Really, you’d think after a single week on this wellness journey, I’d be doing well. At the very least, I’d expect any not-well to be my own doing, an attack of insecurity or depression leading to binging or something. But no. This curve-ball comes of my inability to perform the normal, everyday actions of a human being. Like using a staircase properly.
So let’s talk about this. The plan: Now that the boys were in school, I’d have some alone time to study, exercise, think. I made a food plan for the week, eliminating the foods that cause me to hurt or get depressed, like gluten and sugar (super hard to eliminate despite pain-or-depression). I bought new workout clothes. I began a 30-day yoga challenge. Look at me getting my yoga game face on! I announced my wellness journey to the world, and put up a picture of myself in a swimsuit, no matter how mortifying that picture made me feel. I was doing good!
And how long did I make it, you ask? Halfway through day 2. Life was great – until klutzy me missed the bottom step or two on a staircase coming down from my therapist’s office. You’d think I’d’ve missed the steps while I was peeking at the emails I’d missed during my appointment. But no. I’d turned off my phone, and missed the steps as I pulled my car keys from my purse. Purse, keys, phone, and Amanda went flying. Sprawling. Crumpling. Lightning pain, brain switching into full-on fight-or-flight mode, complete with peripheral white vision, slow-motion observance, and loss of hearing. The world came back centered on my throbbing left ankle.
A good Samaritan ran into a physical therapy office also in the building, and two therapists came out to see if my ankle was broken. They suspected sprain instead of a break, since I could put some weight on it, and sent me on my way. I limped out to my car, dissolved into tears as I transitioned from trauma-mode to shock-mode, and called Jason. Long story short, I became an invalid that needed to be waited on hand and foot less than two days after I began my new journey.
The good news: X-rays confirm it’s a sprain** and not a break. The bad news: There will be no more yoga or other fitness that involves my legs for awhile. Instead, I spent a couple days mourning-through-food – Amanda! Pizza and brownies are bad for you and don’t make you happy the next day! – had a complete emotional meltdown (thank you, pizza and brownies…), and then decided to get on with my life. I guess curve-balls teach you that you cannot control what happens, only how you react to it. So I’m doing my best to eat real foods and do non-leggy yoga stretches and catch up on all the stationary stuff that has long been on my mostly-neglected to-do list. And hopefully, it won’t take me too long to heal. Because bed-rest sucks.
**In December 2016, after multiple rounds of therapy and many x-rays, a specialist did an MRI and determined that the foot was in fact broken. What could have been a 6-12 week recovery was exacerbated by continued use, then worsened by the very exercises that were meant to be strengthening the ankle. I was ordered not to exercise for six months because the bone had had “a catastrophic failure to heal” and needed all the help it could get. Around May/June 2017 – almost two years from the initial fall – I was finally able to turn my foot sideways again and had no more pain.
Back in my freshman year of high school, someone told me that for a woman to have the perfect body, her bust and hips had to be the same measurement, and her waist exactly ten inches less. Someone else scoffed at this, for entirely the wrong reasons. “Don’t tell me that someone who measures 50-40-50 has the ‘perfect’ body,” she said. We were young, ignorant, and tiny, with no idea of feminism, media standards, or fat-shaming.
This particular conversation has stuck with me over the last 20+ years. As an adult, as someone who has been everything from borderline underweight to morbidly obese, I have a different perspective on the “perfect” body. I’ve watched the campaigns for body positivity and body love and body acceptance. I’ve seen the plus-sized ads from stores that claim to promote these things. And you know what? I’d bet most of their models are pretty close to that ratio mentioned above. Where are the women with stomachs bigger than their busts? The women with tiny chests and wide hips? The women who carry tons of weight in their butts and upper arms? The women with hulking upper bodies and tiny hips and legs? I can find a more true-to-life variety of women in Walmart ads!
Having a 50-40-50 body may not be the size that society says is “good” or “right,” but it’s definitely the right shape – a shape that few overweight and obese women have. Definitely not a shape I had when I was morbidly obese, with a stomach and bust equal in size and much smaller hips. Nope. Would I have been happier with that shape? Maybe a little – I could have consoled myself, and probably more people would have looked at me and thought I “carried my weight well” instead of looking fat/lazy/stupid/insert-adjective-here – but probably not much. Another true confession: In college, my measurements were 36-26-36.5. This is damn close to “perfect.” That half inch on my hips, though…I agonized over it. That half inch kept me from being perfect! Look at me. My ass was huge!
Dear younger Manda,
First off, you are a competitive swimmer. That’s gonna change your body for the rest of your life, in more ways than giving you a well-oiled cardiovascular system. You may despise your “football player” shoulders and “fat” butt and “gigantic” thighs and “bulging” upper arms, but you’re not paying attention to the bigger picture. This is a body you should appreciate. Your shoulders make you look fantastic in tank tops and sleeveless clothes, and you don’t have trouble with sliding bra straps. Those thighs and upper arms? It’s called muscle. Be proud of them! You can do pull-ups! Lots and lots of pull-ups! And that butt…it’s round, firm, and perky, not at all “fat” or “too big.” Which brings me to:
Second, the “perfect” body proportions are a load of crap. I don’t expect you in your young and uninformed world view to appreciate the modern body positivity movement. But think. What kind of female body do you find attractive? Small breasts, soft round bellies, wide hips, thicker thighs. You like pear-shaped, medium-bodied women. So why are you so desperate to be what society says is perfect? If you’re not attracted to the norm, why expect everyone else to be? Think on that.
Love, modern-day Manda