Recently a friend of mine asked how I can continue to be so bare, publicly, on my blog. She is trying to strike the balance of living honestly and sharing her stories without feeling like she’s bragging or dragging other people down.
I guess I feel like we all have secret lives. I know I have one. It involves feeling fat and disgusting and judging my fatness and then not seeing myself as fat at all, rather plump and sensuous and gorgeous! I have saggy skin and stretch marks and, yes, even more saggy skin because I was a big lady! And guess what? ALL WOMEN have secret lives where we lie to ourselves and binge and hate on ourselves and sometimes love on ourselves a little too much (is that possible?). When I started seeing courageous women posting their stories about their struggles with binging, the issue of fatness, exercise, saggy skin and scores of other issues, I felt empowered. Suddenly my goals seemed tangible in a way that they never had been before- here were women, just like me, who were losing weight and keeping it off. And running marathons and stuff. This was near my grasp. But what I wanted more than anything was to follow someone in progress. Most of the stories I found were of women who had already done the impossible and were citing skinny jeans and half marathon times while I could hardly squeeze into my 24’s or walk around the block. It looked so far away, fitness, health and a smaller body. I decided that sometimes you have to be the change you want to see and decided that my own story was going to have to inspire me. I decided that if I wrote my story for me, to motivate myself, to congratulate myself, that other people’s opinions wouldn’t matter so much. Any criticism I received could be shrugged off as people who weren’t in my target audience of me and, therefore, would not matter. So I started and promised to be bare, open, transparent and accountable. If I failed, I wanted to fail publicly and loudly and embarassedly. I wanted every motivation in place not to fail, so I shared, over shared, and shared more. There’s little I keep private.
I will fully admit, however, that there are some naked and bare posts that are hard to share. The ones that are mired down in self hatred and depression are particularly difficult to publish, but when I read Katie’s blog about losing control as a binge eater it changed my life. To understand that someone else feels like that, understands what a binge feels like, to hear someone else’s testimony about how she regains control- it was life changing for me. Her openness fleeced the shame away from having the issue of wanting to binge and made the monster much smaller and easier to recognize. That sisterhood was educational and healing. I share my depression episodes and dietary. ‘failures’ with a mixed feeling of shame and pride, with the hope that someone else might see a bit of herself in my depression-head and realize that she isn’t alone in those dark moments.
Want to know a funny thing, though? It’s hard to share the celebrations, too. It’s hard to be someone who others look at and assume I live this pure life of tofu and kale followed by my daily, vigorous, 4-mile run with my smiling husband and loving children in tow. I see people scurry away from me, feeling judged by the vegetarian weightloss warrior who shares her weight and story fearlessly. People confess their transgressions to me like I’m a priest, of eating poorly, of needing to get back on the wagon, of their lack of going to the gym… My successes alienate me, in a way, so it’s hard to be all shiny and full of crowing sometimes. I just lost a pound! And another! And, oh, guess what? I lost two more, tee he! I know it irritates people because they block my posts on Facebook. Ouch. But again, I think about that person out there who reads my blog and gets all jazzed up, just like Katie did for me. Somehow she sees herself losing ten, twenty, 140 pounds, just like me, and if my story can help someone else revise their life for the better, then I feel like it’s important to let them read my journal. And I will confess, I read it too. When I get low, I go back and read my own story with utter amazement at what this woman, I, was able to accomplish.
Today has been a weird day. Do you ever have those days when everything just seems out of synch? You drop things, say the wrong thing, your words or intentions are misinterpreted, you get lost, spill glasses of water and altogether feel like a mess and a bother? I drove to Zumba this morning feeling just like that, compounded with the knowledge that this was likely to be my last Zumba class at the gym. I got to dance one last time with Camille on 12/26, and I wanted one last dance with Emily, too, so I jumped on the opportunity to go today. I was this close to not going with my foul mood, but not being able to dance one more time with Emily was too heartbreaking to miss out on. It was fabulous, too; I’m glad I went. I was on the verge of tears when I walked through the door, but within 30 seconds of joining in, a smile broke through and I was having the best time. It was like she knew and picked the playlist for me! My favorites, the routines I remember… Fantastic.
On the way out the door, Emily said goodbye and I totally broke into the ugly cry. I felt a little ridiculous, but on my way home I was reflecting on Zumba, the gym and the relationships I created with my cohort of ladies and the exceptional instructors I had the pleasure of learning from. Zumba changed me. Before Zumba, I didn’t think dance was for me at all, especially not hip hop or sexy shimmies and such. The moves are fast and intimidating, but today we were going through the motions and I felt fluid and fluent. I gained such confidence. I’m more flexible now, strong in ways I never have been, toned in surprising places. The first few times I danced I couldn’t believe how sexy the instructors lead us to be with the booty shaking and hip swiveling, but I credit those exact Zumba moves with the toning in my back and tightening of my waist. Before Zumba I had a big gut that I couldn’t seem to ditch. I don’t weigh terribly different than last year, but I sure look different! I built muscle and changed my entire structure. On top of that, I learned weightlifting skills and pushed myself in classes that that were outside of anything I’d ever think I’d be capable of. On top of that, I was able to friend a few instructors in Facebook and they became important people to me who I reach out to and watch their lives. They became part of my tribe. Today I marveled at how fun Zumba is now and how incredibly sore I was after that first time with Emily! I could hardly walk the next day! I’m proud of the progress I made while I was a member and am so sad to be done with the gym.