Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my goals; about who I want to be. And as I’ve been doing that, it’s been interesting to stay a little detached from my brain; to actively watch for the things that send me spiraling into obssession and self-destruction, for the things that make me feel bad about myself, for the things that I only want because I believe they’ll magically make me a whole different person.
I’ve noticed how often my goals have been about the way that I LOOKED, as opposed to what I could DO. (And by “often,” I mean “always.”) I won’t say that wanting to look different doesn’t still motivate me. There is definitely some straight-up vanity involved – and it IS vanity – it doesn’t have anything to do with being healthier. I want people to notice me when I walk down the street. But at the same time, I’m trying really, REALLY hard not to let that be the number one focus of my motivation. I’m trying really hard to build what I think of as “capability” goals: to do 10 (or 100) pushups (first I have to do ONE “real” one – sigh), to do a pull-up (or 10), to get back into the splits, etc.
Along those same lines, I have to remember that if/when I visualize myself in a thinner body, it WON’T MAGICALLY MAKE ME SOMEONE ELSE. (Go read “The Fantasy of Being Thin” over in the blogroll, under the section on Posts I Re-Read.) So every once in a while, when my jeans feel tight, or I’m tired or cranky or depressed, I close my eyes and imagine myself thinner, feeling EXACTLY THE WAY I FEEL NOW. I remind myself that I will still have days when I feel bloated or tired. I will still have days when I’d rather crawl back to bed than go to work. I will still have days at the gym where for some unknown reason I can’t go as fast, as far, as long. I will STILL HAVE THOSE DAYS.
It’s been an interesting exercise, actually. It’s kept me grounded in my body. It’s kept me connected to my body in a way that I haven’t always been in the past. In the past, I couldn’t wait to get out of “this body,” as though there was another one waiting for me. This time around, I’m finding myself gently feeling around the idea that this IS my body: fat or thin, energetic or lethargic, healthy or unhealthy. This is it. It might change (it certainly will, whether on purpose or not), but I will never get a “whole new body.” I’ve become more aware that the way I feel in this body, right now, even on my bad days, is the way I will ALWAYS feel in it, no matter what number is on the tag in my pants. It’s been eye-opening to think in those terms, because when we’re losing weight (culturally speaking), we’re encouraged to believe that we’ll become a Whole! New! Person! when in reality, that’s a load of crap. It’s interesting, terryifying, exhilarating and oddly comforting all at the same time, to know that the way I feel in my body now – good days, bad days, capable days, days when I’m too bloated from Chinese food to button my favorite jeans – all those things will remain exactly the same. I can’t carve away parts of my life the way I used to dream about carving away parts of my body, heedless of the blood and the damage, just to make the fatty tissue GO. AWAY. (Yes, I used to dream that. Both awake, as a wish, and asleep as a dream. And it wasn’t a nightmare, either; it was a dream. I think that freaks me out even more.) I can’t do it. And then again, even if I COULD do it, if I could carve away the external parts of me, the internal would still be there. My insides would be exactly the same, so I might as well make peace with them.
I will always have days when my jeans are tight and uncomfortable, no matter what I weigh. (Hell, let’s be honest: I’ll have those days at least once a month!) Huh. Who knew?
In other news, I did finally meet a goal today. I ran a mile without stopping. It nearly KILLED me, but I did it, LOL. See, even when I was in good shape, I wasn’t ever able to run a mile. All my conditioning was anaerobic, so running was WAY hard. (Dancing is EXTREMELY anaerobic: you go all-out for 3-5 minutes in a dance, then step aside and wait while someone else does their piece. Then you go all-out for another 3-5 minutes, and step aside again. I can do that a million times and not get tired, but ask me to go more than 5 or 6 minutes – 7 or 8 when I was in really good shape – even at a slow pace, and my body is like, “Wha???”) So I did it. I’ve never in my LIFE been able to run a mile, but I did it today. Granted, it was probably the SLOWEST mile ever run, but what the hell. I’m celebrating anyway. 😉