Hello friends. You may have noticed I haven’t been blogging lately, and you might even have been a bit worried given the dark tone of my past couple of posts. I’ll admit I have been spiraling downward a bit, but mostly I’ve been quite busy. I’m writing this rather substanceless entry just as an update, I will post something weightier later on today or tomorrow.
So here’s the biggest reason I’ve been so absent: I started a new fitness program a couple of weeks ago, and I have been focusing on keeping up with that so I don’t do my usual “Work out for one week, have good intentions for one week, then just give up” pattern.
It’s going well so far. I set up a routine for myself that includes counting calories (to make sure I’m getting at least 2,000 a day which is really difficult especially when you don’t eat meat, dairy or eggs), and a couple of hours of working out combining yoga, aerobic exercise, and if I’m feeling really motivated I go outside and run until I feel like I’m going to die (which takes about three minutes, as I am terrifically out of shape, so I walk a bit then run some more). I’ve stuck to this for a little over two weeks which might be a record for me.
I’ve written before about body image and how mine is pretty good, how I look in the mirror and I love my body but that’s not too huge of a breakthrough because honestly I match standard beauty norms fairly well (at least as regards my body shape). So why am I doing all this? Why am I waking up every morning with sore muscles, downing tasteless protein powder shakes, going out dancing with my thighs still burning from an earlier workout?
I’m doing this precisely because I love my body. I’m not trying to conform to any kind of outer ideal, particularly. I want my body to be as strong and flexible and healthy as it can be. I want to increase my body’s performance within its own individual capabilities. The people on my yoga DVD croon, “It is said that our souls can be experienced only through our bodies.” There’s some sort of truth to that (have I mentioned that nature-focused religions and Eastern religions square away with science better than Western monotheistic religions? Well I think they do). And if myself is experienced through this body, if my existence as me is contingent on this body, I want this body to be able to have the best life possible.
And I think that’s a decent fitness philosophy: focusing on what is best and what is possible for each individual body. I spent several years of my life working as a personal assistant to a couple of different women with profound physical challenges. So when I think of a fitness philosophy, I think of them. I think of how so many fitness mantras, catchphrases, and philosophies only work for people who have no real physical challenges to overcome other than just being out of shape. I don’t want to be reinforcing ableism as I’m increasing my body’s abilities, and so I simply tell myself, “Be as flexible and strong and healthy as you can be.”
When I feel like giving up, I motivate myself in various ways. Sometimes, I motivate myself with fear, recalling terrifying times in my life which might have turned out better had I been in peak physical condition: I remember being pinned down and unable to move, afraid of being hurt and afraid of being raped and being unable to avoid either circumstance. I remember trying to run from an unknown person in an abandoned building but being so slow that my athletic brother quickly outpaced me and left me behind. Other times, I motivate myself by thinking of female action heroes; right now, I think to myself “I want to be like Buffy.” Still other times I barely need motivation at all. I simply think of how good I’ve been feeling, physically, even through all the aches. How it feels to be taking care of myself, how I’m feeling more energetic and less sluggish, how I’m sleeping better.
So at the moment, my writing is falling off a bit because I’m focusing on not giving up this new healthier lifestyle. I’ll integrate it soon into my normal flow of work and social life, and I’ll carve out a space once again for blogging with some sort of regularity. Until then, of course, you can always find me on twitter @bohemianfaith