I was a bendy teenager. When I was probably 11 or 12 I saw a Yoga book at a store in the mall. Every time I set foot in that mall I had to go look at that book. I would memorize a new pose and go home and shut myself in my room for hours til I mastered it. Then return to the mall, find a new pose, repeat. The internet wasn't what it is today, otherwise I probably would have spent hours googling yoga poses. My mom bought me that book for my birthday and I read it start to finish. I still have that book on my shelf, as a matter of fact.
Once I developed my love-hate relationship with food, I was no longer an active teenager. By the time I got home from school I would be exhausted from not eating, and lay down and nap til dinner. I was tired (obviously), and afraid that if I stayed awake, I'd be too tempted to feed my hungry stomach, so I'd sleep. It was destructive. Ultimately, I trashed the "super metabolism" that I had built up over the years. It was like my body went into "hibernation mode" to conserve body weight and energy.
Shortly after finishing that program I bought my first-ever gym membership. It was scary going into the gym that first time. I felt like everyone was looking at me knowing I was a newbie. I felt like everyone thought I was just as out of place as I felt like I was. Now that I am a regular gym-goer, I can see that none of that was true. And I wonder how many new faces I see there are feeling the same things that I felt.
Although I was working out at the gym regularly, my diet left much to be desired. I obsessively tracked my calories (paid no attention to micro or macro nutrients), and ate 600 or less calories a day (most days). It was terrible. I had no understanding of the NEAT concept, and I felt like I needed to burn all the calories I ate during the day during my workout at the gym. Which resulted in me sometimes going back to the gym later in the day if I wanted to "reward" myself with more food.
Not to say it was all a mental thing, though. It wasn't. I was going through a really rough time and the thought of eating made me feel physically sick. I would eat and feel like I was going to vomit.
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(The pictures above on the right were both taken during that time. I still have those jeans in my closet, and trust me, they fit super snugly these days, and I'm okay with that)
People noticed that I had dropped weight and would make comments. I would respond with "I've been sick." It was true. I had been heart-sick. But I was totally run down in every department. Emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually... I was totally spent.
I started hating my body. I felt like parts were too big, other parts were too small. I noticed every discrepancy. I felt like I was poorly proportioned. I hated my body for all the things it was unable to do.
I felt like, as a woman, the one thing my body should be able to do flawlessly (bear children), it couldn't do. No matter how hard I tried or how badly I wanted it, I couldn't make it happen... and I hated my body for it. I worked out because I wanted to see something different when I looked in the mirror. I worked out because I wanted to feel something different when I looked in the mirror. But all I could see was the negative... and all I could feel was the pain.
Let me tell you... exercising to change what I see in the mirror is exhausting. Looking at myself and being critical of everything I see is exhausting! Do I still have those days? Of course I do! But they are far less common than they once were. My goals these days are more "skills" goals and less aesthetic. My body is changing, yes, but that isn't the goal. I want to push my body to do more in my 30s than I could do in my 20s.
So, here's to the first of (hopefully) many blog posts about health and fitness. Not just physical health and fitness, but emotional, spiritual, and mental fitness that lies beneath and drives the physical.