Learning stuff is dangerous. It has the capacity to alter your outlook on so many things. In my case, I’ve been doing work on how to best lose fat and gain muscle mass as I age. That article led in turn to this one, about beginning to strength train, and I realised that this is me. I’m not alone, far from it, and that many women my age have walked this path to better fitness and quality of life. I don’t think now I will ever imagine a time when I’m not lifting heavy shit. It’s become like an addiction but without all the bad stuff that I normally associate with such actions. There’s no guilt (except when I miss a session) and only benefit. As I discovered yesterday, many of them I’m not even noticing.
I look at this picture and know it doesn’t make me happy. I can see the weight that’s not moving, places that require work, and undoubtedly get fixated on the stuff that’s closest to my brain that’s wrong. However (and this is crucial) people yesterday looked at my arms and were amazed at the change. First of all, WHY ARE YOU LOOKING AT MY ARMS PEOPLE??? I do not judge this part of my body as progress, and here is my perception issue in a nutshell. My legs, undoubtedly, are completely transformed. I have a thigh gap. Pretty much all of the fat on my legs has now gone, and the same can now be said of my arms (although some does still remain on upper arms.) I realise torso/trunk/core takes the longest to fix, and I’ve only just started to do serious work on this part of my body. My arms, like it or not, are where the most change has happened. I just never looked at them before.
Now I have, there’s probably a bit of self-revision that needs to take place.
My brain is the problem. Old style perceptions of myself and my body. I did a lot of thinking about this too, on the back of these comments, that spilled out into my dreams. I was a competitor in a truly accurate Miss Universe contest, with alien competitors from across the Galaxy. It wasn’t about how you looked on the outside that counted, more about knowledge and ability, but mostly about compassion. There was a conversation last night about me not being ‘beautiful’ either, which spun off on an interesting tangent with my husband. He decided that at least part of that will equate to being polite and understanding in situations where I’d feel uncomfortable. That started the brain on another, separate path, that being happy meant I could be considered more attractive, and now my brain’s realising that the concept of attractiveness is pretty horribly subjective if you bother to dig past the superficial.
Maybe that’s why many people just don’t bother and only look at surfaces.
I know what I consider as beautiful. Art. Food. Music. Words. Some of these things rely on the visual, others don’t. I can remove the physical from other things but not from myself, and that’s something that’s making me emotional as I type, and not in a good way. That is producing an anxiousness that actually calls into question why I’m on this path to begin with: what I’m fighting to create for myself matters more about appearance than I first realised, and that might be bad. It shouldn’t matter what I look like but it does in at least a part of my brain that knows how others view me does have a relevance. What I now think I need to focus on isn’t looks, but feelings. Without the exercise, the last three months would have been a living hell, hormonal change making everything so much more painful and bright, quite apart from the chaos going on in the Real World. Without the exercise, I’d have nothing as support.
I keep coming back to this GIF as an accurate representation of how this feels. It’s funny I can do this, it seems odd that I am, and when I stop to think down to why, I’m lost. It matters to be healthy and achieve these things. I want to be healthier to live longer. It obviously matters that my husband continues to find me attractive. However, when it comes down to it am I trying to attain something I’ve never owned the rights to? Am I trying to become more attractive in my own mind by being thinner? Is it about attaining a notion of beauty that I’ve been given, instead of pursuing an ideal that means something deeper?
There’s a lot of personal pronouns in that paragraph, and now there’s going to be trouble.
This GIF’s getting a lot of use too. Parts of my brain grasping that to make this work, there have to be sacrifices that change everything. Being accurate on my calorie intake, and not lying when that falls down. Putting in the miles, every damn day, and not just the Strength ones. Pushing past the anxiety that this isn’t good enough, because that’s just not true. The conversations with myself right now are quite painful, and often bitter realisations of the truth that most people don’t even need to balance all these elements. They just live and manage and cope. So much becomes self doubt when you’re at this level of assessment too, and relaxing is what happens then you’re so focused on finishing that last set of 12 reps that everything else just vanishes. Then I understand exactly what it is that matters most to me about the exercise right now, and it is because this is the place where nothing else matters except me.
The Gym has become my safe place.
Walking’s always been the best method of filtering out noise and helping me to focus on writing, and that still remains true. Weights and training has become the one way the World can’t give me the finger. It doesn’t matter that everything else is out of my hands, because as long as I can get stronger? Screw it. Yeah, it still has to be dealt with but the mental toughness grows with each improvement I make. I am coping better as a result of this regime.
Salvation is possible, if I can be patient.