Not the kind of retreat I had planned

This entry was going to come a good few months ago. I had it all outlined, talking about the latest progress in my workout experiment, what I’d achieved so far, and what would happen next.

If you’ve read any of my entries, you know the workout was to be done backwards (DVD months 9, 8 and 7, then months 1 through 6). Though I only wrote about months 9, 8, 7 and 1, I actually made it through up to part of month 3.

A few notes from that time:

I incorporated some cardio (not much, just started small, about 10 minutes each day). I struggled with some neck and lower back issues (which I blame on stress and an uncomfortable, crooked mattress). I also noticed a difference in my temperament when I didn’t get to work out, when internship and life ‘stuff’ got in the way and I made the choice not to exercise — I felt like the stresses got to me easier, I felt crabby, and my body wouldn’t loosen up.

I recognize that I will always need to work out because it lifts my mood and gives me energy. Food issues are a whole other topic and I have so much more work to do in order to fix that part of my life, but over the last 10 years or so I have come to need workouts. They are a constant in my life now. Even when I have to take some days off from it, unless I’m physically incapable I know I will always go back to it.

Despite my revelations about exercise, I continue to struggle with the emotional eating aspect. As the summer went on and the stresses increased, it felt like my brain shut down and the anxiety kicked in. I ate terribly. Too much, and not healthy foods. We’re talking fast food, here. Greasy, bad-for-you fast food.

And that is my huge issue. When I’m stressed, or upset, or super-anxious, my first thought is not, “How can I handle this stress and work through it in a smart, healthy manner?” I’m not sure my mind ever goes to that kind of thought process (though I need it to).

Instead, my brain’s immediate impulse is “What can I eat?” and the choices I run to are not always good. And it doesn’t matter if it makes me feel lousy — and that I know it makes me feel lousy — because my brain doesn’t stop to think about it; I just go there like autopilot.

Some days I don’t know how I’ll ever be free of that. Is it too fully ingrained in me? I don’t know. I sure the hell hope not! But it’s my biggest struggle.

The only positive thing I can say about it is that after the bad stuff, I go right back to my healthier patterns. The next day is a new day and I start out healthy again.

But the problem is, it’s not good to go back and forth like that. It doesn’t make for a balanced life, healthy body or mind.

Anyway, by that point I had made it halfway through month 3. I had 3 1/2 more months to go in my experiment, and lots I wanted to achieve.

And then it all fell apart.

Struggles, Realizations and Decisions (click to read more)

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Choices are everything

This was not going to be the subject of my next post.

I was going to be all organized and talk about the workout I’m doing and give a breakdown of each DVD and what it contains, and then have a post talking about ‘month 9’ and how it went and how I’m now on ‘month 8,’ all setting up the stage (so to speak) for semi-regular posting about my progress with all of that. I clung to that plan, making time to write it all up. It was going to be so structured and… blah blah blah.

But then today happened.

Actually, this week happened, and all of those plans went right out the window. (For now.)

What happened today?

I decided NOT TO WORK OUT.

*gasp*

*cue record coming to a screeching halt*

What?

I’m on a journey to lose weight and get in better shape and I deliberately chose not to work out? How is that possible? That’s not how this works! I have to get off my butt and get moving! I’m such a lazy bum!

No.

As with most things in life, it’s more complicated than what it seems on surface level. Since I’m all about digging past the surface level, I’m going to talk about why it’s more complicated. At least, why it’s more complicated today.

CLICK TO READ MORE

Stop being so damn hard on yourself!

Before I get into the whole song and dance about what steps I’m taking to take better care of myself, what has worked, where things have faltered on occasion, and start talking about that on a semi-regular basis, I want to explain a few things.

Today’s focus involves a ‘get up on the proverbial soapbox’ moment, to explain a piece of why this topic of body image and better health (physical and emotional) has become increasingly important to me.

For one thing, this is something I continue to work on every day, this inner mental tug-of-war between loathing and loving. It’s something I’ve struggled with since I was a kid.

However, I’m finding that sometimes my surroundings are at odds with what I’m trying to do to build up that positivity within.

I’m currently taking classes, working toward an associate’s degree in web design, and one of the classes I took last year was all about media and how things are presented in the media. My final project for the class involved a paper about how advertising often uses false images of women (doctored by programs like Photoshop) to the point that we desire to live up to an image that doesn’t really exist because it was made by computer software.

My research has found that eating disorder associations and the American Medical Association state that only about 5% of the female population is of the ‘model’ or ‘supermodel’ size. Five percent! That means 95% of us are something entirely different, and we’re not being properly represented.

Genetics have given the 5% long limbs and small hips and breasts, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that… that is their size and body type.

The problem is that the majority of the media does not present any other type of size or shape, so we grow up seeing this model size as if that is what we are all supposed to be, when in truth we are all individuals and there are far more sizes and shapes out there than we are shown.

There are things that we can do to shape ourselves, but some things we cannot change. How are we supposed to grow up with a healthy image of our bodies when we think there’s something wrong with us because ads and TV and film and media tell us that we’re all supposed to look like this one size and shape? Not to mention, it’s pretty damn boring to think we’re all supposed to be clones of one another, this single ‘perfect’ size and shape. It’s just not right. Sometimes I wish we could get the media to understand this and alter their approach. Some companies have taken baby steps, but it’s not enough.

Those of us who are working to lose weight are trying to get healthier and stronger and leaner, but perhaps we also have to come to be better friends with our own bodies. We can take care of ourselves and work to be our strongest and healthiest selves, but at the same time understand that there is absolutely nothing wrong with us. Even when we whittle away the fat and tone ourselves, what lies underneath is our own individual shape and size.

Some of us have curves, some of us are more narrow or straight in body shape, some of us are tall, some of us are short. I wish we could all learn to appreciate and love those shapes, whatever they are, and eventually understand and see that the world is made up of so many shapes and sizes and they are all wonderful and beautiful and powerful and strong.

Perhaps when we all learn this, we will stop being so hard on each other and on ourselves, trying to be something we are not, and instead we will be able to look in the mirror and say, “I like what I see. I like how I look. I like who I am. I’m taking care of myself and being my best self.”

Your thoughts?

A new year. A fresh start forward.

Originally posted on LiveJournal on January 21, 2013,
included here as a first post on this blog (interestingly, exactly one month later)…

A lot has happened in the past six months. As Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride would say, “Let me explain. (long pause) No. There is too much. Let me sum up.”

Where have I been? What have I been doing?

Still going to school. Only five classes left before I complete my associate degree in web design and development. Whoo!

Worked part-time for a year and a half. Due to some terrible circumstances, I lost my job. Am still dealing with the issues caused by that.

Currently working to create an online portfolio website for myself, for new job applications.

I lost almost 40 pounds in progress toward the six-month goal I gave myself in my dedication to working out and getting healthier. So much more to do in that regard, but it’s a very good start.

I brilliantly and gracefully injured myself, and had to stop working out. I gained back a little over 10 pounds of the weight that I’d lost.

I turned 40 years old.

I had my first mammogram, and ended up having to go through a series of mammograms, ultrasounds and biopsies to make sure what they found was not cancerous. To my great relief, it was not cancer. To my great annoyance and dismay, despite the help from insurance this health scare has caused me to wrack up some ugly medical bills and I am still dealing with that.

:::

As I say on the “About” page, that’s a lot of stuff to deal with, both the joyous and the not so much.

What I’ve learned so far in this journey is that time and patience are everything. There is no quick fix to be what you want to be or achieve what you want to achieve. It takes monster amounts of time, hard work, and the flexibility to understand that nothing may go as you want it to or expect it to. Sometimes life will take you in directions you hadn’t planned.

The trick seems to be: rather than fight your way backward to where you were before, find something good about your new location and move forward from there, wherever it may lead. Who knows? It may be just the direction you were meant to take, after all.

For better or for worse, here I am, at this point in my journey.

It’s a new day, a new year, and I’m ready to move forward again.