WEEKLY STATS Weight: 153.5 Waist: 33.5″ Hips: 40.75″ Thighs: 22.25″
Week Twelve officially ended yesterday. While I have kept up with my Pilates Body Boost, it doesn’t exactly feel like it because it’s been so long since we took our regular round of photos and since I recorded my workouts on my tabulation sheet. It’s funny what I feel is missing because of those tasks. While the actions of the project are still in practice, I don’t feel the same sense of engagement. Or maybe it’s because the results of my efforts are not what I expected. Basically, I’m still the same size, even a little bigger right now thanks to the upheaval of travel. Although each and every benefit of my project has been noted and celebrated, I was really hoping to fit in the majority of my pants again. And so far, that isn’t happening. So I’m having to face some music which is bringing up a fair amount of personal reflection.
When I am feeling most despondent, I think some pretty self-defeating thoughts. Here are some of them, with the internal dialogue that brings me back to sensibility.
“what does it say about me that I cannot control my weight and my physical form given my career choice?” Perhaps that I’m a normal version of the middle class, small business owner – mom? Perhaps that I’m not excessively-controlling when it comes to what I eat? Perhaps that my weight is not my top priority? Perhaps that my physical form is an ever-changing expression of the multi-faceted me? Perhaps that I’ve got my priorities focused on the substance, rather than the form, of my life? But all that still isn’t enough to soothe my bruised ego. After two years of wearing clothing that was more than less supposed to be a stopgap, I’m ready for a little boost in the form of some more flattering outfits. Perspective is important: this is largely a superficial problem. My frustrations have initiated enough serious inquiry which consistently brings me to a good conclusion: I like my life. I like what I’m doing. (I certainly suffer from impatience when outcomes do not materialize as soon as I’d like – but that is a different topic). So if all the important stuff is in place, then perhaps I need to dedicate a wee bit more attention to style. It is amazing what strategic apparel choices do for my sense of attractiveness and yet I tend to opt for frump. So I’ve got a plan. I whipped up a shirt on Thursday that I’ve decided will be my new go-to. It’s flattering, comfortable, easy for nursing, and comes together in an hour or less. I copied Anthony Lilore‘s flawless design off the one actual top that I snagged before he and Celeste stopped offering them. Now I just have to make about ten…that should do it. Maybe some with sleeves. Maybe a tunic or two as well.
The thing is that I’m still dressing like somebody with a perfectly flat stomach. And that’s just silly because I do not (and never really did) have a flat stomach. Outside of the context of my profession and the clothing that I wear mostly as a result of it, I’m content with my physical shape. It’s largely the clothing that’s the problem. I know that I’m not the only one who is done with hip huggers and tight tees! And while on the one hand, I do take clothing as a legitimate and worthwhile measure of my weight and whatever that may say about my health, I am comfortably in the range of healthy. And given the appropriate clothing, or none at all, I’m not an unattractive weight either. So much of my current frustration is based on two outlying years in my late twenties when I was really skinny. Why was I so skinny then? I thought that it was the Pilates but I guess that I’ll never know. But those years were a departure from my norm and much to my frustration, I’ve been thinking of them as my personal standard. Had I a different personality, a different value set, a different way of living my life, I could probably figure out how to get back to that shape. Bu the whole point of this project was to arrive at my personal ideal, within the context of my life. So I’m doing some adjusting to the stuff that is adjustable because it seems that my body is staying put right where it is. Ultra high rise pants, here I come!
There is another part of my profession that has influenced by self-perception as it comes to weight and that is the relationships that my clients have to their bodies. Given that I’m a fitness instructor, I’ve worked with a fair number of folks who are hyper vigilant about controlling their weight. These folks seem to rely heavily on the calories-in-calories-out philosophy, which doesn’t work for me (literally and philosophically). While I do see portion control as a reasonable strategy, I’m unwilling to reduce what I eat to the point of deprivation just so my pants fit. And while I can certainly understand that it makes sense to eat at a level corresponding to our physical output, I know that other factors cause us to carry extra pounds around (in my case, hormonal shifts have been the main cause, but I’ve known plenty of people whose drug therapies dramatically and irreversibly altered their body chemistry resulting in significant weight gain). I’ve also worked with a fair number of people who have been frustrated by their lack of control over their weight. Somewhere in my mind I decided that I’d rather be the person who was in control rather than the person who one day woke up surprised at the extra twenty pounds they were lugging around. Giving in to the truth of my size and my disinclination to control it to the extent that would yield the results I’ve been hoping for feels like a submission that I may regret years down the line. But it also feels like the sensible thing to do. I have exhausted all options. I’m not interested in continuing to hit my head against bricks. Here’s what I will continue to do. I will continue to be careful about how much I eat. i will continue to strive to make healthier choices which translates to more vegetables, always more vegetables! I will keep track of my weight for the sake of keeping tabs on the pounds that creep on one year at a time. And most of all, I will maintain a vigorous Pilates practice because it supports me in all the right ways. I really like having a standard that I hold myself to. It’s so easy to forego a workout here and there, but having the framework of this project has helped me honor my commitment to my health amidst the busy days of our lives and I’ve seen the benefits over and over again.
“My stress levels must be so high that my body is not functioning properly.” This is a depressing notion, but probably fairly accurate. It has been a tough couple years for me. All the more reason to maintain my Pilates practice. I shudder to think where I’d be without that! Probably the best antidote to these thoughts is to get out of my own head either by moving my body, or by interacting with the world at large. In doing that I see that every person I know is facing their own challenges. Somehow this is normalizing. It’s rather shameful to admit, but knowing that I’m not alone in having challenges is a comfort. And it’s a large part of why I share what I do here. I figure that if I’m having these thoughts, others are too and they might be relieved to know that.
“My body is reflecting the unhealthy choice of nursing for two years and counting.” These kinds of thoughts are so dangerous because they do the real damage inside my head. When I put it in writing it seems pretty obvious that the idea itself is unverifiable. And yet so many of our choices around our bodies are made by the incomplete information that gives way to such notions. I do not tend to be a thorough researcher. I tend to be the sort of person who looks for bits of information that seem sensible and then I marinate on them, I draw secondary conclusions, I make connections. (Yes, I realize that in the process of absolving myself of any responsibility for erroneous information, I may have just undermined my credibility here. I believe that full disclosure is best.) My point is that the supporting information for this idea has come from a piece of advice that came from my gifted and rather eccentric acupuncturist. I did not ask her follow up questions when she told me that it is not correct, nor healthy to nurse a baby past six months. I should have. But my doubt in her assertion held my tongue. So, festering around in my head is the idea that I’m somehow doing something unhealthy by continuing to produce milk while my body is back onto the task of procreation. And I’ve been feeling bad about myself on some level because of it. My point in sharing this is to air out the cobwebs of one unproductive thought, and to illustrate that sometimes it is a good exercise to shine the light into all the nooks and crannies of our mental processes so that we can really address what is driving our self perceptions.
Before I was a mom I thought of childbearing as a sacrifice. Now I realize that it is so much more than that. It is a gift. And a major life change. I don’t think that it’s possible to become a mom and to remain the same. What changes is unique to each relationship, but the circumstances, the priorities, and the day to day reality all are subject to the change. Right now, I’m processing this reality with respect to my body, but in truth I’ve been engaged in some form of integration since I became pregnant. Life in general could be described as a gradual but constant process of transformation, but being a parent seems to amplify that experience for me. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but it is so significant that it bears mention because so much of my life right now is about being a mom. Clearly my body reflects this reality. I could approach my figure with a controlling spirit, but if there’s one thing that relating to my son and husband has taught me it’s that control is a myth. Engagement, self-awareness, and authenticity, those approaches to being are supportive in building strong familial bonds. If I apply the same approach to my relationship to myself and my body, then I’m laying a solid foundation for those relationships outside myself as well.
Thanks for reading. I’m glad to be on this journey. I’m glad to have a space to share it and to keep me on track. Health and wellness are such personal realities. In sharing our personal stories we realize how much we have in common and supply ourselves with the fortitude to face our most difficult challenges.