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Real Body Image Talk

Hi. My name is Jessica and I have a problem.

I cannot look at my body without having some sort of criticism. Today, I found some broken blood vessel on my face. It looks like a freckle but up close, it isn’t. I stretched the skin around, inspected it as if I was a scientist, reviewing cells under a microscope. I found the vein. I leaned away from the mirror to see if it was noticeable as it was up close. All I could imagine were varicose veins plaguing my face, like some kind of connect-the-moles game. I started to relive fifth grade again. When the kids made fun of the moles on my face: “Moley! Moley! Moley!” mimicking Austin Powers.

I used to think I had strong, muscular legs. That was until I had a body fat analysis scan that revealed most of my fat is in my legs. Oh, and arms. Now all I see are sausage legs in my cycling kit. I don’t look fast. I look fat. I look like when you stuff a giant pillow into a tiny pillow case – seams and material stretching, pushing maximum density, as it curves into itself.

I am more self-conscious now in shorts knowing full well that there’s more fat than muscles. And I rub the sides of my thighs a lot as if I could rub away cellulite like you do with scuff marks on the floor. Once I scuffed the floor from my bike tires. I tried all different kinds of solutions believing one of them would finally wash away the black rubber streaked across the laminate wood flooring. Finally, I took a butter knife and etched away at the black.

I can’t etch away cellulite.

When I walk, I can feel my inner thighs rubbing together. I know it isn’t muscle because of how much it jiggles. It’s soft and flimsy like silly putty. Only I can’t mold my thighs like a stone statue. And my thighs smash into each other when I sit – doubling in size. I try not to look down when I’m sitting because I know I’ll see a single thigh. One giant, jiggly, fatty thigh.

And I eat another piece of chocolate.

My shirts lay against my stomach just right where I can see the little bump that no matter the number of crunches, planks, or skipped meals, it stays there. I constantly tug at my shirt to hide it, pulling material loose. Using two hands sometimes to stretch the material if it hugs my belly too tight.

I’ll dig my thumbs into my hips trying to find the bone. Then pinching the excess that peeks over my jeans. If no one’s around, I’ll lift my shirt high enough and stare and scrutinize my midsection. Twisting and turning to view every possible angle in a desperate search to find the most flattering. Tightening my stomach, pushing it out, and sucking it in to find the right amount of contraction it’ll take to make it look flat. But it never gets as flat as I want it to. I look down and see that fucking bump every day.

And my gaze travels up. Up to my back where skin folds along my bra strap. Months and months of back strengthening exercises and there’s still back fat leering. Months of attempting to cut portions, match my carb-to-protein ratio, and staring longingly at cookies. Sometimes, I’ll reach behind with a false sense of optimism believing that I’ll be unable to pinch anything.

I call my breasts “orangutan boobs” and now you’re picturing it. A sign of getting older and the effects of gravity. I joke their small size keeps me aero on the bike. Always self-deprecating. Never self-appreciating. I also joke about my “bingo flab,” also known as triceps.

Again with the months of Tricep exercises believing that one day I’ll defy gravity and there won’t be loose skin hanging below my arms. That when I do the first place stance my arms will look strong and mighty, not droopy.

And while I complain about all the physical limitations and imperfections of my body, I never apologize for taking up space. Rarely do I complain to the general public about the size of my thighs or the numerous moles on my face. And when I get really fucking down about my body, I remind myself that at least I have a working one. It takes a single accident to lose it all. With all the activities I do, my flabby stomach drops when I consider what it’d be like to no longer ride my bike, hike, run, stretch, walk, and take care of myself. At that moment my eyes look at the blue sky instead.

WTF: New Year Resolutions & Your “Why”

I venture to guess your New Year’s Resolution(s) is one or more of the following:

  • To lose # pounds
  • Exercise more
  • Find a new job
  • Start a new hobby
  • Eat more healthily
  • Learn a new skill
  • Quit something

These are all noble pursuits, but have you asked yourself “Why?”? Let’s go with the most popular: losing weight. Typically, people have a number. We’ll say you want to lose 30 pounds.

I’ll set the scene:

It’s December 31st and you’re at brunch with your friends sharing your New Year’s Resolutions. Everyone’s going around the circle saying they want to do this and that and it’s your turn. You say, “I want to lose 30 pounds,” and everyone’s stoked for you, like, “Yeah! Go get it!” “That’s a great goal!” “Good for you!” You’re feeling jazzed and motivated, thinking, “I’ll drop 30 pounds like it’s hot!”

You go home and share that with your family now that you’re excited from the conversation earlier. Your family is happy for you too and offer words of encouragement. “Sweet! Look at all this support I have!”

You party and wake up January 1st. You’re still motivated, albeit, a tad hungover. You go to the gym and see the hundreds of other people who have the same goal as you. You pick up some dumbbells and pump out 12 reps because that sounds right. You do that a few times. Then you jump on the treadmill for 30 minutes and call it a day.

You eat salad for lunch instead of the cheeseburger you’re used to eating.

And this goes on for about a month when you’re not seeing the results you thought you’d see. You become a little less motivated, cutting down gym time, and sliding those cheeseburgers back into the diet because at least you’re still going to the gym and you’re drinking more water.

By March, you’re back to your old habits: sleeping in on the weekends and cheeseburgers for lunch. You gained back the couple of pounds you lost in January and you’re back to thinking, “More cushion for the pushin’.”

Why do you so many New Year’s Resolutions fail?

Because we don’t have a Why.

 

We make resolutions because it’s the thing to do. We think of “nice-to-haves” and make it a goal, without regard to why we want to achieve that goal.

Back to losing weight. Why do you want to lose 30 pounds (pick your number)? How will this benefit you? How will it change you for the better? Who does this benefit? How will you feel once you lose 30 pounds? What will you do once you lose 30 pounds? Why 30 and not 40 or 10? What is special about that number?

Get crystal freaking clear on your resolution. Ask “Why?” until you know the answer deep down. You don’t have to explain yourself to anyone but yourself, but you do have to know your “Why?” Because if you don’t, it’ll fall to the wayside, just like any meaningless “goal” we create because we feel like we need to.

 

Be so clear you can taste it.

 

 

 

Need help setting realistic weight loss and exercise goals? Get at me: grinandgrindit@gmail.com