  But I know that I’m an athlete recovering from a Plantaris injury who worked solidly on upper-body strength for 6 weeks, and thus, have biceps that make boys cry.

It’s all about context.  We are mothers, weightlifters, single ladies, partnered ladies, yoginis, aerial enthusiasts, roller derby players, older gals, ladies with muscles, and scars, and rolls, and freckles, and all kinds of other rad body parts, that all come together to form strong, awesome, complicated women.  (And men.  Do men read my blog?  Hey dudes, you’ve got bitchin’ bods too.)

So yeah, there may be stuff I wish I could change, but that’s not all there is.  I’m not just a walking bunch of goals.  I’m a complex, strong, whole person, who’s traveled far to be where she is.  And I’m not going to count myself a failure just because my blazer is a little tight today.  I’m too smart for that now.

Blazer


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.