Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My Body

It's the New Year.  As we all know the new year brings with it new (and old) resolutions.  Some people want to stop smoking, others learn yoga, travel, meditate, find a partner/break up with a partner...the list goes on and on.  But the number one resolution that seems to be pouring from newspapers, TV, the Internet, and people's lips is to...wait for it...LOOSE WEIGHT!  Now, I can't lie.  That is kind of one my resolutions as well and has been for the past 2-3 years.  But, being inundated with constant messages about loosing weight to feel great in the New Year got me thinking about my relationship with my body.  If I had to give it a Facebook status I would say "it's complicated."

I'm 6'3" - I've mentioned this before I'm sure.  I am also a female (just in case you forgot).  My hair is curly, my skin is brown, and my mouth is loud.   Over the years I have loved, hated, despised, embraced, hated, despised, loved, embraced, hated, get the body.  During the down times I realize I detested my body because I felt it did not look or feel feminine enough.  My body was too tall, my shoulders too broad, my hair too short - or if long it was too curly and big, my weight too high.  OH WEIGHT - really it mostly boiled down to that fact that I was just too damn big to be feminine.  To be a female and be comfortable in my femaleness.  Even at my leanest I still, at times, felt too big because my body was strong and muscular due to long sessions at the gym and on the trail and the woman around me small and petite and able to fit into a size 6

But, it's a new year after all and so I decided a new year needs new ideas and beginnings.  For the past three years I have belittled myself internally for gaining and loosing weight.  For starting and stopping training programs.  For allowing stress and school/work to get in the way of my body's well being.  But all that has left me with is frustrations, self-doubt, and a pain in my ass (from the sciatica).  Then I read two interesting articles that, after letting them ruminate in my mind for a bit, made me rethink this whole resolution thing.

The first was a blog post from Jezebel called "A Call to Arms (and Abs, Quads, Calves and Shoulders)."  The author writes about her own frustrations with lady fitness magazines always having articles about loosing weight - and not about being ft and healthy.  For a woman, working out = loosing weight and looking good FOR OTHER PEOPLE.  But what about all the women who work out to build muscle, jump higher, run longer/faster, climb better, swim harder.  What about women who work out cause they want a strong body that allows them to keep moving into old age?  What about woman who want to challenge their mind, body and soul?  Who want to push their limits and see what they can do?  What about all the women who dont' give a rat's ass about being a size 2 but want to see if they can bench 200lbs?

Reading that article over and over again I realized...shit that's me!  I want to see how long I can run for, how much I can push my physical and mental being.  I want to see muscle replace fat in order to make my body move in ways I can only imagine. I want to be 70, 80, hell maybe even 90 and running ultramarathons in random places around the globe.  I realized, finally, I just want to be me.

But, I was only half way there.  I still saw myself as a fat slob, a blob, that was doomed to repeat this damn cycle over and over again.  During the holiday season I was gluttonous - eating whatever was in front of me and drinking even more. I constantly woke up hungover, either from food, drink or both.  I told myself I was "relaxing," but really I was depressing (myself).  I ran once, lifted twice, and felt like shit three times over.

Then New Years Eve hit and I looked at Mike and said, "Dude after tonight I can't keep doing this.  Something's not right and I feel like crap."  Mike looked at me and replied, "That's good but you got to start loving yourself more for this to stick.  You got to love you for you now, and not what you want to be."  DAMN...the truth hurts.

Three days later, as if the universe wanted to smack my upside the head some more, I saw an article in the Daily Mail (yes I read it sometimes) about...loving yourself slim.  Basically it was the long form of Mike's advice - you can't reach your goals until you love yourself for who you are at that moment.  It makes sense really.  How am I going to lean out, and stay lean, if I am constantly critiquing and ridiculing my body?  How am I going to run longer if I keep telling myself I am to slow, to big, to knock-kneed to increase the miles?  It's self-sabotaging.  If I think I am fat and will always be fat and will never be able to run past a certain mileage or a certain time then I won't.  Why?  Because the slightest hick-up will be made into an end-all-be all, an all or nothing and I'll fall off the wagon (again).  It's with anything in life.

Finally, I saw an article (the same night) in The Guardian about bad-ass Ironman athlete Chrissie Wellington.  This woman has won Kona three times (the first win was her first time in the race), has set numerous records around the goal, and is just overall my hero.  She makes no qualms about her body and embraces her faults.  She strives to push her body to the limits and is considered by many to be the greatest female endurance athlete on the planet.  Not bad for a woman who didn't even start doing athletics until her 20s!

I guess the point of this long rant is that I decided to make a new, New Years Resolution.  Instead of striving to loose X amount of weight in Y amount of time and getting frustrated if that does not happen, I instead resolve to love my body more.  Just pure and simple LOVE.  LOVE every inch of my height, every amount of flesh, every strand of my curly (quickly greying) hair.  In doing so I make it a priority to treat my body with respect - and respect for me is washing it, caring for it, watching what I put in my body, and working it out so it does not become stiff and underused.  The more I love my body the more my body will love me.  I think that's a resolution I can, and should, stick to.

What do you resolve to do in 2011?


Sam said...

Sounds like a good resolution to me. That Mike -- he is a wise one.

Angela said...

Nicole....I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. All of it is so true and totally hits home. Loving yourself no matter what size you are or level of fitness you are is one of the hardest things to do. Thanks for this post----it is incredibly motivating!