I have worked out consistently and vigorously for over three months now. Despite exercise and a healthy diet, I haven’t lost a single pound. For the most part, I have been okay with my slow transformation though I still avoid looking at myself in mirrors. I do almost anything to avoid seeing a reflection that doesn’t match up with the investment I’ve made in my body.
So when I saw this photo of myself taken while I was story-telling on stage, my immediate reaction was heart wrenching disappointment.
Let’s be honest. In this moment, I’m doing something I love. I am sharing my soul with a crowded theater. I was being brave and funny, authentic and vulnerable. The theme of the night was “Envy” and I spoke about the jealousy I have for my BC (before cancer) body. In this moment, I was actually talking about the deep pain I felt over the deterioration of my health and fitness while I was going through cancer and subsequent pregnancy.
I shared how (comparatively) easy it was to train for the half Ironman races before. Heck, I talked about how much easier it was to get up a flight of stairs in those days. But I also talked about how strong and resilient I am now. Even though I obviously miss my capable body, I prefer the person I’ve become today.
Still, that picture bothered me. It made me frustrated that after all this effort and pain, I still inhabit this body. A body that weighs 250 pounds despite diet and loads of exercise. A body that is completely unrecognizable to me. A body that is often uncomfortable and always disobedient. A body that could not care less about the goals of my heart.
My body is a fixed anchor, immoveable despite all my best efforts.
This means I have to make a decision.
This is the body I live in. This is the body that gets me to the gym and through a workout. This is the body that survived disease, created three humans, and keeps me alive today. I can either find all the things I hate and want to change about it, or I can move on. I can choose to stay either in a place of self-loathing or I take the path of radical self-loving. If you know me at all, you already know where I land.
I am not deciding to love myself despite what is wrong with me. I am choosing to love myself; period. Yes, my composition is not the ideal, but there is NOTHING WRONG WITH ME. Let me be sure they heard me in the back- there is NOTHING wrong with being fat.
I am not denying my weight when I set it aside in favor of things that better define me. I am an athlete. I kick ass in the gym every day. I am training for a half ironman. If someone wants to shame me for my size, they had better understand who they are talking to first.
There is no reason in my mind why I can’t be beautiful. There is no reason I can’t take special care of myself or feel cute. There is no reason my competency, diligence, work ethic, values or personality should be in question. My size does not define the important things about me. Let’s be clear about that.
For too long, I let my weight lead. It was the first thing I thought about and I let it silence me. I let myself feel unworthy because I wear a size 18 or 20 or whatever. I couldn’t wait to get to the gym, workout hard, and slim my way down to a lovable size. I was so desperate to get back to a place where I felt I could be worthy of affection and respect because I believed people like me didn’t deserve it.
That is no longer happening. I have stopped thinking about myself in this critical light. I don’t hate myself. I don’t hate my size or weight. I am not waiting for the day when the scale validates me.
I am validating myself now. I know who I am. I am so many wonderful, powerful things. The relationship I have with my body is one of gratitude and challenge. I have gratitude in that I am so thankful to still be here today and to have these amazing children in my life. I seek challenge in that I am so ready to continue to raise the bar on my strength and endurance. (Mikey T wouldn’t let me get away with anything less anyway.)
Feeling fat made me want to hide. But I was not meant to be invisible. I was made to give and receive love. I will not be hidden any longer. Finally, I am ready to be seen.
Give ‘Em Hell
2 Comments Add yours
You are stronger than you realize….and this is YOUR year to rise strong. Are you face down in the arena? I am. Just found out today that I start chemo soon, so here I am, marred, bumped and bruised….scared of what this will do to me, scared of how this journey will go for me. I’m face down. What can I learn about this journey? What can I learn about others on their journey? (Which is what led me to your blog) and what can I learn about myself on this journey? Breast cancer (I have a very similar diagnosis as yours) has knocked me off my game for a bit. Body image (I lost 184# in 2015/16) is a bothersome issue no matter what your size, shape, color. Embrace who you are now so you can let go and move forward. With all you’ve been through I’m confident you have everything within you to get through this part of your journey and ROCK IT, sister!
You’re beautiful — and I hope you can let yourself enjoy that reality.
I’m touched and want to let you know a key regret — deep regret — has been worrying about the size and shape of my body through the years, so much so that I have, at times kept love at bay. At 56 — I am (touch wood) healthy. I know — with no touch wood ridiculousness — that I’m STRONG. Emotionally in a way that I hold and love others (including tough loving) and physically — absolutely victorious in a 4.2 kilometre windy, choppy, open water swim just 3 weeks ago in Ecuador,w/ another 2 km later that day). Thank you for writing so bravely and choosing to be who you are and claim your worth. Brava.