Monday, April 16, 2012

I have hated my body since puberty.

It has never been what it was "supposed" to be. It was slow. It was behind. Certain things showed up late (or, in some cases, barely at all). It was too chubby HERE and too flat THERE. I remember being maybe 14, and how my best friend and I would grab our lower belly "flab" and say "if only we could just move it UP or BEHIND..."

I think I was 12 the first time I went on a diet. I lost 10 pounds in about two weeks. My parents promised me a pair of roller blades if I lost 10 pounds, so I did.

I gained it back, of course. And then some. But at least I had roller blades.

I can't lose 10 pounds in two weeks anymore (not being 12 will do that to you). But I also no longer grab my tummy flab and wish I could turn it into larger breasts or a more impressive tush. I'm happy with my small breasts (hey, I'll be perky long after others have sagged...), and I have quite a nice rear end now, thank you very much.

I'm also slowly finding that the tummy flab itself doesn't bother me so much anymore. In fact, the things that I used to hate... well... it hardly seems worth it.

Don't get me wrong. I still have so many days that I wish my body could be different. But slowly, as I age, the idea of hating my body just seems self defeating. I only get the one. I only get maybe a century in which to use it. I've wasted almost 3 decades in self loathing, and nobody is guaranteed their full century anyway.

I am learning to focus on my strengths instead. The lean muscle of my legs. The way my abdomen is starting to curve in instead of out. How solid my arms have become. How far my feet can carry me in a day, how my lungs are learning to expand to hold the oxygen they need to run, to climb, to hike, and to really live.

I cannot sustain a diet. I have tried. I cannot sustain a "fitness regime." I have tried. But I think I can sustain a healthful, positive approach to my body; one that focuses more on what my body CAN do and what can help it optimize potential, rather than one that focuses on weaknesses, failures, pain, and deprivation. I hate to exercise, but I love to do activities that make me feel powerful and alive. Both burn calories, but only one is going to actually get done on a regular basis, and only one is really going to make me happy.

It's funny. I got my monthly issue of Cooking Light magazine a few days ago. I flipped through it, and all of the talk of calories, restrictions, and diets just turned me off. I ended up tossing it in the recycling bin without pulling out recipes as I usually do. I'm tired of the negativity and the internal put-downs. I want better for myself.
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