Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Body (Acceptance) Challenge

It's no secret that I, just like other women, suffer from bad body image and insecurity. Some of us use it as fuel to mold us into a societal size 6 (or lower), some of us wallow in it and pick at the things we don't like until they become mountains in our mind, and some of us learn to just go with what we've got and love it anyway.

For awhile I was part of the first group. I dieted, eating only salads and drinking only water or sports drinks and still only managed to be 158 pounds. After the first didn't work I became the second; I ate and ate, feeling sorry for myself, gaining more weight, stretch marks and giving myself bad acne with the sweet and fatty foods I kept consuming, making my weight balloon to 175, the highest weight I'd ever been.

Now, I'm in the third camp, and floundered with where to start, until I came across an article on how to feel more confident in bed. One of the items listed is to do chores naked, which, as I'm home alone a lot, I could do. And so, two weeks ago, I started doing my chores and morning and evening routines in the buff. At first I was embarrassed of my body; the stomach isn't flat and has stretch marks, the skin isn't perfectly clear, so on and so forth. I couldn't even look at myself that first week, but I kept at it. And now this week, it's like a lightbulb went off.

This is the only body I've got, and for all intents and purposes, it's fully functional. A lot of people can't say that. I have two strong legs, and a very strong back, and a mighty quick brain, and some people can't stand on their own, can't bend or stoop, can't make good decisions. I'm built how I'm meant to be built at this moment, but I could always be better.

So I started doing more; I started doing at least 30 minutes of cardio a day, in addition to light weight training and simple muscle exercises. The first week of the "working out" aspect of my body acceptance challenge is down, and my weight (which had ballooned to 171) is back down to "normal" at 165 but loving my body, and learning it has made me recognize I could do better than that. I don't expect to be what my BMI says I should be (about 120 pounds), but I could settle at 150 and be happy, and so that's where I'm shooting. I don't want to be extraordinarily thin, or a size 6; I want to be happy and confident in myself and if I could get there (and stay there)? That would make me happy.

I learned portion control when someone bought a box of fried chicken and sides into the house. Where I'd normally take a three piece dark, and almost half a plate of sides, I took one piece, a small handful of fries and a small glass of sweet tea. I've learned to opt for the healthier snacks, as the sugary ones make me feel sluggish if I have too much; seriously, a pack of mini-donuts made me mad because I wanted them so bad but just couldn't bring myself to eat them with a couple of ripe bananas sitting on my countertop. I'm learning to take cues from my head and not my stomach, which is a lot harder than it sounds, but makes you feel a lot more proud of yourself.

Speaking of, having a support system is important. Tarzan told me once that if I were to lose weight (or stay the same or gain) he'd love me anyway and think I wasn't bad to look at. Put to the test with the body challenge, he's been there every step of the way, encouraging me when I don't think I can do anymore or go any further. He's there when I want to give up, letting me know I can do better. He's there, letting me know he's proud of the changes I'm making for me, which a lot of people wouldn't be there for.

The big thing to take away from the body challenge is that it doesn't end. Whether you want to exercise or not, whether you want to do chores naked, or not, you have to keep going. Even when it gets hard and even when you're tempted with fattening, succulent food, remember your goal and what you're trying to accomplish overall: confidence. Have at it!

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