on body image
This may very well be the most uncomfortable I've been writing in quite some time. It feels weird to me to talk about bodies, especially my body, and how I actually feel about it on the internet, but I think it's important to share and push myself outside of my comfort zone. That's my mantra for this year, right? Work hard and try new things?
In June my back started feeling tight constantly, like it desperately needed to be stretched, but no amount of stretching made it feel better. Then, in early July, I woke up one morning and couldn't move. I thought maybe I had tweaked my back or pushed it too far (I exercise and lift weights regularly, so this didn't seem unlikely to me), and I brushed it off.
Fast forward a week and I could barely walk. I remember I had to do an event on July 15th that required me to stand for nearly 18 hours, and by the end of it, breathing made it feel like someone was wedging sheet metal into my lower back. I was in more pain than I'd ever been in (and- fun fact!- I nearly cut off my finger once!). The next morning, I couldn't roll over in bed. I finally decided to see a chiropractor.
Now, my journey to recovery could take up a whole other post, but what I want to focus on today is my mental battle with the initial repercussions of actually taking care of my body.
Basically, I started an aggressive treatment plan but I had a few parameters I had to follow for the next three months:
no heavy lifting
no strenuous activities
My doctor told me I couldn't exercise. I could do seriously modified yoga, I could only do barre work in ballet, and ride my bike. That was all. I couldn't even go hiking or do a sit-up. My body needed to rest to heal.
And for the first time in my life, I started hating my body.
In the first week and a half I lost quite a lot of weight, but it was mostly because I was losing my muscle mass rapidly. Because biking alone is a pretty inefficient way to build muscle, I started getting curvier and softer. Because working out helps me relieve stress and purifies the skin (hallelujah sweat) I started breaking out a crap ton. And I felt UGLY.
I'm sure no one noticed. By outward appearances, I looked pretty much the same, but I didn't feel the same. When I looked in the mirror I didn't see that strong body I enjoyed having. I saw bumps and lumps and things that didn't look like me.
I remember standing in the office, talking to my doctor about how frustrated I was that my body was taking so long to heal and that because of it, I felt horrible. I burst out crying in the middle of her office. I hate crying, and I rarely cry, but I felt so dang frustrated and ugly, man. The tears needed out.
Slowly but surely, I'm reminding myself that this process of healing is a daily battle. Just like anything worth having, it takes hard work, it takes time, and it takes some pretty unflattering moments. Lots of them. More than I wish to experience.
It's a daily battle. I get that now. This is not forever. This can change. But I have to keep a good attitude. I have to believe I feel better in more ways than one. I have to focus on the end goal even when it feels far, far away.
"The process," the series of events that get us where we're going is hardly ever what we imagine, but it's worth it. If I had to be reminded of this by my own body, it must be a pretty dang important lesson.
Keep at it, my friends.