Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to be thinner. I was never thin. Not even as a young child. Like many women, I have focused on the negatives of my body. I have longed to be rid of the pear shape that I have been destined to live my life in. My attitude towards my body is unhealthy and the constant pursuit of losing 10 pounds is exhausting.
And the irony is that I help people lose weight. I teach people to eat well, to focus on choosing healthy foods when they are hungry and tell them that if they do this, the scale will take care of itself.
Yet, I still long for the number on my scale to go down despite the fact that I know I am a healthy weight, active and fit. It makes no sense. I have been the same size, give or take 10 pounds throughout fertility treatments, stress and holidays for as long as I can remember. I gained 50 pounds with each of my pregnancies, managed to lose it both times and can still fit into my wedding dress, 14 years and 2 kids later. By all accounts, I am doing pretty well. I eat very well. I am fitter than I have ever been and stronger than I ever imagined. I ran a half marathon at 35 when the doctors were pretty sure I was going to have difficulty walking on my 40th birthday.
Several years ago I started training with a personal trainer and it changed the way I look at exercise. I realize that exercise helps my mood and it helps me maintain my balance and strength so I can stay well, stay mobile and fight my illness with all I’ve got.
And still, despite all my body has done and all the odds it has defied, I want to be thinner.
Last week, I wrote about how I wanted to focus on stretching. The reality is, I want to do more than that. I want to focus on making my body the best it can be, regardless of the number on the scale. This is going to be significantly more difficult than just stretching 10 minutes a day but I am committed. I do not want to go into my 40’s continuing to loathe my hips and thighs.
And luckily, I found someone that has been helping me confront this.
In January 2012 I moved to Toronto. Finally in March, I walked the two blocks to the gym and found a new trainer. He is awesome. He is my unwilling confidante and counselor. No nonsense and no bull but full of insight at the ripe old age of 23. He is mature beyond his years and never ceases to amaze me with his wisdom.
Over the last 2 years, he has pushed me and transformed the way I view working out. Of course, he would really love it if my life didn’t get in the way of my sessions with him but despite my challenges at fitting him in regularly, he works with me and supports me.
He doesn’t let me get away with anything yet at the same time, he encourages me and has helped me see myself for the strong, fit person I am, and not just the number I long to see on the scale. Don’t get me wrong. He would love it if I lost the 10 pounds. I imagine it gets frustrating to have a client that is so close to reaching her goal and yet the goal always eludes her.
One day, after a particularly grueling workout, I said to him “Not bad for a girl who’s almost 40 and has a neurological illness”. He countered with “Not bad for a girl-period”. I was a little stunned. He was right. I was short changing myself. His comment was an eye-opener. I can do push-ups (the real ones!) and plank, lunges and squats, intervals at 9.5mph and I have more stamina than ever.
But my weight is the same-give or take a few pounds.
So I am going to stop weighing myself. Not forever, but for a month. I will continue to focus on eating well, exercising and stretching, but I will not let the scale be my motivator. I want to focus on all that my body can do, and appreciate that the hips I have loathed, helped me deliver my 2 boys naturally. That the thighs I wished would shrink still support me, and allow me mobility that I wasn’t sure I would have at this point in my life.
Self acceptance is hard, but constantly fighting who I am and what I look like is harder. This isn’t a habit that will be easy to track or measure, but hopefully my trainer will keep me honest. He doesn’t let me get away with much and he reads my blog so I am pretty sure I will be held accountable.