Archives For Exercise

 

In some ways, it’s harder to hate your body when you’re thin than when you’re overweight.

Besides your own body negative narrative, you invite hate from others who think you are being an indulgent first world bitch.

 

I have always loved food. The taste of it; the experience of it; preparing it as an act of love. Sharing it with friends; digging into a holiday meal with family.

It’s sensuous and sublime and one of the great experiences in life.

Unfortunately, I was also an emotional eater as far back as childhood. Food was a replacement for love and attention.

 

I was a super skinny kid, before it was chic to be skinny. I had a big butt and a flat chest and  I hated my lopsided, pear-shaped body. I cried shopping for jeans that fit. If they fit around my waist, I couldn’t pull them up over my ass.

No boys ever liked me. In high school I was the smartest girl and I was in love with the smartest boy but he pined for a big-breasted girl with shiny hair and perfect skin.

 

 

In my 20’s I replaced a drug addiction with one to exercise. And so began my complex, deprived, unhappy relationship with food, exercise and my body. I worked out constantly and ate a very restricted diet. I was bone thin. My life revolved around the gym, sticking to my regimented way of eating, or bingeing as a reaction to it.

Every meal was a minefield.

A few years ago, I gave up exercise. I ate whatever the hell I wanted and gained a bunch of weight and was simultaneously miserable and ecstatic about it.

Breasts. I finally had them.
I could eat all the cake I wanted. I had much more time to do things I loved.
I looked in the mirror and LIKED what I saw. I only saw the voluptuousness, not the flaws. Breakthrough

Recently, I felt myself getting winded going up the stairs and knew I had to get fit. I didn’t want to drop dead of a heart attack before 50 like half the people in my family.

I’ve also been working two jobs and lost some weight as a result. Ironically, the combination of dropping a few pounds and going back to the gym has started the cycle of body hatred.

I don’t know why getting MORE fit and dropping some weight would make me despise my body to the point of not wanting to look in the mirror.

I just know that I choose growth and evolution of self.  I’m so many wonderful things, none of which matter because I look in the mirror to reflect my self worth and if that’s not being trapped in your own personal hell, I don’t know what is.

 

After I had my son, I was completely demoralized by the way my body looked. The physical perfection I had desperately and ineffectively sought was further away than ever. It wasn’t just that I had gained weight. I had transformed into an amorphous creature with baggy skin. It was terrifying – and I tormented myself to restore it to where it was before.

Almost 14 years later, that never happened. I know some women regain their gorgeous pre-baby bods. I don’t know whether it’s plastic surgery or Photoshop or round the clock private training but whatever it is, it’s irrelevant to me and the permanent kangaroo pouch I carry above my C-section scar.

 

 

I have had a volatile relationship with my body my entire life.

I’m closer now to a happy place with food than I’ve ever been. Those non-exercise, eat-everything years reminded me that life is too short to give up warm bread slathered with butter. Although I love the taste of healthy foods  – if I was a poet I’d write a sonnet extolling the magnificence of a perfectly ripe peach –  I’m in a committed relationship with cake.

And yet, I’m brainwashed by culture programming. If I have the perfect body, then I’ll have the perfect life. When you’re beautiful, people love you. We all want to be the beautiful people who everyone loves.

This is what is done to us. To all of us. It’s insidious and soul deep and reinforced every day, in every part of our lives. I’ve all but stopped reading my favorite writers online because I’m sick of being bombarded by The One Way To Finally Lose that Stubborn Belly Fat.

Just once I’d like to look in the mirror and see my body without cataloguing a litany of flaws.

I’m tired of being in a room full of people where the women all exclaim how beautiful each other is, while men greet each other with talk of work or family.

 

I don’t know how to change the narrative. I can’t tell you to start loving your bodies when I don’t love mine.

But there has to be a way to fight this, to reject the idea that we’re not beautiful unless someone tells us; unless our bodies are perfect – or even that physical beauty matters so much.

This is the prison women are in. It’s what that keeps us tethered to our own insecurities, too busy obsessing over our bodies to do the real work.

It’s why plastic surgery is a billion dollar industry and we don’t care if we die on the table from elective surgery as long as we die with big tits.

I will never understand the idea that women deserve admiration, above all other accomplishments,  simply because of the way they look.

 

I will tell this story, but I will not own it.

It is not mine. It’s not yours, either. This is because nobody ever told us the worth of our hearts and minds.

 

Body issues. Will this madness ever stop?
Talk to me. I’m listening.

 

Come hang out with me on Facebook and Instagram so I can have friends without leaving the house.

 

donut and scale

There’s a reason why the expression is gym “rat.”  It’s not gym “puppy;” puppies are adorable and cuddly. Rats are annoying.

For most of my adult life, I was a gym rat. I exercised every day; some days, for hours. I craved the endorphin high and the all-day energy boost. I loved being fit and strong. If I’m being totally honest – I also measured my self worth by how fit I looked.

My life revolved around the gym. I didn’t intentionally set out to make gym friends but only other people who make exercise such a priority can stand gym rats.

It’s no wonder. While the rest of the world was “aaahhh”-ing over their first sip of coffee, I was at grueling outdoor bootcamp classes. The crack of dawn found me running around Central Park in tights, holding a tire over my head. If an alien from another planet observed me from a far-off galaxy, they probably imagined I was some kind of AAA superhero.

“Flat tire on 86th street? Car Repair Woman saves the day!”

 

During my exercise mania days, I ate “clean” most of the time, which means, I stripped every bit of fun out of the experience of eating. Every day I ate grilled whatchamadingle with a side of steamed doojawockey. I removed sugar, alcohol and complex carbs out of my diet, along with the will to live.

I lifted weights. I trained with kettle bells. I climbed a zillion steps to nowhere on the stairmaster. I yoga’d and spun and kick boxed.

I set impractical and ludicrous fitness goals, like being able to do 20 unassisted pull ups. As my parting gift for this achievement, I received permanently jacked up shoulder joints. I have bone spurs in both rotator cuffs. It feels like tiny angry gladiators are spearing me right where my wings would attach to my body. If I had wings.

I’m supposed to get the spurs surgically removed, but I have to recuperate in a shoulder sling for months. It’s not really practical at this time in my life, or any other time for that matter, since I won’t be able to drive, eat, sleep or wipe my vag after peeing.

Over the years, I’ve injured every part of my body exercising. I’ve pulled muscles, pinched nerves and torn cartilage.

I sprained my asshole.

 

There were other downsides to being an exercise devotee. Going to the gym was time-consuming. Aside from exercising, there’s also getting changed, traveling to and from the gym, showering afterwards – it took up hours of my day.

I put more energy into my relationship with exercise than I did with a living human being.

 

A little over a year ago, I started to dread exercising. I could no longer bear the sight, sounds or smells of the gym.

So I stopped. I know exercise burn out when I feel it.

Playing exercise hooky freed up so much of my time that day, I was delighted. Was this what it felt like when you’re not a slave to the gym?

 

I didn’t want to stop exercising completely, so I took up walking. But when it was snowy or rainy, I skipped those days.

Once again, I marveled over all the extra time. Gradually, I just stopped exercising.

And then the dam…BURST.

I started eating junk food, stuff I hadn’t eaten in decades. Doughnuts, and candy bars, and cake. Carb-o-rama.

I gained 30 pounds. Of course, it bothered me immensely. But some extra weight settled in my breasts, which were finally bigger than a B cup. The last time that happened, Cujo the newborn was gnawing on them constantly. Now, I had a great, baby-free rack.

No one complained that I went from “waif” to “sturdy.” And the extra fat in my face was like taking a Black and Decker steam iron to some of my eye crinkles.

 

For several months I tried to burn fat just hating exercise, but it didn’t work. When I realized I was getting winded eating pancakes, I knew I had to start working out again.

I joined a gym near my house. The fitness director encouraged me to do some really extreme classes, but I declined. I used to measure the success of my workout by how much I wanted to puke. Nowadays, I have no interest in exercising to the point where I’m yakking in the ladies locker room.

I used to be hard-wired to enjoy the pain of exercise. In just a year, I managed to completely turn that around.

This has been such a paradoxical journey. On the one hand, I feel liberated. Those extra hours a day gave me more time to waste on the Internet write. Weekend mornings, instead of bolting out of the door to the gym, I hang out with my kid.

On the other hand – I worry about my health. My father died of a heart attack suddenly at age 46 – the age I am now. I think the the best way to avoid death is to become a moving target.

I’ve had to reframe my whole idea of myself. My identity was wrapped around being waif thin, and I’ve had to give that up. It hasn’t been easy, but to ease the pain of the transition, there’s cake. Mmmm, cake. 

I’ve started back slowly, going every couple of days. I do it only because I must. Exercise has lost its allure for me. The whole time I’m on the treadmill, feeling like a hamster on a spinning wheel, I’m counting the minutes until I can get home and back in front of my keyboard.

The only thing I seem to enjoy exercising these days is my mind.

 

Do you exercise? How do you stay motivated?
Is anything as good as cake? Talk to me. I’m listening. 

 

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