Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Scrubbing too hard

It’s Tuesday Fit-Day.  An occasional  meditation on physical and mental fitness goals, successes and failures. 

At about 30, I realized that my body and I were one and the same.  This might be an odd statement, but let me try and explain.  I have always had a few issues with my body, but it wasn’t until I turned 30 that I realized that these issues are not divorced from me.  I have a hand in doing something about these issues. 
I had relatively bad acne until about that time as well.  I hated my acne.  I hated my face for having acne.  I would scrub my face raw, pick at these red, throbbing bumps until they bled and then scabbed and then would pick again, they would bleed again, etc.  I used the most caustic treatments I could find (and stained some towels and pillowcases in the process).  While I was in the circus, my face seemed to explode.  I was cold, sore and now my face was exploding.  Oh, and I was noticing my first ‘wrinkles.’  Party Time!
But it was also around this time that I began to realize that my face, and my body, were not entities unto themselves.  They did not operate according to some separate agenda than ‘me.’  I know I sound crazy, just hang in there. 
At some point in those circus days, I realized that I had a different water source everyday and it was affecting my skin.  This realization came on a day that I didn’t have water and had to break into my drinking water supply for bathing.  So I bought some spring water to wash my face and it made a difference.  A big difference.  Then I decided maybe I should just use an astringent to get rid of the traces of unknown water.  This worked as well.  Then I decided to try moisturizer.  That’s right, I didn’t use moisturizer (or sunscreen) until I was 30. 
It was like a miracle!  Instead of attacking my skin, I was caring for it and suddenly it was better.  Lightbulb!!
But it took awhile for the same thought process to work its way to my body at large.  Let me be clear, I have never been what some would call obese (although a scale in a Paris gym did) and I have never been deathly skinny.  But I have never been happy with my body, and for some reason, I never took responsibility for that disappointment. 
I lost weight for my wedding, but mostly through stress and for the wrong reasons and you shouldn’t be surprised that 6 months later, it all came back and then some.  I was at a pretty dark place at that point.  Not because of my weight, there were other life issues going on at that point, but the body discomfort didn’t help.  I needed to get control of something.
Just after my 32 birthday, I joined Weight Watchers.  It was a really hard decision but it has been a really interesting journey.  Yes, I have lost weight and can go shopping without crying (as long as it isn’t for jeans) but more importantly, I have finally realized that my body and I are connected. 
Just as it went with my face, when I care for my body, it feels better. 
Recently, I have forgotten this connection.  I got overly obsessed with the number on the scale and forgot to be mindful of my body.  I stopped paying attention to what I was putting in my body.  I went back to assuming my body would take care of itself.  I turned my attention to other things.  
A lot of women have been talking about body image lately.  I always feel a bit weird about these conversations because, as many of them have said, women take this conversation personally and approach everyone’s body journey through their own perspective.  It is a hard relationship to be honest about with yourself and faceless readers.
These past two weeks, my body is reminding me that we are attached at the hip and what I do, it does too.  I am pasty, bloated, sluggish, blocked up (TMI) and am now farther from my goal than I have been in awhile.
I got complacent and forgot to be mindful. 
And the thing is, it isn’t that hard to be mindful of that body/mind relationship.  That was the most surprising part of the WW journey.  It was such a simple concept, why was it so hard to finally embrace?  As hard as it is to accept sometimes, my body can very much tell the stories of my mind and priorities.  Taking care of myself wasn’t a priority and it was written all over my face.  Maybe it was because it sounds a bit indulgent to be so concerned with my physical being.  The same with my mental being.  Self-care can sound like an exercise in pure selfish indulgence.  Maybe it is, but I have come to believe it is a healthy indulgence.  It doesn’t take much time (as indulgence can sometimes imply) but it does take effort, although not as much as I expected. 
Through the last (almost) three years, I have come to the realization that I am fully responsible for the condition of my physical self.  I do not want to become obsessed with my physical appearance, there are too many other interesting things out there in the world, but I have realised that being mindful of that relationship is beneficial to both my body and mind. 

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Ariel! Very inspiring! Been feeling the smae lately after neglecting myself for too long, and it started to affect my state of mind. Time for change definitely! x