I had a revelation this morning at the gym, one that you might consider rather belated, given how often I exercise these days. It happened like this: After I did my running on the treadmill, I switched to an exercise bike for a cool down and to stretch out some of the muscles that get tight when I run. While I was pedaling, I was reading a weight-loss/healthy eating magazine that someone had left. When my time on the bike was done, I wasn’t done with the magazine, so I considered staying on the bike until I finished. As I waffled over this, I realized that I don’t need any more exercise tips, I don’t need external motivation, I don’t need any tricks to make me eat more vegetables or drink more water. I already go to the gym 5 or six days a week; I never take the elevator at work; I take Miikka for walks 4 or 5 days a week (when the weather isn’t awful and it isn’t too dark); I play tennis a couple of times a week. I drink lots of water, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and (mostly) avoid sweets in excess. All of these good habits are already internalized. I am not sure why it has taken so long for this realization to penetrate my brain. Maybe because I am surrounded by a culture and media that is constantly telling us that we can never be thin enough, that we should eat the Double Down sandwich one day and telling us that we have to cleanse away the toxins and eat nothing but spinach the next. Maybe because even though I have been working out consistently over the last year, I haven’t lost any weight, and (if you follow all the fitness magazines and weight-loss advice) that must mean I am doing something wrong.
But I can be free of that self-doubt. I already know what I need to do to be healthy; I already do it. OK, so I haven’t lost weight, but I have been gaining muscle, and maybe, just maybe, I am at my healthy weight. Yes, I used to weigh less, but I was younger, didn’t do any weight training (so, less muscle) and wasn’t on the medication I am now (with weight-affecting side effects). This is a hard thing to accept sometimes, that I will never be skinny like a movie star (of course, many of them are probably under-weight, and about 6 inches shorter than I) because that is what society tells me I should be, but now I have the certainty that I am already doing the right things. I just have to trust myself. Besides, Benjamin thinks I look pretty hot as I am, and how can I be upset by that?
This revelation didn't occur without any groundwork. I have been reading several blogs that have helped me to reshape my thinking about my weight and my view of myself. All of them focus on self-acceptance and learning to tune out the harmful messages we get from society and the media. The three most helpful have been:
- Already Pretty - a fashion blog, but one that encourages you to learn to love your body and try to dress in ways to accentuate your positives.
- Weightless - hosted by Psychcentral, this blog focuses a lot on eating disorders and fixing bad body image and helping you to change damaged thinking.
- The Next Hundred Pounds - written by a professional opera singer who has lost a lot of weight and blogs about the challenges and rewards of changing her lifestyle.