I’ve begun an experiment.
When I lost my job, several things happened that weren’t really good for my body. First, I love kickboxing, but the gym is in Oakwood. I couldn’t justify the drive or spending the money to go to my very reasonably-priced trainer any more. (That will change this fall, since my new job is 5 minutes from that gym.)
Second, I started catching up on all the rest and television I’ve missed in the past 5 years. I’ve spent a lot of time on the couch watching Netflix. I don’t even really feel guilty about it. If you are reading this and judging me, odds are that you have watched a heck of a lot more television than I have since 1987. I promise you this.
Unfortunately, this sedentary combination has caused my clothes to shrink. I haven’t even attempted to put on a pair of my fitted pants in months. Truthfully, some of them probably still sort of fit, but I don’t like how they look. In the last year, I also got a year older. I don’t like what that has done to my face.
These are valid concerns, right? Weight gain causes health problems, right? So I had blood work done, just to confirm that my new (albeit temporary, hopefully) lifestyle has wreaked havoc on my health. My blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, triglycerides are all great. My asthma is a thing of the past. I can trot up the 3 flights of stairs at my school and still sing when I get to the classroom, for pity’s sake.
The dangerous part is that how I perceive these outward changes has poisoned my inward perception. Honestly, I’m sick of hearing myself complain about it. I’m sick of hearing myself bring it up in conversation: “I’m fat. I wear yoga pants and skirts all the time. Ugh.” It’s boring to hear that come out of my mouth all the time.
I had a conversation with a friend recently about an unrequited love situation, and the suspicion that the guy in question was looking for a skinny girl. Ridiculous, right?
No, it’s not. I can tell you first-hand that it’s not. Several years ago I took up running. I didn’t run very fast, but I was doing distance like Forrest Gump. (Not really, but I felt like it.) I dropped 20% of my body weight and looked awesome in my jeans, and I noticed right away that people treated me differently. I have noticed that a lot of people–including myself, incidentally–automatically give thinner people a measure of grace that heavier people have to earn. We are just as surprised to learn that a good-looking person is a dim-witted jerk as we are to learn that a fat person is kind, funny, or smart.
But the biggest difference is not how people treated me, but how I have treated myself since I have gained 75% of that weight back. I don’t like me. I talk bad about me. I criticize me, both privately and to anyone who will listen. If anyone compliments me on the way I look, I immediately tell her I’m fat. Did people really treat me better when I lost weight before? Yes, I think they did, but maybe it was because I was treating myself better, too.
So, yes, I’m making an effort to eat well. I buy fruit to eat and I drink water, but I still have my ice cream and Diet Mountain Dew in moderation. Honestly, though, I don’t see the point in taking drastic measures when my body is healthy. I would like to fit into my pants comfortably, but I don’t think it’s worth the trouble to stress myself out just for the sake of my vanity when I can still probably beat you up without getting winded.
I’m trying something different, just for a month. Maybe the yoga class I was in last week inspired it. When we were finishing up, the instructor told us to just breathe and assess ourselves without judging. Let me say that again: Assess yourself without judging. That was an interesting idea to me. I like to fix things, and to improve something I have to judge it, right? Maybe not.
On April 30th, I put away my scale and covered my mirrors. In my bathroom, I hung a towel over the medicine cabinet, and I taped a poster over the one over the sink. There is just enough room around the edges for me to see if my hair is sticking straight up or not.
In my bedroom, I hung another towel over the dresser mirror, and covered the full-length closet mirror with a dress. (Ironically, it’s the infamous Red Dress. It was exactly the right length, and it’s the same color as my walls. I like to look at it, too. It’s a pretty dress.) I took down the decorative mirror in the living room. When I go into the bathroom at school or church, I make it a point not to check myself in the mirror. The only mirror I use is my tiny makeup mirror.
This experiment has only gone on for 5 days and I’ve already noticed a difference. I truly don’t think about how I look. I gauge whether or not I’m “presentable” by how I feel, but I don’t criticize myself so much. Honestly, my clothes feel better and my face feels younger.
Instead of condemning myself in my bedroom every morning, I assess myself by your face when I see you, and I’m more aware that your reaction has more to do with who I am than how I look. I don’t want you to judge me by my looks, and I hope that I will give you the same consideration.
So just for this month, I’m going to stop looking at myself from the outside. I’m going to look out at you instead and try to forget about me for a while. I think the view will be much better.