It has been over two years since I moved to Oklahoma and nearly 3 since I started this blog. I started it thinking that “Hey, this will motivate me.” To stay in touch with friends. To track my diet. To stay on an exercise plan. To finally lose weight. I truly thought that all I needed to be who I was going to be was an accountability buddy in the form of 200 readers. That’s what would get me there.
I spent most of college working out some sort of plan to get in shape/skinny. To finally become that effortlessly beautiful woman I envied so violently. This blog was another one of those plans. After failing millions and millions of times, half starving and half bingeing and losing and gaining the same 10-15 lbs. while never quite reaching that 20 lb. loss, I began to believe I was a failure and that, despite my best efforts, I would never, ever get there.
“It takes hard work and dedication” is a pretty popular catch phrase you see in the diet/exercise realm. But I had that! I was working hard! Every day! Giving it 100%! But I knew that was a lie. I knew I was giving myself the benefit of the doubt when it came to calories. I knew I wasn’t really pushing that hard in the gym, although learning the new motions was hard for me–I believed that difficulty was the “intensity” I had heard I needed. I knew somewhere inside that what I wanted was not to work hard and be dedicated, but rather to magically be someone I wasn’t. I wanted to wake up tomorrow in a different body with different interests. “Just start now” didn’t work for me because I could really just give it my all tomorrow. The thing was, I thought about it all the time. Diet and exercise ruled my life–every thought was geared around bikini season and counting calories. I was horribly miserable, but I knew if I could just make it through these 90, 60, 30 days, if I bought all the low-calorie, whole foods, if I only ate half the packet of oatmeal instead of the whole thing, I would finally be that person I wanted to be.
A lot has changed since then. It’s taken me a few years to shake this mentality and finally stop viewing myself in such a harsh and critical light (although occasionally those vicious words still sneak into my mind). Believe it or not, I actually have the media to thank for that. This vast expanse of internet has introduced me to article and photo series upon article and photo series centered on the beauty of self, of the lie that we aren’t beautiful if we aren’t thin, and of the idea that self-worth is wholly self-defined.
This past weekend, I completed my first triathlon. This has been a personal goal for me for the last 4 or 5 years, although it wasn’t until recently that I was emotionally ready to tackle the training necessary to not only complete the race, but to not hate every minute of it. I’ve never been so proud of myself, but not just because I accomplished a goal but rather because this goal really signifies the almost complete shift in my perception of self and my ability to self-motivate. I completed the sprint tri this weekend with no other goal but to do it for myself. Not because training would surely help me lose a bunch of weight (it didn’t). Not because I thought it would make my personal trainer husband proud (it did). Not because I want to be one of those people who casually does extreme things (casual is definitely not the right word). I did it because I wanted to. I wanted to be triathlete. And because of that, I actually enjoyed training. I didn’t begrudge every run (I hate running), but welcomed it as a necessary part of getting to my goal. I was excited about it so I made the best of it, and day of, I knocked it out of the park.
This blog never became the accountability partner I had planned it to be, but rather it became a forum where I can express my thoughts on myriad things, albeit only every so often. I value this side of me–my ability to articulate, to reason. I also appreciate the sides of me that enjoy drawing, playing music, doing yoga. These last 2 years have slowly changed my opinion of myself. I am no longer a failure because I’m not thin. I’m loud, intelligent, imaginative, creative, awkward, talkative, and sometimes antisocial. I like daydreaming, drawing, writing, reading, watching TV, meditating, hiking, exploring cultures and ideas that had barely entered into my narrow scope of the world, and I’m incredibly passionate about strength training. I like encouraging other people. I like being outside. I love looking at art and at my husband (side note: Y’all! He is so seriously my life mate, my number 1 fan, and the best husband for me ever). I am a beautiful and complex human being experiencing this world for the first (and maybe last) time. I’ve spent far too long and wasted much too much energy on things that don’t matter, honing in on my body like it was some adversary to be conquered rather than an asset to be loved.
In “What Dreams May Come,” the main character dies , only to relive his entire life backwards. It breaks my heart to know that one day I could start at the end, with all of my knowledge, move slowly back through my life and have to watch myself waste so much time worrying about not being perfect and feeling wholly unworthy (as if reliving the days of being “punk rock” and wearing thick-eyeliner isn’t punishment enough). That alone is inspiration enough to love myself and everyone around me, to breathe in the fresh September air, and to spend more time doing things I enjoy.
This weekend, I realized that you don’t have to work or try so hard to become who you want to be. You already are who you are–you are just on a journey to further realize what you’re capable of. Just start being that person, and remember that a little patience and kindness go a long way.