* A mini intro and a little disclaimer: This post is not for everyone and writing it makes me feel pretty vulnerable. As my friend Todd and I like to say, "I'm keeping it extremely real" on this one. You see, I am on a vacation of sorts. I quit my job recently because I felt disrespected and uninspired. Although I have a new job, it hasn't started yet and the little gal I nanny for is away for the week. So, yeah, I'm kind of on vacation and this little break is giving me the opportunity to truly be with myself and think about some of the changes I want to make in my life. That said, pop culture isn't - for once - on the forefront of my mind. So, I'll return to blogging about Bachelor breakups and the like soon, but for now...
On May 10th of this year, I started a journey. A long, arduous, painful trip. Initially the intended destination of said trip was a county called "Weight Loss" with many stops along the way in unknown areas called "Get Stronger" and "Increase Energy" and "Firm the Eff Up." I started working with these great folks, rethinking everything I put in my mouth and working my body in ways I never have before. During the first month, I ate no cheese, no bread, drank very minimally (although I pretty much do that already), limited my carbs, increased my veggies and attempted to work out six days a week. Some days were better than others, but I stayed pretty damned consistent and I was proud of myself. Now, well into my second month, I've started eating whole grain bread once a day and having a cheat meal or meal and a half (let's be honest) once a week. It feels a lot more sane and has left me considerably less angry. (Although I'm still almost entirely off dairy for now.) Oh, and I've amped up my cardio (on top of meeting with my trainer three times a week) big time.
So, that's where I'm at... on paper. I can see some changes that my body is making, but the scale is not necessarily reflecting that yet. Most days, that has been really hard on me. You see, I know how to lose weight (and, oh boy, do I know how to gain it). I've been very successful in the past and know I can do that again, but I'm tired of yo-yo-ing. It's not good for your body (especially your metabolism) and it's not good for your spirit. (Yeah, I clearly think I'm Oprah in this post.)
What I don't know how to do is sustain a healthy and balanced life. When I'm on, I'm on and when I'm off, I'm off. There's no in between for me and it's taken a toll physically and emotionally. Luckily, my trainer Nancy the rockstar (third down) has helped me stay sane throughout this process and reminds me to look at this as a change I am making for the rest of my life rather than a sprint to my weight loss goal. Yes, my trainer actually reminds me to make these changes with integrity. How lucky am I?
So, during this little vacation of mine, while floating outside in the pool after my workout, I've had a lot of time to think about the kind of relationship I want to have with my body. I put so much work into the relationship I have with my family, my friends, my boyfriend, but never stopped to think about the relationship I have to the vehicle that carries me through my life.
Seriously, this is my Oprah post, isn't it?
My point is that there must be a healthy balance between wanting to see and feel change in your body and still love it. For women especially, the act of trying to love your body - with all it's imperfections and beauty - in this culture is almost revolutionary. And I am so on board with this revolution.
All of this reorganizing of my brain around these issues has led to some heartfelt realizations. And so, I decided to write this letter to my body and I'm going to re-read it as often as I need to and revise it whenever necessary. I encourage you to think about doing something similar. What could it hurt?
First of all, I want to do something I have never done. I want to apologize to you. I have not always been good to you, body. I have hated you. I have thought you were too skinny, too chubby, too busty, too flat, etc., etc. I've tried to make you conform to society's fickle standards and for that I am terribly sorry. I can now look back on that skinny little teen I used to be and think how beautiful you were in your awkwardness. I can look at the girl who finally started gaining weight after college and think how healthy and lovely and alive you were. And I know that someday, I will look back on this time in my life and be so sad that I didn't realize how truly lucky I was to have you. As you are. Perfectly imperfect. Ever changing. Always mine.
I want to do another thing I never do. I want to thank you. You have been by me through so much. You have taken me to Europe and to Africa and back home again. You've taken me to places so torn apart by poverty, hunger and disease, places where a person has never uttered the words diet or cardio, where the act of trying to lose weight is nothing short of an amazing privilege. You've carried me through heartbreak and grief and loss and love. You've been by me when I didn't eat enough to nurture you and when I turned to food for comfort and overwhelmed you.
I've treated you badly and I'm sorry. I am trying to make it up to you now. Better late than never, right?
So, here's the deal. I've been pushing you really hard lately. I've been burning as many calories a day as I used to eat in a sitting eating barbecue chips (and we both know that's a lot). I've made you do things recently that have probably really confused you. I promise that this time - like my trainer said - I'm doing it with integrity. I know I've gotten frustrated lately that the scale isn't moving as quickly as I would like, but I promise to keep that sh*t under control and only let it out to play every once in a while. I also hope you understand when I embarrass you and cry at the gym like I did today. I'll keep that to a minimum too. Okay?
Last, but not least, I promise to start treating you with the respect you deserve. I'm going to keep moving you more and pushing you harder, but I'm going to be kinder with my expectations of you. I'm going to give you the fuel you need, eat those veggies even when I don't want to and let you indulge every so often. Oh, you want to know what I'm going to do the rest of the time? I'm glad you asked.
The rest of the time I'm going to love you. I'm going to have faith that you will do things in your own time and I'm going to try and be okay with that and get off the f*cking scale. Because you - and I - are better and more than that.
Again, thanks so much for everything. I look forward to spending the rest of my days with you.