Breath of Fresh Air

A Breath oh Fresh Air

(Wo)man in the Mirror

on April 28, 2017

Life is full of lessons learned. But I realized this morning that some of those lessons are loops that seem to start us over at times.

But before this takes a wrong turn, let’s set up some rules:

  1. This is not about body shaming.
  2. This is not about anyone else’s body but mine.
  3. This is not about actually being fat.
  4. This is actually about self-perception and control.
  5. Last, I am not writing this to ignite or incite reactions – I can’t (and won’t) worry about being polite or politically correct if I plan to be personal and real, so please don’t morph my message and make it about anything other than my experience. If you don’t like what I say and how I say it that’s fine, because this post is about me and meant  to inspire anyone else maybe stuck in this same lopsided loop; so, long intro short, my message may not be for everyone.

Okay, now that we are all on the same page, I will say it without any filters: I have a fear of being fat.

My story starts back in high school. We all know this awkward stage where our bodies and minds are stuck between childhood and adulthood. It’s confusion and chaos and there isn’t much you can control. But… I looked real hard and found that if I threw out my lunches and or threw up my dinners, I could control my body. This is a dangerous tool for anyone, let alone a teenager. And while there are good tools for this, like mindful eating, moderation, and sensible exercise – those weren’t even phrases in my vocabulary let alone in my toolbox.

My parents found out and I started seeing a shrink. And then I started eating everything without a care in the world or taking a step on a treadmill. So I lost control which for me equaled gaining weight. I stayed on what I saw as the heavy side of the spectrum until senior year, when the urge to control something on the verge of even more changes reared its ugly head again, and I started an obsessive relationship with a Stairmaster. Seriously I would be on that machine for 2 hours a day. Of course, it only took living the college life to cure that.

For the next twenty years, in favor of all that was the party life, I stopped fighting with control and my body altogether. While this wasn’t healthy, from my “fat” standpoint (or as we now are starting to understand it a need to control everything), it was better than before, because I stopped seeing and fearing my “fat” self. Unfortunately it was for the wrong reasons, because really I stopped seeing myself at all.

Let’s fast forward from this scene to 2012.

In 2012 as you know by now I gave up drinking. And I went from a size 10/12 to a 2/4 so swiftly that some people thought I was sick. Suddenly I was skinny. And it was empowering. It was magic. And what I can (am trying to…) see now that I couldn’t then was that this meant way too much to me.

Because then I quit smoking and the sugar intake I was getting from the alcohol screamed for supplementation. I developed a sweet tooth and felt that since I was controlling my drinking and smoking the rest of my life needed to be a free for all.

So I spent the next year or so switching back and forth into seats on this seesaw; fighting an imaginary enemy. My heroes finally enter the story in the summer of 2013. They were the owners and trainers at a personal training studio called Rush Performance, and they taught me a healthy approach and perspective to combat my “fear of fat”. I learned about my body. I got strong as shit. And I started to love my body. Better yet, I started to accept my body and found that for me, being strong and sitting at a size six was my happy place (aka a harmony that still has a place for ice cream). Sure, I could exert more self-control and be smaller, but at what cost? Ice cream? Forget that. I was forty something and fit and that was my fine. And I want(ed) to help others find their fine, so I became a Personal Trainer.

So you are probably wondering why this is about a fear of being fat. But as I told you in the beginning, this is not about being fat. This is actually about self-perception and control. So let’s get to my truth.

When I look in the mirror, I still see my former “fat” self. I still am shocked when I see pictures or videos of how I actually look. So that old monster mindset is still alive and well somewhere deep inside. And yesterday she and I spoke again for the first time in a while.

Recently I changed up my workouts to include more interval training and running, and I started seeing new results. But… new results are dangerous to me, because they invite control back into my life in a non-conducive way. So when I went to the chiropractor yesterday who is helping my spine re-align for better long term health, all I could hear was the short term instructions not to run or jump at least for a week.

WHAT?!?!!? My “fine” self screamed. No way. Not now. (not ever!). Long term health over new results now? I started to spin out: if I stopped for a week or more, what would happen? Would the girl I see in my mirror come back? Well, I can’t risk  or let that happen. Fuck it, said one of my Gemini twins.

Thankfully though, I have another side: the twin who responds with reason. Her voice used to be softer than the other twin’s, but now I have the tools to hear her more. So I am sticking with the long term game, but I am still afraid. After all, it doesn’t have to be rational for us to react. Triggers don’t discriminate.

So today I set a goal to sweat without jumping. Or running. And I succeeded. But right now this is a one day at a time battle for me, and a lesson in redirecting my need to control things to instead fuel my path to my better perspective. But I won’t lie. I am afraid as I write this that tomorrow I will put on a pair of pants and they won’t fit. It’s ridiculous, I know. But it is real because I feel it. And all of our feelings are valid – even the vicious ones.

I am not fat. Most people will say I was never fat. And again, what does fat have to do with any of this? The answer (has always been) is nothing. It isn’t about fat. It is about a fear of losing control; a fear of becoming my former self – physically and mentally.

mirror 2And if I am trying to be better than I was yesterday, I have to face this fear and find a way to replace it with facts. So my fact is that today, I faced my fear.

And tomorrow, when I put on my pants, I will face it again. And each day I will practice controlling the anxiety while I learn the new lesson from this loop:  to let go of the fear, and find freedom in my good habits that fulfill the forever me(s) in my mirror.

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