Over the years my personal pinnacle of unattainable perfection was my size.
When I was young I wanted to dance, and my curves put me on the outs of a passion and made me feel foreign in a family that possessed women who were sinewy thin in their youth. My curves were sexy, something I didn't feel belonged to me--a nerd who was passionate about straight A's and reading. I dressed for my body, all v-necks and form fitting cotton, but I was playing a part. It didn't feel like me.
When I began to fail in college for the first time at my carefully constructed identity I didn't cope well. I drank and put on weight like a bear preparing for hibernation, and after gaining 25 pounds in a 3 month period-I suddenly found purpose and accomplishment in fitness. I thrilled in weight loss. A concrete, measurable, attainable goal. My element. Moderation not being my strong suit I became obsessed. Obsessed. After I lost my last 5 vanity pounds, I went after the next 5 and so it went in pursuit of that sinewy thinness that to me suggested belonging, until I found myself glaring at a Dietician who dared to suggest to me that I might have a problem.
Over the course of the past 6 years, from that couch in an office in East Lansing to the one where I sit typing this in a tank and skivvies I've come a long way. From seeing health and fitness as a means to an end of some unattainable perfection to seeing it as a lifestyle that makes me feel energized and connected to the world around me. Slowly learning about myself along the way, and with that learning came first an appreciation, then a love. But I didn't realize how far I'd come until I found myself out one night with a friend. A friend who had recently been on a weight loss bender-and she was thin to begin with. It was all quinoa/spinach all the time.
I was proud she wanted to get healthier, but when she went on a 20 minute diatribe in front of some friends about the final 3 pounds she couldn't get off I realized something-vanity weight loss is boring-and for years this is what I had sounded like.
Weight loss for the sake of your health is exciting, it implies that you are moving to a healthier and more positive future. Fitness to achieve a goal is admirable and fun. Weight loss for vanities sake, for conversation's sake to draw attention to yourself, pounds no one notices but you-those actually demonstrate that you want to shrink away from the world. And if you want to shrink away from yourself, won't others as well?
I could feel my eyes glazing over as the conversation went on and on, a veritable odyssey of the 7 pound journey.
Was this what I have sounded like over the years? How in God's name did I delude myself into thinking my goal was about health and not about attention? Was going cold turkey on all forms of fat while consuming vodka drink after vodka drink really someone who wanted to get healthy?
I think that conversation, and seeing the extreme in someone else, an extreme I was personally familiar with reminded me of how important moderation is, and why its something I am consciously bringing into my life.
Because moving from an extreme obsession with size to an appreciation of my body and a desire to be healthy is really when my life and my perception of it began to change.
So what do you think about weight loss? Moderation? Fitness is there such a thing as fitness for attention instead of fitness for health?