I haven’t really been feeling myself lately. I go through these phases, and I think not knowing how to come out of them was a big part of why I struggled with eating disorders for so many years. It seems that in the blink of an eye, I can go from feeling myself a little too much to wanting to put a bag over my head and hide in my house. It’s like one minute I’m strutting down Broadway in my sky high heels on my way to work and you can’t tell me nothin’, and by the time I get up to my office, I’m frowning at my reflection in the mirror and questioning every fashion choice I made that day, from my eyeliner down to my shoes.
So when I realized that I wasn’t feeling myself last night, I decided to spend some time feeling myself…literally. Okay get your mind out of the gutter and come back to me. You good? Okay here’s what I mean. When I got home from the gym, I drew myself a nice, hot bubble bath and got in. As I washed my hair I ran my fingers through each strand, thinking about how long it’s getting and how much I really like it despite the grays that are currently peeking out at the roots. As I shaved my legs, I noticed the definition in my quads – something I never EVER thought I would have, since my legs have always been my biggest problem area. I thought about the leg workout my trainer put me through last Friday and smiled as I remembered him congratulating me at the end and telling me that I made his day. He was actually surprised that I made it through what he knew was a brutal hour. Then I washed my stomach and at first I made a stank face at my lower abs because the skin is not as tight as I wish it was and there are stretch marks and a scar from when I had my belly button pierced many moons ago. But then I remembered that I carried a baby in there, and that that baby has grown into a beautiful 6 year old firecracker who is my greatest pride and joy. In the vacuum of my bathtub, with no mirrors, no photoshopped celebrities, no catcalling men, no fellow gym-goers in push-up sports bras and butt-padded leggings, no New York fashionistas looking like Kate Moss thanks to Century 21, Drybar and Spanx, I studied my body and focused on what I love about it, and then I vowed to take those feelings out of the bathtub and into the real world with me.
Last night I tried not to focus on how my body looks or how it compares to others. Instead I paid attention to how it feels and what it can do, and then I realized that these things mean a whole lot more than how I look in a miniskirt or whether I see an inkling of a muffin top. My body has changed dramatically in the last two years. There were big, quantifiable changes like losing 75 lbs and dropping from a size 16 to a 0, but these aren’t even the things that make me the proudest. What makes me proud is being able to do a 300+ pound leg press, squatting more than my body weight, and having the core strength to maintain great posture and balance. I like knowing that if I had to run for my life, I’d have a fighting chance at survival. I like that I don’t need to ask a man to help me take the air conditioners out of my windows because I can lift them myself. I like knowing that I possess the knowledge and determination to get my body fat to 15% if that’s what I wanted to do (it’s just not right now, and that’s okay). Obviously I want to look good too, but I’ve found that when I spend less time obsessing about how I look and focus more on how I feel and what I can do, I inevitably end up even more satisfied with my physical appearance…and I feel a whole lot less crazy and stressed out.