Loving Yourself

I have been sitting with this post for a while. I wasn't sure where I should post it - my old blog from my 20s? This blog, about love and hearts? My personal journal? I decided that right here, right now, is the place to share and hopefully, you'll see why.

In full disclosure, I have to admit that this post is inspired by a lot of images I've seen lately of women, mostly white, detailing their self-dislike under the guise of self-care. I've seen some of my fellow black and other colored women friends follow suite, but I've noticed it a lot in white women. Which, as we know, has a tendency to project itself into the communities of all women. After all, their aspirations are considered beauty standards, so we must chase the same dreams. No one is going to say, "I want my thighs to rub" when in fact, beauty dictates that our "thighs should have a gap." The reality is that across every skin color range different body types and sizes and trends like these are unrealistic.

For example, I've spent most of my entire life wanting to lose 50lbs. Right now, it's like 70. If I lost that much weight, I still would not be dainty because I'm not built that way. My hips and shoulders, for better or worse, are on the wider side. My legs are on the shorter side, as is my torso. My breasts have always been sizable. That doesn't mean I stop trying to lose weight, it just means that in perspective, maybe losing 50lbs is unrealistic. 

The women I come from, the long line of women I come from, have ranged. My Mom has some of the skinniest legs I've seen in my family and my youngest brother has them. And I dislike him when I think about it because how in the hell did he get my Mom's legs?! I inherited the legs of my French grandmother and possibly, my African American great-grandmother. And I love them. I love that my legs have carried me through four marathons and many, many miles to get to those marathons. I also love that those legs help me walk through cities and places unknown and sometimes just up the stairs of my apartment building to my apartment.

And yet, overwhelmingly, I feel this shame to be me. To be my size. To accept that this is where I am right now. Because social media and some of my friends are "clean eating" and denying themselves things for something that may never really be attainable. 

So my questions is, what are you trying to hide? Or rather, what is it that you're so unhappy about with yourself that is making you hurt yourself?

By all means, I am not saying eating healthy is hurting yourself. Nope. I've been a food justice advocate since I joined my first CSA in Long Island City in 2009. I believe healthy and ethically grown food is something for everyone, not just a few with money. I believe in farmers and their jobs. I think they're more heroes in this world than cops and military personnel. I believe our soil and water need to be taken care of so that we can grow these nourishing foods. To eat healthy is to be an advocate not just for you and me and everyone else, but to be an advocate for the planet.

What I am saying is that eating disorders result from the idea of "clean eating." I'm saying this as someone who has an eating disorder of over eating when I'm bored, or unhappy, or upset, or stressed out, or hating my job. Yep. I'm admitting that.

This past holiday weekend, I ate with my family. I probably ate too many heavy, carb loaded foods. And at midnight Monday morning, as I sat in my car still four hours away from home, I felt sick. Literally, like a brick had fallen into my stomach. That day, I ended up even more sick (chills and a slight fever) thanks to running on two hours of sleep. I ended up sleeping 12 hours and when I woke up for good, could only stomach the idea of water and ginger. I wanted to chew on real ginger. 

In the days after my illness, I started adding soups and rice. Lots of bland things. I added sourdough toast and some kombucha. By Thursday night, I cooked a meal for myself, something with some spice, but that had coconut milk and chicken thighs and jalapeno peppers. It was delicious. I noticed that I my body was instructing me on what to eat and how much to eat and felt at peace, if not still completely settled.

This morning, as I showered, I told my body, I love it. I actually said, "I love you body. Thank you for dealing with my emotional torture. I'm working on you, with you. We'll do this together. Not because we want to be strong, or look like we're strong, or look good in those pants. No, because I owe you better than I've been treating you lately. And because I think this partnership will help unlock those fears I've been using you to hide behind."

I've started running again and I'm starting my adult ballet classes on Monday nights mid-May. In both of these, I'm excited for the activity, not the changes they will bring to my body. I'm excited to see my old ladies at ballet class again and be yelled at by Parsla about my form being poor, all the while knowing that it's helping me center myself as I focus on other things in my life. I'm excited for running because running has always been a balm for my brain and because I always find myself in running. I'm not doing these so that I can take pictures of myself and say, "oh, look, I'm getting more fit!"

I'm excited to stick to my commitment to eat meals I mostly cook so I can reduce my plastic consumption and waste production and because it allows me to work on some skills I need to work on for this project I'm working on launching later this year.

I started a vitamin regimen again because I know my gut can use some help.

I'm doing these things because I do truly love myself. And want to love myself. After all, loving myself is the longest relationship I'll ever truly have. 

We are all different and need to do the things that work best for us. But I'd like to gently remind everyone that we should do these things out of love. Not out of fear, or hatred, or even just dislike. We should also never do these things to fit in, or conform. If you're willing to not eat cheese and pasta because you're trying to stop an allergy (which I've done), or fix an autoimmune disease, or because you feel bloated, fine. Good. Do it! If you're doing it because you want to be strong and eat clean and drop body fat, that's fine, too, but don't complain about what you're doing. You are making the decision to not eat these things, as a choice.

For example, I've noticed that dairy in general makes me feel congested and this past week, where I have eaten minimal amounts of dairy, we're talking a few shaves of parmesan on my eggs in the am. I feel clear and good. And I may stick with this, which means goodbye milk, which truly limits me because I don't believe in soy or almond milk personally. (Almond milk is terrible for the planet and soy milk just doesn't do much for me.) And that's fine. But I'm not going to complain about this because I'm doing this with love. And not for attention.

Most importantly, and the reason behind this post, is that I'm no longer buying into the shame. And I'm not buying into the conversation of the shame either. Well, outside of this post. If this is the life you choose to live, great, congrats, happy for you. I'm not judging you, I'm just telling you I don't particularly care and I'm done with this trend and the fitness trend in general to make me feel like shit. Life is meant to be lived and that comes with extra lbs sometimes and sadness. It also includes eating some cake every now and then. And real ice cream. Eat the real ice cream and then enjoy a roasted piece of broccoli, but don't cover up your body and don't feel like you need to join a trend to fix something that is much deeper than five or 50lbs.

It all boils down to love. How much do you love yourself? Are you loving yourself in the right way?  This is what this whole hearteds2 path is about, after all.