Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says "Oh shit, she's awake."

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Battle of the Swimwear

We love to hate it, we dread shopping for it, we are perpetually dissatisfied with the way we look in it.  I’ve always been envious of the women who can rock a bikini with complete and utter abandon.  It’s not an easy thing to do, especially when you are 5’3” and pretty much convinced you have been ten pounds overweight your entire life.  I’ve sort of made peace with the world of swimwear by arming myself with an army of sexy and elegant beach covers and dresses.  They allow for a hint of bikini without revealing the wide selection of stretchmarks that cover my hips, and my less than toned abs. 

Usually, January is not the month in which I stand in front of the mirror torturing myself with thoughts of putting on a bathing suit.  I save that special hell for late February or early March.  But a friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, brought the subject to the forefront because she is heading to Florida.  She is a very tall, very athletic looking woman who actually had dropped a profound amount of weight recently, and is still adjusting to the new girl in the mirror.  I think she looks sensational. She still thinks her arms are fat and hates her legs. Today she contemplated putting on a bikini for the first time since losing weight.  I could tell from our conversation that it was not something she was looking forward to doing, and was truly worried about what other people would think.  I told her she looked fabulous, and she does.  I told her that the sexiest part of a woman’s body is her confidence, and it is. I told her if she was really worried, take the coward’s way out and buy a hot beach coverup.  She listened, and tried to believe me. I think we made progress, but you never know what is going through another person’s head.

It dawned on me, I’m really bad at taking my own advice. What a revelation! How many  times have I donned one of my bikinis for a day out on our boat, only  to stand in front of the mirror and beat myself  up for not having the body of Jennifer Anniston.  Every damn time, every damn year.  I spend a small fortune on swimwear only to have it look up at me from its spot in the drawer, taunting me.  If I manage to persuade myself to get into one, I usually stand there and pick apart every little flaw I can find.  My friend would be disappointed at my inability to take my own advice, and she’d probably give me hell for it, because she’s that kind of friend.  It’s true, we are our own worst enemy when it comes to self-deprication and self-loathing.  As I had mentioned in an earlier blog, it is my resolution to stop that self-destructive behaviour and just get on with it in a healthier, happier frame of mind. Now that the whole “swimwear” thing is in my head two months early, I shall look at it as an opportunity get a jump start on not getting thin, but getting healthy – body and mind – and hopefully that will help to change the way I look at myself in the mirror.

So here is my plan of attack.  First off, in the interest of not turning into a brittle-boned, arthritic old woman, I am going to start doing yoga.  Not the full-fledged pretzel version of yoga, since I am the most unbendy person on the planet, but a kinder gentler yoga that will allow me to start slowly and work my way up to more bendy yoga positions.  I’m not going to rush it, or push myself well beyond my limits to the point of needing traction. Believe me, I have done that many times at the gym.  Not fun.

I’m also heading back to the gym after a ridiculously long hiatus of  two years.  The best I’ve ever felt is when I went to the gym five days a week. I looked in the mirror and described myself as “strong” and “toned” and “sexy.” I haven’t done that in forever. Time to get back in the groove and do something positive for me.  But this time, I am not going to put the pressure on myself of being there every day, Monday through Friday.  It stops being fun, and becomes a chore.  I will aim for three days a week.  If I feel like going four days a week, then great, but I will no longer make it mandatory. And since I need constant motivation to keep the groove going, I am going to enlist my friend to go with me, so she can kick me in the ass when I’m too lazy to do it myself.  She already belongs to the gym I plan to join.  That solves part of the problem right there.  It’s also less than two miles from my house. Another problem solved. Wow, I’m on a roll.

So, I stand before you, ready to admit I am not in the best of shape, but ready to do something about it, and not just for the sake of losing weight.  That will be a bonus if it happens.  The name of the game is healthy – mind and body.  

Let’s do it. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

This Woman's Worth...

Sometimes in life, we struggle…sometimes we overcome.  Sometimes we just lay there, floundering, trying to find the balance in life and in all that we do.  Right now, I am floundering.

2013 begins with a lot of uncertainty in Bill’s and my future.  Bill is being laid off from his job of 32 years.  This is a tough one for him – talk about a struggle.  I am more concerned for his well-being than the financial aspect of the situation.  I make an adequate income. We are carefully planning so that by the time his job ends in September we will have nearly all of our short term debt paid off.  When you have a plan, life is a lot less terrifying, at least that has been my experience.  And while it is completely disheartening that his career at his current company is ending, we are thankful that we have been afforded a lot of lead time so that we can make the necessary preparations to weather the storm.  I keep telling him, it is not a setback, it is an adventure into the next chapter of his life.  A positive outlook does wonders.

My inability to find life’s balance comes from inside me.  I’ll be 48 years old next month – just two years away from the big 5  I’m not sure where the first 48 years have gone, but it’s been quite a rollercoaster ride.  I’ve overcome a lot of adversity in the first 48 years, and enjoyed many triumphs. I’ve made mistakes, some of them sizeable.  But I have no regrets. I own my past – good, bad or otherwise. I am the sum of my experiences and all paths to this point have led me to right here, right now.  I love my husband, my daughter, my family and friends, and my career.  I count myself as blessed in so many ways. But at the end of the day, the struggle comes from looking in the mirror and trying to find the guts to really like my physical appearance. And it comes from inside me, not from anyone else. Ok, I know I’m not “homely.” I know I have great hair and pretty green eyes. There are many things about myself that I actually appreciate, maybe even love. Yes, I have been known to dabble in botox, and spend more than my fair share on skincare, but at the end of the day, I don’t look anywhere near my age.  I don’t want to look 20. I just don’t want to look 50, so it’s all good.

In the end, my insecurity (yes, I said insecurity) comes back to the whole “weight thing.” It’s the thing that haunts me, follows me around like some sort of shadow.  It chips away at my self-worth, taunts me at every turn, and ruins my fun at the most inopportune moments - like today.  My prevailing thought when I woke up this morning? It’s a new year, summer is just around the corner, need to start worrying about how I am going to cram my ass in a swimsuit. Did I gain weight over the holidays? Are my jeans a smidge snugger than they were a week ago? Maybe. Maybe not. Does it matter? Yep, it does to me.

I look at my scale as some sort of mortal enemy that doles out my torture, one day at a time. Even when my clothes fit the same and the needle hasn’t moved, I worry. If I gain one pound, that will turn into 3 which will turn into 5, then 10, and so on. Going to a restaurant can be just as painful. What did I eat today?  Was it healthy?  Too many calories? Should I order the salmon or the steak that I really want? No, I don’t want any sauce or butter on my entree.   “Would you like dessert?” Are you freaking crazy?  Yes, I want it. No, I’m not having it.  I’ve been having these conversations in my head since high school.  I thought I was fat then. I hated myself.  Now, I look back at those photos and think to myself, “You looked great, what the hell was your problem?”  My problem?  After 30 years, I still look at myself the very same way. I never see thin, only "if I could just lose five more pounds" or "does my ass look big in this outfit?" It’s mentally and emotionally exhausting.  I’ve battled my way through eating disorders on more than one occasion in my life, and it’s still a struggle, much like being a drug addict or an alcoholic.  And with it comes shame, hopelessness, and fear that it will rear its ugly head again.  I’m tired of being afraid.

So here is my resolution for this year. This is the year I am going to find TRUE balance. I am going to stand up to the demon scale and tell it to fuck off. I’m going to “walk the walk” instead of just “talk the talk” to my daughter when it comes to self-worth and being healthy.  I am going to stop comparing myself to every size 2 woman that crosses my path and realize that I look good, REALLY good, for almost 48 years old. (I’m not owning 48 yet, I have 30 days to go before I cross that bridge.)  I am going to concentrate on being healthy, instead of being skinny, and I am going to order the cheesecake once in a while.  While I take on this challenge, I am going to document my progress in my blog, It is not always easy laying your thoughts and emotions out there for people to see, but if it helps someone else who is fighting the same battle, then it is worth it.  I know I’m not the only woman on the planet who struggles with her weight so maybe it will prove to be beneficial to someone else if I share my journey.

Have no fear, I will attempt to throw some humor into the equation, just to keep it fun. And above all, I will try to convey the positive in everything.  With the positive lies hope, and without hope…well, life just sucks, so hope part is important.

I hope you’ll bear with me on my path to a happier, healthier mind and body.  I can’t guarantee the ride will be smooth, but it should be an interesting journey this year.

And so it begins…