Body Talk

I don't floss but I don't get cavities.  I've never had anything like bronchitis or strep throat.  I don't get the flu shot and I don't get the flu.  I have vague memories of shivering and sweating in bed as a teenager so I may have had it before but it's been so long that I can't remember.  I have a stomach of iron and I don't know what heart burn or indigestion feels like because I've never had either.  Exactly one year ago I had surgery and was back at work in three weeks.  Like a perfect all knowing machine my body knew exactly what it needed to do to heal and get me back to living the life I love.   I can barely see my hand right in front of my face but it's correctable with contacts.  I have loud creaky knees and a sometimes bad back but I still climbed a really big mountain a few weeks ago.  It aggravated my old lady knees and I could barely walk for days days, but I was able to do it because my body allowed me to. 

It dawned on me around November of last year when people were being struck down left and right with illness that I hadn't been sick for a single solitary day in the calendar year 2014.  Not once.  I actually had to check my blog to find out that the last time I got sick enough with a cold to miss a day of work was January 2013 and it had been a year prior since I was sick before that.  Last month there was one occasion where I had a weird cough and another that I felt a little stuffy at night for a few days but nothing that materialized into anything requiring a day off work, medication or even tissues.  So what's my secret?  The truth is, I don't have one.  I am absolutely not perfect in my diet and exercise and I've only recently gotten more regular with vitamins.  When I'm not eating hamburgers the size of my head I have a solid awareness of what a healthy diet is and that's what I eat.  I exercise regularly except when I'd rather watch reality TV or snuggle in bed with a good book than work out.  There isn't always an explanation for good health just as there isn't always one when it's bad.

My first thought when I realized I haven't been sick in so long was Holy immune system you are really good!!  I'll probably get the plague, the measles or at least a really rotten cold for publicly acknowledging that I haven't been sick in two years; but it's the truth and it's pretty awesome. My second thought.  You are mighty ungrateful for someone who has been graced with such good health.

I know I'm lucky and I don't take my good health for granted.  I never did, although my actions told a slightly different story.  An unhealthy aversion to fat and calories dominated my life for a really long time but in my mind it wasn't a problem.  I wouldn't listen to anyone who said you have to put gas in your car in order to fuel it because I was getting away with it.  There was hardly any gas and yet there I was chugging along.  My trusty body stood up to the abuse like a champ and thrived in spite of my poor nutrition.  Things are different now.  Over the last year I had to accept this whole eat to live concept, but the voice in my head that drove my actions all those years remains.   I should be grateful for my good health.  I am grateful, but sometimes I have to ask myself; how truly grateful I can be when I don't love my body?

I love my body for what it has done but not at all for what it is and sadly, I have never loved any version of my body no matter the size.  I can pick up any journal I've ever written since I was ten years old and find something negative about my shape or weight.  My physical form is a vehicle for life but also a source of conflict.  It's like being trapped in an unwanted shell that you cannot escape.

One day I was in the bathroom using a hand mirror to stare at my butt when my husband walked in.  Let's be real.  I can't be the only woman who has ever done this.  Normally, I hide my hate sessions and would have quickly put the mirror down but I didn't bother.  He's heard me give every excuse in the book to avoid dinner and held me while I cried about my thighs.  There are really no secrets left when it comes to this and as much as he loves my body the way it is he already knows I don't.  He gave me a funny look.

"What? Haven't you ever used a hand mirror like this to look at your butt?"  I asked sarcastically because I already knew the answer.  Of course not.

It struck me as some otherworldly state of being not to have ever done such a thing because I really don't know what it's like to not hate my body.  I can't imagine an existence where I don't use a hand mirror so that I can hate-see my butt.  Where I don't avoid the mirror because I dread what I will see or am compelled to look so that I can shake my head in disgust.  I've pinched, criticized and compared for so many years that I don't even know what I look like anymore.  Objectively, I know that I am not this hideous creature I see in my head and that my harsh opinion is terribly skewed and therefore lacks merit.  I know this, and yet those negative thoughts still speak the loudest.  I've starved.  I've overexercised.  I've called myself fat.  The physical war is over, but the mental war inside my head won't quit and I haven't figured out how to shut off the voice telling me my body is not good enough. There is no reason that any woman at any size should look in the mirror and be so blinded that they can only see what needs fixing. Who's to blame?  How does this happen?  I can't very well blame the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show because this all started before I even knew what Victoria's Secret was.  I can't say that I'm not affected by those images, because I most definitely am, but it's so much more complex than that.  

I've loathed it to the moon and back but all it has ever shown me in return is love.  My body has never let me down.  It does everything it's supposed to do and I should love it wholeheartedly because that's what it deserves. My body deserves better.  I deserve better.  There are people with chronic and/or life threatening illnesses and people get sick every time the wind blows so it does feel kind of ridiculous to be so hung up on something like this.  I'm not one to cuss much, but really; I'm too old for this shit.  Life is too short to spend it hating the very thing that allows you to live.  I'm working on it.  That's really all I can say and hopefully one day I'll learn to appreciate my body for the amazing things it does and for what it looks like.


Nylse Esahc said...

Good post!!!

Tami said...

I think you are so gorgeous and it shocked me to hear that you struggle with how you feel about your body. I guess we all do at one point or another, and that's sad.

A Life Less Traveled said...

Sadly I understand not remembering a time when I didn't hate my body. But you are right to focus on all the great things our bodies do for us.

LaToya LouisvilleSlugger said...

Fabulous post girl. Although I do not look at my butt in the mirror (because it's non existent), I'm critical of me. Period. I'm making conscious efforts to not refer to myself as fat.

Newlyweds on a Budget said...

MY husband gets sick all the time whereas I only get sick when I contract it from him. I tell him it's because he's a germaphobe so he never allowed his immune system to build up, whereas I ate dirt as a kid : )
As for the body talk, that really makes me sad to hear, but I am happy that you realize how detrimental it is and that you're working on it. I remember throughout college and several years after college how much I struggled with my own body issues. I would say that turning 30 was a really big changing point for me. I would often nitpick at myself for gaining weight (I've been gaining about 4 pounds a year since I got married, which means I'm currently about 20 pounds heavier than when I got married 5 years ago). But I've realized that every time I would look at old pics, I would say "Wow look at how good I looked!" even thougjh, when I was that weight, I still thought I was heavy! How nuts right? It was like I could never appreciate my body in the moment. So this past year, I've really focused on just loving myself. I still weigh myself occasionally, but I am working out consistently, being mindful of what I eat, and treating myself right. I need to keep loving myself and how I look and stop letting society tell me I'm not good enough because I'm not a size 0. Btw, I've seen your workout pics, and you have an AMAZING body. I love your gymnast arms, so I really hope that you work on seeing yourself the way others see you : )

Alex @ The Happy Homeowner said...

What you've said can ring true for almost any woman at some point during our lives. You're doing the best that you can and being patient which is huge! With more positive reminders and this type of effort, you'll be in a better place in no time. Kudos to you for sharing--being vulnerable isn't easy, but it sure is helpful when you're ready to make lasting changes. We'll be supporting you as best we can :)

Pegster said...

Body struggles are so real for everyone. I remember complaining about my body when I was like 20lbs lighter and today I wonder how I did that. I like this post so much. Our bodies are amazing and they do amazing things, we should totally be grateful for that.

Kim Jackson said...

I think this is something so many women struggle with, including me. But you're eating well and exercising so you're already on the right track. And you've recognized the changes you need to make in mindset so that's half the battle. Hang in there, you're gorgeous and I know your mental will catch up with your physical soon. xxk