*I wrote this on a whim about 6 months before I turned 30. Including it without editing as an exercise in showing compassion for a previous version of myself*
There is nothing more boring than listening to a woman who hates her body. And yet I’ve been listening to my inner litany of grievances for over half of my life. At almost 30 years old, I’ve had an eating disorder / exercise disorder / body dysmorphia / disordered eating for longer (16 years at this point) than the time I spent on this earth without those issues. I think about food constantly, control everything about my food and intake until I break and control nothing about it, and check the mirror daily [multiple times a day] for proof that I’ve gained 10 pounds in the last few days and am, in fact, fat. I know it isn’t fair to a body that does so much for me.
These issues have ebbed and flowed over 16 years and have manifested themselves in many different forms (anorexia, marathon running, vegetarianism, Paleo, restrictive macro counting). Recently, competitive CrossFit has thrown a wrench into the self-hatred spiral as I have performance goals (rather than just aesthetic ones) about which to berate myself. Ring muscle ups, heavier cleans, heavier snatches, perfect butterfly pull-ups… why can’t my body do these? Why am I not stronger, faster, better? For so long I just focused on being leaner. Now I want to be lean but also strong. Oh, and fun.
One year ago my whole life almost imploded because I was too lean. Too good at dieting. Too successful at restriction. My husband didn’t like how lean I was and my methods for achieving such standards. He said I was no longer fun and had been in search of someone who was. A year later, we’re still picking up the pieces and figuring it all out. I’ve loosened my restrictions and feel like all of relationships (husband, friends) have thrived as a result. But loosening those restrictions comes at a price. My beloved leanness. And my peace of mind that I’m “thin enough”.
It’s funny because women are taught (by the media, mostly) that if we’re thin and pretty enough, people will love us. But I was thin and I had less friends and my husband was having an emotional affair with some girl he reconnected with on Instagram. I loved being thin but no one else loved it.
So now I have a better relationship with my husband and I have more friends and I’m “fun”, but I hate my body, my relationship with food, and the mirror. I hate everything I can’t do or can't do well enough in the gym. And I hate myself for hating all of those things because my god just let it be and enjoy life.
Food is fuel but food is also connection and culture and celebration and love. We have to eat everyday (multiple times) and we might as well enjoy it. I love fueling my body (kale, spinach, berries) but I also love nourishing my soul (frozen yogurt, granola, nut butter, chocolate). I love staying hydrated but I also love having cocktails with my girlfriends or a beer at some awesome brewery with my husband.
Training is challenging and hard but also rewarding and fun. This is a competitive sport that we pay to be a part of… no one is paying us to do this “work”. So keeping it enjoyable is important. Finding that balance between challenge/progress and fun/fitness is the ultimate goal.