April 1, 2016
Ironically, April Fool’s day finds me writing about balance. And if there’s one common denominator in each of my previous entries, it’s that I’m seriously unbalanced y’all. Balance – “an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.” Or Balance – “a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.” If you’re reading this and you know me, you’ve long since accepted me as your wobbly, lanky, uncoordinated, klutzy, grace-lacking friend/sister/associate. And you still love me, bless you. If you don’t know me, you should. I’m a good time. Mostly if you’re a spectator. Watch me long enough and you’re sure to have a nice, hefty laugh as I attempt to maneuver my already tall personage that rests atop freakishly, long legs around on heels, stilettos, pumps, wedges in all their glorious forms. These aren’t kitten heels, people. More common than the stranger questioning my unknown and unidentifiable heritage, is the statement “I could never walk in those”. Me neither, ya’ll. But never will I be deterred by a rolled ankle or parking lot face-plant.
However, today it isn’t my physical ability or rather, inability to find balance whilst parading in pumps that has my thoughts turned to balance. My focus is on that second definition, “…equal or in the correct proportions”. Today was my 4th day back to the gym after an eight-month hiatus. I wasn’t *actually* cleared by my treatment team to head back to my former place of worship. To be fair, we discussed this a few months back when I inquired as to when I could resume my routine. Dr. W asked whether or not I’d be willing to increase my daily caloric allowance. At the time, I didn’t think I could. Following a meal plan that wasn’t all protein and broccoli, had been one of the hardest parts of treatment. But more than incorporating additional macros, I was worried about the “scene”. In the 10 years since I’d joined a gym and taken up psychosis – er weight lifting – I’d been overly confident with my skills and appearance. Having an ED, I was obviously plagued with insecurities, but walking in to a gym and picking up a weight, was never one of them. And I knew that I looked the part. Now, after so many months away and a body that is visibly showing the effects of recovery, I was nervous. But after months of contemplating and sticking with my meal plan, I wondered. I wondered if I could go back but in a way that wasn’t going back at all. So 3 days ago, I laced up my Nike’s and set the treadmill for 20 minutes.
While cardio was a part of my regimen, it was never my focus. I thought that if I changed my routine, maybe it would allow for my changing mind to ease back into some of those activities I used to love so much. I wasn’t prepared for what I found. I expected to drag ass. But crazy thing, y’all, when you feed your body, it can do stuff! Did you know that? Did you know eating protein *and* carbs, and honoring hunger instead of savagely restricting, enables your body to be bad ass? Me neither! This really beautiful thing was happening in my life, my mind, and on the treadmill. I was listening to my body. For the first time in ages, I was letting it guide me as opposed to beating it and manipulating it as if it were this separate disobedient, hateful thing that would somehow conform to my will in the absence of love and kindness. So on day 4, as I intuitively switched up the incline and pace, I thought, can I do this? Can I find balance?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve listened to the voice in my head that demanded more and better and longer or less and nothing but the very best in order to exceed expectations. My expectations, but also the expectations that I perceived were being thrown upon me by everyone in a 10-mile radius, stranger or not. During my years with ED, I was so devoted to it that I lacked any version of balance that Webster or Urban Dictionary (I don’t actually know that, probably best not to check) could define. In the eating disorder that I had before I had an eating disorder, I thought I was the master of balance, except not at all balanced. It was like balance was He-Man and I was very literally Skeletor what with my sunken cheeks and desire to conquer my body’s need for fuel thereby obtaining society and my husbands’ perfect female, yet very 12-year-old boyish, figure. So my balance, in those days, was abstaining from carbs, in all their wondrous variations. Until my body could no longer abstain, and the cloak of balance would fall to the ground making way for a mess of furiously inhaled carbs and I would once again find myself on the bathroom floor having totally lost control….and balance.
Nothing was exempt from the imbalanced inner-monologue that had become my daily companion. My workouts went from carefully selected strength training designed for my body and it’s needs to an obsessive, overreaching belief that if *that* was good *this* was better. If squats and lunges were beneficial one day a week to strengthen and sculpt the biggest muscle group in my body, what if I incorporated them every other day in between shoulder reps? And if 30 minutes of cardio 6 days a week was ideal, could you imagine what would happen if I doubled that?
Looking around this sparsely populated and very familiar gym, I’m thinking that I am entirely too into myself. And not in the way that promotes a healthy dose of self-love. Because honestly, there are like 2 people that I recognize from my previous life as a gym rat, and I’m kind of certain that they are indifferent to whether or not I’m here nor are they observant enough to notice (or care about) my softer self.
So what matters then, is how I feel.
Do I feel healthy and strong and able? Do I feel love for my body as it is even as I work towards a healthy future physically and mentally? Healthy as in my heart and lungs and other internal organs are all functioning at their fullest because I’m helping them do so with love and supportive activities – having nothing to do with weight, jean size or body fat.
And for the first time in almost a decade I’m feeling hopeful that I might just be able to partake in something that I’ve loved for so long in a way that is totally normal, dead useful, and not at all nutters. Here’s to balancing the crazy, y’all! May we all have love and gratitude for what is and faith and hope in what we’re working towards. And today, it’s balance.