I have been meaning to deal with this sub-blog for quite some time. I just haven't had the gumption as it relates to a lot of the struggles that I've had in the past few years. Struggles with wellness, being and identity. Struggles with letting go of something that you have been for so long. Something worn and no longer useful for any positive purpose in your inner being. Something familiar and one of the only things you ever considered yourself somewhat good at...
IDENTITY. We all have it. From the time I was 13 years old I have identified myself as being a person who “works out”. A weight banger, runner, fitness minded individual. I remember the very day that I birthed this identity. We had gone to a nearby town that we normally traveled to every couple of weeks to buy groceries. We had no real grocery store in the small town where I grew up but there was a larger town about 30 minutes away, just over the Maryland state border that had a Foodland, a movie theatre and even a Pizza Hut! They had bookstores, a library, a Hecks store (pre-curser to Kmart, Walmart and the like). I would always go with my mom because it was a treat to get the hell out of my tiny little existence and be where there was stuff going on.
I found a book one trip called “Thin Thighs in 30 Days” and I bought it with my allowance. I had been asking my mom about dieting because my body was changing and I didn’t like the result. I had these boobs that kept getting bigger, my prior mostly boy-like figure was starting to curve out and I was determined to stop these changes. She had given me the lowdown on calorie counting and I took all this information, ripped out all the diet and exercise articles in the magazines she got on a monthly basis and read that book from cover to cover when we got home.
That book spurred me to more books. The beginning of my relationship with weights was sparked by a book called Flex Appeal written by then Ms. Olympia Rachel McLish. I did all the exercises in it as directed. The diet I made up myself. Knowing about calories and weight and having a bit of success, I became really good at not eating, but I always “kept my head” about me. Despite dipping to about 105 pounds at one point in my young life I feel like I only flirted with anorexia. Maybe my psychological makeup as a banner underachiever saved me?
All in all, from around 1980 to 2013, the only span of time I had been without “training” as a part of my life was the first semester of my freshman year in college. I wouldn’t even call it a semester – maybe ½ of it, so not a long stretch. I did gain a good deal of weight during that time. Combination of beer and being introduced to fast food no doubt LOL. So, I quickly got back to my regime of work, restriction and minimal reward. My workout methods have varied over the decades but there was always structure, I always had goals and they were always based on more or less – more muscle, less fat, less boobs, more butt, less cellulite, more bicep definition, less scale weight…on and on…
Why does any of this matter and why have I chosen to address this blog and/or put off doing so even as I desire to address it? I don’t know. I guess it doesn’t really in the whole scheme of the world. It matters to me and I’m purging. Not of food but of identity. My identity. The identity that has driven me for over 30 years. Repeat. Over.30.Years.
My last post in this journal was in February. Since then not much has changed. I average about 3 to 4 grudging “workout” sessions per week. Rarely enjoying them, mostly trying to figure out how I can make the most of 20 minutes, since my attention span now really caps out there. Then being disgusted with myself because you can’t really even call that training now can you? It is more of a filler type thing on a day when you are legitimately too busy to actually train…loser. And so it goes. All this doesn’t exactly make me feel better about myself or my identity so while some movement is better than none, I’m not sure the overall benefits (including mental) are worth it.
Even typing about it makes me feel bad inside. So, why?
Because I have to let go. Walk away. Say goodbye to this person that I have been for over 30 years and allow the person I will be for the next 30 to emerge. I have to thank her (because there were some good things that she taught me). She did give me order and the ability to commit to something that overall (whether I went too far with it at times or not) was good for me. She made my body stronger than it would have been had I been completely sedentary, training for all those years has been good for my heart and lungs, she did make me aware of better food choices than drive-thru options and those choices have stuck. I met good friends because of her.
I thank that identity for all these things and now I am letting her go. I’m letting go of expectations, guilt, of trying to be something I am not, judging myself against photoshop and deeming myself less of a person because I’m not without cellulite or that my boobs are just as big as they always were or that my stomach isn’t flat. I’m letting go of the daily checklist that always results in – uggghhhhh you are gross. Letting go of the planning as to when/how in the world I’m going to fit a workout into an already full day when it isn’t a priority stemming from love but a priority stemming from self loathing or the continual race against it. The hiding from it.
Just as I can remember the birthing of her I can remember clearly the moment that we stepped into the wilds of my soul together and I tentatively said….I think we need to talk. It was last weekend on my normal Sunday morning run on the trail, which I do not because I enjoy running but mostly because I enjoy sweating before I do yoga (again, my priorities get mixed up with her). It was beautiful and wet and there were earth smells and fog and I was running and clocking my time (20 minutes remember? MUST do AT LEAST 20 minutes) and my left knee started to hurt a little (which it does sometimes after 30+ years of running, high impact workouts, squats, etc.) and I was pissed. Pissed at my knee, pissed that I was getting old, pissed that I hadn’t yet hit 20 minutes, just pissed in general and I really just wanted to walk but that would mean that the entire run was pointless because it was cool out and I wasn’t even sweating yet and…
Very clearly something said. Stop. Stop running and walk. Listen. I never do this. I never ever ever don’t finish a workout. But, I did on that day. For whatever reason I did and while I walked I thought a lot about how I was in the middle of everything that I love (the woods, nature, fog, the sounds of squirrels, birds and deer, dogs barked in the distance, a rooster was crowing) and I heard and saw none of it until I just stopped running. When I was young I used to walk in the woods for hours on end, actually trying really hard to get lost and meet the Fae. Only my dog always knew the way home LOL… When did my dreamy meanderings become secondary to “getting an appropriate workout in” anyway?
I’m tired. Worn out with her expectations and constant badgering. Her nudges and slights and the way she looks at me. I feel like when I stopped and walked I was walking away. I feared looking back because like in some movie she might attach herself to me again and tell me I’d better run because my heartrate was slowing down and before long the whole morning would be pointless… These are the kinds of things she says to me and I don’t want to hear them anymore. I want to run because I feel like running. I want to lift because I feel like feeling strong. I want to have my mind free from her. I want to be honest with myself and I cannot do it with her living inside me.
I came home. I shut the door. I locked it. Please leave me alone. I know she will knock. But, I am too weary with her to answer.
Because the ability to express ourselves and care for ourselves through motion is something we should be grateful for...