I honestly thought this post was gonna be very different today. I mean I’m going indoor skydiving later!!! I thought that would be the central topic of today’s post. But it’s not.
This week I’ve been really down. I’ve been really struggling. On Saturday I drank quite a bit of alcohol. I become very social when I drink. I talk A LOT. But what bothered me the next day, after I woke up slightly groggy wasn’t the things I said (because, gee I think people realized I was drunk) but all the crap I ate. And why did it bother me? Because I have binge-eating tendencies. I don’t know that I have an eating disorder, I’ve never gone and gotten any formal diagnosis or anything. But the fact that I ate the amount of food and the type of food that I did on Saturday really weighed on me. And the fact that is bothered me so much weighed on me even more. Why couldn’t I just say to myself “You ate a lot of crap, move the fuck on.” No one cares. Except for me.
The truth is, I went on my first diet when I was 11. The truth is my mom has been dieting since her early twenties (maybe earlier, we never went into that much detail honestly). The truth is her mom was probably anorexic, but she passed away almost twenty years ago now, and no one ever asked her. The truth is this need to be thin has passed down from generation to generation. And the truth is, it’s none of our faults. My mom didn’t know what she was doing, though the doctor who approved my going on a diet at that age should have. Her mom had zero awareness of how her eating habits affected her daughter, my mom. Of the four kids in my family, three of us have had noticeable, vocal struggles with our weights. The fourth, she went on weight watchers in high school. To be honest, since then I very rarely have heard her talk about her weight. And I am so freaking proud of her.
Two years ago, I talked to my mom for the first time about how I wanted body image issues to stop with me. I don’t want my kids to ever feel the way I do sometimes. My family is great. We really do value intellect and hard work over everything else. And yet, every time I came home and lost weight someone would compliment me, and sometimes when I came home and gained weight they would ask me what was wrong. None of it was with bad intentions. They complimented my weight loss because they were proud of me, because thinness is something we’ve all been striving for for so long. They asked me if something was wrong because they know me, they know my emotional binge eating tendencies, and they care about me. No one ever thought that these comments were somehow perpetuating an issue I had been struggling with since I was ten. I didn’t even realize it until I started following Tone It Up.
Tone It Up is one of the handful of fitness communities I have belonged to and participated in since college. At some point my striving for thinness got replaced, to some extent, with my striving for fitness. There are so many communities and individuals that focus on that today. And that’s amazing! The problem is, society hasn’t changed. And as much as these companies want to focus on reversing the obesity epidemic in North America (that’s Beachbody’s actual founding goal in case you were wondering) or improving women’s relationships with their bodies (this is about what I expect Tone It Up is going for) or empowering women (Kayla Itines, maybe, this is the one I’m least familiar with), I feel that they still perpetuate the problem with body image issues. Also there’s a growing epidemic of men with body image issues, so yeah, shit’s still spreading. Anyway these companies still need to market themselves. And I’ve seen how that affects them over the years. The way people buy into fitness and health programs is still through transformation. Society still pushes us to be thin (or fit). And so to promote themselves these companies post transformation pictures. Combined, #transformation and #transformationtuesday have almost 15 million posts on Instagram alone. While not all of these are fitness related, the majority of them are. And while not all of these are literally before and after pictures of fitness programs, many of them are.
I’ve been really struggling this week. I love working out. I didn’t used to. I didn’t know about working out when I was younger, and that’s fine, kids should burn energy in ways other than literal workouts. I didn’t know how to work out right until my junior year in college. And by work out right, I mean work out right for me. I like super efficient workouts that last at most 45 minutes. Unless I’m training for a marathon. And I looooooove training for marathons. So much more than I like actually running marathons by the way. I love seeing my mileage go up every week and being amazed at what my body can accomplish. Unfortunately, this week, this year so far possibly, I lost sight of that. I’ve been so focused on (and so scared of) sharing my transformation, that I totally lost track of what my real goals are.
So today I’m sharing my last transformation picture ever. From transformation addict back to my normal, nerdy self. And then I’m going through my phone and deleting all the half naked pictures of me that have served as many befores and many afters in my pursuit of thinness/fitness. And then I’m going through both my Instagram accounts (cause yes, I had a fitness specific one) and I’m deleting all those pictures from there too. And I’m refocusing. This year I’ve been so stuck on getting my best physique ever that I haven’t finished reading a single book yet (we’re almost five weeks in guys, like what the heck?!). I haven’t sat down with my parents once yet to write down some family history (totally happening this weekend by the way, get ready parents!!!).
So how am I going to stay motivated in my workouts without picking my body apart. Step one, no more half naked photo shoots silly Tam Tam. Step 2, in all my fitness pursuits I will track my progress. If I do another marathon training session (which I might do even though I’m not signed up for a marathon this year because I’m weird), I will track my mileage and my long runs. As I continue my current fitness program instead of comparing pictures from week to week, I will compare the weights that I am using and the reps that I’m completing. I love working out, but I want to make sure that I’m doing it out of love for myself and not hatred for my appearance.
Til next time!
PS I want to make two things clear. This is NOT an attack on my family (hi family) or on these fitness companies. Maybe I’m naïve, but I really do believe these companies have good intentions at their core. This is just a story about my own issues and how I’m resolving them.
Clarification, though I wish Dana Suchow were one of my best friends, she is just the third person that helped me out, NOT the name of one of my best friends.#highhopes