19 August 2010

Why I envy skeletons, think Angelina should embrace her Lara Croft body again, and my search for the perfect fiber supplement.

As previously mentioned, I've spent a good portion of my life becoming mortal enemies with food and my body.  Eating disorders defined who I was for the better part of 10 years.  I've lost weight - which was never enough - and I've gained weight - which was always too much - but I've never experienced weightlessness - that beautiful existence where you are what you are, and weight has nothing to do with it. I'm in love with my body right now for its strength and its capabilities and its potential.  A few days ago, for the first time in, well, maybe ever, I actually liked the way my legs looked in a summery romper.  This is, if it's not becoming clear, a big, HUGE deal.

The totally ridiculous paradox, though, is that I still step on a scale in the morning, hoping to have magically dropped 20 pounds overnight.  Then, upon seeing the ever-taunting, digital measure, a stream of swearing, cursing and belittling myself ensues, usually ending in an anxious frenzy, and a judgmental once-over in the mirror, landing on each and every one of my self-imposed, undesirable body parts.  I'm, as yet, uncertain of how I can praise my body for it's beauty and strength on an inhale and on the exhale diminish the very things that are providing the material for the praise.  Ideally, if my mind won, I would look like some kind of crack addict and still be strong enough to lift cars off trapped children.

Now, I'm aware that skeletons are not sexy, except maybe in a strictly scientific sense where their praises are being sung as the frame for us to move around.  That's sexy.  Add skin on top and throw it all in Dior - not so sexy.  But, I still wish for that over being told I have a "badonk" (which, incidentally, will not disappear no matter how much weight I lose.  I've tried.)  And, though I romanticize incredibly thin bodies, the gals I most want to emulate are the athletic, visibly strong ones.  Take Angelina Jolie, for instance.
 (Now, fully aware that I have no right to place any kind of judgment on a woman I don't know, I only include the following example as a recognizable visual for what is taking place in my head.)

She's a beautiful woman no matter what size, but when I look at these pictures side by side, my heart (and my thighs) shouts to me, "The second one! That's what you want! Strong! Healthy! Glowing!" But, there's also a scared, confused, eating-disordered girl in my head that whispers love songs about bony little bodies. I don't know why she wins; she's weak. And, yet, she's shaped much of my life into an ever-present, self-conscious battle where no one wins, least of all my well-being.

This has been the fight of my life, both because it's lasted for almost half of it and because there have been some scary moments that could have ended my precious time here.  How strange is that?  No one tells you when you're little that food is scary.  But it is.  The flip side - and isn't life all about flipping things over? - is that it's also incredibly sustaining.  I guess anything that sustains life should be granted some cautious reverence for it's ability to deny life, too.  While I don't suspect many vegetables are harboring some sort of malevolence or any grains wielding machetes, for their human counterparts there is a real need for mindfulness and awareness when it comes to consuming anything.  This is where I find myself.  I've made peace with the vegetables (malevolent, or not), and various other forms of foods mostly by adhering to a vegan diet.  Throw in some macrobiotic principles - nothing in extremes, eating locally and in season - and a whole lot of raw foods - whole, unprocessed foods, mainly the best the earth has to offer, heated no more than 116-120 degrees - and you'll arrive at my current residence.  Therapy and learning how to eat again were thrown in there at some point, but that's not really the crux of this issue.  Learning what my body needs on a basic, scientific level has given me knowledge with which to fight back against that whispering siren.  When you know what's going on, (sometimes) things aren't so scary.  That has been step one.  Step 1 lasted for a long time, years even, and there were predictable relapses and zero bodily comfort. 

HELLO Step 2!  Step 2 and I are in love, mainly because I'm falling in love with a body I've only ever viewed with palpable hostility.  Step 2 and I are in the middle of this ridiculous Life Changingness and totally and utterly changing shapes - bodily, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.  This is mainly to do with intentions one through three that I set for myself.  Eating with moderation, toleration and acceptance is easy enough to say, but to do it while still holding appreciation for whatever form your body might take is the real key.  Thanks to the daily asana practice, my body is becoming stronger each day, which makes it easier to admire.  Furthermore, I can't really give in to the starvation monster, as I would just pass out in class.  I have to put something in that belly.  

Just what do I put into that belly, though?  Apparently, raw foods agree wholeheartedly and completely with my constitution.  My appetite, digestion and energy have never been better. Having a a beautiful, raw genius at home making delicious uncooked food and serving them up with all the support and love I could have ever imagined really makes life easier 1) because unending, blissful love really is all around me at all times, and 2) because raw foods are, perhaps, the biggest pain in the ass ever to prepare.  (Disclaimer: once you get used to the added time, it's actually not so bad.  But, it sure drives home my point in this case.)  Morning smoothies have been a staple, as I can throw in some green juice, a vegan protein/vitamin super-powder galore, some aloe juice, and an ever-revolving mix of fiber supplements - so far, my favorites include any without psyllium, which seems to slow things down more than one would think.  (After years of messing with the way my body processed food, it appreciates any ingredients that soothe digestion.  Raw food is actually a comprehensive way of eating that incorporates that very notion into every meal.  Still, y'gotta throw a tummy a break.)  The rest of the day includes an assortment of fruit, and whatever meal is awaiting me when the day is done. 

Lastly, abstaining from alcohol has been one of the best things I've done for my body and it's relationship to food. I am hoping that I can incorporate glasses of wine here and there at some point, but for resetting my body, it has been a crucially awesome decision. Not to mention, I am actually getting a real high that used to be produced from alcohol and now I am actually getting it based on my own body's reactions to this beautiful life. Much like how, I would assume, you feel after seeing the Pyramids in Egypt after only ever having seen the Pyramids in Vegas.

Fancy, sure. But, authentic and ancient and mystifying? Eh, not so much.

There will surely be more posts on food, as I reacquaint myself with my unsuspecting enemy-turned-friend.  And, the work isn't done.  I still, don't understand why I can make so much progress, feel so strong, love the way my body works in class and then come home and hate that my stomach sticks out to far.  Or, be upset that I seem to be hovering ten pounds heavier than when I decided to do the teacher training several months ago (what is that about muscles weighing more than fat?  Can I use that lifeline?)  The bottom line:  women, and men for that matter, are told we should look a certain way.  It's reinforced in popular culture, and then reinforced in our own heads when we lose weight and gain approval.  It's reinforced in other minds when we determine what "overweight" means and then go on to associate all sorts of negative stigmas around that arbitrary figure.  It's reinforced in the loss of what humans actually look like and instead an idea of what we're supposed to look like.  

But, what it really comes down to, I think, is reinforcement by the sheer ignorance of what it is we each really want.  And, not wants as in, "I really want to eat a whole chocolate cake right now.  I know that's what I want, and so I know myself."  It's the kind of wants that are innate, in our cells and our hearts that are telling us what it is we need to sustain ourselves; what it is we need to prepare these human forms for the ultimate experiences in life, which are in the day-to-day moments; what it is we want to be the most we can be.  Knowing what it is I want is finally coming into focus.  And, it just so happens, I really want this body, with all it's curves and muscles and skin.  I want it because I can finally feel what it's capable of. Even the badonk. 

Maybe, especially the badonk.


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