The Truth: Sometimes I Need Help

I’ve spent a long time away from this blog. Nearly a year. The thing is, I still open it daily. I look at my header, think about writing a new post. I visit when I get the occasional new comment to approve it. But I haven’t posted here in months.

And what really gets to me is that there’s no reason. I stopped for absolutely no reason. I still keep up with the FA community. I still write about body acceptance, feminism, and other issues that would be fitting to discuss here. But I stopped posting.

I think there comes a time in everyone’s life when they go through an off year. For me, this year has held some of my worst moments, and some of my best. I’ve experienced unemployment and having to live with my parents. I’ve taken temp jobs and finished temp jobs. I’ve moved in with friends. I’ve gotten into grad school. I’ve done a lot, and missed a lot of opportunities.

But, throughout all the good and bad, I think I’ve somehow lost my self-esteem, my confidence.

I find that’s my biggest issue nowadays. Having graduated from undergrad, I stopped having a method of measurement for my happiness. Grades have no relevance now. My friends have scattered. There are no more awards to win. I don’t have a job to be successful at. I’ve had nothing to help me feel accomplished.

And thus, I started to feel bad. Bad about myself, my body, my laziness. I started to believe that I’ve been deluding myself all these years into thinking I was something, someone. I’ve given up, in many ways. Completely given up.

Lately, it hasn’t been as bad. Moving in with friends boosted me up. I started laughing a lot more, crying a lot less. I started recovering myself. I started writing again, researching my obsessions, cooking. I’ve gotten a lot better. There’s something about surrounding yourself with positive people that makes you feel positive. It makes you believe that if they can see the good in you, there must actually be some. I’m getting better.

And so, here’s the truth: sometimes I need help. Sometimes I need you all to remind me why I should keep posting, why I should keep believing in this. Why I should have confidence in myself as a fat woman. I hope to come back here. It’s about time I post here again. I need to get my head back in the game, and take back my body, my mind, my spirit. This is a call for help as much as it’s a thank you for your support. This is my return, my second chance.

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My Exercise Goal (Singular)

I’ve put a sticky note on my desk with this written on it:

MY EXERCISE GOAL:

1. Take time for me: breathe, be positive, relax.

I’ve decided to think about working out in a different way (and although I bet a ton of you have already gotten to this place, I’ve just started to get there): working out should be a time for me and only me. It should be my meditation, my time to relax, my time to think things through, and most importantly, my time to breathe.

Since I was in eight grade I’ve thought of exercise as a chore, a job, a task not for me, but for everyone else who was telling me to “lose weight, get thin, be happy later.” At the time I was in a program called “Shapedown” with my parents, in which we talked about weight, health issues, and familial issues that could lead to unhealthy habits. It made you set goals to meet; goals like how many hours of TV you’d watch a week, how many hours of exercise you’d do, how many dinners you’d eat together at the dinner table as a family, etc. Looking back on it, it was pretty dumb. But it did institute a lot of changes in my family that made most of my family life even better. However, from day one my exercising was not for me: it was to meet the family goal.

I have never enjoyed working out. I’ve never liked treadmills. I have bad joints in my feet, toes, etc., and they act up when I walk/run. I’ve never liked sweating (still one of my biggest problems with working out. I sweat too much). I’ve always hated wearing tennis shoes, too. And socks. Gosh, do I hate socks.

So, in thinking about my program for the Individual Fitness class I’m taking (and really, in thinking about how to make physical activity a really good habit) I realized I had to find some way to make working out fun. It came to me when I decided to do “time management” as one of my journals for the class: my time, which can be so easily divided between classes, work, my thesis, and friends, is my most precious currency. And my demotivation to work out is often caused by my desire to use my time to “relax,” i.e. sit around and play on the internet.

So, smart old me decided to set a goal: make my exercise time into “me” time. That way, it will be something entirely selfish. It will be something for me to feel good. I already tend to make time for “me” time, but this will be better. And it will be MINE. And I am dreadfully protective of what is mine.

Hopefully, I’ll meet my goal. But I think it’s more of a mentality thing. And I am determined.

My Middle-School Nightmare

I think the absolute worst part of middle school was gym class. And I had a lot of bad times in middle school. I’m sure it’s every fat kid’s nightmare to be forced to run the mile, wearing skimpy shorts and t-shirts, while your classmates lapped you, teased you, maybe even gawked at you. I really honestly blame my middle school experiences in gym classes for my hatred of going to the gym today. They really did make it a race; we were forced to do all of these terribly stupid things, that really did not improve my physical fitness one bit. And worst of all, we were forced to do them in front of our peers.

I think that middle school institutionalized self-objectification. It built us into observers of each other in our physical exertions. It was, of course, the ideal location in which one could observe those individuals to which he or she was attracted. And for me, it was pure hell.

Don’t get me wrong, I actually enjoyed some aspects of gym. Swimming, for example. I was among the best in my class because I actually swam on the swim team. I have almost no fear when wearing swimsuits for this reason. Basketball, too. I loved it so much, I even went to basketball camps. I would’ve tried out for the team if my gym teacher hadn’t told me I couldn’t because I didn’t have a physical on file (although, she let five other girls on the team without physicals. I still to this day think I experienced sizeism that day for the first time). I also loved Shot Put. They tried to get me on the track team to do shot put, but I refused.

What I hated about gym, though, was the feeling of always being watched. They would shout out our times when we finished the mile. And everyone would sit around the finish line when you were done to cheer you on. Sometimes, if you took longer than 14 minutes, everyone else went inside, and you had to cross the finish line alone. We show up at the end, and the Mrs. Shaffner would be standing at the end, shaking her head, and ushering us quickly inside to change and move on to our next class. It was like we were something to be hushed up, something they were embarrassed by. It was my biggest failure back then. That effing mile run as my peers stood on the sidelines, watching me jog to the end, red-faced, and close to tears.

Now-a-days I go into a gym, and I feel exceptionally self conscious. My college requires five gym classes for graduation. I have two left. Right now, I’m taking a course called “Individual Fitness” which just requires me to do a weightlifting routine with cardio at least 3 times a week, and journal on two other health-related areas (I’ve chosen to do a food diary, and a time-management journal). The problem is that lately, I’ve felt like I’m constantly being judged and watched at the gym. Yes, this is normal to feel that way, but gosh is it hard to overcome.

I’ve been trying, lately, to channel it into a positive-attention, rather than ignore my paranoia. I know that people probably aren’t looking, but just in case they are, I try to focus myself on having the best workout ever. Like, having the best form when running. Or having the most control with my higher weight sets. I try to look like I know what I’m doing, and I try to do everything to the T.

Thus far, I think it’s a good thing. I know it’s not good to think like that, but I can’t get rid of it. I honestly think it’s left over from that middle school long ago. Maybe it’s because I feel like I have something to prove to everyone around me: the fat girl can lift weights, can actually jog on a treadmill, can bench press, and she can be damn confident when doing it. Maybe it’s just a projection of my own feelings of inadequacy. But for now, I’m just going to use it as therapy. It’s my time for me. It’s my time to expel those feelings of inadequacy, and it’s my time to banish my stupid middle-school nightmare to the depths. I’m activating. I’m motivating. And I am moving forward.