The Shape of You
I know...body acceptance. I'm a big fan.
I'm also a big fan of eating cold pizza in bed.
It's like, in my head, I feel like I look like a combination of Angelina Jolie (a la Lara Croft), and maybe a little like John Cena when I do that triceps machine with the rope. Wicked swol man.
But you know that funhouse mirror that all gyms have that make you question your own sanity? The one that makes you look like Shrek from all angles? I've written a strongly worded letter to my Representative about having them forcibly removed from any gym I attend.
How does one become that perfect shape when you just discovered that DeFazio's just started making gelato?
The cognitive dissonance that occurs as I order Grubhub on my way home from the YMCA is astounding. I really want those mac and cheese balls, and I really want Gal Gadot arms. Both are shapes I want in and on me.
Obviously, I want to get in shape before I go to the gym because I'm in that phase of life where I'm essentially like pregnant actresses in the 90's hiding behind big purses and oversized vases in foyers so no one sees how horizontal I really am these days. At what point does sucking "it" in count as a core exercise?
I'm trying, I think. I do living room workouts when I work from home, mostly to prevent the bedsores that accompany watching an entire season of Girlboss in one day. There was a minute last Monday when I realized that I was doing these leg lift things whilst reclined on my couch and also eating popcorn.
My dedication to health is of legend and song.
And yeah, I know, health anxiety...blah blah blah, it was hard for me to go to the gym because I thought I was going to die, blah blah. That's real, but we've hashed that out.
Wait, this is important. I really did almost die at the gym on two different occasions:
Once, when I was 20-ish and actually ran, I was on a treadmill after lifeguarding at a local college. There were some ROTC lookin' fellas doing their thing in their little short shorts, and I thought I would just look like that cooly aloof, all sexily sweaty girl who's just there trying to keep it tight. I did that thing that sporty girls like me do, like an athletes mating call: I turned my machine up to run faster, then lifted the front of my t-shirt up to wipe my face, showing off my glistening abs (read: oversized men's tank top).
I'm sure you know where this is going.
Mid wipe, I stepped on to the stationary part of the treadmill, overcompensated, landed straight down on my knees, was propelled about a mile backward, and went ass straight over tea kettle in what I believe the kids call a garage sale.
I left the gym as soon as I found my left shoe and my dignity, and moved to Colorado.
The second time I almost died at the gym was a few years ago at Planet Fitness. They have this machine that you sit on, stack some weights and pull down with your arms, while you lift up with your legs, using your body weight to work your abs or something. Imagine if the Spanish Inquisition and Jillian Michaels had a baby, and that baby was really into masochism on the weekends.
I looked at the machine, and in the back of my head I heard, "MMMMY MIND'S TELLING ME NOOOO...." (#r.kelly), but I got on because I had worked out three days in a row and was pretty much ready for the Olympics.
I did precisely one crunch, farted, got in my car and promptly sold my house and moved.
I think my point, dare I actually have one, would be that I think we should all try to love the skin we're in, but if you want a change, get at it. Just know that all change is hard, if not down right daunting.
I'm not patient with myself, and am learning that I may need more support in life than I let on. This health crap is no exception. It's a mental game, and the load is that much lighter to carry when we have support from people we trust and value. Support, I'm finding, is less about a text from your girls with a thousand heart emojis telling you how fierce you are for drinking that green smoothie, and maybe more about someone sitting with you and saying, "I don't know if I understand, but this is important to you, so it's important to me."
One of my new friends is knee deep in prepping for a competition, and the prep requires very strict eating guidelines, and very specific and intense workouts. I'm exhausted just hearing about it.
I like this broad. Her dedication to this is inspiring and very interesting. Since I don't feel bad about drinking a gallon of wine right in her face, I did, and I asked if it's hard to have fun when she's in this preparation stage. It turns out that you can have fun without drinking (??), and the hard part about this is less about what she can't do than it is about what people don't want to see about what she is doing.
It's hard not to be seen, especially when you want the people around you to know what your day was like and they aren't interested. What some people can't see in my friend is that this work is empowering, rewarding, and gives her a sense of fulfillment that we should all be lucky to have someday.
I may not have the same exact goals or the same little journey to go on, but what's the difference between my work and hers? Not much. I want to be seen on my journey too. We all do.
We all want to be loved and valued for who we are...all that mushy nonsense...and we all want a lot of air high fives when we're trying to make a change.
Admittedly, I'm not the greatest at knowing how to ask for that kind of support, but I'm trying. It's cool to see the people in my life trying to have those same conversations. They're messy and awkward, and can feel sort of sticky, but it's so worth it when the person across from you says, "I hear you, and I'm going to try because I care."
I have done enough work these days to know deep down (when I'm not full of processed foods and cheap wine) that I'm worthy of love and belonging, even when I look a little more like Peter Griffin than I would like. So the changes I'm making, I hope, are less out of desperation or about flaws that Instagram tells me I have, and more about wanting that feeling of the Lara Croft/John Cena that I see sometimes when the mood light is right.
I hope you like the shape of you. Remember that everyone who has seen you, has actually seen you. It's a silly thing to say, but if they have working eyeballs, your showing up without six-pack abs won't be a shock or a disappointment. And if it is, while you're waiting for your Uber to scoop you away from whatever ass of a person you're with, tell them about the time I fell off a treadmill. That's always a good one to put things into perspective.