Tango til’ they’re sore*
So, the Tango begins my friends. I’m taking things to the next level.
Many years ago, I was a bartender with a service industry schedule. which meant, sleep all day and oftentimes, party all night. I smoked, I drank, I occasionally did other things that contributed to the lifestyle. One day, and quite honestly, I don’t remember some big moment of clarity, I traded in smoking and most of the rest for early morning hot-yoga. I remember vomiting. I remember being really really hot. I remember sticking with it for the most part, although our memory can twist things sometimes, huh?
I dropped weight. Whole sizes, actually. I wore short-shorts and got free coffee that I attributed to this newly discovered body. I still tended bar. I still drank. I still kept poor sleeping habits. But all of a sudden, everyone around me saw me as a “healthy person”. I think I was depressed and pretty lonely. But I portion controlled, watched makeover shows while on the treadmill and chose work or sleep over eating. I did not make many healthy decisions. Then… not long after this phase, I dropped to a size 6, my lowest ever and I was elated in my depression. I had smaller boobs (yay!!!!) and a giant head on an oddly small frame. And I got compliment after compliment – which I hated because I saw every “wow, you look great” as “wow, you look great which is good because before when you were bigger you were pretty much a failure with no control over yourself so never, ever, ever go back to that cuz you are clearly not as strong as you think you are”.
It was a strange time. On one hand, it was possibly the most amazing thing to put clothes on without the 20-minute assessment of bumps and rolls. I just dressed and left – and it was awesome. But I hesitated anytime someone expressed “awe” or “pleasure” at how I looked. In high school, I was obsessed with writing “transformation” fantasy stories about how no one recognized this great new “bikini body” I had become after months of undercover working out (complete with shedding the baggy sweatsuit for a teeny red bikini). And now here I was living it and I resented the hell out of it.
A lot has changed. Some hasn’t. Not sure I have the healthiest of eating habits. Well, actually I am sure that I don’t have the healthiest of eating habits. I am beginning a journey to learn “intuitive” eating… I’ll let you know how that goes later. I sleep better, much to the credit of a partner that helps regulate my patterns. I drink far, far less. I still use work and possibly sleep to distract myself from emotional woes (another issue I am addressing… there is a long list clearly.) And I am heavier than I was during the hot yoga phase but not as heavy as prior, somewhere in between.
I still hold onto some of that resentment that how the size or shape of my body can change how I am perceived in public. But, I also catch myself passing the same (or sometimes opposite) judgement which fills me with guilt and shame. We all have work to do and I want desperately to do mine and then I want so much to help others do their work. So, during my work on body image issues, emotional responses, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of acceptance even, maybe… I am taking one giant step forward in my professional life. I think at some point my brain/body/heart implanted these ideas inside me: Ideas that my body can do most things, but not all. That I can teach in the fitness community but not be a role model for it. That I can support the body positive community, but not be a mouthpiece for it. That to really move in a way that expresses my fullest joy (yoga, dance, hip hop, kayaking, climbing, etc etc etc) my body needs to be smaller, lighter, better… that my arms need to be thinner in order to feel graceful, that my belly needs to be flat in order to be strong. And here I am now saying bullshit to all of that. All I need to do to be strong and to feel graceful is to stop judging myself and just simply move.
I want movement to heal my mind and my heart. And I want movement to lift up my body. And I want to give those same things to other people seeking comfort and challenge in themselves. While I’m studying to get my PT cert, I will also learn from professionals in the community who embrace that body acceptance and healthy living are not exclusive of one another. You can celebrate yourself while still striving for the healthiest version of the entire package – mind, body & soul. You absolutely can. Watch me.
Keep following. The dance has just begun.
-Kris, The Gracious Body
*Song Title. Lyrics by Tom Waits