Health and Fitness

This was me when I started doing silks last November:

Not fat, but not in great shape. And bottom line, I wasn’t happy. I stressed a LOT about what to wear to silks class every week so I wouldn’t look fat! It was a pain in the butt.

Here’s the thing. I always want to be skinny. Always. I spent a good chunk of my teens and early twenties being TOO skinny, and being very unhealthy to achieve that emaciated, 90lb figure I liked to sport. Sure I would fool myself and my friends, and promise it was just because I biked everywhere, and see, look, I’m gonna eat this pack of m&m’s to show you all that I DO eat, and watch me chug this beer just like the boys! I’m just naturally little! (In reality, I would then bike 20 miles, run laps, pace while reading books, and not eat for a day or two to undo the “damage”)

Worked at a gym for a while. A place full of body and fat obsessed people where I could step on a scale every two minutes, workout whenever I wanted, and have my boss tell me I looked pregnant every time I ate a sandwich! Sure I was “fit”. 12% body fat, in great shape, but still not happy with the way I looked.

Roller derby was a pretty good balance for me. I could eat a lot and since I was doing so much cardio, I would stay pretty thin. Not the teeny tiny thin I wanted to be, and I was really, really self conscious about my body, but it was better than nothing!

Then derby is gone, and I kept up with my workouts and running and such for a while until… I didn’t. 20lbs later, I’m pretty miserable every time I look in a mirror and I’m not comfortable in my own skin. Which, I never really was, but this was a lot worse.

I decided to do something a little crazy, and tried aerial silks. I mean, hey! I’m not graceful, can’t dance, not flexible, and I’m terrified of heights! Of COURSE I should attempt a sport that involves grace, flexibility, and winding yourself up as high as possible! Keep in mind though, I have always had a secret obsession with the circus. I used to obsessively watch that darn celebrity circus show, when they would take the girl from Full House, teach her to swing on a trapeze or walk a high wire and think, “I SO want to do that”.

I quickly became addicted to silks, and here’s where the magic happened. I quit stressing about what I looked like, and started stressing about what I could DO! I wanted to be able to climb to the top of the silks, and star drop, and do all the things that the best girls in the class could do. To do that, I needed to get my upper body strength up and I needed to build up my core. I went on a 24 day cleanse, which didn’t involve any scary sort of fasting, just no alcohol, no dairy, no sugar, nothing but fruits and veggies and protein. Weight slid off, my metabolism went up, and I started being able to do tricks I couldn’t do before!

Don’t get me wrong, I was very aware that I had lost weight. I stepped on the scale and knew I was 20 lbs lighter. But I was more focused on amazing things like back muscles! Triceps! Lean legs and abs!
One day I went for a run, looked down and HEY! ABS!

I don’t have a perfect body. But I’m loosing my obsession with being as skinny as possible. Heck, according the BMI chart I’m not only overweight, I’m only a few pounds away from obese. (As my friend Laura says, fuck BMI)

The best part though, is that I’m actually getting good at silks! Not that I’ll get to run away and join the circus anytime soon, but I get to do something I love, that I strive to be better at every week, and that I really enjoy. I think that’s the secret to having a healthy relationship with your body. Yea, it’s nice that I’m down a size or two. It’s nice that I don’t shy away from the mirror as much, but it’s wonderful to feel strong, and powerful, and be able to have a “ask and you shall receive” relationship with yourself! Like, “hey arms! I want to climb up there!” And my arms either go “Kickass! Let’s do it!” or they go, “um, we’re trying here, but we can’t yet. Keep trying every day though and we promise we can climb up there SOON!”.

So that’s the point to this blog post. If  you’re unhappy with your body, or your weight, and whatever it is that you’re doing or have done isn’t working, try setting a goal beyond the scale, or a waist size. Do you want to play soccer? Find a rec team, join it, work your ass off until you’re playing soccer the way you want to. Wanna be a ballet dancer? Find a dance studio, sign up for lessons. Maybe you’ll never be GREAT, but I promise that after 6 weeks you’ll be a better ballet dancer than you were at your first lesson! Right? And I think that needs to be the point. It’s not always about the workout, it’s about what you’re doing the workout to achieve. If it’s a dress size, the workout will always feel like work. If it’s, like me, the secret fantasy of always wanting to join the circus, then you’re probably going to be more successful, and more importantly, you’re going to have way more fun.