Usually, I reserve Fridays for recipes, but recently a realization that I can’t shake took root in my brain. I keep coming back to it, running my fingers over it, examining it from all sides. It’s definitely worth exploring. I know you’ll give me a pass for not talking about food for one week. I’m pulling back the curtain a little bit, exposing a little bit of vulnerability. We can talk all things munch-able next week.
Last week, I went out with my friend M, for coffee. I met M at the gym almost a year ago after sweating beside her in numerous Zumba classes. I’m really enjoying our friendship. It’s a challenge making friends as an adult. There have been numerous articles about making friends in adulthood, everything from “How-to’s” and “Why is this so hard?”. And of course, there are separate articles for us mother’s out there, including chatter about the pitfalls of trying to break into pre-established mommy circles. Hello, Odd Mom Out, much? Yeah. Totally that.
SN: I love Jill Kargman and would “lurve” to have gay bagels and wine with her.
With M, however, it’s been really organic and fluid. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know her. She and I have both been MIA from the gym for the past three months — me, because I’ve been laid up recuperating from surgery and her because she recently had a baby. We finally finagled a time to meet and after catching one another up on summer activities, talk turned to getting back to the gym. Even though we are both educated, smart, well-rounded women, we still have these hang ups about ourselves, our bodies and how they should look. Even though we know that our lives and the well-being of our families doesn’t depend on whether or not we can fit into a certain size dress or what have you, we still want to fit into it. We also know that as moms, “9 months on, 9 months off”. We know all of the mantras, the positive self-talk affirmations, the body loving language that we need to incorporate into our daily lives. We know all of these things, but we still want our bodies to look a certain way.
It was an honest conversation about self-esteem or lack there-of, and body images, both positive and negative. I shared with her the aforementioned realization that has burrowed in my brain ever since I started back to the gym. See, about ten days ago, I got myself together to resume working out. My clothes, despite my best efforts to eat well, aren’t fitting as well as they did three months ago. I’d like to say that normally, it’s no big deal, but considering how hard I had worked to get into the best possible shape I could prior to surgery, it was definitely a blow to the self-esteem. Sure, I was reckless when it came to snacking and so forth. I even tried to tell myself that it was no big deal and that I would be lifting weights and pounding pavement sooner rather than later. I even told myself that I shouldn’t even worry about it until like, December. I gave myself, or at least tried to give myself, loopholes and ways out of worrying about my expanding waistline.
I know that your caloric intake can’t exceed your output if you expect to keep your buns in last years shorts. I know that and yet, I was still bent out shape when last years shorts didn’t make up over this years buns. I need to get out of my own head about it, though, but for every time I tell myself to stop worrying about it, I find another two or three clothing items that go into time-out until further notice.
So, what is it the grand realization that I had? Well, it occurred to me that I expect a lot out of my body. I expect it to perform well when I’m exercising. I expect it to “look good” when I dress it up. I expect it to support me when I’m carrying out my day-to-day activities. I expect it to do the most, 100% of the time, 110% of the time, 24 hrs a day, 365 days of the year, and yet, what I’ve realized is. . .*drumroll, please*
I talk shit about my body ALL. THE. TIME.
I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and wrinkle my nose because my tee-shirt is clinging to my stomach or my zipper is gaping at the top of my waistband or whatever body-image problem I create.
I try on some clothes in a department store and twist up my face when it doesn’t look like it did in the catalog.
I see someone else who is toner, taller, fitter, slimmer, stronger, and think, “Gah! Why doesn’t my body do those things? Why isn’t my body toner, taller, fitter, slimmer, stronger?”.
I talk SO. MUCH. SHIT. about my body.
I realized if my body were a person, if my body were a friend, and if I talked that much shit about my friends that way, I wouldn’t have any friends.
I expect so much of something that gives me so much and yet I don’t treat it well. I don’t respect it.
Sure, I eat well. I get enough sleep. I wear sunscreen. I wash my face before bed and make sure my satin bonnet covers my hair. I do the “right things”.
In terms of kindness, though? I’m not particularly kind.
If I’m perfectly honest, there are times when I don’t like my body. I can admit that I have poor body image and struggle with self-esteem, but those are bags best left unpacked for another day. I know that you can love something, but on occasion, not like what it does. You can love someone and sometimes not like what they do. I say that to the kids all of the time, “I love you, I just don’t like how you’re behaving, right now.” I know all of these things, but I don’t apply that same line of thinking to my body. I don’t treat my body the way I would treat a partner, a friend, or a child. I need to love my body, even if I don’t like how it’s behaving at the moment. Better yet, I need to love my body, full stop.
I need to get out of my own head. I need to stop acting as though my value is dependent on whether or not I can get into some skinny jeans, because it’s not. It’s just not.
I also think that I don’t want for the bulk of my morning or a significant portion of my day spent working out in pursuit of a goal that, at the end of the day really isn’t that important.
I want to be fit. I want to be healthy. I want to live a long life. I need to make the appropriate choices with respect to diet and exercise in order to do that, but I’ve got to get out of my own head about having to have a flat stomach or ripped arms or whatever it is.
My body is amazing. I’ve walked across graduation stages. I’ve run races and led fitness exercises. I’ve lifted boxes when I’ve moved. I’ve carried groceries and children, a bridal bouquet and a watermelon. I carried a watermelon. I’ve done so much and relied on my body for all of those things. I’ve never really thanked it for any of it. I’ve just asked it to do more, and be better, and be stronger without appreciating what it’s already done so far.
I wouldn’t want anyone to treat me that way — to constantly demand, demand, demand and then talk shit about me behind my back.
I wouldn’t dream of doing that to someone else, someone that I consider a friend and yet here we are.
So, when I shared all of this with M, the whole, “I talk shit about my body” line, she kind of looked at me, blinked and then burst out laughing. There’s truth in humor, and she got it. She’s been in the same position in trying to achieve a goal and to hear me articulate it like that, it was like, “Wow. What are really doing with ourselves?” And don’t even get me started on the potential impact our own negative self-talk can have on our daughters.
This morning, this was in my Pinterest feed:
So there it is.
If I can successfully navigate the gauntlet of making friends in adulthood, there is no reason I can’t be a better friend — no, just a friend period — to my body. I’m ready to get started.
How are you kind to yourself? Tell me all about it in the comments!
Did you get the “I carried a watermelon” reference without clicking on the link?
Yes? *high five*, BFF!