I Feel Bad About My Body

I’ll bet that’s not a title that inspires confidence about this being a cheerful, upbeat post. Well, it ain’t.

I guess, more accurately, that I feel dubious about my body. The thing is, if I hadn’t gotten into such good shape last fall, I wouldn’t be so upset about the way things are now. When I got back from teacher training in October, I was shaved of most fat, and I’d picked up a huge amount of muscle tone in my legs, my arms, my butt, and my abs. (Climbing up a steep trail on the edge of a canyon twice a day, along with hours of yoga every morning and afternoon, will do that to you.) All my clothes were loose. I felt light and quick and strong, and I was over the moon with how I looked and felt.

But of course I couldn’t maintain that. I had other things to do than keeping up my body and doing yoga. I had to work, I had to commute, I had to cook, I had to deal with life. Quickly I got soggy, and even as I fought back feebly with halfhearted aerobics and tough yoga that I really didn’t want to do, I found myself caving more and more to the siren songs of California Tortilla and Chili’s instead of the good food I’d gotten in the habit of making for myself at home. I started buying chips at the grocery store again.

My attitude towards exercise was worrying, but towards food it was more destructive. I felt hopeless and overwhelmed every time I felt my stomach getting empty. I would come home and look in all of my cupboards three or four times, uncertain about what I could make for dinner (and leftover lunches) that would be low in calories and taste good and not be too much trouble. Mere months ago, meeting these requirements had been a fun puzzle instead of a chore of despair. So I just gave in and made whatever, went out and bought whatever, started eating out more during the week, and even as I enjoyed the richer foods, I felt more self-loathing after every meal. I was losing my battle to maintain my good health, and I was heading towards the fat and sloth that I hated about so many Americans. It wasn’t just more calories, it was sliding into complacency about what I ate that was hurting.

Towards exercise I just felt hopelessness. I had finally worn out my ability to get up and do the damned aerobics even though I hated them; I couldn’t bring myself to lace up my sneakers even once more. I was weary of yoga and didn’t want to do it in my spare time.

I’m writing this in the past tense, because it started happening last winter, but all of this has only grown and gotten more problematic in the months since, and the present tense would really be more accurate. This is a problem I am having right now. I feel hopelessness every time I get hungry. My muscles have largely melted away. My jeans leave a painful indent on my tummy if I sit down for too long. I do not like the way that my clothes fit, and I do not like the way that my heart beats, and I want to be healthy and strong again.

But I don’t know what to do. I am tired of sticking to a regimen. I have cast around for ideas – joining a gym for the elliptical machines (something I used to enjoy), doing Bikram a few times a week, maybe even freakin’ Zumba – that will help me return to the healthy lifestyle I enjoyed, and will help me slim back down to what I really do think of as my fighting weight. (I felt like I could take on the world when I got home last October.) But I think all those things would be a waste of time and money with no motivation, and that’s exactly what I’m lacking.

See, none of this is bothering me that much. I don’t really like the soggy way that I look when I take off my clothes, and I definitely don’t like how differently those clothes fit when they’re on me. I don’t like my vanishing deltoids. But BF still desires me, and I am not obese, or even overweight, or even (probably) very much out of shape. The BBQ ranch burrito is sooo gooooood. There have been only faint negative effects from letting my diet and exercise slide into oblivion, instead of definite ones. So I can’t find the energy to get good and concerned about myself, and dive back into committing to my body’s betterment again. I also have a suspicion that I’d have to work harder than I’m really willing (or able, with my current schedule) to in order to look and feel like I did after teacher training, so if I’m not going to get that result, why should I try?

The answer is, because I’d like to look and feel better than I do now. I want my jeans to be loose again. I want to have a slimmer neck and arms on my wedding day. I have to find a place inside that cares about that stuff, that isn’t just blase, saying that I look fine and I feel fine and I need to stop worrying, because I’ve got enough to worry about. But now I’m worrying about all of this, all of what I’ve written, this feeling like I’m letting something important slip away just by virtue of my body being Good Enough as it is.

Does anyone have advice or guidance for me? I don’t know what to do.

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9 Responses to I Feel Bad About My Body

  1. […] This has been much on my mind lately, and I’m glad I wrote it out. It has made me feel very bad […]

  2. Tiffany says:

    Sweetie, with how much you have going on in your life, it’s understandable that you’re feeling the way that you do. You are comforting yourself with food, which has always ALWAYS been my particular problem. You’re busy and tired and maybe even a little depressed, which is why you don’t feel like prioritizing exercise. Again, been there, done that. Because you found joy in exercise and eating right before, means you WILL find the joy in it again. Baby steps.

    You may feel that if you don’t throw yourself back into things right back at the heightened level you USED to address your diet and exercise, that you’re failing. Cast your memory back to when you were at the bottom of that hill, just getting started. Now, you KNOW what’s at the top, whereas before you didn’t. Hopefully that will assist in your motivation.

    If not, well, start an entirely new journey. If you’re tired of yoga, take up something else. If you usually exercise alone, seek out a class. If you usually exercise in a class, find some solitude. Go out and do active things with BF that don’t *feel* like exercise – your dance lessons are a great start. Also hiking, biking, swimming, roller blading, etc.

    Above all, take care of your mental health and your joy. You sound burned out, and understandably so. So if a BBQ ranch burrito is JUST the thing to put a smile on your face (it sounds delicious by the way), then by god, eat it! Just try to eat healthily as often as you can, so that while you’re enjoying the treat, you can recall that looser jeans will also put a smile on your face, eventually. If you eat right 80 or 90 percent of the time, the 10 or 20 that you don’t won’t seem like such a setback.

    Wow. Sorry for the War and Peace-esque response! 😀

  3. Oregon Sunshine says:

    I whole-heartedly second Tiffany!

  4. Taoist Biker says:

    Wow, Tiff nailed it. A *bow* to her and a *hug* to you.

  5. Kimmothy says:

    FWIW, I was kind of in the same boat in the months before our wedding. I had been hitting the gym like a rabid dog for months, trying like hell to get perfect for the big day. Then one day all the stress and everything just got to be too much and after an amazing pep talk from someone who knows me very well, I realized I was worrying too much about everything (me? I know, shocking!) and the most important thing was that I was marrying the guy I wanted to marry and all the people I loved most in the world were going to be there to celebrate and share the day with us. And that’s exactly what happened and it remains one of the most fun days of my life. I really hope you can find a way to relax and enjoy it all, because even the anticipation can be fun if you look at it a certain way.

    • crisi-tunity says:

      Thanks. You might be right about the wedding connection. I ordered my dress to my measurements now, not to some phantom body I may achieve in the next 9 months…but I still want to look my best.

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