A really nice thing happened at the gym this morning. Nicer even than the almost empty free weight area, although that was truly wonderful and appreciated. But not as a nice as a body image breakthrough, of sorts.
But first, a little background for those who might be new here: I’m an apple shape, meaning I carry a disproportionate amount of weight in my middle. It didn’t look great 100 pounds ago, and it doesn’t really look that great now. And while I’ve mostly made peace with the deflated balloon look and the accompanying squish belly, there are times when I’m very self-conscious about it. Sometimes mildly, but sometimes the unease is like a big wet blanket on my otherwise sparkly disposition.
But, bit by bit, I’ve been working on the discomfort, and I’ve come a long way. Part of that success is my own good sense (finding some, that is), but part of it comes from the stories and words of other people. Little sparks that fuel my spirit and make me think. Wonder. Accept. Embrace.
Lately, there have been quite a few of those sparks:
- Listening to The Body Shaming Epidemic, a podcast from Stuff Your Mom Never Told You with a thought-provoking discussion of fat-shaming and skinny-shaming and body image, in general.
- Watching Tamryn Brumfitt’s Kickstarter video in which she discusses her progress (what some might call “reverse progress”) from hating her body to loving it, and seeing myself reflected in her words and images. Thanks to the campaign, Tamryn will be making a documentary entitled Embrace to explore the body loathing problem and how we can change it. I, for one, can’t wait to see it. (Tamryn already has some powerful messages on her site, Body Image Movement).
- Reading Tony Posnanski’s story of finding a post-weight loss fairy tale ending that he hadn’t quite expected and having a similar realization.
- Cheering as I scrolled through Andrea@Imperfect Life’s 10 Reasons I Love My Ugly Body, in which she shares her body love in a sometimes poignant, sometimes funny way.
You see what I mean? That’s enough sparks to start a small fire, something like the one that showed up in my gym this morning as I was working my way through my first set (a single-leg deadlifts/single arm shoulder press chain) and noticed that my squish belly was showing against my t-shirt as I moved. Now, this normally might have me glancing around the gym to see if anyone else had noticed “the roll”. Because, you know, most people at the gym are just there waiting for an opportunity to see my squish belly, at which time they’ll either a) point and laugh, or b) whip out their cameras so they can turn me into a youtube sensation, or c) both a and b. (I never said I was rational.)
But none of that happened this morning, not even the self-conscious over-the-shoulder glances from yours truly. I just used the observation as a navel-into-spine reminder and kept right on going with my single-leg deadlifts. No “what-ifs”, no negativity, no pep talk needed. I was at peace with myself and simply didn’t care whether anyone was watching or what they thought about what they saw. All I wanted to do was keep moving.
THIS is how I envision myself living 99.2% of the time. (I am human, after all, and I don’t expect to be sparkly ALL the time.) As a rough estimate, I’d say I’m somewhere around the 85% mark now. I’ll take it…and keep right on moving.
Here’s one more spark, one that resonates loudly with me. It’s from Anne Lamott, one of my favorite authors and something of a personal hero for what she’s accomplished:
Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.
(Bold formatting is mine, but I’m reasonably certain Anne Lamott wouldn’t mind.)
In addition to creating my own sparks for my little world, I’m going to keep looking for them elsewhere, too, and you can be sure I’ll share them when I do! I hope you’ll do the same. If we create enough sparks and fan them like crazy people, we might start a small fire. One that grows and grows until ALL of us are experiencing the peace and liberation of self-acceptance. At least 99.2% of the time, anyway.