On to what I originally meant to post:
You might think that after losing 30 pounds and 2 dress sizes my self-confidence has gone consistently up, but it’s much more complicated than that. There are days when I feel excessively attractive, but they’re the exception, not the rule, and here’s why.
For years (and by years, I mean my whole adult life), I progressively became more detached from my body. Every time I wasn’t able to physically accomplish something as easily as my friends, a quick pang of guilt/annoyance/anger/sadness, and then I’d be right back on track, having learned a lesson, filing that away for future consideration in problem-solving. Every time I was unable to fit into an item of clothing, pang. Every time I had a less-than-stellar doctor’s visit, pang. Every time anything on my list came up, pang.
But, I’m remarkably adaptable. I see a problem and immediately brainstorm how to fix it. Unfortunately, in my mind I was confusing “fix” with “find a workaround”. The problem with workarounds, as I mentioned in my list post, is that they eventually add up to an unnecessarily burdened life.
So, 2011. I was detached from my body. Well, that’s not entirely true. It’s ironic, because I had become incredibly attuned to two specific areas: my voice (opera), and my digestive system (reflux). If anyone had asked me, I’d have promoted the value of being acutely aware of what your body needs and what state it’s in literally from moment to moment. (If you think I’m exaggerating on that one, just talk to a classical singer for about 5 minutes.)
But otherwise? Completely unaware.
This doesn’t mean I was abusing myself. I think there’s a big difference between abuse and neglect. Was I consciously punishing my body out of hatred? No. I was ignoring it out of denial. The whole time, it was saying, “Put me in, Coach!” and I kept saying, “Kid, you don’t got what it takes! Stop distracting me from my star players!” (Yes, I totally wrote that with character voices in my head).
My body was just dying to be used, even if it had to start small and make up a lot of ground. There were times I couldn’t shake a jittery feeling, thinking I must be over-caffeinated, not realizing it was my body wanting to MOVE. It wasn’t asking to be the star of the movie… it just wanted to be more than an extra in the background.
Once I started using it more, I became painfully aware of my body’s current state. Losing fat, gaining muscle, and increasing fitness ability is an amazing thing to go through, but keeping motivated through self-appraisal leaves you open to frustration in your weaker moments.
Going from total avoidance to a detailed understanding of your bodily makeup and abilities is a double-edged sword. I am now infinitely more aware of how my arms, or stomach, or butt looks, for better or worse.
It’s amazing how the brain works – it’s like at 29, I’m discovering this part of me for the first time. In many ways, it’s a stranger’s body, not just because it’s changing, but because I never truly knew it to begin with. This can lead to major bouts of short-lived insecurity, which are only strengthened by the mixed messages I wrote about earlier.
Taking everything into consideration, and after much thought (much thought), I suppose it boils down to this:
Value yourself enough to take care of your body.
Love yourself enough to not expect perfection.
Respect yourself enough to ignore anyone who will tell you otherwise.