THE WEIGHT OF THINGS

Ever since I can remember I’ve struggled with my conceptions of my physical appearance. I’ve been curvy since those hormones smashed into me at age 12 & I swear if I just side glance a carbohydrate of any sort, my pants hug me a little tighter. I joke around with my mom that there’s some kind of crazy food survival gene in our dna, way back before electricity & grocery stores, our ancestors survived well on little food & constant activity.

I remember dieting like crazy in 2013 before Pow Wow, a big AA retreat out in Palm Springs. I bought a really cute bikini and didn’t dare to eat anything for days leading up to and during, knowing I was going to be wearing next to nothing most the time I was there! Pow Wow was fun. So many of my close friends were there, & I made deeper connections with new people.

A big group from Long Beach always goes, & knowing that bikinis were involved I purposely avoided it for many years. “Are you going to Pow Wow?!” friends would ask excitedly. “No, not me. It’s not my thing,” I would answer which was partially true, it’s stupid hot in Palm Springs in June even in the pool. Who signs up for that? I also knew what it would bring up. I didn’t want to face it. But for some reason that year I dug in & set a goal for myself, to lose weight, & do the unimaginable: To feel comfortable in a bathing suit in public. I think that this mindset was growth, not all the way to self love, but part of the journey to get there.

I look back on the pictures, & can see my physical body & how thin I looked. But I also see the look in my eyes & remember how I felt. Alone. Desperate. Confused. Sad. Even though I was thin I wasn’t happy. Gasp, right?

I still wasn’t enough. It didn’t matter how much weight I lost. There was something deep inside me that wasn’t fully healed.

Giving birth to my son has put me on a different path. Being pregnant was liberating. There was no more, “just me.” What I ate & the physical activity I took directly affected this growing baby inside of me.

It wasn’t all about me anymore.

I truly believe that one of the keys to growth & change is unselfishness.

I gave birth & when you have a small infant to care for, you’re too busy to be obsessive about the way you look. I stopped straight ironing my hair on the regular. I stopped wearing heels. The baby weight didn’t go anywhere. I realized that there are much more important things in life than looking like a magazine cover.

I started becoming obsessed with esteemable acts & with self care instead of the way I look on the outside.

Those esteemable acts started in early sobriety. Whenever I would bring up my low self esteem, my sponsor in Long Beach would always point me in that direction. I witnessed this in action as I watched her with us (her sponsees), at AA functions, & everywhere else. She liked to have fun but you better believe that she was there to serve too. Like a muscle to be worked, the more I focus on helping others & self care, more whole I grow. It’s taken me a long time to get to this place. I didn’t really choose to get here, although I’m so grateful I did. I never wanted to do esteemable acts instead of thinking about myself all the time. It’s way more natural for me to be selfish than unselfish! Now, there’s hardly anything else I’d rather do than meet with a sponsee. I relish the opportunity to focus on helping someone else rather than think about all of my “problems.” Please.

My sponsor here in Oregon talks a lot about self care. Her sponsor used to ask her, “what have you done for self care today?” Thank goodness for this & the lesson it’s taught me. Many days I ask myself that same question. Sometimes the answer is a gluten free cupcake & sleep. Most days the answer is working out the way I need to work out & eating the foods that will fuel my body. We are all different & what works for me may not work for you.

Food was a place I went to when things got dark. Now food is fuel. Self care is nourishment. If I want to live a healthy life, then healthy food is the answer. I still eat crazy stuff, I just try to focus on what works for my own body for the most part.

Instead of trying to look like someone else, which is sort of crazy since they are them & I am me, I focus on having goals. Who the fork cares how much I weigh? What I do care about is if I can balance in handstand for 10 seconds. If I have to lift weights to get myself there then so be it. If running & weight lifting makes me into a stronger yogi, then I’m all over it. Having goals takes the pressure of what size I am or my measurements. My goals are to be strong in different ways, not to wear a size 2 or get rid of all of my cellulite.

Last year in May I asked a photographer friend to take some pictures of me practicing yoga. It was fun, we went to Portland & she got a lot of good shots. I remember before the shoot, having that anxiety, just like before Pow Wow, like I needed to lose more weight. How were these pictures going to turn out?

They turned out amazing, yes, but some were cringeworthy. I noticed the extra weight, the softness, the wide curves. This is my body, I remember thinking. It’s okay. Last Summer, they opened the pools in our neighborhood & it was the longest stretch I’ve ever had with not really caring about what I looked like half naked. Like, this is just it man. Embrace it. Granted, I wear a conservative “mom suit,” out there for the most part & no one is there some days, but still.

I’m okay with how I look. Maybe because I’m okay with who I am. Are all of the cliches true? They must be.

Fast forward to now, I try to eat protein & veggies for the most part, I intermittent fast, I run 3 times a week, I work out a different body part four days a week, & my class load ranges from 8-10 classes per week. I take 2 or 3 days off. Is it a lot? For me, yes. It’s been a slow process to be this active. My clothes fit better. My injuries feel better. I have a lot of energy. I feel strong which was my goal. Do I still have curves & cellulite? Hell yeah I do, I’m 41 so that probably will not change. Do I still get tired? Yes. Do I eat gluten free chocolate chip cookies? Again, yes.

I’ve taken my time writing this post because I know how much weight talking about diets & exercise carries. It’s an emotionally charged subject & I don’t bring it up lightly.

Wishing all of you out there lots of self love which is more important than the way you look.

~Namaste

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BONDAGE OF SELF

Someone may see a glossy picture of me on social media & think that whatever day I had, it was a good one. That I’m doing just fine. I have a solid higher power, a supportive family, my son, a supportive AA family, & duh, yoga. All this stuff is very true (& more) & I’m so grateful for it.

Spend some time with me & pry deeper, you may see more. Sadness, vulnerability, anger. Control. Lack of control. My side of the street. Resentments. Not letting go. Not letting go of the bondage of self. My friend from CA texted me last week:

Congrats on your 8 years smober! 🚭🚭😤 Can you believe we actually sucked on those nasty things? 😝

It struck me that, hell no I can’t believe it! If you still smoke, no judgement, it takes what it takes & I’ve been there, relishing the feeling of sucking that nicotine into my lungs. Some days I miss it still.

What I remember eight years ago, is picking a date to give smoking up, fully not believing that I could. I was 2 years sober when I decided to quit, I was down to a pack a day, when I drank I smoked 2 packs a day. Just dumping poison into my body. Sometimes I think continuous sobriety is just dumping less & less poison into yourself as time goes by, whether it’s physical or emotional.

My quit date came. I remember very clearly driving to work, a time period where I usually sucked down 2 cigarettes. I felt nervous & uneasy. I had my patch on & chewed my nicotine gum. I later learned that I was putting too much nicotine into my system so I dropped the patches & just stuck with the gum for a while.

I was used to taking a smoke break on the hour, cheating the system of the 2 ten minute breaks per 8 hour shift rule. My feet would hop towards the door & I would think, oh yeah I’m not smoking! This tic happened every half hour. What do people do on their breaks if they don’t smoke!?

Being at home was the worst. They say in the rooms, “sit on your hands,” & it was the first time that I actually sat in my hands in my apartment. It was excruciating to not grab my keys, run to my car to drive & buy a pack. It was excruciating not to act on this urge to smoke.

At meetings too. Was it ok to just hang out inside during the 10 minute break…&…talk to people? I don’t know, eat cookies? Uncomfortable as hell, but yes, yes it was. New habits formed & old habits dead. That last sentence sounds great, but it was SO HARD. I won’t ever forget.

These past couple weeks have been difficult. I’m back to sitting on my hands. I pulled out of my garage & knocked my side mirror off. I failed to show up for a friend when they really needed me. I’m not all the way “here.” I’m hurting. I’m slowly coming out of it.

I’m doing the best I can.

It’s okay to be honest about it & it’s okay to feel this way.

A really rad definition of vulnerable I came across according to urban dictionary:

vulnerable

Someone who is completely and rawly open, unguarded with their heart, mind, and soul. Being vulnerable happens when you trust completely. Rather its vulnerability by pain or joy, it’s being exposed with all of the emotions that make it easy for someone (someone you trust) to really do some emotional damage or healing.. Vulnerability is the surrender of all control and personal power in regards to letting someone close enough to destroy you!

Lol, a little dramatic, but you get it. It sums up much of what I feel here & now. I cling to those constants in life, the non material things I’m grateful for in the above first paragraph. I’m learning about myself. I’m being healed. I let go one day & not the next, but I believe my higher power will fill up all my imperfections.

Hoping all of you out there are doing better than me, er, I mean learning valuable life lessons & getting all mature, eh?

Peace, love, & always:

~Namaste