I haven’t had much motivation to write since I posted Starting Over. Mostly because I haven’t seen much progress in my body.
I really don’t even know how to put into words exactly what I’m feeling about this all and the shift that has happened within me, but I’m going to try. Because I think it’s important.
I have never felt good about myself. I have never loved my body, not even as a kid. I have always felt awkward and uncomfortable in my own skin. At a young age I tried to mimic the way other girls moved because I felt clumsy in everything I did. Maybe this is the reason that my sister and I walk with an identical arm-swinging gate – it’s weirdly identical, guys.
Through the weight I lost with clean eating and CrossFit, I was able to find pride in my body. Not my naked body (I’m afraid I’ll never feel confident enough to even sport a bikini), but my clothed body. This was totally awesome, right? Well, yeah. Confidence is great. But what about when your self-worth becomes strictly contingent on your body size, on fitting into that cute dress everyone liked, and on your tummy not getting in the way of that one tricky twisting yoga pose?
|We call this "Kelsey: Optimus Prime"...|
And it is the version of myself I keep using for comparison.
I don’t even think I noticed what was happening, really. I knew I felt better, my energy level was through the roof, and I was pretty proud of how I looked – because dammit, I worked for it.
But then the whole process of the unsuccessful fertility treatments, thus the gaining of 50+ pounds happened. Within two months’ time, I had nothing left to be proud of.
I tried really super hard to be proud of the numbers I was pulling at the gym on my lifts. Because progress was still being made. But when confidence is gone, when you know you are going to come in last every time, when cardio is nearly impossible and body-weight movements are even harder than that, when sitting on the couch just seems like a better choice because you don’t want to be the fattest woman in the room yet again; those number just don’t have the same affect.
Instead of looking back at how far I had come from the very beginning of this journey, I only began to focus on how many steps backward I had taken in just the past few months. I left more than one store in tears because I couldn’t find clothes to fit my body – or, more accurately, I couldn’t find any clothes that I felt worthy of buying or wearing.
Then, just when I was starting to feel like a tiny little bit of progress was being made, I injured my back. I don’t know exactly how it happened, but I’m nearly certain it was a dog-pulling-on-the-leash-at-the-exact-wrong-moment related injury. And then I couldn’t do anything without gasping or wincing.
And then I was starting over yet again. I seriously said out loud, to people, with my mouth, “I’m just going to stop trying. I’m not making any progress in my body. I’m just going to give up and start wearing muumuus.” I was only partially kidding. I have cancelled plans because I didn’t feel like I was worthy of being seen by other people.
Here’s the thing though, through trial comes triumph. I’m kind of glad I hurt my back. Even though it has been insanely frustrating, my wonderful CrossFit coaches have taken the time to modify every movement for me, have given me limits that have, at times, been hard to abide by, and have broken down my movements to such small segments of motion that we have been able to discover exactly where my errors are. We have been able to discover that, also with the help of an excellent chiropractor, yoga has been hurting me more than helping (hypermobility combined with overly stretched ligaments = no stability).
Side note – Yoga is excellent if you need to relax or gain mobility. But hypermobility in combination with yoga can be dangerous, particularly if you lack body awareness and the ability to feel muscle tension.
So, through my injury, I have been able to focus not on how I compare with the others in the gym – because I’ve been doing something different than them for several weeks – and instead on how my body is moving. I have discovered the benefits of lifting shoes (if anyone wants to buy me a pair for my birthday, I would be forever thankful), and how to use my hamstrings instead of continuing to be quad-dominant. I have been able to say thing like, “This lift hurts during the first pull; can you watch me and tell me what am I doing wrong?” And then we can fix the error. Because, like I said, my coaches are awesome – truly there are none better.
What has come along with the fixing of the errors is pride. Not in the way my body looks, or in the way I feel in my skin, but in movement. Pride in just being and doing. Pride in moving in a way that honors my body and protects my spine.
I guess, in a way, I feel like instead of starting over, I now feel like I’m getting a second chance. Do I still want to fit into that cute dress? Of course, because it’s cute! But I feel like this second journey up that same mountain is more important than the first. Because I’m learning different lessons. I’m learning the difference between obsessively eating clean, and making intentional choices. I’m learning to pay attention not to my extra tummy skin, but to the way my body feels (energy level, sleep quality, brain function, etc.) when I give it proper nourishment, hydration, and exercise. I’m slowly learning that my worth is not connected to the way my body looks, the size of my ass or the pudginess of my stomach, but to my heart and my soul and my brain.
I had a conversation with a dear friend about this, and she said, “You can hear from other people over and over and over again how wonderful you are and how much you are worth. But those are just words, and they don’t matter until they are your own words in your own voice.” Yes. That.
So I’m trying. I’m not going to start wearing muumuus after all. I know that I have a sugar addiction I need to kick, and I need to recognize that I am like a waveringly recovering drug addict when I have even a little. I kind of think that sugar might actually be sweetened heroin.
I want to try to listen to people when they tell me I am being hard on myself. I want to stop the negative self-talk that is thinly-veiled as humor. I want to love the skin I’m in, no matter what size I am. I want to stop using the word FUPA. I want to appreciate that the body I live in is a complicated, living, breathing machine; but to also remember that the size and shape of it has no connection to my worthiness as a person, a wife, a mother, a friend. I need not to forget that, while it is easier to move in a smaller body, a larger body does not make me less loveable. I want to remind myself to be proud of my strength, both physically and mentally.
I don’t know when this shift happened. Maybe during the frustratingly slow movements at CrossFit I had more time to think. Maybe shifting over to cleaner foods again gave my brain a bit of clarity. Whatever it is, I want it to last. Because feeling good about yourself just plain feels good, particularly when it’s with no strings attached.
This is a note I wrote to myself (excuse my atrocious handwriting) that is now hanging on the mirror in my bedroom where I will have to read it every day. I challenge you to write yourself a similar note and put it where you will see it daily. I would love it if you would take a picture of your note and post it in the comments section.
Won’t you join me in this journey and keep me In Good Company?