Is THIS Bliss?!

Lorina's Blog

self-esteem

Ain’t no gap on me…

If I didn't have a thigh gap when I was seven, why should I expect to have one now?

 

I keep this picture of myself on my desk. It’s from 1979, in my kiddie pool in the back yard. I was a skinny kid, and even then, my thighs touched. They always touched. They’re always going to touch. It’s just the way I’m built.

For someone else, a thigh gap is a perfectly natural and beautiful thing, but striving for one, when my body is designed otherwise, would be like striving make my feet a size 6 instead of a size 9. Not gonna happen. It’s nothing I ever worked to have, although I do sometimes wish my legs were smaller. That in itself is pretty silly… my legs look the way they look because of what they need to do. When I did have skinny legs, they were that couldn’t run and knees that popped out of joint if I squatted too low. If I want legs that can lift heavy weights and propel my body up steep hills, I need ones with more muscle.

This picture is also a reminder that there was a time when I didn’t think about my body, when how I looked didn’t matter to me, when I wasn’t self-conscious about my bum or my legs or my boobs. The only gap I was concerned with then was the giant one where my front teeth had been, and even that didn’t bother me.

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Bullying, and Not Bullying

First, let me start by saying that I think bullying sucks. I’ve been bullied as a kid. It wasn’t enjoyable. It did help build character, though, so I’m not upset about it. I’m actually kind of thankful for it. It made me realize at an early age, in a fairly safe way, that sometimes, people are mean for seemingly no reason whatsoever, and it has little to do with me or anything I did. I was just a target.

That said, I’m really sick of hearing about bullying in the media. If you’re over the age of say… twelve, calling someone else a bully just makes you sound like a complete and utter sissypants. And if you’re a sissypants, you probably think I’m a bully for saying that.

I’m not saying you have to put up with it. I’m not saying it’s right. I’m saying call it by it’s real name: Being an asshole. A douchenozzle. A dickhead. A jerk if you’re not one for foul language. Hell, even calling someone a “mean old poopyhead” sounds more mature than calling them a bully.

If it’s someone who has some kind of power over you, call it harassment. If it goes beyond harassment and becomes physical, it’s assault. But stop calling it bullying.

I was made fun of when I was a kid because I was very skinny, wore thick glasses, had crooked teeth, was bookish and nerdy with hobbies and interests deemed weird, and I didn’t have a lot of friends. I was an easy target. What I came to realize was that, as much of an oddball as I was, the people who were mean to me had lower self-esteem. I was happy being a little weirdo. They had to knock me down to bring themselves up. In retrospect, those kids deserved pity more than I did. They were the ones with real problems.

That’s something else that bugs me about the current culture about bullying. Everyone focuses on the kids being bullied, but not the reason why the bullies are being bullies. What’s going on in their lives? What makes them so miserable that they have to take it out on others?

Plus, it’s always about being a victim, not a survivor. Bullying stopped for me when I stopped letting it bother me. Also when I developed biting sarcasm and a quick wit. It’s no fun making fun of the geeky girl when she insults you back and gets more laughs. But mostly, I realized that what they thought about me didn’t matter. What anyone else thought about me didn’t matter. The key word in self-esteem is “self.” It has to come from within.

If someone said something that hurt my feelings, I asked myself why. Was it true? If not, who cares? If so, is it something that I want to and can change? If not, who cares? If so, maybe I should work on changing that. When people poked fun at me for wearing my thick-ass coke-bottle glasses, it bothered me because I hated wearing them, and eventually got contact lenses. Ditto for my jack o’lantern teeth. I hated them crooked and eventually got braces. When they picked on me for being flat-chested… well, for fuck’s sake, I was a 50 pound eleven year old. Who the hell has hooters at that age and size?! When they made fun of something like the books I read, that never bothered me, because it was something I enjoyed. If they didn’t, so what? Why do I care what someone I have nothing in common with, someone I don’t even like, thinks?

That’s something I figured out as an emotional, sensitive, hormonal pre-teen. I have a hard time finding pity for adults that get bent out of shape over someone being mean.

I may have been a funny looking little kid, but I had bigger balls than a lot of grown-ups!

I may have been a funny looking little kid, but I had bigger balls than a lot of grown-ups!

So… yeah. That’s the rambling thoughts about bullying from someone who went through it. In an ideal world, everyone would be kind to each other. It’s not an ideal world. We need some amount of emotional armor to get through it. We need to teach kids how to forge that armor early in life, not just assign labels of “bully” and “victim.” And the bully is just as much a victim as the victim. Until they reach adulthood. Then they’re just assholes.

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Pink and Blue Hydrangeas and Body Image

Lots of rambling here, bear with me. 😉

I’m at the end of my No Logging in September Experiment. For the past month, I’ve been eating intuitively, and not logging my calories, because, quite frankly, I’m tired of it. I started the month at a weight of 140.8 pounds and weighed in Saturday at 141.4 pounds. Which, in my mind, is a win. Especially since I started the month not being able to get a certain pair of jeans over my hips, and can now (uncomfortably) button them again.

Plus, I’d been recovering from an injury at the start of the month, and not exercising. Now that I’m easing back into it, I’m very likely sporting a few extra pounds of fuel storage and some inflammation from exercise. So I’m feeling pretty good about things.

I’ve also used this time to do some thinking about body image and the things we do to achieve our goals. On one hand, I know calorie counting works. Damn well. I can be quite lean and look fantastic when I’m counting my calories (as long as I don’t fuck up my body with frickin’ hormones again). But… is it worth it? Is being a little bit leaner that important? Does it really make any difference in my life? Am I just fighting what my body naturally wants to be? I can rather effortlessly maintain being a size 6-8. If I’m counting every calorie, I can be a size 2-4.

I mean… I’m still fit and healthy. I still run. I still lift weights. My husband thinks I’m sexy and wants to boink me no matter what I weigh. Being leaner doesn’t make me smarter, kinder, a better artist, a better wife. I still have to pay bills, scoop the litter box and have ninja fast reflexes to keep the dog from biting me while I groom him.

The only thing that’s different is that I’m somewhat smaller and wear somewhat smaller clothes.

So why do I feel like a failure or quitter? It’s silly to feel that way. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the way I look now. I liken it to being a blue hydrangea. I can change the pH balance in the soil and make it a pink hydrangea. But WHY? Why go that extra step, when the blue hydrangea is just as beautiful?

Blue and Pink Hydrangeas

Or if I’d been bleaching my hair blonde for years, and decided that it was too much upkeep and went back to my natural brunette, I wouldn’t feel bad about it. There wouldn’t be anyone saying I was wussing out or lazy because I stopped coloring my hair.

For what it’s worth, I didn’t feel deprived or hungry while logging my calories. I ate well. But I was obsessive. I know the fitness industry likes to say, “What you call obsessed, we call dedicated,” but it sure felt a lot more like obsessed. Every day was like a game of Jenga, a balancing act, trying to get the calories and macros all in order. It was just an extra layer of pressure I was putting on myself. Just like altering the pH in the soil or changing the hue of my hair. One extra, possibly unnecessary, step.

If I compare my current photos with photos from before I started lifting weight, I’m happy. Very happy. I weigh more, but it doesn’t show.

July 2011 to September 2013

But then… then I look up photos from last year at this time and think, “Holy shit! I never realized I was that small!” That’s when I start feeling like a big old lazy lump, even though I’m not that much bigger.

(And I realize that everyone hates the size 6 girl complaining that she can’t fit in the fours. I realize it’s stupid and petty. But falling short of reaching a goal is disappointing, for anyone.)

Oct 2012 to Sept 2013

Smaller, sure. Better? If I’m honest? Yes, but why is smaller considered better? I don’t know. Is counting every calorie and feeling slightly crazy worth it? I don’t know. Do I want to get back there? Actually… yes. And I don’t even know why, because I logically don’t think it should matter.

Right now, though… No. Right now, I’m going to be stubborn and see if I can’t get back there without going nuts. I’ve seen and felt improvement in the past month, and up until I was masochistic and did a side by side with last year’s photos, I felt great, so I’m just going to continue on that road and see where it leads.

Because, you know what? I had just as much self-doubt about how I looked a year ago as I do now. Then I thought, “My thighs are still big. My abs don’t show like some other women’s do. Why do I still have chins??? Uck… my chest looks bony.” That’s something else that doesn’t change. Same tunes, in a different key. That’s something I have to work on inside my head, not on the outside.

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