I suspect that if I live long enough to get to die of a ripe and wrinkly old age I will regret that I wasted so much time and energy being frustrated with my body.
It's unwarranted, my disappointment with it, because it serves me so well. It works! No, I haven't put keeping it in its optimum condition a priority, but I can walk and move and see and feel and breathe.... From a vanity standpoint I don't think I'm conventionally cute, but I like my face and wouldn't change it. I should accept my body's size and shape and concentrate on being healthy and not get so critical. I know these things. But it doesn't matter sometimes what I know.
It's a weird line between getting motivated to change and being self-critical. I'm not in the shape I would like to be in, and it's hard not to feel like a failure about that. But if I'm too forgiving of myself in that regard then I'm less likely to do something different. There must be a happy midpoint in there, but instead I tend to ping pong over that net between the two extremes. I wish I didn't, because as I mentioned, it seems like a colossal waste of time.
I have been back on my 'paleo' (no grains, dairy, sugar, legumes, or processed foods) kick since the first of May. It does solve my problem with headaches so it's not a completely ridiculous thing to do, but it's not easy. My husband needed to lose weight for the Army so he did this plan with me this time, and annoyingly lost about as much weight in six weeks as I did in as many months. (Ugh, men. A friend told me her dad dropped twenty pounds and when she asked him about it he said, "I just had one scoop of ice cream at night instead of two!" Yeah.)
I am proud of myself for staying with the stupid food rules even while on our recent road trip. Those are hard restrictions to follow outside of my own house. I eat really well most days and enjoy some really nice food, but it's labor intensive making every meal. I make a good carrot soup, and zucchini strangely enough is a good substitute for noodles, and throw some pine nuts in with my curry stir fry and I'm happy. I start planning my meals around vegetables, and there is something really satisfying as I watch our groceries at the checkout because it's all produce and whole ingredients and just an occasional box of cereal for the kids, but otherwise it's eggs and apples and kale, etc.
But eating out is hard, and eating with other people is awkward. I end up eating my hamburger without a bun, and I can't have the chips or the dip or an ice cream cone. It looks silly and arbitrary (which it is, being self-imposed and not some medical need), and I fear unnecessarily draws other people's attention to what they are eating when they shouldn't have to. In my opinion it's rude to turn down food offered to you at someone's home, but on my trip I felt like I needed to do it and tried to not make it seem annoying or overly weird. I know people understand, but sticking to my salad while everyone else indulged in some outrageously good looking pizza was really tough. But I did it. I decided I've had pizza in my lifetime. I've had too much pizza. The couple of minutes of enjoying more pizza at this time does not outweigh my desire to fit into smaller clothes. Someday I will eat pizza again. Just not right now. So for the first time ever I came back from a vacation a little lighter than when I left. That's good.
But what's not good is the more weight I lose the more critical I seem to feel about my body. I can actually tell when my weight goes up a bit because I'm oddly more confident about my appearance. Why is that? What screwed up relationship do I have between my brain and my belly that I can't see or feel things clearly in this area? I just don't know.
As regularly as I can I swim at the Y in the mornings. Most often I do laps at the same time as the aqua-aerobics class which is populated with old ladies. (I suppose I should say Seniors, but my grandma used the term old lady and I just like it. I find it endearing and hope to live long enough to become an old lady.) I sort through an interesting collection of thoughts and emotions when I'm in the changing room with the aqua-aerobics class.
There is nothing that will make you feel better in a swimsuit than to be at the Y during aqua-aerobics. I see bodies that are large, lumpy, saggy, discolored, and all kinds of odd. My overweight, 43-year-old self seems quite young and fit in that environment.
Then I end up next to a lifeguard who appears to be about twelve with perfect skin and has thighs that don't rub together and I blend in better with the old ladies, lumps and all. I go from feeling sort of aghast that the people with such heavy or peculiar bodies are willing to be seen in bathing suits, to being impressed by how little it matters. It will seem crazy to me that they to want to be in public in such outfits, and then it seems just as crazy for them not to be out there baring themselves if they wish. They are not there for a beauty contest, they are there to get healthy and strong, and I admire that. In the end it's neither heroic nor an affront to fashion, all these different shapes in their different suits. It's just people living their lives.
The thing is, I intellectually understand where I want to be in terms of my own attitude and level of comfort with myself, and I can't figure out why I put as much importance on my body image as I do. Because I know, for a fact, that my love for other people is not dependent on their body shapes. I don't give a damn what size my mom or friends or brothers or cousins wear. I care in the sense that I'm interested in what matters to them, and if that's something that concerns them then I am concerned too. But I would love them at any weight or in any condition. I would not love someone less if their bodies were fat, thin, sick, healthy, or covered with tattoos. I'm quite sure none of the people in my life who love me do so based on my size. As long as my husband and kids want to be with me, I bet they feel whatever size I am is the right one. Which happens to be how I feel about them as well.
I suppose the trick is to be able to extend that kind of love to myself. I find it a little alarming that apparently I don't. In the meantime I will continue to pay attention to what I eat and keep exercising as part of a regular routine, because regardless of how I see myself (or don't see myself) I know what the right things I must do are to stay healthy. If I can't do that at the moment for love of myself, I will do it for those who love me back.