Fatness, fitness, and why I own 15 pairs of workout pants.
I don’t hate the gym. A lot of people do, and I really don’t. I’ve spent hours and hours of my life at the gym (wait, why are you laughing?…I totally have!) and as a result, there’s something kind of familiar and comfortable about it. I’ve gone through long stretches of waking up before the sun and wearily throwing on (one of a million pairs) of black yoga pants and a sports bra and driving down empty roads to a surprisingly crowded gym where I would sweat until it dripped on the floor around the treadmill and I felt like I had done enough work to earn my drive back home, where I would shower and go to work.
I didn’t hate it, but I was never healthy about it.
That pendulum swings back
The pendulum that had me religiously hitting the gym? Has also swung so far in that direction that I felt indebted, guilt-locked, and held hostage there. Did I look at bread today? That’s more time on the treadmill. Does your calorie counter say you’ve burned 800 calories yet? No? Then I don’t care how tired you are, get back on.
I’ve used the gym to punish myself. To repent for every ounce of weight on my frame. For every time I’ve been unable shop off the rack. For everyone who’s ever said a mean thing to me about my body.
And it wasn’t just the gym! If you’ve ever been a fat person on a mission to be anything but a fat person, you probably know the name, Jillian Michaels.
Honestly, her name fills my heart with dread to this day.
Now, I’m sure she’s a perfectly nice person, (or maybe she isn’t? I have no idea about anything other than her workout videos and her tactics on The Biggest Loser, both of which give me nightmares, so I suppose the jury is out) but I’m forever haunted by a little program called the 30 Day Shred.
Yep. Shred. Get SHREDDED. I’m not really sure what I expected, and honestly, the workout itself isn’t that horrific, but the name itself should have told me it WAS. NOT. FOR. ME. I’ve never been one to crave…shredding. I’ve always loved the soft parts of myself. There’s no part of me that’s extreme. I’ve never wanted washboard abs. I DO care if I pass out or vomit while working out (Jillian doesn’t, as she says so many times in a 30-minute workout).
Most of all, I didn’t like punishing my body for being fat. It made my head feel weird and my heart heavy.
From my body to my head
As with so many people who have struggled with body acceptance, I’ve struggled with treating myself well. Not just my body, my whole self. I’ve struggled with eating healthy foods and getting plenty of exercise, but I’ve also struggled with seeing my friends enough, and making time to read something not on a screen, and sleeping, and eating things with nutrients in them, and hydrating, and putting away my work computer at a reasonable hour, and all of the things that make for a healthy body and mind.
I know I’m not special in this regard. Most people neglect themselves in some way or another. But it was completely news to me – and maybe it is to some of you, too – that you can move your body with the sole purpose of helping your mind.
Not to get into a smaller jeans size or because you’re repenting for pizza consumption. Not so you can finally (finally!) feel worthy of anything. You can move your body because it reduces anxiety. Because going for a walk outside makes you happy. Guys. You can move your body because you think yoga is relaxing. That’s it! You can just do it because it makes you FEEL BETTER. Did you know??
I didn’t know!!
I didn’t know you could move your body without the intention of breaking it of “bad” habits or paying a debt to the “get skinny” gods. You can do it without limping away with penitent blisters. You can do it in a way that you enjoy. Can you IMAGINE??
Baby steps (outside and in pretty spaces)Okay, so this might not be news to everyone. Some people have a great relationship with fitness and do it because of the overall health benefits. That has never been me, and I have a feeling it’s never been some of you too. (Yep, I’m leaving that sentence just like that.)
Over the next month, I’m making it a goal to move. Not because I’m unhappy with my body, or to try to change it in any way. I want to get outside and see what I’ve been missing while I was trying to reduce myself on the treadmill. To intentionally seek the clarity that comes with inhaling fresh air. To fully appreciate the fact that my legs can move me from A to B. Release anxiety and refocus my mind. Because I love my body, not because I hate it.