It has been a loooong week. The short version: My chiropractor adjusted my ankle (very painful) so that it could heal quicker. Later, I managed to re-wrench it (thank you kitten for crawling under my feet!). Later, I did something I ought not to have done (more on this in a bit), which made the situation worse. Later, I saw my primary care doctor about an unrelated issue, and he told me that I’ll need to stay off this ankle for 6-8 weeks, not 1-2 as the urgent care clinic told me. Sigh. In better news, the doc also cut my anti-anxiety medicine in half, and I follow up in a month to see if I can get off it completely. Most of the sources of my extreme anxiety this past year are no longer issues, so I would prefer to get healthy through good nutrition, fitness, and therapy, rather than medication. Thankfully, my therapist and doctor both agree this is a good plan. So that was this week.
I have two confessions this week. The first: I am really, really bad at taking it easy on myself. I push too hard. As in one day last week, when I thought, “Oh, it’s been almost a week and a half since I messed up this ankle. Maybe I can just do some light jogging on it around my living room while I watch TV! I’ll be gentle and go very slow.” None of you need to remind me what a bad idea this was. I know. Believe me, I know.
I really need to take care of myself right now, and I’m trying to learn how to do that better. Which means no exercise except some very light 10-min walking sessions recommended to keep the ankle healing properly, and some upper body strength training that I can do seated. In order to keep myself from going insane on two months near-bed-rest, I’m switching focus to nutrition. My body really likes a mostly-paleo diet (and no, I don’t in any way believe that cavemen ate this way), but it’s a super time-intensive way of eating and I’d had to give it up before because study, boys-home-for-the-summer, moving-across-the-country, dealing-with-PTSD, and exercise all took too much time. Now that I’m not taking any classes, the boys are in school, I’m no longer moving, and I’m not allowed to exercise, I can spend a lot of time in the kitchen, listening to audiobooks while I cook! (Not fun, but hey, it’s better than sitting around doing nothing!)
Second confession: I am really uncomfortable with my body right now. In the ten months that I’ve been on various medications, I’ve gained roughly 35-40 lbs. Not all of those pounds can be blamed on stress and medication – certainly chocolate and wine had something to do with it – but my doctor informed me that what I’ve gained is pretty “par for the course” on these meds. Another reason to get off them! I’m officially obese, edging up on numbers I haven’t seen since four years ago. And I’m not happy with that.
So why is this a confession? Because society bombards me with certain messages that I find contradictory and frustrating, and which make me nervous to admit my discomfort. How can I be body-positive and want to lose weight at the same time? How can I claim to love my body if I want to be thinner? Or, contrarily, how can I claim to love my body if I’ve treated it in a way that caused it to be obese in the first place? If I really loved my body, I’d lose this weight as fast as possible, by any means necessary. If I really loved my body, I’d refuse to lose weight just to prove I’m body-positive. If I really loved my body–
STOP! JUST STOP!!!!!
Here’s the deal: It’s okay for me to love my body – or to be learning to love my body – while at the same time wanting to improve my body. It’s okay to be uncomfortable in my skin, and to try to lessen that discomfort both by learning to accept myself and by working toward a body I’m more comfortable in. One has nothing to do with the other. It’s like Molly Galbraith says on Day 28 of her Love Your Body Challenge (highly recommended, btw): “I am perfect, just as I am. And I could use a little improvement.”
I am learning to love myself – to dress in clothes that make me feel fantastic, to make silly faces at myself in the mirror, to pamper my skin with cocoa butter lotion, to write positive messages to myself on my white board, etc. Things that show myself love completely unrelated to the size of my body. It’s a long, slow process and there are days it feels like I’ve gone nowhere at all, despite working on this for two years at this point.
But loving myself doesn’t mean accepting my current self to the point of refusing to change that self, any more than it means forcing changes on myself that I might not even want. Loving myself means being kind to myself. Forgiving myself for my frequent missteps. Loving my body when I gain weight and when I lose it. Loving myself for being who I am, and for having the courage to stand up and say that I can be body-positive and want to weigh less than I do right now. To love myself means to be happy with who I am right now, rather than waiting until I reach a particular goal – but it does not mean that I cannot have goals, or a desire to change. It means accepting myself now, and in the past, and in the future, regardless of what I hope to achieve or do/don’t achieve or have/haven’t achieved.
Go to therapy. Please. I know you think it’s stupid, but really, it’s not. And if you don’t go, you’ll end up like me – stuck in your mid-thirties with nearly three decades of baggage to carry around and deal with. And that sucks. I’m still hoping to be much better off by the time I have my first buzzard party*, but you’ll be much happier in your 20s and 30s if you take care of yourself right now instead of waiting. Really. So please, go to therapy. Please, please, pretty please.
Love, modern-day Manda
*A buzzard party is my family’s tradition for 40th birthdays. They’re themed with buzzard- and death-related things (see above graveyard cake). We even have a buzzard pinata. It’s frickin’ awesome and I’m so looking forward to mine!