How far I’ve fallen from my former self (in the physical form) came starkly back to me today. At lunch time I had a chance meeting with a fantastic young woman, Lindsey, who’s taken over my old spot at the gym, teaching Body Attack.
If anyone doubts that something like Body Attack can change your body, then you’d only have to look at a photo of Lindsey 6 months ago and one taken today. She looked fit previously, but now she has the lean athletic look that I had for most of my life. Quite simply, Lindsey looks awesome.
But in the past 6 months with the thesis and depression, I’ve lost my hard athletic look. I haven’t put on weight, but I’ve lost muscle and the firmness it gives.
This really depresses me: I’m 43 in April, I’ll NEVER be able to get back to how good I looked even 6 months ago, much less how I looked at my peak, 3 years ago…
It’s a deeply ingrained belief in my head: I am OVER 40 and it’s IMPOSSIBLE to look hard and athletic without liposuction –don’t worry, I’ve already had a quote and it’s very tempting- and spending 3 hours per day exercising. (Please note that two hours is acceptable. Most days, before I went to Canberra, did what needed to be done to finish the thesis and got really depressed again, I did 2 hours of exercise most days).
NOW there is something blocking me. Something deep and black.
I hate it. I want my body –myself– my self esteem and confidence, back…
I want to come back to me.
Okay… let me just start with this: YOU ARE NOT YOUR BODY!
Yeah, you heard me and you even know that’s true, right? I know you do, deep down in there some where.
Secondly, you’ve just prompted me to finish some interview questions that The BlissChick sent me, on the very topic of body issues. It’s a-coming! Also, you might find something to reflect on in the post I published only an hour or so ago. It’s for times like the one you’re going through now, to remind you of what’s important.
I also wanted to point out (although you already know this) that there’s a time for everything, too. A time for having a hard body and times for softness (for example, pregnancy).
Getting older is a time for softness. Our bodies have worked hard over so many years, especially those of us who’ve been sporty. And it sounds like you’ve been very sporty! Our joints ache, nothing is quite as effortless as it once was and that’s perfectly okay. It’s natural even.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, our constitution changes as we age, usually tending towards vata and kappa. This too, is natural.
None of this however, means you are going to suddenly turn into an obese potato-shaped person or anything of the sort!
Because you will keep exercising and doing what makes you feel good (not to mention that it helps stave off depression – hint!). I know you will. What you have to do is learn to accept your body as it is.
And I suspect by the tone you’ve used here and the worlds you’ve written that that could very well be the major issue here. Have you ever just accepted your body as it is? I suspect that like me and countless other women out there, you haven’t. You’ve despised the potential for your “inner fat woman” and you’ve worked like a demon your entire life to make sure she never ever showed up.
This is what we do, because we were raised in the era of supermodels and Cleo and Dolly magazines, and where the prettiest girls were the most popular and no one liked the fat kids. Really.
So this time right now, where you’re feeling softer and not as perfect as you think you should be? It’s an opportunity to turn all of those ideas on their head. To learn to look in the mirror, see what’s there and LOVE your body for what it is. Because it’s given birth to two wonderful kids, it allows you to do yoga, do your job, travel and many other activities.
Do NOT let depression use your body image/self-loathing as an excuse to drag you back down. This is the time for some really important work. Don’t give in now, Amanda!
@Svasti, I agree…I actually want to call you up and have a big, big cry!
Even though I know I’m not my body image (and I’ll distinguish here between body and body image), I am very much my body.
Without my body, I wouldn’t be here, typing this. I’d be somewhere, but not in this plane, and probably wouldn’t have the faculties that hold the concept of ‘I’.
Fact is, my body is my vehicle and I’ve not kept it in tune for the past half year. Now I’m paying the price.
I don’t aspire to the whole supermodel thing. I don’t watch TV, read women’s magazines or care what the latest trends are. (I guess I could be a munchkin supermodel. I’m really short. Like child-size short. I fit in kid’s size 12 clothing).
What I have been blessed my whole life is a naturally fit, athletic body without even needing to try very hard at all and loads and loads of energy to go with it. The last few months sapped everything away from me… and I’m desperate to claw that wonderful vitality back.
Seeing your reply, has steeled me. I will get the vitality, the fitness and inevitable outcome of fitness -my lean, hard body- back.
I’ve been doing so well otherwise with the depression, it’s just the flabby saggy thing that’s getting me down.
Call me up any old time. Seriously!
Sure, your body means you can interact with this physical world, but what I meant was that you are not limited or defined by your body. When your physical body ceases to breathe, that is not the end of Anthroyogini, not in the least (I disagree that you can’t have a sense of “I” without a concrete physical form). And when you close your eyes to meditate, it is not your body that hosts your awareness… it’s something else, right?
I don’t care whether you were into supermodels and women’s mags… this attitude to women and their bodies permeates every aspect of our culture. And so regardless, you have been steeped in these insipid values that cause you to judge your own flesh and consider it “not right”. I mean, you had a melt down because you saw someone who looked fitter than you – that is not a natural response but a reaction from conditioned thoughts which you’ve then related back to yourself and found yourself wanting.
I actually wish that you can find a way to love and accept your less than rock hard body as it is, instead of just striving to achieve your former level of fitness. I’m sure you’re fitter than most people in this country and honestly, I doubt what you are calling flabby and saggy is anywhere near as bad as you’re making it out to be.
I don’t want to steel you to work harder – I want you to find room in your heart to love your body even when it fails to meet up to some exacting standard that is completely unnecessary and causes you to stress and strain. Okay? 😉
Hear hear to what Svasti said above me!
In a less inspirational, more superficial, but hopefully encouraging tone, when I was in Brazil a few months ago I would constantly flirt with a 49 year old in my building. She was gorgeous, and from her personality I seriously doubt she ever got lipo. She made girls my age seem like rotten cabbages, and it’s all down to healthy living. If I recall, she also practised yoga 🙂 Something may have happened there, but I can’t confirm as that would be giving away too much!
Also, I can confess that my biggest crush of all time continues with Kylie Minogue, also 42. I’d ditch any 20 year old supermodel for her any day (although I don’t know how she maintains herself, so that may not help)
So you aren’t quite over the hill yet 😉
@Svasti – I hear you 🙂 writing a post rather than a reply comment. Exercising makes me feel really good about myself and gives me the confidence and self love to accept myself. Guess I have to write an “archaeology of the self” to explain it better.
@Benny – thanks for visiting and commenting. Your blog post was exactly what I needed to read. I’m going to implement it here…
I love to stay in shape, too. I just do it because it makes me feel great. I’ve been blessed with excellent genes. My grandfather lived to 101 and my Dad just passed away at 91 (See My Father: Starting Yoga at 87 http://bit.ly/7I0s4f ). I still train with high school tennis players.
But I agree with Svasti, too. Sports and fitness just happen to be my thing and I love it. If it was a burden or a fear I’d just do the minimum and accept my body however it happened to be.
I love tennis, Yoga and weight-training, but I could never be an endurance athlete, for example. I’m just lucky I happen to love doing the very things that keep me in shape.
Good luck. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.
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