Monday, October 21, 2013

Body Love Hate Love

Yesterday, I lay in a "Hydro-Derma Fusion" pod at Planet Beach, completely naked, letting my skin sweat in 118-degree steam. I love saunas; they always leave me feeling refreshed, as though I've sweated out the toxins and am freer, lighter for it.

As I lay there, my hands folded on my stomach, I could feel little of the lose skin and small extra store of fat I have, post weight-loss. I marveled at how much I love how my body has turned out, where I can feel my hip bones under a layer of fat that belongs there--not a huge layer, just that layer that's supposed to be there because I'm a woman who was born to have wide hips. I could feel my abdominal muscles--which do not show, but are nonetheless very fierce. I lay there thinking about how remarkable my journey has been, losing so much weight, but also becoming so strong as I learned to exercise and run. In that moment, I loved my body just as it is. A rare occurrence, for sure.

It's been on my mind a lot lately, and I've been struggling with loving my body. On the one hand, I adore the shape of my biceps and triceps, even as I frown at the jiggly parts of my arms. Some of it is lose skin. I have to remind myself--daily--that my body is strong, fit, healthy. I'm not what I used to be, and I am proud of that. Could I be even fitter? Yes. Do I want to be? ...Yes. Yes, I do, so I keep working, but I never, ever want that work to be driven by a need for perfection.

I walk a balance beam, basically.

So then fitness "gurus" come along and post "inspirational" photos like this, and I get a little steamed:

By now, you've likely seen this, and the brouhaha surrounding it. I was loathe to direct any more attention to it, until a few days ago, when Shut Up & Run posted about it (She Probably Doesn't Even Fart) and I had to comment. I got a little bit rant-y, because, if you recall, I'm already tired of some fitness-related blogging anyway.

I didn't expect much response, but a check back a couple of days later yielded all of this:

The random dude from the interwebs actually kind of made my
day--not because I'm looking for acceptance from men, but because
it reminded me that there are men--and I've known a few--who
appreciate a woman who loves her body.

It felt good to see so many people agreeing, or feeling the same way. While I'm sure the lady in question probably didn't mean to alienate half the planet with her picture, when she posted it, she also didn't take into question the fact that everybody--and every body-- is different. I have friends of every possible shape, size, and most of us cannot, will not, look like she looks, no matter how fitness-savvy we get. The universe gifted me with an hourglass figure and curves galore, and I want to celebrate them (tummy and all) even as I celebrate my tall, slender friends, and my large-boned friends, and every other friend who has the body she's supposed to have. When people ask my advice on weight loss, I absolutely promote working out in whatever form is best for them....but I could never dream of telling any of them they ought to find time to get to the gym if they're not seeking to change their body. And I'd never shame them by telling them it's just an "excuse" if they miss a workout because this thing called Life got in the way.

On the same vein, I've seen this video going around, "Shrinking Women," and I find it both fabulous (very, very talented writing by this woman) and heartbreaking (because too many of us feel that need to shrink, to please society by taking up less space in it). She absolutely speaks of things I struggle with all the time.

I don’t know the capstone requirements for the sociology major because I spent the whole meeting deciding whether or not I could have another piece of pizza.
A circular obsession I never wanted, but inheritance is accidental
I love going to the gym. It's not just part of my routine, it's something I enjoy. I like watching my muscles work, and feeling the sweat pour down my face and neck. I like nodding or smiling at people I see regularly, I like waving hello to Matt the Reasonable, talking football with Oscar at the front desk--who has the unfortunate affliction of being a Dallas fan. Poor kid. I go to the gym because it's good for me, because I feel good when I'm there, and even better when I leave, stronger for the time I've spent there.

I don't work out to shrink. I work out to grow.




No comments: