So life has been full of some pretty good and important moments for me lately. I wanted to take some time to talk a bit about some of the things that are going on in my world lately..so bear with me!
First of all, after our three-month hiatus and a ‘freeze’ of our membership for the summer, the hubster and I are now back in business at Snap Fitness, the gym we are members of. It had been three months without it and now we have full access again. This is super exciting news, but conversely, it could easily pose a challenge, not to mention bring up a lot of bad memories, too.
Snap, my long, lost frenemy (friend+enemy)
I had been doing pretty dang fabulous in my exercise plan that I had set with my dietitian and therapist. We set the limit to only 30-minute sessions each day, for no more than 5 days a week. (150 minutes total per week) I had been kicking arse and really gaining control over the need to exercise compulsively like I had in the past. Exercise was always something I took to an extreme. Yet i was finally able to not only cut back on the exercise and finally have it in moderation, but I also stopped running for probably over a month and a half now. I limited my exercising to walks and yoga. But now, my beloved frenemy, Snap, is available to me again. But this time, it’s different. This time I know what my goal and what my limit is. 30 minutes each time I go. I haven’t decided if I’ll start running again or not (since I initially said I wasn’t going to start until I was 100% compliant with my meal plan, which admittedly I am not there yet) but I will be using the elliptical, or something that allows me to get my heart rate up a bit.
So on Tuesday, I made my first appearance. I did 30 minutes on the elliptical…and only 30 minutes on the elliptical. And, I didn’t even have the desire to do more than 30 minutes. It felt good to be back at the gym again, and to be able to go back with self-control and respecting the limitations I had set. Wednesday was a repeat. 30 minutes on the elliptical…and only 30 minutes on the elliptical. I felt really proud of myself.
I remember the days where I pushed myself to extremes. There were times I literally thought my legs would collapse from underneath me from pushing myself too hard because I had to get in a certain amount of time, or run a certain distance, or beat what I had done the previous day. It was like I was in this never-ending competition with myself; always trying to ‘one-up’ what I was able to do…striving to do just a little bit more than I did the day before. I didn’t listen to my body. I didn’t stop when I felt tired or weak or ready to collapse. It’s a miracle that I never did collapse!
I also think in the past when I went to the gym, I felt I had something to prove. Like I needed to do xyz because I was at the gym. People went there to work out and if I only did 30 minutes on the elliptical, why did I even bother going? If I chose to just walk on the treadmill, why was I using up the available treadmills to just walk, when others could use it to run? I’m not sure if I ever compared myself necessarily to others, but I did rationalize that if another person could do xyz than most certainly I could, too! I didn’t realize or even think that each person has their own abilities, limitations, goals, etc. I was not in a place where I could ever do the type of workout that a person training for a half-marathon could. Yet, I always set my ability level on the fact that I should be able to do so. I now realize that I simply cannot compare myself to others. I need to do what I need to do for ME. I have my own limits and abilities. My goal is 30 minute sessions, 5 days a week. That is what I need to do for my own health and well being.
On Monday I met with my dietitian and as usual, I get weighed at my appointments. She had asked me how I was doing with my body image lately which brought on one of the best conversations, that led to a really great moment for me. I indicated to her that I was actually feeling pretty okay. I, by no means, loved what I saw when I looked in the mirror, but I also was at a point where I no longer hated what I saw either, nor looked at all of the things I needed to ‘fix’ or ‘change’ or ‘improve’ about my body. I just simply feel okay about my body now. That feeling is pretty amazing. So I told her that if I was close to my goal weight, I think I would actually be comfortable gaining a couple more pounds, and still feel pretty ‘okay’ in my body. She looked at my chart, looked at me, then said “as of today, you are now in your weight range”. She told me I’m obviously at the very low end, but that I’m now in it! I can’t even explain to you how elated I felt when she told me that! Here I was, telling her I was feeling okay with how my body is, and she now tells me that I’m in my weight range. That means, I am okay in my body at a healthy weight.
That was a pretty powerful moment for me. I have been hitting recovery hard lately, and not only am I gaining ground and making progress each day, but I’m feeling so positive mentally right now. Which continues to push me to challenge myself more and more with each day that passes. I’m gaining momentum more and more each day that passes and it’s fueling me to keep pushing forward. I have been setting more and more goals for myself and am giving it my all to push myself to meet those goals.
While on the topic of body image, for a long, long time now I have avoided looking at myself for too long in the mirror. I would look at my body and immediately feel the self-hate begin to bubble forth. I would pick apart every.single.little.thing that I hated about my body, that I needed to change and fix and that was disgusting. I hated what I saw. I felt like a big, worthless, fat blob, unworthy of a good or happy life because I wasn’t thin enough. I had started to lose those negative, self-critiquing, hateful thoughts about myself more and more lately. Yet, as much as those thoughts started to dissipate, I still didn’t really look at my body in the mirror for very long. (Especially when shower time came around each day) But yesterday, before I showered, I just decided to stop and really look at myself and my body in the mirror. Did I all of a sudden LOVE what I saw? Admittedly, no. Honestly, I still saw certain parts of my body that I wasn’t really all that happy with. But you know what the big difference was? I realized that that was okay. My body will never be perfect. It will never be flawless. I will always have an imperfect body. I know that no matter how hard I would try, it will never be perfect.
I realize that spending hours in the gym or cutting as many calories as possible from my diet will not make my body perfect. So I am not going to continue to try to do so. I have accepted that my body is the way it is. I also realize that in order to be healthy, and to be happy, my body will need to be the way that it is now. I even can still stand to gain more weight yet, and I probably will the more that I continue to expand my horizons with the foods that I eat. I choose my happiness and my health over this fantasy of having a perfect body. I have made peace with my reality and have accepted it. That, to me, is a beautiful thing. I am so thankful for where I am at today.