You know, this health business isn't pretty.
It's not shiny and neat and organized and pretty, the way the Nike ads and commercials for fitness programs and gyms want you to think. I mean, sure, there's sweat involved, but it's sweat running down some slab of rock-hard abs you could bounce a quarter off of. It's not sweat on a jiggly, cellulite-adorned, plus-sized ass such as my own.
Even the weight loss commercials are selling the dream --- look, here I am posing inside my former jeans, which could now hold three of me --- but you know, they never brought Kirsty Alley back after she regained all that weight, post-Jenny. They never show the real struggle. It wouldn't sell expensive sneakers or fancy yoga pants or the latest workout video.
There's a lot of inspiration floating around out there on the internetz, too. "Fitspiration", if you will. And the Beauty Redifined blog has done a very good job of explaining why this so-called "fitspiration" is so insidious. I think this gets to the crux of the matter:
"Next time you see one of these 'fitspiration' messages, please ask yourself how it makes you feel. If these images and texts motivate you to respect your body as something that can do so much good, make and reach fitness goals, and maintain health that will keep you happy and able, then they are appropriate for you. If they motivate you to worry about being looked at or to improve parts of your body to meet a beauty ideal you see in media, you must be aware of this. Virginia at VirginaSoleSmith.com so concisely says, 'Pay attention to how it makes you feel to be ‘inspired’ by lots of photos of a largely unattainable beauty ideal. Because that’s what rock hard abs are, after all. Yes, sure, core strength is important for your health. But pictures of bikini-clad, chiseled muscles beaded with sweat? That’s about pretty, not about health.'"
Because let's face it, getting and staying fit isn't pretty. You may feel hot in your $50 Lululemon sports bra (BTW, I just checked out the website, and the first image I saw? A Barbie doll knockoff --- literally, a DOLL --- decked out in Lululemon doll clothes. With the legend, "Yoga makes me feel alive." Speechless) --- if you can find one in your size. Like many athletic wear companies, they don't cater to sizes above 12. Anyway, as I was saying, your sports gear may make you feel hot, and getting to wear pretty clothes is motivating, but it's superficial. What really makes you feel good, long term, is your body being able to do what you ask it to, easily, happily, energetically. And to do that, you have to be willing to make yourself vunerable. You have to be willing to make yourself ugly. You have to sweat, grunt, put yourself in awkward and embarrassing positions, mess your hair up, and make yourself uncomfortable, tired, and sometimes even cranky --- and not care about what other people think, which is sometimes the really hard part.
You may have a great time doing all this, but very few of us are going to look like fitness models before, during, or after.
OK. Well, I do in my own head, but only in my head.
Working out is only part of the equation, though. The really ugly part, the messy, disorganized, WTF do you think you're doing part, is weight loss and maintenance, and/or the struggle simply to eat healthfully (which may or may not have anything at all to do with your weight. Skinny people struggle with healthy food choices every bit as much as overweight people do). The commercial weight loss programs and many of the books and videos out there are presented in such a way to make it look like weight loss is a trip you make --- a difficult trip, a trip you have to work hard on, a trip with detours and false starts --- but a trip with a final destination. You, slender and happy, CURED of your fat and your issues with eating.
Of course, it doesn't really work that way. I've said it before and I'll say it again, weight loss/management is a journey without a final destination. It's about the trip. Right now I am as far off the path as I've been since I started --- but I can still see the road. I know where it is, and how to get back to it. What I'm really fighting with is the guilt and shame associated with watching myself slip, even as I've continually struggled, for the past several months.
It's messy. It's not glamourous. It's not pretty. And there are no close ups of rock hard abs with sprayed-on sweat trickling invitingly down, shower-porn style.
But you take it a day at a time, and you keep working. Today, so far, I've done everything I planned to do. I wrote out a food plan and I've stuck to it. I got up and did 55 minutes of yoga this morning --- HEAVEN for my tight hamstrings and cranky hips. It's been quite a while since I did any significant stretching and this session reminded me how important it is --- it is NOT fluff. It does very good things for you, especially if you've been hitting it hard in other ways. And after yoga, I walked 2.5 miles to the coffee shop, and in a few minutes, will walk another 2.5 back. It's not easy to wrench yourself back on track, especially with the Hyenas of Doubt yapping in your ears. But it does feel so good when you do it.
And you do it as often as necessary.