Archive for the ‘body image’ Category

Laughable Reasons Why I’m Glad I Work Out

April 29, 2011

I was talking with my husband the other day after reading my Barbie post to him. We got to laughing and came up with a list of silly reasons why I can be glad I work out, even if I never get the Barbie-results I long for. So here, my friends, is a partial list of reasons I’m glad I workout.

I don’t have to fear the chalkboard waddle, one of those things teachers all over the United States of America fear. They don’t want their underarms waving like our noble national flag, flapping and swaying on a breezy day. (Too bad I’m not a teacher anymore!)

Les said I don’t have to fear breaking my hip (as he’s keenly aware of hip issues these days!) I thought that was a nice thing to say, so I asked him why, thinking it had to be because I’ve increased my bone density from working out. The truth is, he said, those areas I’m so frustrated with that haven’t budged much are the padding that will protect my hips when I fall! He said, “Barbies break!” (Well then, I’ve got nothing to fear!)

I won’t need to rely on a “Help Rescue Necklace” when I fall. It’s not a matter of if, it’s only a matter of time! It’s a fact anyone in my family will tell you. I’ve got quite a bit of experience falling! I won’t have to howl into the carpet, “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Oh, I’ll fall down for sure, but I’ll be strong enough to at least get back up on my own, thankyouverymuch!

Three times this winter alone, I’ve fallen, hard. Once on my rear, once on my hip, and once sprawled in several directions all at once – I practically did the splits! Somehow in that fall, my left big toe and right thumb hurt so bad I thought I’d broken them! I wasn’t particularly worried about my hip, (and now I know why! Padding, my friends, padding!)

Les told me he’s surprised he hasn’t had to go on heart meds as I’ve scared him so many times by falling! He should’ve known before we married. I fell on our second date, taking him with me! (And really, I’m the one who needs heart meds as he’s scared me so many times on purpose for fun – his fun, but that’s another story for another time!)

Then there’s the now infamous “Fall to Beat All Falls.” It happened the day after I came home from having double mastectomy surgery. I saw a vase of flowers that needed more water, so I walked over to pick up the vase and carry it to the kitchen. (I’m not really sure why I did that, since I was told not to lift anything over 5 pounds and besides, I couldn’t raise my hands above my navel because of the pain. I could have just taken a glass of water to dump into the vase but my mind obviously wasn’t working too well . . . must have been the oxycontin, darvoset and/or whatever else I was on!) Les was in the kitchen, about 25 feet away from me. He saw me lift the vase and begin shuffling toward the kitchen. He watched, helpless to prevent me from shuffling right into the foot stool (which I never saw) dropping me in an instant onto my chest (what was left of it) with my arms angled back straight behind me. I don’t remember what happened to the vase of flowers, but I couldn’t move my arms quickly enough, (and even if I could have, I couldn’t have caught myself! I weigh slightly more than 5 pounds!)

The angle at which I was falling, forced forward by momentum, looked like a scene from “What About Bob” as he leaned forward from the mast, hands tied behind him hollering, “I sail! I sail!” Of course in my case it would be “I fall! I fall!”

I didn’t need a ‘help necklace’ that day as Les involuntarily shouted as he sailed across the kitchen and family room in nearly a single bound, unable to prevent the fall and in a panic to know how to pick me up. Where could he put his arms around me to get me up? Not under my arms and not around my chest that was for sure! I don’t remember that part either – probably a good thing! He claims to have lost 10 years of cardiac life that day! (A little pay-back for all the scares, I say!)

I’m telling you, he should not have been surprised. I gave him fair warning by falling on our second date! We hadn’t held hands or kissed or touched in any manner – I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true! We were walking outside in the evening, talking, and somehow I unknowingly missed a shallow step and began to fall – swiftly – I always fall swiftly! I tumbled down – with him trying to rescue me – only to find him straddling me like a difficult spin in a Twister game! (He should’ve known then. And I think he should be really glad that I’ve been working out, because at least now I can pick myself up!)

My final point on this partial list of reasons I’m glad I work out is that I can have my cake and eat it too, at least some of it! You see, one of the reasons I work out is to eat. BTW, have you tried those dark chocolate-covered caramels with the coarse-ground sea salt on the top?! Ohmygosh! If eating them was the only reason I worked out, it would be worth it!

I’ve watched skinny girls all my life. The saying was and may still be, if you want to be skinny, watch a skinny woman eat [and imitate her.] Um, helloooooooo, is anyone paying attention? Skinny women don’t eat! I mean, hardly at all!

I remember when I taught Title I Reading, the teacher across the hall from me was a speech therapist. She was a bit taller than me and probably 3 sizes smaller (and I was quite thin then, but never believed it – youth and young bodies are wasted on the young! We older, wiser people would enjoy and appreciate them so much more!) Anyway, I noticed that every day she brought her lunch with her in a little paper sack. I’d see her sit at her little table with a little paper napkin and nibble her little half a sandwich. Half a sandwich! Nothing else! I’d starve! I couldn’t last a whole day on that!)

It seems to me that skinny people can’t really enjoy eating. They have to pretend they’re eating by putting a minuscule portion of something on their plate and swishing it around making it look like they are eating! They are afraid that if they eat a bite of something their body will instantly pile on the pounds. So they have to take just a little teensy tiny eensy weensy bite and exclaim, “Oh, dear me, I’m stuffed!” (Stuffed my eye!)

I’m so sure. That, my friends, is the reason I’m not skinny. Life is too short not to enjoy eating.

So, when I get discouraged that I’m not seeing the kind of progress I desire, I will return to this, my list of laughable reasons why I’m glad I work out. I’ll smile that I don’t have an arm waddle; I’ll be happy knowing that I shall never break my hip, and that when I fall, I’ll be able to get myself back up again without a medical team. Then I will go find one of those yummy dark caramels with the chunky sea salt bits on the top and chew and savor it as my mouth waters in delight from the creamy, sweet-saltiness that those skinny girls have only ever dreamed about!

Bridal-shower-Barbie-doll

April 20, 2011

Saturday I had the privilege of hosting a bridal shower for my namesake niece. She’s absolutely precious and beautiful inside and out. I had a great time and it appeared that she did as well!

That afternoon, I was looking through the pictures and was taken aback in dismay. The reason being, the way I looked in them! (Quite selfish and narcissistic I know, but I’m being honest.) My thought process was something like this . . . ‘Ohmygosh, I look awful! You mean to tell me that I’ve been working out for 16 months and I still look this big?!’ Then, ‘I definitely shouldn’t have worn that sweater…makes my arms look like a sumo wrestler! Wear dark colors, Kris, dark colors!’

I have to say that I hit the wall of discouragement. I’ve been ‘bustin it’ and really trying hard and I still look like I need to go hire a personal trainer! Oh, wait, I already did, 16 months ago!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Then my thoughts went this direction . . . ‘So if I look like this now, after all this work, how awful must have I looked all those years prior? Les, you let me out of the house looking like a train wreck?!

Then I remembered (because my kind, loving, wise husband has reminded me of this hundreds of times) that I’ve been through several years of hell-on-earth and I reminded myself that I barely survived and whatdidIexpectanyway?! I’m alive. I’m happily married, to my very best friend. I’ve got two amazing-fantastic-incredible kids! What does it matter anyway that I don’t have a Barbie-doll body? And who set that up as the [insert expletive here] standard in the first place?! And why do I feel like I have to continue to explain to my imaginary audience (all skinny women of course) why I don’t measure up?!

You see, if you’re anything like me, you’re busy living life, going and doing and loving, and don’t really take the time to worry about such ‘petty matters.’ Then you get in a room full of women and the temptation to play the comparison game presses in. Well, I chose not to even think about any of that, after all, I’ve been working out and am feeling better than ever!

But, there were three women there, in particular, who looked like a million bucks. (They also had bodies, like Barbie, that I’ve been longing to look like and working at becoming on and off for basically my entire life.) I noticed them. Who wouldn’t have? They were not only lovely to behold, they were loads of fun to be around! They enjoyed a friendship with one another that was special to observe and fun to be included in for the moments we were together.

Then I got home and looked at the pics. Down, down, down my spirits went. After all, it is women like these I have striven all my life to look like. And now, it’s a proven fact (the pictures show it) that I am not that, and most likely shall never be. And should this desire to be like Barbie continue to be a lifelong goal of mine? I’m not thinking so. It is not a worthwhile or noble goal (for me) to spend the amount of time and energy it would take to get to that place. Not that I should give up working out, but working out to look like a certain body type that isn’t mine, therefore it isn’t even realistic for me. Unless I worked out hours a day, daily for years to get down to almost zero body fat, I’d still need surgery on my rounder parts! I don’t think it could ever be a practical reality. And then there’s the problem, how would I maintain that?  Is it worth giving up much of the living of life in order to look a certain way? (I don’t even see myself most of the time, it’s for others that I’m trying to look that way, if I’m really being honest. Although I do have this imaginary idea of how glorious it must be to pull up a pair of jeans and not have them tight at the hips and bagged out at the waist. Ahhhhhhhh, it must feel fabulous!)

So, as I furiously picked up around the house (my therapy for dealing with difficult emotions) I worked out my solution. I went downstairs and sat near my husband and verbalized it as such:

“I’m not going to deny myself for the rest of my life to be something I can never be.”

He repeated it back to me with an addendum: “I’m not going to deny myself for the rest of my life to be something I can never be (…nor was I ever meant to be.) Hmmmm. He’s right. [insert another expletive!]

Now, I don’t want any of you to think that my trainers have failed me. I could never have gotten where I am without them. Nor am I giving up and throwing in the towel. Although, if you’d have watched me eat these last few days, you might have thought so! I’ve been eating cookies and Easter candy and chicken pot pie and all sorts of things in quantities that don’t match my fitness plan! It’s not very wise therapy, but it is yummy! But now that I’ve comforted my hurting emotions in an unhealthy way, it’s time to get back on the wagon and pump some iron and burn those calories! It’s time to get back to work, not to continue to chase after an illusive pipe dream, but to maintain my health and facilitate the accomplishment of my goals. What are they, anyway?

I need to take a good look at my reasons for working out and trying to lose weight as well as the motives behind them.

1. I want to look good for my husband. He loves the way I look. He’s not pressuring me to be Barbie.

2. I want to be strong and healthy. I’m there and am growing in strength week by week!

3. I want to be around to enjoy my grandkids someday, to be able to play with them, not just look at them.

4. I want to look like Barbie so that I can feel good about myself, look fabulous in my clothes and be happier! (ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ [alarm sound] Warning! Warning! That is a motive I need to ditch! It isn’t even true!)

I’m in this marathon (darn it, it is a marathon, not a sprint) to attain good health and to become my very best (not someone else’s) for my family and for myself. I need to train myself to enjoy the body God gave me, not to strive for achieving (or coveting) the one He’s given my neighbor.

(These are my personal and intimate thoughts from my own bumpy, rambling process. Please don’t feel badly for me or have the impression that I’m needing you to write and tell me how fabulous you think I look. You may be tempted to judge me or condemn me for my lack of spiritual maturity, and that’s ok. I’m just sharing with you, vulnerably, the inside workings of my mind and heart as they relate to the never-ending struggle with/fight against comparison, body-image, cultural values and longing.)

It would be so much simpler and far more enjoyable if I would just revel in who God made me to be. As I think about it, this is so like the issue in the Garden of Eden. I want that instead of what God said I could have. I don’t want to act that way! I want to choose contentment as I strive for good stewardship of my one and only body.

God, here I go again, comparing, longing for something that I don’t have and totally getting myself off track. Thank you for keeping me alive through a horrendous double-wide ride through cancer-hell. Thank you for keeping my marriage and family strong through trying times. Thank you for health and friends and strength to enjoy each day you’ve given me. Please help my blog-reader friends to learn and grow in this area as well, to delight in your creativity as you’ve made us all, differently, in Your image. Amen.