Coming out of the holidays, I used to return to the gym January 2 outfitted in a muumuu. Actually though! I would scrunch up my eyes and steadfastly avoid any mirror or reflective surface as I speedily changed in to my overly baggy or long-sleeve gym shirt.
I would do my first five or so workouts AWAY from the mirrors, and always finished an hour-long weight session with a punishing cardio regime.
Not this year.
This last year has been filled with SO MANY changes for me, that I had no choice but to let go of my obsessive gym tendencies. Beginning a full-time “big girl” job, while still maintaining three shifts a week serving, plus moving into my condo, plus getting a puppy, meant the gym took a back seat (and by backseat, I mean it was pushed out of the car and dragging pathetically on the road). I had less time to obsess over my body and what was going into my mouth. I had so little time, that the time I DID have, I was for once, adamant to not waste it all on the inside of a gym.
So I drank a little more wine. I ate a little more popcorn at the movies. I indulged in a little more pasta and cheese with my girlfriends at Mercato.
And do you know what happened? Nothing.
If anything at all, I have gained lean muscle and lost a bit of fat, likely because my body doesn’t fucking hate me for killing it with cardio while simultaneously starving it.
I have inched my way toward this freedom for YEARS and it certainly didn’t come overnight.
If someone has lost a single pound on it, I swear I have tried it. Some of my shining moments in my obsession with the perfect body:
- 1000 (or less) a day. Ayyyy this was actually the inception of my struggles with my body and the beginning of the deterioration of my relationship with food. I was 18, fresh out of high school when I decided it would be a great idea to lose weight. To do this, I wrote down everything I ate in a food diary, and if it was over 1000 calories I would belittle myself, and “make it up” the next day, by eating even less. I lost weight for the first time, gained attention and compliments, and boom– I was hooked on chasing an impossible ideal.
- Binging and purging. I danced with bulimia for many years, and for a long time, was extremely ashamed. However, what never fails to get me is the amount of people who have struggled through the same.
- Training for a fitness competition for four months with the sole goal of getting as skinny as possible. I missed out on so many things over those four months and did severe damage to some of my relationships. Even with an amazing trainer and coach by my side, my infatuation with being thin triumphed over her guidance AND my own rational sense, and I ended up doing extreme damage to both my mind and body, which still effects me to this day.
- Getting breast implants. HONESTLY. I spent upwards of $14,000 at age 22, in the middle of completing my university degree, in order to take another stab at “perfecting” my body. Do I wish that I had invested that money elsewhere? You better your implants I do. While I am absolutely supportive of plastic surgery, I got my boobs for textbook “wrong reasons”.
And let me be completely transparent with you, those lovely highlights are just some of the methods I have employed along this delightlyful journey to self-acceptance.
Everyone has their mentors and people they look up to. Typically, these are people who maintain ones “dream body”. I used to have these types of “role models” too, and would change my phone screen saver to this “perfect” woman. Now, my “role models” are women who have established a healthy relationship with food and who have worked hard on their brains in order to accept who they were, flaws and all. My trainer Tea, who has been trying to pound it into my pretty blonde head that food is not the devil since 2013, my girlfriend Stef, who has mastered the art of balance, and my friend Maria, who had battled (and won) against her own food-fearing demons and is now using her considerable platform to spread the word: food is your friend, are just a few of my personal role models these days, But make no mistake, I am finally grasping the fact that no one person has it all figured out, which is why I have dozens of people I look to for guidance.
Over the last few years, I have been acutely observing people who seem to have mastered a harmonious relationship with their body , and cherry-picking ideas, patterns, and ways of life, while slowly learning to apply them to my own.
These days, instead of constantly clawing at an impossible, unreachable ideal, I set my sights on something a little more accessible: self-love, for everything I am.
The point of this post is simply this: we all struggle. No one and nothing is perfect, and one person’s perfect is another person’s worst nightmare. Someone looked at you today and thought “Damn, I wish I had her eyes/lips/hair”. Instead of making your target perfection, maybe this year, shift gears and make your objective self-acceptance.
I have talked about this before, and I will I’m sure, speak on it again, because I am coming to understand that self-love is a muscle that needs to be constantly exercised, or else it will atrophy and shrivel away to nothing. I’m not even close to being where I want to be, but I am inching every day towards bettering my mind and being at peace with who and what I am.
It’s a tricky little bitch, but I would also bet my implants (among other things), that a healthy obsession with self-acceptance will serve us so much more than an obsession with an imagined perfection.