Friday, October 4, 2013

My journey with Body-Acceptance.
Watch her videos. They will make you happy.
Worrying about my appearance has been a lifelong struggle for me and everyone reading this, I presume. I'm not going to go too much into how badly our society treats us, because we all know how bad we feel about ourselves. We blame ourselves because we take the seeds planted everywhere outside the body and nurture the growth of self-hatred within it. Yeah, I blame "society" but I want to talk about how I've begun to internalize self-love instead of -loathe. WE make up society, so let's change the attitude of the collective one body-positive soul at a time.

I used to count calories. I used an app and logged every damn thing I ate. Did I lose weight? Maybe at best, I lost 3-5 pounds. Did I learn to hate eating? Yes. Did I avoid eating things so I wouldn't have to log them (how many peanuts is a serving? ah, fuck it. I'll just go take a nap.)? Yes. Was I constantly hungry? Yes. Well, ok, so there would be days that my allotted calorie intake was too high. I'd be full and satisfied but still have 750 calories left and wonder if I was starving myself without knowing it and then eat more than I wanted to eat. Most days I would hit my calorie-quota at like 5pm and be hungry the other 8 hours of my day (My bedtime is 1am.). Hunger causes headaches and crankiness. I was bitchy a lot of the time and for what? A measly couple of pounds? About a month ago I decided to try to count calories again after a hiatus. I did it for less than a week before I decided once and for all that I'm not doing that anymore. Suddenly it seemed so simple. Calorie-counting makes me nuts. It isn't enjoyable. Following numbers on an app instead of listening to my body and how much food it wants on any given day not only didn't work as a weight-loss tool, but made me hate eating. I typically take great joy in eating.

I now suffer from the earth-child belief that if I really listen to when my body wants food and when it's full and when it needs to eliminate waste (I have sphincter-shyness, so I kind of have to remind myself to poop.) I will be happy and healthy and weigh whatever it is I'm "supposed" to weigh. Since adopting this attitude I have been steadily losing a bit of weight. When I feel idle, I take a walk or pop in a bellydance or yoga DVD or Just Dance game. When I'm hungry, I eat, etc. Mindfulness is the key here, I think.

I just finished a three month long challenge a friend on Facebook started. We were all supposed to pick a fitness-related goal to be achieved in the months of July, August, and September. Most people chose a number to subtract from their bodies. I knew from the beginning that if I chose scale-digits, I would be setting myself up for self-loathing and disappointment. I chose to walk 900,000 steps in those three months, the equivalent of walking 10,000 steps/day for all but two days. I figured two days off were pretty reasonable. I've had a Fitbit (pedometer-type activity tracker) since April of last year and only ever really averaged 7-8,000 steps a day. Let me tell you, 10,000 steps a day is a bit of a feat. To get that number, I had to walk 45 minutes - an hour and a half per day. I picked up the habit of walking to work every day. I even started walking home for lunch on days I had an hour lunch. It takes about 15 minutes for me to walk from home to work or vise versa, so on 8-hour workdays I'd walk half my hour lunch break and another half hour total at the beginning and end of my shift. I also walk around at work a bit, though I'm sitting most of the day. These days I'd average about 12,000 steps. On days off if I don't take any walks whatsoever I average about 4,000 steps. On a brisk-paced walk, I get about 1,000 steps per 10 minutes so on days off I have to take at least two half-hour walks in order to get to my goal of 10,000. That's a lot of stats.

So what happened with the three-month goal of 900,000? I made it. I totally achieved that shizz and it was hard! I walk everywhere now. I only use my car now to get to my cleaning job on Thursdays and to run errands or go on road trips. I learned that I can walk to work in the middle of terrible August heat. Sure, I'm a bit sweatier/stinkier at work these days, but if anyone has noticed, they're being too polite to let me know. I learned that I can walk to work in the rain. I suspect that snow and cold won't be a problem either, come winter. I have a coat and boots. The 10,000 steps per day goal is also a number that doesn't always need to be achieved, however. If you're sick, you might want to listen to your body's pleas to sleep and drink OJ. On my cleaning job days I work really hard for 6 hours straight scrubbing and vacuuming and dusting, etc. At the end of 6 hours cleaning I might have only amassed 6,000 steps but I worked my ass off, so I think I can skip the 40 minute walk. Computing fitness can be helpful, but it's no match for listening to YOURSELF.

A big important message that seems so nauseatingly simple that I don't think many of us consciously realize it: OUR BODIES ARE OUR OWN. We can do with them whatever we please, no matter what the people around us tell us, both to our faces and behind our backs. I ultimately decided that walking to work is more important to me than showing up to work sweat-free and squeaky clean. I might be a bit red-faced and sweaty when I get there, but I'm invigorated with exercise and mentally ready for the day. If it feels like a no-bra day, I don't put on a bra. What the worst that could happen? I get cold and someone sees the definition of a nipple? OMG, not like we don't ALL have nipples.

It bears repetition: OUR BODIES BELONG TO US. I have the right to go braless or cultivate pit hair or wear glitter or take a nap at four in the afternoon and so do you. It's not even a matter of listening to our bodies...our bodies are ourselves. We need not fragment the whole of who we are; mind, body, soul. What's the fucking difference? If we listen to ourselves, we know what to do. Eat, sleep, move, nap, intellectualize, create. What do YOU want to do right now?

An' it harm none. Do what thou wilt.

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