Owning up…

20111108-194635.jpgUntil last night, this was the side of my fridge:

  • Christmas countdown magnet (45 days now, I need to update that thing!)
  • souvenir magnet my mother gave me
  • list
  • calendar
  • Oxygen magazine cut outs? with women in bikinis? flaunting their six packs?
While I’m not saying that the magazine necessarily is doing harm to body image, having these pictures on the side of my fridge seems a little counterproductive: either it motivates me to restrict and aim for this kind of “perfection” (though who said a six pack is perfection?) or it makes me feel bad about myself for not. At this point, I just feel stupid for having them there, not bad for not wanting a six pack right now.
FYI, the cut outs are in my garbage now!
Do NOT get me wrong. I am not saying give up on your goals: but think about them realistically. What is it about having that six pack that makes you want it so bad? For me, I’m looking for the dedication and the strength that it supposedly suggests (though I realize now it might have more to do with deprivation, control, and distraction if I focus on such an aesthetic thing) — and I know I can get satisfaction other ways. Working out because it feels good and challenging myself to stick to that goal requires more strength than swearing off carbs and doing tons of cardio and sit ups.  Following my dreams — applying to journalism school, writing as much as I can, and going for it — requires dedication.
Where’d this come from? A passage in “When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies,” Jane Hirschmann and Carol Munter’s book (I’d recommend it!):

“To get an idea of what [accepting and loving your body without altering it in any way] might feel like, we suggest you try an exercise…

 

Suspend your disbelief for the moment and imagine that the atmosphere is about to be infused with a strange and powerful substance–a substance that will make it impossible for anyone to ever gain or lose another pound. Your body and the bodies of every one you know will remain exactly at their current weight.

 

How would you lead your life in this new atmosphere? What would you wear once you were no longer waiting to change size? Would you take that trip to the beach you have been postponing until you lose weight? And how about the exercise regime you were planning to begin? Are you still interested, even though you know it will not have any impact on you size?

 

…How would you feel living in a wold in which the size and shape of your body were regarded without any judgement?

 

Right now, such a world is only a fantasy. Regardless of what is happening in the world around you, however, you can create the kind of acceptance we are talking about within yourself. You can create a world in which you see your body as it is and enjoy it. You can challenge all the ideas you have unconsciously internalized about how bodies should look. You can take your bad body thoughts and put them aside. You can dress yourself in ways that please you. And you can begin to live the kind of life you have put on hold “until I lose weight.”

 

The power to create an environment of self acceptance is within you.”

Really makes you think huh? Would you force yourself through that step class (if you hate step?). Would you lift weights when you despise it, or would you go for a run on the trails you love instead? Maybe ride your bike? Or maybe you’d sleep in and trust that you’re treating your body right instead? I really was moved by this, especially the part about dressing yourself in the clothes that please you. I’ve forced myself on countless occasions to wear jeans to “keep myself in check”. While I’m not saying I’m going to wear sweatpants for life — in fact I don’t like wearing sweatpants — why don’t I wear leggings more often? Or skirts/dresses with tights, which I love? Keep the words of those authors in mind: you can begin to live the kind of life you have put on hold “until I lose weight”
What do you want more than a six pack?
How do you balance your goals — personal, athletic, career, etc.? 
What have you been putting off doing ’til you lose weight (or whatever)? 
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One response to “Owning up…

  1. beautiful post, my friend! I couldn’t have said it better myself! YOU really made me think! Congrats 😉 hahahaha

    And seriously, sometimes I feel more upset with my body after looking at pictures of women like the one on your fridge. However, sometimes they motivate me too. It is kind of like two different emotions stemming from one thing if you know what I mean?

    I would rather just enjoy each workout I do than have a six pack, I guess! Seriously, who do I show my tummy off to? No bf for me and I definitely don’t go flaunting around crop tops 😉

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