I want to look this good while jogging.

12249791_933253183418267_42356753895184106_n

I blatantly stole this image off Facebook, because I want to be this woman.

I look at her legs and her flat stomach and I want to be her. I want to look like that.

A stranger in a Facebook group for entrepreneurs told me I was beautiful after looking at the photos on my website, and my first inclination was not to be flattered or say thank you, but to explain it away… Great makeup guy, good lighting, and photoshop.

I’ve been doing OK lately, really. I’ve been exercising consistently, and not as any kind of punitive measure or even as any kind of “I’m going to trade exercise for food” game.  I’ve been not dieting and not really bingeing. Much.

OK, I did make those things where you put peanut butter cookie dough in a mini muffin tin and then press a Hershey’s kiss in the middle while they’re warm, and I ate like six of them.

But other than that…

(That’s actually a scary thing I haven’t faced yet: being responsible/normal/in-control around foods I normally binge on. One step at a time…)

I realized I’m not ready to count calories. I may never be. I’m trying to be OK with that.

I am writing down what I eat and weighing myself as the book says to do. I need to focus on that for another week at least — maybe until the holidays are over — before I move into swapping out other activities for bingeing. But I feel like I’m making progress.

I’ve been pruning and curating the media I consume. I’m getting rid of traditional women’s magazines and even food magazines. I’m replacing weight loss feeds with recovery feeds on my Facebook.

But one I haven’t got rid of yet is the Whole30 people on Facebook. That’s where that pretty girl up top came from. In her testimonial, she talks about how great she felt doing Whole30, and how it shaved minutes off her 5k time.

And she admits that she doesn’t normally look like that while she’s running.

But still, I want to be her.  I want to look like her. I want to feel happy and excited about running instead of just being proud that I dragged my ass out of bed and made it to the gym without falling asleep or forgetting my pants.

And so I’m going to unfollow Whole30 today.  No offense, Whole30.  It’s not you.

It’s me.

F*ck You, Ms. Peavey

I cried in yoga class today.

This is not a first. It’s not even new. In fact, since starting yoga and therapy simultaneously, I’ve cried at least every other time I’ve gone.

Feelings hide in our bones, our muscles, in our tissues and sinew.

You think just because you were able to swallow that pride, blink back your tears, bite back your anger that it just went away? Nope. It becomes a part of you.

Until you let it out.

So, I was in a bridge, and my instructor came around and adjusted me, and suddenly the bridge was a lot harder.  And I felt angry tears welling up.

You suck at this. You can’t do this. Your body isn’t right for this. You should just give up and stop. 

Wow. I know that refrain. I didn’t explore it too deeply because, hey, I’m still working on this whole feeling my feelings business and didn’t particularly feel like feeling them in front of the whole yoga class.

But when I got to the car, I let it all go.  And it kept going…

…the whole drive home…

…while I took off my shoes and got ready to shower…

…and into the shower.

And as I was trying to let myself feel it, I finally landed on an image of why I was feeling what I was feeling: Elementary school PE class.

Spoiler alert: I hated PE class.

Twice a week for six years of my life, I went to Ms. Peavey’s gym to see what fresh hell awaited me. Group games and sports weren’t too bad.  I didn’t hate dodgeball or deck tennis, but I didn’t love them. Anything that called for me to do something in front of the class? Major anxiety inducer.

But the worst were the physical fitness tests.  Looking back on it, Ms. Peavey could have handled these things a lot better. I get that they were state (or possibly federal?) mandated tests, and I get that there were certain ranges we were supposed to fall into to pass.

But did we have to do the tests in front of the whole class? Did she have to weigh us and measure our body fat with the cruel, pinching caliper in front of two dozen scrutinizing peers?

What exactly was the point of the pull-up test when we never ever practiced pull-ups, or even regularly did any sort of arm-strengthening exercises? Just to test our natural arm strength? News flash: I have none.

And what — dear God someone please tell me — was the value in having us run the mile and then line up in order of our times?

I was dead last.  For six years.

Forget the fact that I had asthma. Forget the fact that I was not naturally an athletic kid, and therefore did not participate in any sort of extracurricular sports.

I thought there was something wrong with me. I thought there was something wrong with my body that it didn’t perform up to the President’s standards. (It was called the Presidential Fitness Test.) I thought there was something wrong with me that all my classmates could pass the tests, but I couldn’t.

And for a smart girl, it was doubly jarring to not be good at something in school.

But here’s the real kicker: No one ever told me differently.

I don’t remember anyone ever telling me that I could practice these things and get stronger, and do better on the tests if I wanted to. I don’t remember anyone ever encouraging me. I remember thinking that was it; if I couldn’t do a pull-up, I would never be able to do a pull-up.

I remember thinking Ms. Peavey hated me. That she wanted me to fail. That she singled me out to shame me into doing better somehow.  I remember, in fifth or sixth grade, deciding to walk the entire mile, not even jogging, and say screw it.

If I’m going to fail, I’m going to fail on my terms.

Fourth through sixth grade, I was in the gifted and talented program, and every Thursday, they bussed us to a different school for special programming.  I remember every single year hoping and praying that my class would have PE on Thursdays so I could miss out on at least one torture session a week.

Nope.  I missed art (which we only got once a week) for three years straight. I wonder if they figured we were getting enough creative expression in the G&T program.

It baffles me that I am still angry about all of this 25 years later.

And yet it doesn’t.

The extra weight around my middle is anger.  It’s anger and sadness and shame that I’ve tried to stuff down with food for 25 years. It’s the physical manifestation of being taught to believe my body was somehow not up to par, that I didn’t live up to what someone else thought I should be.

Well, fuck you, Ms. Peavey, wherever you are. Fuck you, Presidential Fitness Test. Fuck you, classmates who laughed and pointed fingers.

I am not broken. There is nothing wrong with my body. I am perfect and whole and almost miraculously capable.

And it only took me 25 years (and counting) to figure that out.

“The Fats”

Had my picture made today at work. And not just a simple passport-photo-type picture, either. No no. They told us to “get our sexy on” for the cute cube signs that everybody has.

Naturally, this led to a case of the fats.

Yup! Suddenly, nothing I own fit correctly or looked good on my body. Suddenly I had lumps where no lumps had previously been evident. Suddenly — I was staring in the mirror at the almost-200-pound girl I was eight years ago.

It’s so easy for me to slip back into that mindset. When I have a case of the fats, I can look into the mirror and see a twisted, distorted, exaggerated view of myself that would put a funhouse mirror to shame.

When I sit down and separate out the distortions from the true underlying feelings, I realize that, although I have made enormous progress toward never ever seeing that fat girl in the mirror for real again, I am still not entirely comfortable with the way I’m taking care of my body. I’ve regained some of the weight it took me so long to take off, and that’s not being fair to myself.

So, as of today, I have recommitted myself toward a mindfulness toward my body, my eating habits, and my physical activity that I have been sorely lacking of late. I have come to terms (mostly) with the fact that I will never be one of those girls who can eat whatever, whenever, and still be slim. To reach a balance with myself, I will have to pay attention every step of the way.

And really, is that such a bad thing?

Yoga Today, Yesterday

I intended to start integrating yoga into my days last week, but after coming down with an infection that made bending––or indeed, moving much at all––unpleasant, I put it off until yesterday afternoon.

I had downloaded a class from Yoga Today, a web site that provides a new, free, one-hour yoga class every day for beginning and intermediate yoga practice.   If you have iTunes, you can just go to the iTunes store and search for Yoga Today; from there, you can download a single episode, or subscribe to them and receive them automatically every day.

I was really impressed with the class.  The poses were hard, but not too hard (though we did stop when the instructor said, “And now we’ll move into some head stands,”) for beginners, the instructor was clear and concise and offered suggestions for modifying the poses if they became too difficult.  There are some commercials at the beginning of the video, which, I assume, is how they can offer the classes for free, but the class itself is offered without interruption.

Today, I feel pleasantly aware of my muscles––not sore, exactly, but aware when I move certain ways that those muscles received a work out.  I also kind of liked the positive affirmations that the instructor gave as we practiced.  They may have been a little touchy-feely for my husband, but I found them positive and they made me want to keep working.

The classes change daily, and you can download them in different formats if iTunes is not for you.  Also, the site archives about a week’s worth of classes, so if you miss a day, or the day’s offering is not to your liking, you can always download a different class.

Frankly, this is one of the best free-content sites for fitness I’ve found.  Any other suggestions for free online fitness solutions?  Let me know in the comments.