Wellness Wednesday #2: Contradictions and Changes

buttonIt 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.

True Confessions
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.

IMG_1735I 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.”

09 tank topI 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.

*****
buzzardDear younger Manda,

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!

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About Amanda

Writing. Family. Books. Crochet. Fitness. Fashion. Fun. Not necessarily in that order. Note: agender (she/her).
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14 Responses to Wellness Wednesday #2: Contradictions and Changes

  1. Lindsey says:

    Oh gosh, I can understand how frustrating it must be to not be able to really move around for that long! I probably would have tried the same thing.

    When it comes to loving ourselves, I wonder if we need to think about the way we love others. We love our spouses or family members, even as we see the things they might need to improve.

    Like

  2. Megan says:

    Recent experience has shown me to be more of the sort to give up and wander off to eat chocolate than to push myself too hard, so I’m fighting the opposite inclination. Sorry to hear the bad news about your ankle, but definitely take it easy, we’re going to need these silly ankles to last us a good long time, so better safe than sorry. As for me, I’ve just been awarded a walking boot with orders not to actually walk, but I *do* get to indulge in the ordeal of taking the pesky thing off 4+ times a day to move my foot up and down. Good news for the ankle, bad news for me trying to wrangle this torture instrument on and off my leg while all its velcro attempts to stick to everything except what it’s supposed to.

    Over the winter, I hurt my foot (this just in, I’m a trainwreck) and discovered an impressive amount of seated cardio workout videos via Google to keep me from feeling like a total slug while I was waiting for that to get better. I felt kind of goofy doing them, but they’re way better than worrying about how you’re sitting around doing nothing.

    Hope you are in a great place both physically and emotionally by the time you get to that buzzard party so that you can enjoy that excellent-sounding family tradition to its fullest!

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    • Amanda says:

      I’m afraid I also have the tendency to just sit down and eat chocolate, heh.

      I am very much a trainwreck, too. I can’t tell you how often I’ve injured my stupid feet/legs. Though this IS the first time I’ve injured them bad enough to require WEEKS of healing!

      Like

  3. Beth F says:

    Looks like you’re working on a good path. And I love that Buzzard Party idea!

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    • Amanda says:

      Isn’t it amazing?? We get a new one every ten years after we hit 40, and at 80, we gave my grandpa a “double buzzard” party. I really don’t know why it’s any different than a regular one, but it was fun to say at least. 😀

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  4. Shaina says:

    I haven’t been commenting on your Wellness posts—I always feel like I could write a novel in response, especially about the back-and-forth between self-acceptance and self-improvement—but I want you to know that I’m very much here and reading and rooting for your health and happiness. 🙂

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  5. I am struggling with the exact same thing regarding body positivity and self-improvement. I am 100% all for and in support of those who love their bodies even at a larger size. I am totally rooting them on, admire them, and even envy them! I want to love my body however it is, and I’m working on it, but the fact of the matter is… I feel most body positive at a smaller size. I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all, and yet sometimes I feel like people are disappointed in me or looking down on me for not being positive about my body as it currently is which is frustrating. Everyone should be entitled to feel good about themselves regardless of their size, and I just happen to feel BEST about myself at my smaller size. This doesn’t mean I am putting down anyone else for how big or how small they are… those are just my personal feelings about my personal journey. Both body positivity and self-improvement are extremely important, and we should all be rooting each other on, no matter what journey we decide to take. Anyway, I’m just glad someone else understands how I’m feeling.

    I am rooting you on 110%!!!

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    • Amanda says:

      That is EXACTLY how I feel, and sometimes I feel like my two goals – being body positive and losing weight – are warring with each other, and keep undermining each other, so that neither are going anywhere! Even though I know they are mutually exclusive, they don’t FEEL like it. It reminds me a lot of your recent living-while-losing post, which I’ve read but haven’t organized my thoughts well enough to comment. I feel like I’m vacillating too much between living and losing, and going to further extremes on both sides. Sigh.

      btw, this is the second time recently when I’ve come out to a post and discovered your comment. For some bizarre reason, WordPress isn’t sending me notices for your comments – JUST yours. (Well, at least that I’ve discovered.) So if I happen to not respond back to you…it might be that I haven’t seen your comment at all. I’ve been lucky – I’ve come out to respond to other comment notifications so far – but I think I’m going to have to start checking my actual comment page. Grr.

      Like

  6. gricel says:

    I feel this way all the time. I see the positive changes I’ve made, but I’m still reaching for more… so am I satisfied or not? I can’t say, but I also agree that loving myself and accepting my body comes with an awareness of self that is not always be easy (if that makes any sense).

    Ankle-wise, stay off! I say this as a multi sprain survivor :(. Maybe some mat pilates can help you stay fit and stay off your feet. Also, grab some epsom salts and soak it regularly—-it really does make it heal faster in my experience.

    Like

    • Amanda says:

      I’m doing my best on the ankle. It’s so hard to stay put, though!

      I can’t say I’m seeing positive changes in myself. I know part of it is medicinal, but I get really frustrated with NOT seeing changes, and then I want to make drastic changes, and can’t…

      Like

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