Real Talk

I am having a I Feel Disgusted With My Body day.

This feeling, I realized, is most-often brought on my seeing candid or quickly-posed photos of myself and, occasionally, weighing myself.

Well, I haven’t weighed myself in probably two months, so there could be only one other culprit…

If you follow my Instagram, you’ll see one of the two photos that put me in this mental place. Here’s the second one (which is the worst offender):File_000

Logically I know that most of what I dislike about this photo is just weird shadowing on my thighs and lower abdomen. And let me just add: even if there wasn’t this weird shadowing adding what looks to be weird fat-foldy-ness to these areas of my body and, say, my body actually did look like this, THAT IS OKAY AND I AM STILL A WORTHY PERSON WITH SASS AND GRACE AND BEAUTY. …nonetheless, I hate my body shape today and feel kind of gross and disgusting.

I’ve spent far too much mental energy trying to come up with some way to effectively starve myself small and somehow not feel starving… which, y’know, doesn’t actually exist. One can eat in a caloric deficit and gradually lose fat, but the fact of the matter is you will still have times when you’re hungry because being in a deficit is exactly that: being hungry sometimes. Not starving, but… I’m getting off track. Most of you know this shit.

Using my CBT tools that I’ve spent lots of money acquiring over the last several years, I’ve been doing my best to shut down these negative thoughts, to negotiate around, to offer positive affirmation, and, finally, to put together a solution.

Where does this body dissatisfaction come from? Part of it is: the body in that picture is not the body I see when I look in the mirror each morning. It’s not the body I see when I catch my reflection in a window. But, most importantly, it’s not the body I see in my mind’s eye. All these things I just mentioned? These are the perceptions of my body that should matter. An unflattering picture does not.

Back to that solution, though… The first is the one I’ve been working so hard on for the last few years, and that is: loving my body no matter what shape or size it is and thinking positively about my present body while being grateful for all the cool shit it does for me. The second solution is to get back to regularly lifting some heavy weight. I got 5 weeks in recently, but some of those workouts were derailed by back issues. I just recently got clearance from my physical therapist (this is a whole other story I’ve been meaning to write about, too, so stay tuned for that at some point before too long) as well as some good exercises to do to make sure I’m firing my glutes properly to protect my problem areas and I’m super stoked to take this knowledge with me into the weight room.

Returning to weight lifting is what’s going to help me the most to change my body composition and get me closer to the aesthetic I want without a super restrictive diet. The fact of the matter is, I don’t give a flying f*ck if I stay a size 18/20 if I have a bunch of bad-ass, strong, visible muscles that power all the things I love to do most.

To wrap things up, a reminder for me and for anyone else struggling with this same stuff:

Eat like you love yourself
Move like you love yourself
Speak like you love yourself
Act like you love yourself

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She lives!

Hello, Friends. It’s been a while. I’ve been thinking about making my triumphant return to blogging for months now.. I even drafted a post back in January that never got finished. The last few days, though, I’ve been especially itching to write.

It’s been a rough year, folks. The things most important to me that I’ve been working hard for over the last several months (and some things for years) have begun blowing up in my face one by one, week after week. Exercise has been a true solace, but some even bigger explosions this past week threw me off my routine and schedule and as life becomes more stressful I find myself bringing focus in on my body. This is certainly a pattern; things get stressful and my body image tanks. Is this because I think if I can’t control the outside world I can at least control my body? I’m sure that’s part of it. This manifests in what I do to my hair, the type of clothes I wear, and how I do my makeup; in 3 months I’ve gone from long blonde hair to a brunette pixie cut and while I’m not unhappy with my haircut or color choice, I am already bored with it and ready for my hair to be long again and the darker color to fade out a bit.

It’s a constant battle between controlling the change in my life and needing familiarity.

And as I hunt for familiarity, I find myself leaning back towards the all-too-familiar landscape of dieting and searching out exercise plans in order to shrink my body. It is a familiar punishment. A way to control my world by “controlling” my body.

I’ve spent the last two weeks trying to recenter, paying more attention to the body positivity advocates I follow, reading back through stories and articles that spoke to me in the past, trying to focus more on how food choices and regular exercise affect my mental health rather than how they change my body aesthetic. But mostly, I’m trying so hard to be patient both with myself and for the dust to settle from all these life explosions happening day after day. And it’s really tough. I am terribly impatient even in the best of times – but during times of turmoil? Oh, boy… any inkling of patience just flies out the window.

Basically this all boils down to: I’m struggling. I’m highly anxious, I’m sinking deep into a depressive period, and there is very little light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe by starting to write again, I can keep my head above water long enough until a piece of driftwood floats by.

Shrug

 

 

I don’t want to celebrate your weight loss

Edit: I wrote out the entire post below only to realize how absolutely hypocritical it all is since the majority of my posts throughout this year (and on this blog in general) have had everything to do with having a “weight loss goal” – nonetheless, I am really proud of the below writing and am sharing despite how hypocritical it may all seem. The fact of the matter is, I’m not okay with having, what feels like, my entire life revolve around weight loss being a goal. Do I love being 219lbs? No. Do I feel proud of myself for successfully losing 6lbs in August after gaining even more weight after writing about my most-recent weight loss goals back in June? Yes. Yes, I do. I managed to accomplish that loss without letting myself get hyper-focused on my body and turning the process into a way to punish myself for being a fat person. Really it’s not even the loss I’m proud of so much as it is the self-care choices I made with love and positivity that resulted in weight loss. So, now that I’ve gotten super defensive and justified myself to a small group of people who probably don’t even really care, I’ll leave you to reading the real portion of this post:

I sat down to write this with the idea of doing some bullet points; Reasons I Don’t Want To Celebrate Your Weight Loss. But as I started to compile that list, I realized there aren’t necessarily many true reasons outside of: I just don’t want to. I don’t want to be made to feel that I have to. I also don’t want to participate in unproductive Fat Talk; to shame mine, yours, or anyone else’s past, present, or future body shape or size. To be clear: I don’t, not for one second, think that you shouldn’t be glad for your weight loss if you’ve accomplished it by healthy means for yourself, for your health, coming from a positive place – but I don’t want nor agree with the social pressure to worship you for this accomplishment. I don’t want to celebrate your weight loss and I don’t want you to celebrate mine, either – and I sure as shit don’t want to revel in the failure to lose weight, whether that failure be mine or yours or his or hers.

I want to say weight loss shouldn’t be a goal, but simply a pleasant side-effect of a healthy and productive lifestyle. I really, really want to say that and feel it and mean it genuinely, to preach that there are so many more worthy goals! I’d rather celebrate your promotion at work, your recent decision to go back to college, your child’s success in school or hitting a new developmental milestone – I want to lift you up for accomplishments of worth that don’t have a single fucking thing to do with your body and gravity’s effect on it; to say I want those things in return. But, really, the last 6 years of my life,

[Jesus… six years of my life… that just sunk in.]
bert

weight loss has been my ultimate goal in all things despite how often I preach loving my body and claiming I can be happy with whatever-my-current-weight/size-at-the-time-is for the rest of my days on this planet. And usually when I write those things, I really do mean them. It is a truth for me in that moment. And it is absolutely true that I now come to physical activity and exercise from a place of love, health, and (most importantly for me) mental health vs self-hate and punishment… but more of my days than I care to admit are spent feeling uncomfortable in my body, hyper-conscious of what I look like at all times, hyper-aware of how others may view me, body checking in any reflective surface available to me, and wishing wishing wishing I had the “self control” to severely restrict my food in order to shrink myself, to make myself smaller and somehow more acceptable despite all the scientific evidence that very-low-calorie-diets are merely a temporary solution that ultimately result in even more weight gain – despite the fact that my weight, my size has absolutely nothing to do with who I am as a person, how smart I am, how kind I am, whether or not I’m a good wife, a good mother, a good friend. I also know that weight loss isn’t a self-control game, it isn’t willpower – and willpower is a finite resource easily depleted and not-so-easily replenished, but that doesn’t stop me from sitting here thinking about Halloween being right around the corner and trying to decide if I can feasibly and carefully starve myself down 15-20lbs in the next 4 weeks to not feel embarrassed about the 30 I’ve packed on since last October. I know full well that if I did what it took to make that happen, no matter how fucked up and disordered, I’d have at least 20 people singing my praises and begging to know how I accomplished such a great feat!

So, no, I don’t want to celebrate your weight loss. Because you are more than your weight, your pants size, your body fat percentage. I will not begin nor contribute to conversations about how fat you are or I am or she is or he is. I will not participate in conversations about others’ food or exercise choices. I will not tolerate judgement of my food or exercise choices. Most importantly, I will do my best to lift up and celebrate all your accomplishments that have nothing to do with your body and everything to do with your substance and character.

Just some things in my head…

My body image has been incredibly low the last couple weeks coupled with some pretty gnarly depression despite running a few times a week and walking nearly every day. Some rain moved in to the area a few days ago and that’s just adding fuel to my gloomy fire. As a result of this emotional state, I’ve spent more time than I’d care to admit scouring my old internet haunts and bookshelves in search of motivation to go back to “what worked before” …except that it clearly didn’t “work” in the long-run because otherwise I’d still be living that way and doing all those things and maintaining that body aesthetic. But as I scramble to somehow reignite my passion for what slimmed me down 4 years ago, I have these moments where I really stop and think, where I slow down for just a moment and put my neurosis aside, and in that clarity I think, “This isn’t going to help you; the obsessive calorie counting, always spending money on the next great workout program that you’ll only stick to for a few weeks before wanting to move on to something else, the next type of restriction diet that “will work this time”, etc. Just calm the f*ck down, love yourself, move your body often in ways you enjoy, eat food that makes your body feel good and fuels that movement, sleep enough, and just trust the process.”  

…but can we talk about how hard that is when none of your pants fit comfortably, it’s hard to find new, larger pants that fit and look decent, and the scale taunts you with it’s consistently rising number every couple weeks? …I should probably ditch the scale altogether… I try to remind myself all the time that there is so much more to life than what my body looks like; that this is all just shallow and materialistic and I want to live life, not rail against it in the name of thinness. (This was a HUGE motivator behind revamping my blog and moving from Jess vs Life to Jess Has A Blog!) I also know these feelings are closely related to my current emotional state and a couple weeks from now I could be on here screaming about how beautiful and wonderful my body is. …which is equally frustrating. 

Shortie

So, like, here’s the thing about realizing I’m fat: I know exactly how to apply the science of weight loss to my own self in order to lose fat. I know the best sources to get my information from (who), I know the best types of exercise for high caloric burn, muscle retention, and the best macro set-up for my body to feel fueled and energized to sustain said exercise (what), I know that right now I’m most comfortable either going for a run outside or doing a strength workout at home vs the gym (where), and I know the time of time I’m most motivated to do said exercise (when). 

I have all the tools, y’all. 

So, like, what’s the problem? 

Well, that’s what I keep asking myself. 

But how much did I WEIGH?

Maybe I should blame my menstrual cycle and where I’m currently at in it, but this last 4-5 days has been a real struggle to steer myself away from negative thoughts regarding my weight, my shape, my clothing size… and stupid Facebook “Memories” isn’t helping. 

In 2014, for my 30th birthday, I ran my first 5k. Which was great! Really! I had just recently really fallen in love with running and I was SUPER proud of myself for doing it and had a bunch of friends who did it with me (and my dad!) and it was just really super duper. It was a great memory. …but one that seems to regularly be tainted with feeling like I “looked so much better” then. Even though, at the time, I was incredibly frustrated with how “fat” I was and how much I was struggling to lose weight. 

Isn’t that funny? 

There’s a quote that I throw around every now-and-then that goes something like, “I wish I were as fat as the first time I thought I was fat.” To which the solution is: stop thinking about whether or not you’re fat. (Easier said than done, right?)

That race was two years ago today. 3 months later my grandfather would pass away very suddenly from a stroke after beating lung cancer and I would begin packing on the 30 extra pounds I’m currently carrying around. Like a sandbag of grief evenly sprinkled over my thighs, hips, and belly that maybe I’m not ready to let go of. But nonetheless, seeing the photos this morning from that race sent me on a quest… a quest to find exactly how much I was eating/drinking/sleeping, what type of exercise I was doing (outside of running) and how often, but, most importantly… how much I weighed

I quickly stopped my pointless searching in an effort to calm the crazy… and, besides, I can tell you right now it was around 189lbs. I can tell you that because that’s the lightest I’ve been since my second son was born in 2011 and, boy, I sure did and do cling to that. Hard. Sometimes I think someone is going to have to pry that little piece of “victory” (and the ever-remaining “guilt” of no longer being that weight) from my cold, dead hands. 

I find myself trying to relive or recapture the past often and that’s what today’s frantic search was about. If I could just read back through my blog entries, my food and exercise diary on MyFitnessPal, then I could find that “magic” to shrink myself again. But the reality is, what worked over the course of 3 years in my late 20′s leading to my turning 30, isn’t necessarily going to work now as I come into my 32nd year. It could! But my hormone profile is completely different, the amount of sleep, stress management, and general time I require to recover from a hard workout is different. I need to find what works for me now. Not two, three, four, five years ago. More importantly, I need to continue to focus on liking who I am now as a person and taking the focus off of what my body looks like. 

Adjustments

For the last two years (or so) I have on-and-off pursued a healthier mindset in relation to body image and my inner (and outer) monologue regarding my own body. For the last two weeks I’ve being taking that mindset adjustment a little more seriously and practiced near-daily “affirmations” about my body and avoiding fat-talk as much as possible. It is early yet, but I feel a lot better about most things most days. However, I have a lot more work to do and a lot more to learn about being kind to myself.

Those of you that follow me have probably noticed that I share photos and blurbs about most of my workouts on Instagram. In fact, you may have seen this photo come through yesterday:

image

…I’m going to be 110% honest here and tell you all: I hate this photo. 

Here is the on-purpose photo I had taken for my workout share: 

Okay, so, this one really isn’t that much better… but, let me explain… 

That first photo I snapped while stretching, I didn’t even fully intend to take it – it was a bit of an accidental shot. And when I pulled up my photos to make my post, I saw it and immediately began picking out all the things “wrong” with me in that first photo. 

…my arms look fat

…my legs look fat

…my belly is hanging down

That’s when I realized, this is absolutely the photo I need to share. Because those are really my arms, those are really my legs, and that is really my belly… and all of those things are really okay. There is nothing inherently wrong with that photo or the body represented in it.