Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Battling the Two-Headed Beast

I am surely reminded, as I am every January, that having a bigger than average body is the scariest most horrifying thing in the world. Having a bigger than average ass is an almost unspeakable abomination. I am reminded of this every time I turn on the TV, walk into the grocery store, have a conversation... Folks will do anything to fend off fat cell growth - employing all manner of unnatural devices behaviors and eating plans to do so. Do whatever it takes or you might get fat! And then what? Shudder to think. On second thought, don't even think. Just buy this this and this, join this this and this don't eat (or drink) this this or this while eating (or drinking) plenty of this this and this. Ka-ching! While this goes on all year, of course, there's a big surge in January to further motivate the resolution warriors.

People who go to the gym regularly - a group I used to be part of and hope to be part of again within the next couple of months - look at these resolution warriors as a scourge at worst and a joke at best. I remember the year I was pregnant with Olivia. I continued going to the gym after the pregnancy was confirmed, but very shortly after that the pregnancy was deemed high risk and my activities were limited. Doctors orders were to stay away from the gym and any other remotely vigorous activity until 6 weeks after the baby was born. No big - a pregnant me was a compliant me, for sure. It was less restrictions than I'd faced with Lea's pregnancy (which had me spending 3 months or so lying on my left side with next to NO activity...) No big - except that Liv was born November 25, making 6 weeks post-partum just a week into January. I really sweated this - I even considered putting off starting back a few extra weeks, lest I be mistaken for a resolution warrior. (I ended up going back the first day I was allowed. Figured everyone who knew me at the gym knew when the baby was born and knew my plans were to return as soon as I was allowed. I decided I didn't care about what anyone who didn't know me might think. But I really did put quite a bit of thought into it...)

But back to the scary part.

Last week over at Shapely Prose a lively discussion emerged on a similar topic. When it was mentioned that this was scary scary stuff for most women, a lot of folks - bigger folks, like me - started chiming in about how awesome we must be because we face that fear head on every day and still manage to continue existing. I told Tom that since I was able to face the two-headed beast of fat and aging in the mirror without perishing I must be some kind of superhero. I live with what you fear daily and survive! Yay me!

Except that's not honest. I guess I don't fear it any more. Guess I've got that part conquered. But I don't exactly live with it in peaceful harmony. I, too, give it - the two-headed beast - more power than it deserves.

The other day a dear friend confessed that she'd always been jealous of me. This really threw me for a loop. I couldn't begin to imagine what would make her feel that way (and she wasn't divulging). I am entirely unenviable. I really couldn't figure it out.

Then I put some thought into it. I really do have it very good. I have caught a lot of breaks and been afforded quite a few opportunities that not everyone has. I'm educated, well-traveled and happily married. I have a home (humble as it is) and enough money (no extra, so I find time to whine about that, but always enough). My family is relatively happy and healthy. Damn! That is some enviable stuff, for sure! But I convinced myself that I am unenviable because I am fat and my once exciting life has become mundane. Good heavens! All of those wonderful things negated so easily! Wow! That two-headed beast is powerful indeed!

It shouldn't be so scary. We're all different sizes and shapes and ages. It would be terribly dull if we weren't. Easier to look at, by societal standards, perhaps, but dull all the same.

When I do go back to the gym in a couple months, I know what I'll be. I'll be that person you look at who gives you just that little extra push. "Damn, if I don't keep running/stepping/pedaling/lifting I might end up like that." Instant power surge. You're welcome, I guess. No one sets out to be a cautionary tale. But if that's my role, I suppose I'll take it.

The last time I ever ran, I was entered in a small 5K. I was in pretty good shape at the time - I'd been working out/training pretty heavily and my strength and endurance were probably the best they've ever been. But I was still fat. Because that's how I am. Anyway. I started running and there were two girls behind me. One said to the other, "Ohmygod - how's THAT for motivation to keep doing this?" Then they giggled. Now let's think about that for a moment. I was probably both twice their size AND twice their age, yet they were looking at my caboose in a race. How is it that I'm still the punch line in this joke? Yet I somehow was. I made it through that race, but never entered another. Know your place. I kept going to the gym though. And I kept being fat.

So I've got to tame that two-headed beast - somehow strip it of its power - because it isn't going away. Power to those of you who continue to try to fend it off. Because I guess you're kind of right. It IS scary.


smarmygal said...

Is it wrong that I would have let a carb-induced fart go all over those little girls behind you?

If you ever firgure out how to tame the beast, let me know. Myself, I find a drawer full of SPANX and a few flattering pieces for when I MUST be in public are helpful :)

I have the same fears about the gym. Sad that I NEED to go but am intimidated by the same mind-set that got to me 25 years ago. Talk about needing to "let it go!" ;)

mommakin said...

I actually love going to the gym, as long as I can go around 8ish in the morning. The early morning crowd is gone, the lunch break crowd isn't there and the after work crowd - forget about it - I avoid that time like the plague. But if I can go at a relatively down-time I find it to be a good experience. I let my membership lapse when I broke my arm and was out of commission for months. Just waiting for a little financial window of opportunity to rejoin. (I'm told that could be as early as late January/early February...) Wish you lived closer! We could commiserate daily on the elliptical and the time? She would fly. But alas, it'll just be me and my iPod. The problem is that I don't lose weight no matter how hard I work. In the past that has led to me feeling so discouraged I quit. This time I have to somehow convince myself that health is the goal, not weight loss. I think that will be very very tricky indeed.

Anonymous said...

This post (and all your others) is so honest and insightful. I've always needed to lose 10 or 15 lbs or so, and basically have always hated my body for one reason or another. But after having two girls, I decided that I wouldn't use the word "fat" in our house and that we would never diet, just try to eat healthy. My goal is to teach my girls to love their body, no matter what (hhmmm, maybe that should be a post). But it is so hard to keep up a good attitude, especially tough times at the gym (like when my ass was jiggling all around!) and the truth is, I haven't tricked myself into loving my body. I worry that my girls know my secret. Sorry I am rambling...

Anyhow, as for those girls at the gym, you should have tripped them!

P.S. Thx for visiting my blog the other day!