Friday, January 15, 2016

Fat Girl On A Bar: Listening to Your Body

This week I didn't have any fear going into the class. Having already failed, I could only fail better, right? I also approached the class in a different mind set. I read a great article critiquing Oprah's new endorsement of Weight Watcher's. Let me confess now so I can get this out of the way. I've been on and off WW for years. I originally lost a great deal of weight on WW, and even made my "goal weight" of 146lbs. But maintaining never worked out. I struggled with the shaming aspect of it all. I remember reaching my goal and having the leader say "Your husband must be thrilled" and I was so repulsed. I didn't give a shit what my husband thought. It was my body. I assumed, rightly by the way, that he loved me and was attracted to me no matter my weight. Hell H married me when I was a big girl.

And I left, and then came back and then left. Like a lot of people. Like most people who diet.

But I have an eating disorder whether it's fully recognized or not. I am a compulsive overeater, and years of abusing my body with food has left me with a very fragile relationship with what I put into my mouth. I'm working on it in therapy but it's a slow road. I used WW the way some people use AA. I didn't give a shit about losing weight, and I didn't do meetings. But it's helpful for my mental well being to keep tract of what I eat. I might not need it someday but right now I do. However after reading and seeing Oprah's endorsements, I changed my mind.

You see I am already the woman I want to be. Being thin is not going to somehow make me that person. I fell in love while fat. I had five kids who are amazing humans while fat. I wrote my novel while fat. I run while fat. I'm taking trapeze while fat. My best life is already my best life. A number on the scale doesn't determine that for me. If anyone is repulsed by my body it seems like it's not my job to make them comfortable by losing weight. Maybe they need to focus on living their best life or something. The endorsement along with an incredibly restrictive new plan ended my relationship with WW.

I realized when I shared the article on Facebook that doing trapeze released me from the last bit of mental anguish I felt about being fat. I am not going to promote the strong is the new thin because I think that for those who don't have strength as an option shouldn't feel marginalized or left out...rather I think that we should do what we can to be healthy within the limits we all face. Rather what] hit me is that my limitations didn't come from real health issues but from a mental block that told me fat girls can't do trapeze. When I finally got on the mat, I realized fat girls can do trapeze. There are limitations for sure which I'll talk about at the end but they're not insurmountable and they don't take away from my enjoyment.

Thus when I went to trapeze I realized that I wasn't scared. I knew there would be things that would be hard for me to do and that was okay. We started with things I could do like the sitting lay back and the sitting star. I even managed to do the sitting star on my opposite side. It was nice being able to start out with what I could do with a fair amount of success. And then we moved onto getting on the bar from the floor. As I described earlier this involves laying on my back with my knees hooked over the car. I have to reach up to grab the ropes, pull myself up a bit by straightening my legs and then moving my hands up the rope. I got up the first time with help but could not do it on my own. I tried until my hands were red and developing callouses. I just couldn't do it. My problem is that I have to get past my stomach. I know this is the issue because the whole time I attempted this I couldn't focus on anything but all the various muscles being employed.

And here's why I love trapeze. It is super physical but it's also very mental. I have to think about every move. It's very different from running for me. Running is an escape. When I run, I am lost in though or in a story or in music. I can feel my body but it's not like I have to think about my body. Sometimes I'll take a few moments to think about adjusting my posture but I can let my mind wander. Not so much with trapeze. There's a strong connection between thinking about the moves and doing them. If I'm not doing well at something, I have to reevaluate how I'm using my body. Last week I learned that I can't pull myself up on the bar with just my abs. It's a combination of arm/shoulder strength with ab strength. This week I learned that I can't do it with just my arm/shoulder muscles.

This mental practice travels outside of the class as well. I think through the moves, and think through ways I could do them better. Last night as I drove home, I decided that I need the bar lower until I can get my stomach down more (and I think I'm going to have to do some reduction there because even if I get that area stronger, I'm going to need to reduce the mass). Thus last night was not a failure because it lead to me thinking about how to make this work for my body. I think all exercise is amendable to this kind of thinking but trapeze really hammers home how modification or accommodation can change the dynamics of one's relationship to a move.

And it wasn't all failure either. I found I could get up to standing easier than I thought I'd be able to. My legs are clearly stronger than a lot of other parts of my body. It was nice to be able to do at least one thing with relative ease. I say relative because standing on the bar HURTS and it's super wiggly. I felt like I was shaking the whole time! But I could get up numerous times.

This class left me drained but still really excited to do more. I woke up sore with red calloused hands but feeling really pleased with my body. I think that with each class I get more comfortable in my skin. It makes eating and moving to make my body the strongest it can be a lot easier. No shame. Only pride.

1 comment:

Mel E said...

This is so inspiring! Thank you for sharing.