Wednesday, November 07, 2012
Last night I left BodyCombat, sweaty and beet-red, with a burning hip and a little fear that I'd overdone it, when I saw a friend. We got to chatting about the assorted classes offered by the gym and the various instructors and members of the classes. Over the course of the conversation we admitted that it helps to be in the front of the class to keep our brains from slipping into judgment mode. You've probably been there. It's an ugly place.
You're working hard, working as hard as you physically can, and you notice that the person in front of you is also working incredibly hard. But your own exhaustion and insecurity teams up and instead of cheering them on in your brain, your mind goes, "Look at that dude/guy/woman/etc. Um, did you even see how your butt looked when you put those pants on before coming to class?"
Whoa. That's ugly right there. And super mean.
I work on it. I'm working on it now. Hard. I mentioned to my friend that part of my journey toward body acceptance means accepting ALL bodies, not just my own. Obsessing over them is so unhealthy. And it's mean.
And, honestly, it's really just a reflection of my own insecurities. Picking on someone else when I'm sweating and feeling like I'm going to puke just makes me feel better. Bad. I know it's bad.
A lot of things about my inner voice are a reflection of how twisted I let my brain become on this journey towards health. Competition is one of them.
I know that competition is very often thought of as being positive. If you see the guy next to you working hard, you try to keep up. He tries to keep up with you. It's a feedback loop and you both get stronger! RIGHT??
For me it goes more like this:
Me: Awesome Husband! (I usually call him baby). My friend just started running/powerlifting/circuit training/boxing/CrossFit etc!!
AH: Oh that's wonderful! Good for them!
Me: No Awesome Husband. You don't understand! What if friend gets stronger/faster/thinner/health
ier/sexier than me??!?
AH: Baby.............what you're saying is insane and unhealthy.
Me: I KNOW. But still............
That exchange, writing it, makes me chuckle a little. But it absolutely happened.
It absolutely happened like.............twelve times.
In my journey towards health and fitness, I lost my way a little. It happens to a lot of us. Maybe even most of us. In trying to whip my body into shape, I forgot that my body isn't NEARLY the most important thing in my life. Not at all. Certainly it accomplishes its purpose and I'm proud of what it's capable of and how hard I work to keep it healthy. But the way it LOOKS should not be the focus of my life. And the fear of it not stacking up to others is shallow.
I am competitive enough that my competitive spirit robs me of joy. It's one of the main reasons I won't join a CrossFit gym. Others being stronger than me would drive me mad and I'd end up hurt, trying to keep up. Again, that is shallow.
And I am competitive enough that a woman, or man, larger than I am, whose body has a different shape, working hard in class but not able to do what I do, makes me feel superior.
Loving myself and my body has been a difficult road. It's been more difficult then maybe I've ever let on in my blog. But loving my own body means admitting that bodies are very rarely perfect. And if I'm going to admit that about myself I had absolutely better be able to admit that about others.
My inner jerk torments me too, guys. When I see and ridicule flaws in others I am absolutely doing it to myself as well. I have to stop it. I have to learn to love what I am able to do and the skin I'm in. Nobody else will do that for me.
And I have to recognize that the people my insecure brain is ridiculing, they're working towards the same acceptance.
I think I learned a lesson walking out of the gym sweaty and red and gross. Sometimes that inner voice, that little Jiminy Cricket, sometimes that voice is a total jerk.
And sometimes you have to tell it to shut up until it can be more constructive.