Weight is a funny word, if you stare at it long enough. It starts out looking mostly
normal, and then the longer you stare the weirder and less correct it looks. Go ahead, try it, I’ll wait (haha!).
The most interesting thing about the word is that the meaning it conveys does kind of the same thing. At first glance weight means nothing more than the relationship between an item, gravity, and a surface. (I’m really tempted to pull out a force diagram, I love force diagrams…) It is a number that describes this relationship. As you stare at it longer though, you begin to see the additional meanings placed on it by the social, cultural, psychological, and whatever other categories you like.
Now this is a complex topic, and I’m not going to get into all the ins and outs of the culture around weight/fitness/health or body acceptance- at least not today – though it is a topic I am passionate about. Today I want to dive into a more personal weirdness around the topic. Relativity.
When I was very heavy I was convinced I could not do many of the things I wanted to solely because of my size. People disagreed in some cases but in my world this was an absolute. As I lost weight and gained more confidence in myself, my body, and my ability to move, more things became possible, but because all of these things were changing at the same time I could cheat a little. While most of my brain realized that it had more to do with my changing mindset and outlook on life than the actual number on the scale, I didn’t have to look too closely at what the other part of my brain was thinking, because there was no conflict.
For various reasons I have gained quite a bit of weight since I hit my lowest 2 years ago. While I wouldn’t have chosen that it has given me a great environment to explore what parts of me really believe about weight. One of the biggest “A-Has!” I had while having a blast in Turkey was that I’m really enjoying having confidence in who I am, and that while I may not look like most of the other people doing the things I dream of, I’m still rocking them. Since the same things were not even possibilities to me at the same weight 2 years ago, this really shined a practical light on how much of our experience is perception.
Which made it all the weirder when not 2 weeks after I got back I found myself thinking, “Well I have to drop weight before I can go to Scotland this summer.” Uhhhh, what? I literally just proved that I can do the trip at my current weight, even that I can do what I had set as my performance goal for Scotland – to be able to walk 10 miles a day reliably. Are there skills I’d like to work on that will make the trip easier/even better? Sure. However I know I can have a phenomenal time as I am, so I should be confident and on top of the moon! Yet that voice decrying my current state is getting louder.
In the past this would probably have triggered some depression for me. I would have felt like I was dealing with the same issues I did years ago, and I would have dropped into an inner dialogue of failure. Now though, that I have this new mentality, and because I understand that working on problems resembles a spiral far more than a straight line, I love situations like this. Through this experience and inner dialogue I can get face to face with what is really going on, and I can recognize that while the general topics and dialogue may be the same, the level with which I am working with them has changed dramatically.
I can now see that, at lest in part, this is a defense mechanism of my inner critic, of the voice whose job it is to keep me safe, trying to get me to swerve off the very obviously sketchy goal of getting back on a plane across an ocean and having a fantastically awesome time. But it is her job, so once I can see behind the curtain that the message is coming from her, I can better deal with the inaccuracies.
It is also part of my ongoing work of rationalizing some of the inequities of my expectations. With many of my dreams I had an expectation of how I would look while achieving them, and my current reality doesn’t quite match my expectation. Summer Innanen (http://summerinnanen.com/) has a great quote that talks about how you have to mourn the loss of the body you constructed as the one you should have, and embrace and celebrate the one you do have. So I think this is one more step towards accepting that – because until that attachment to the “should” body is let go, it will negatively color the astounding experience of my current body. Not to mention give the inner voices fodder to attack with.
In the end it comes back to the simple and the complex. The inner dialogues are complex, the way we see the world is complex, and in many ways the way we experience the world, is complex… but the solutions are often simple. (Note I in no way mentioned easy) If I question my beliefs, and am willing to dive deep to understand, and let go of the ones that I do not agree are true, what possibilities arise? If I change what beliefs fuel my perception, my perception, and thus my experience changes – without ever having to change the number that describes the relationship between my body, the surface I am on/in, and gravity. Pretty cool!
I’ve been part of a group of wonderful women who are changing how they think about their bodies for a while now. Here is what I wrote to them when I got back from Turkey. Sometimes the wisdom we need to remember is in ourselves all along…
Well ladies. I did something crazy 10 days ago that really tested how far I’ve come around my self image, and relationship to my body. I bought a ticket to Istanbul inTurkey, and 24 hours later was on a plane with a friend of mine! I found an incredible deal (we did the entire trip for the usual cost of the flight) and I decided it was one of those decision points where you live the life you want, or bow to what has always been. So to Turkey I went! There were constant opportunities to berate myself for how I looked in pictures, or about how I got winded walking up a seemingly endless steep hill (that even the fittest guy in our group got winded on)… but instead I focused on OMG – I’m in TURKEY! and that I could walk up the hill, and the beautiful scenery in the photos – and that I was in them, and that was beautiful too. The last mission kept popping into my head as I embraced that even though I didn’t have the body I had always been waiting for before I did this kind of thing, I was in fact doing it, and having a phenomenal time. I feel like my relationship with my body really strengthened through that testing. I’m much more appreciative. I’m not sure what I will do to top going abroad (for the first time ever) on 30 hours notice, but I’m really enjoying this new confidence that while I may not look like most of the other people doing the things I dream of, I’m still going to rock them, and they can cope or not. Dream following is terrifying, and oh so very rewarding!