I haven’t had an alcoholic beverage in 42 days and I’ve lost 14lbs in that time which is 1lb every 3 days. I have 48 more days of sobriety left and if I can keep up this momentum I could lose another 16lbs by then. As of today I have *only* 99lbs to lose! I was afraid to set any goals beyond this one but today I need to decide on the next one to reach for. I can’t concentrate on the end game because it’s too overwhelming.
I want to thank all of you who have been supporting me and cheering for me – every time I tell you about my tiny accomplishments and you’re all there smiling and high-fiving me – it makes me feel stronger and it keeps me moving forward. More than at any other time in my life I’m feeling the collective strength and presence of all of my friends. If ever you’re feeling down and worrying that you’re not making any difference in other people’s lives – I can promise you that you are. I’ve needed you all and you’ve 100% been there for me. It almost makes me want to start dotting all my “i”s with little hearts!
The other day an acquaintance mentioned signing up for a week long bicycle ride. He’s done it before and really loves it. He mentioned needing to train for it. I joked that he and his wife (who is a serious runner) are really fit, but I like them anyway. He totally got the bantering nature of my comment and joked back that I need not worry because he’s only fit in fits. But then his wife made this comment to me:
“Joyful movement is the secret of health. Find Yours.”
This comment feels like a judgement. It feels like a judgement that I’m not an active person, that I dislike exercise, that I’m lazy and that is probably why I’m obese. “Find Yours” is a directive, an order, a comment that suggests I haven’t ever found joyous movement. But maybe I just took it the wrong way? Maybe she was trying to banter too. Maybe she was just lightly joking around. I started to take her up on it but the thought of even trying to explain how awfully judgy that comment felt to me was exhausting. Probably because obese people like me get tired so easily?
She is one of the people who has suggested in posts and links she’s shared that diet and exercise are all anyone needs to be healthy and to discover that you never had mental illness, you just had a lack of proper exercise.
Why should I care? Why should I let that get to me? That comment makes assumptions about me that are either based on the fact that I’m fat or the fact that I implied I’m inactive in a joke and she took it seriously. I care because it’s sanctimonious and judgmental and bossy. Fuck that. FUCK THAT SHIT.
What she doesn’t seem to know about me is pretty much EVERYTHING. I’m not fat because I’m inactive. I have been incredibly active most of the time I was getting fat. I’ve been incredibly active my entire life. But I do not LOVE exercise for its own sake and I never will. Ever. Sports are the most stupid thing I’ve ever wasted time on. Dancing doesn’t speak to me in the least – except to say how it hates me as much as I hate it. Bicycling in races or for endurance testing or for the sake of exercise is awful to me. What a waste of my time. Cross training? YAWN. Also – why do that to your body? Why push it to its limits? Also – I don’t want muscles that pop out of my limbs. It’s okay with me if other people seek that hard muscle definition – I believe there’s beauty in all shapes and sizes of bodies. But I don’t personally ever want that for myself.
You don’t need exercise to be a religious experience for it to keep your heart healthy and your muscles toned and your metabolism working. I like to ride my bicycle to get places. To run errands. But more than that I like walking. Before I broke my hip I liked jogging. Running a marathon would ruin jogging for me forever. I like doing my own thing. I liked Kung Fu but it became too much for me after two years. But what I was doing while I was getting obese was a ton of Kung Fu, riding my bicycle all over town, and walking my dog. Anyone who thinks I arrived at this level of fat because I sat around on a couch eating junk food can shove their sanctimonious ignorance up their own asses.
Strong words? Yeah. What I’ve learned from being obese is that people make a lot of assumptions about you. Maybe sometimes they’re true but I’ve learned not to make assumptions about how people end up with the bodies they have. 60lbs of my obesity I got while not drinking too much or eating too much cheese or being inactive – I got it from upping my Paxil doses to deal with an ever increasing level of anxiety.
Anxiety that a ton of exercise DIDN’T FIX OR RELIEVE IN ANY WAY. That’s right. To deal with my anxiety that was making it impossible to meet my son’s needs and my husband’s needs and my own needs I had to up my Paxil dose every year by 10 milligrams. With each dose increase I gained 20lbs.
But the rest of my excessive weight was certainly from beer and there was a period of many months of forced inactivity after breaking my hip that accounted for 30lbs. Let’s see, the original 30lbs from inactivity and increase in beer and cheese, 60lbs of Paxil weight, and then another 23 lbs from inactivity caused by constantly getting injured and re-injured when walking and bicycling, plus last summer’s increase in beer and cheese while my mom was in the hospital and my mom’s sister was forcing us to sell the house – that accounts for every pound I gained. Almost none of those pounds were gained because I’m an inactive couch potato who hates movement. If ever I suggest I am a lazy-ass it’s me joking at my own expense but it isn’t the truth and if you’re unwise enough to make assumptions about me I will jump down your throat. And maybe sometimes I’m jumping the gun and being unfair to others. But at least I am willing to admit that my mental illness makes me very protective of myself and no matter how much good food I eat and how much exercise I get or how many psychiatric medications I take – at the end of the day I’m still mentally ill and dealing with how that makes me react to other people, how I interact with the world, and how I perceive things.
So maybe I am wrong and maybe that acquaintance wasn’t at all suggesting I haven’t already found my own “joyful movement” and maybe I’m just reacting to how much I loathe that floaty way movement-obsessed people make love to their ideals with words like “JOYOUS”. Ugh.
I am reminded of one of the many times I was in Kung Fu class and fighting demons that no one else could see. This one time we were supposed to improvise some imaginary fight with an opponent and make up moves and the teacher (a completely KUHRAYZAY person himself) told the class to let go of our self consciousness, to get out of the box that adulthood has imposed on us and just play like we used to do when we were kids.
I told him that adulthood didn’t impose a box on me, being born and exposed to human beings did that.
He didn’t understand. No one in the class understood. I wanted to cry. What he was asking me to do is to be completely unsafe. Kung Fu was really hard on me emotionally because it forced me to be IN my body all the time in a way I carefully avoid because being in my body completely is unsafe and leaves me open to being violated by others and having to actually FEEL the violation completely. He was asking me to be IN my body around a bunch of sweaty strangers and trust that none of them were going to do anything unsafe or unsanctioned. I don’t trust human beings.
I love some of them, I try to love all of them, but I don’t trust any of them completely.
The people I know who are in love with dance and sports are people in love with their own bodies and I don’t know if they just never had their bodies abused or if they did but they managed somehow to get over it?
I don’t know if I was in my body before I was seven years old but I do know that I’ve never let my spirit completely inhabit it afterwards. When I was seven I was once held up off the ground by my hair and repeatedly punched in the stomach and body for complaining about being made to do laundry like Cinderella. I keep thinking I’m done reliving that in my nightmares. Nothing else bad that happened to my body afterwards ever mattered half as much. From that moment on I was terrified to be in my own skin. I remember one time crawling up our stairs on my hands and knees so afraid of the adult screaming at me and threatening me from behind while my mom watched. The memory is a detached one, I watched myself crawling up those stairs in avid terror but my spirit was not in my body because it was waiting for the blows that never came. It was waiting for whatever violence was coming to pass over my skin and be done. It’s how I think I ended up seeing myself from a distance in general and later when I was having a psychotic break I didn’t recognize myself at all.
I remember I just felt so bad for that little girl crawling up the stairs like an animal in her own house.
From my point of view – being so completely IN my body like these dancers and distance runners are is grossly unpleasant. To be that obsessed with your muscles and bones and skin is something I can never relate to on a spiritual level. Kung Fu helped me understand just how deeply ingrained is this PTSD of self.
When I walk somewhere – like when I walk through San Francisco for miles and miles I am as much in my body as I can ever be without feeling too vulnerable. I can feel the blood rushing through my heart and I can feel my muscles stretching and it feels so good! But I’m not completely in my bones – I’m still seeing the world go by, I’m distracted enough from my own skin that if the devil rushes in I don’t have to feel the degradation. I love the feel of the air separating to let me through. I move and I’m moving with the world and I’m nobody so I can’t be hurt. I smile at the beautiful people all around me and sometimes they smile back and it feels like the sky opening up to show us how we are all related to each other on a molecular level. That tenuous connection with strangers is what filled me with joy. That feeling of being connected to the ground with my feet and the world with my heart is what filled me with joy. Not the movement.
When Max was a baby I rode all over town with him on my bicycle. We did our shopping on my bicycle and we visited friends and neighbors on that bicycle. My child filled me with joy, not the movement. It was insanely stressful to me to be a parent and it continues to be something I can barely handle. But riding that bicycle with him – seeing him watch the world whizzing past him and filling him with total excitement and laughter and to see those intense eyes of his take the world in in giant gulps just as I do when I’m walking or riding my bicycle by myself – it was the counterbalance to the stress of knowing that the only way this kid is leaving the earth is through death and I’m the one who put him in this predicament. Those days with him on the bicycle kept me fit even before I actually lost the pregnancy weight I’d gained. My heart was fit and my muscles were strong even when I was still wearing all that extra fat.
People are so much more judgmental of my body now than they were then.
This whole question of body is complex. My relationship with MY body is complex.
“Joyous movement is the secret to health.”
Like fuck it is. It is one small component to health. There’s genetics you can’t control. There’s what you feed your body. And there’s also the mental place you inhabit that informs your health and movement, joyous or not, can only do so much for those of us who have been wired differently and then had that wiring further fucked with through abuse and negative reinforcement.
What makes you so sure I haven’t? Just because mine didn’t keep me thin. Just because mine doesn’t look the same as yours? Just because I don’t swoon or evangelize?
I found mine a long time ago, thank you, but I don’t use precious words for what works for me. I don’t light candles to it or preach it to others.
If I haven’t asked for your advice on how to get fit, lose weight, or manage my mental illness then don’t give me any. I know how to ask for help when I need it and I’ll do it humbly and I’ll listen and consider what you suggest if I have asked for it.
Speaking of “movement”*, I went on a long walk in Howarth Park with my friend Bobby yesterday. I enjoyed the chance to hang out with a friend while people watching on the paths and getting a good long walk in all at the same time. I think Bobby might be my long lost twin. I realized that I can take myself over there any time I like and walk by myself if I want. I’m quitting the YMCA because no power on earth can motivate me to get into a gym right now. I found plantain all over the park so the next time I go I’ll be bringing a little pot to put some in to transplant into my own garden.
While writing this I have decided that getting to the 23lb mark is my next goal. That’s only 9lbs away. When I get there I will have lost all the weight I put on the year before we moved back to California and last summer’s pounds. I’ll be stripped down to the next level of weight I gained over the years, I’ll start working on the Paxil weight until I get down to the 30 lbs I gained when I broke my hip. That’s how I’m going to do this – working all the way back through the increments I gained at different points for different reasons. I will slay them each individually.
All I can say right now, today, is that for the first time in years I’m not standing in my own damn way so if anyone else tries to stand in it – I will declare war on them. Don’t let it be you. I know what I’m doing. I know how to do it. I know my own body, I know my own mind, and I know what I need to achieve my goals. There are some things I can’t fix about myself, there are some limitations that nothing has the power to lift or change. Not you, not magic, not religion, not faith, not food, not exercise, not love. Some things that have been broken can’t be fixed.
For all of my broken parts and limitations – my greatest power lies in my self awareness and self acceptance. My greatest power has always been knowing who I AM. Ask my mom and she’ll tell you – I was born knowing who I am. There’s a lot of power in knowing who you are and even more when you accept who you are. I know which voices in my head come from the megaphone of my mental illness and which come from my heart and spirit.
Don’t get in my way or I’m going to get twice as tall as you thought I was.
Don’t get in my way or I’m going to have to educate you about how we can’t both occupy the same space at the same time and if it comes to a contest between us – I am going to be the one left standing here because this is MY path, not yours.
*I’ve been trying to suppress jokes about “Joyous Bowel Movements” this entire post.