Thursday, June 14, 2012


It's safe to say I have a healthy self image. Most of the time, I feel pretty good about myself. I don't think I'm physically perfect by any means, though I don't think that even needs to be said. I mean, what kind of fucked up world is it where I think I have to justify feeling happy and comfortable in my skin? I wasn't born this way -- it took a lot of years of struggle and, er, being a teenager and such before I arrived at this place, so I feel like I earned it. That's dumb, though. You shouldn't have to work to love your physical self. But most of us do, with varying degrees of success, it's just how it is. But I achieved balance for the most part in adulthood, and even with that said, I still have my moments. Some of you may remember how I launched this plan to rock nothing but bikinis on my late fall vacation. A shallow goal to be sure, but I'm having fun with it. Whatever keeps you going, right? Anyway, so I went to Target the other day and picked up a couple of suits to add to my collection. I tried them on in the store, I was feeling OK about them, then I took them home and had the brilliant idea to photograph myself wearing them so I could have, I guess, a true idea of what they looked like on me. I did some mirror snaps, front and back, checked out the results, and it was like, "Oh. I... see."

The body I actually have rudely defies being the body I have in my head. And being confronted with that disconnect caused a little hiccup in my normally rock solid sense of being. Part of it is the issue of never quite admitting to myself that my body has been permanently altered since carrying a child. I'm not talking about stretch marks, those have mostly faded anyway, but it seems like no matter what I try, I can't quite put humpty dumpty back together again. Things have... rearranged themselves. And it's an unpleasant shock to come to terms with it. It wasn't that I thought I looked bad per se in the pictures, I mean, I gave up the ghost on a flat stomach a long time ago, I just didn't look like me. So it begs the question, to me, what was I hoping to accomplish by taking the pictures, and was I better off before I saw them? I suppose deep down I wanted to see them to get myself used to the results of the inevitable photographs that should be a part of a memorable vacation, so I wouldn't look back on what promises to be a wonderful time and obscure the memories with my critical eye. I'm always working on this these days because facebook and aging has effed up most of how I look at pictures of myself. And I don't want to be that way. It's pointless.

To the second part of the question, the answer is a yes and no. Yes because in my heart I know that the point for me is how I feel, and when I work out hard and regularly like I've been doing, I automatically feel like a superhero. I don't think that how I look ever really changes, but how I feel about myself does depending on whether I'm getting in my workouts, so it's worth it to keep pounding out the miles and such. I do get a rush from it, which can only be good. The no is because it gave me a chance to think about what residual issues I'm harboring and remind myself, as I do a couple of times a year, that my body is awesome because it is strong and healthy and that I really don't want to lose sight of that or waste any time playing into the image of what a beautiful body is supposed to be. Even if I change completely over time, even if I stop working out or whatever, everyone has the right to feel good and beautiful. That it's ever not a given is one of the saddest things in life.

Anyway, I will indulge in a little psycho workout talk in lieu of psycho dance talk since I didn't watch this week's SYTYCD yet. Since getting back into regular exercising post pregnancy, my run speed, distance and stamina have grown immensely. And, like the old me, I've decided that even if I never lose the equivalent of one pound (I don't weigh myself) or any part of my back fat or love handles, what I've accomplished physically makes me proud. I have always loathed strength training, but I did start doing a regular dumbbell program and for the first time in my life, I've started to get definition in my arms which I never knew I wanted, but results are addictive, aren't they? I'm not going to show anyone my bikini pictures, not now and probably not any ever taken because that's not my style, all that is for me and me only even when I wear them in public. But I will show you my starter guns. Not gonna attempt to lie to you, I'm flexing like an MF. But that dip in the arm muscles? I've never had that dip before. And I'm inordinately proud.

So I've got that going for me.  Here's some advice you didn't ask for: if you can't love all of yourself every day, try and pick one thing per day that makes you feel good and go from there. And when that's a challenge--and don't feel bad when it is a challenge, because it's natural to get down sometimes--I find it helpful to think: what would a rapper do if you asked him about himself? He'd brag and swagger and just take for granted he (or she) was a sexy beast, right? Tell the voices in your brain to back the fuck off ya. I swear by it.

1 comment:

  1. Strength training will change your body in ways you never thought possible. It will not make you lose numbers on the scale, but it will definitely make you look better, and better yet, feel EMPOWERED and strong, even if you don't gain a lot of muscle. That's the most important part. As someone who lost 85 pounds (and not after a pregnancy), I have this constant, looming fear that I will gain weight. And yet I barely exercise anymore. I feel worse about losing out on the health benefits than losing out on whatever body everyone (and I) thinks I should have. So, there's a win I guess. I just need to start doing it again, for sanity's sake. Although I haven't had a child, I can definitely relate to all of this.