This year I am embarking on a slightly different adventure. I thought long and hard about my body, my fitness level, my extra bodyfat, my thoughts on body image and my own internal struggles with a desire to not conform for the sake of conforming. I have long had a desire to get in better shape, but I don’t really act on it. I may think about it a lot, even make a few steps here or there but very rarely have I made an actual push to lose weight. I have not been on any diets save the raw food thing (and that was for spiritual not physical reasons, though it had great physical side effects) although I have certainly pondered many over the years. But in the end, any diet or fitness regime required a level of commitment I just didn’t have, despite not being totally happy with my body. It took me many years to realize that a big part of this is a holdover from my experience with ballet, my strong feminist leanings, and where the two interact.
I had a pivotal experience when I was 15 at my fairly well known dance school, wherein I was told by the director of the school that the reason I had not gotten into the audition-only summer program (that I had been in the year previous) was because “you’ve gotten fat, didn’t you notice?” No joke, those were her exact words. As a psychologically tender 15yo (especially shaky given that I had lost my father a year before), these words were incredibly devastating. I had until that point had every (relatively reasonable) expectation of a career in dance. This turned my world upside down and let me wondering what to do to address this.
I should explain a bit here: I was 5’2″, and had gone from 98 pounds to 108 pounds. I was maybe a size two. I am currently 155 pounds and I am not overly unhappy with my curves. Certainly at 125 (years later) I was very happy, and got a good amount of admiration for my body. However, at that time, somehow 108 was “fat” to this woman, something objectively at the time I knew was absurd. See, despite my love, infatuation, and overall adoration of ballet, I still had a very strong feminist-raised ME inside…and that me saw two choices: 1) obsess over my weight, try to diet and workout to fit a ridiculous and unrealistic ideal pushed on me by others, and give myself an eating disorder and huge psychological problems for life or 2) say FUCK YOU to the ballet establishment. I chose option 2. This meant that I spent several years totally unmoored with no idea what to do with my life, as well as resulting in my eating a ton of junk all the time, no longer dancing or working out at all, pretty much in a direct, quite unhealthy bodywise, rebellion. I gained 50 pounds in a bit over a year. I embraced dating and blossomed in my sexuality now that I had time to be social. Over the years I lost a good amount of the junk food weight and stabilized around 130. However I was never quite okay with not working out, not being able to use my body in the way I was used to. Getting winded easily SUCKS and it hit me like a punch in the face every time it happened.
Quite a few years later, after two pregnancies and a stressful dissolution of my marriage, I am back up to 155, almost as much as I weighed when pregnant with my second – and slightly more than I weighed in my first pregnancy. Still, it took me some time to get to the point where I was willing to let go of my “OMG losing weight = conforming to patriarchal standards” mindset and finally want to DO something about all this excess fat I am carrying around and the non-fit state I am in.
I know from experience that some changes are very easy for me and others never happen. One of the things I do very easily is classes. I am a pretty damn good salsa dancer now after knowing nothing before I started classes. One year, I just decided I was going to take some ballroom classes. Once I signed up, I continued nonstop, finding time and money. Commitment was never a question, it was easy. I also know eating healthy is very doable for me, and the raw food thing I did was a great lesson. I loved it while I was on it, but once social pressures hit, I didn’t have the necessary habits cemented to stick with it, and one of my main downfalls kicked in: my “all or nothing” mindset. Once I started slipping up, giving up altogether happened almost immediately. So I knew any changes I wanted to make, in order to be serious, needed to create commitment for me in a way that was “easy” for me, and needed to be about longlasting, habit-based lifestyle changes that were sustainable and reasonable.
Luckily for me, there’s a program that I already knew of from my years of reading. Fitness and nutrition, as well as all sorts of random body-function fun facts, have long been a huge archair interest for me, unsurprisingly. Years ago I discovered http://www.stumptuous.com, a website about weight lifting for women that I adore for both her vast knowledge and her hilarious, uncensored approach to writing about it. Through Krista I learned about Dr. John Berardi, and was impressed with his focus on basics first, and his article on the compliance grid which I thought was brilliantly simple. Several years ago when Krista left the academia world to work for Dr. Berardi at Precision Nutrition, I knew a better endorsement could not be found. Still, I was not ready at that time to act. As the year came to a close however, I just knew…now is the right time. Spending $99 a month for a year – a previously “crazy” sum – now seemed perfectly reasonable. See, at the end of the day, I don’t need someone to creat a “perfect plan” for me. In fact I have quite enough knowledge to do so for myself. No, what I really need is someone to check in with my, every day, and say “hey, did you do simple step x today? Great, do that again tomorrow!”
And that is exactly what I have gotten, and I couldn’t be happier! I thought I would blog about this experience over 2012, however I probably won’t post overly frequently. I don’t want blogging to become more important to doing, and I know I need to be especially careful that I don’t let “oh well I didn’t post today so I may as well not bother doing this” stinking perfectionist thinking into my head! So, that’s all for now. 🙂