Thursday, December 3, 2009

YOU hit the gym!

I've always been a big girl. I've always been the heaviest kid in class. I've always had just a little too much paunch and chin for most to handle. I've always been on the wrong side of the 60 kg marker on the weighing scale. I have been on every diet known to woman, since the age of 14 and have tried pretty much all forms of exercise (except krav maga) devised by humans. I have been desperate to the point of tears, I have allowed the excess baggage to be an excuse for not living a full life. I have felt ugly, have cursed my poor body even as I heaped gobfuls of unhealthy food into my mouth. I have treated my flesh and bones like aliens, here to destroy me rather than help me get to the next level of self-awareness.

Something changed, this last year. As Jane Fonda says in her autobiography, I 'took residence back in my body'. I made friends with it again - tummy, double chin and all. I decided it was awesome how it had stood by me through thick and thin, even when I treated it like shit. I felt it was time to treat it with the respect it deserved.

So I stopped starving it. I stopped ignoring the extreme backpain I was having as a result of jogging on the uneven track in my neighbourhood. I decided I didn't need to be at the point of death to feel worthy of that square of Cadburys. I decided to listen to my body.

My body wanted to go for walks with my ipod. Some days it wanted to be the fastest walker in the park. Most days it wanted to walk for at least an hour. Some days it wanted to stretch and open up its back muscles. And sometimes it just wanted to vegetate.
I also realised that my body didn't want as much food as I thought it did. I let it decide amounts based on how much physical work I'd done through the day. It enjoyed chocolate but realised that after two bites, the thrill was gone & everything tasted the same . I listened and gave it what it wanted.

As a consequence, I've put on muscle mass, dropped a couple of sizes and am off all my various meds. I recently survived an intensive 2 day shoot schedule, where I was on my feet from 5 am to 10pm - a near impossible feat just two years ago. I am still not thin but I'm fitter than most people I know and have more stamina, energy and sheer joie de vivre than I've ever had...

....And yet, such is the brainwashing that society has inflicted upon us all that when I go out into the world, I am still seen as someone who has no self control, who has let herself go and is somehow a lesser form of being than most others. Assumptions are still made on the type of person I am. I am automatically disqualified from being a sexual entity, a woman in all senses of the word. And sadly, when it comes to men, I am still considered an embarrassment by many.

There's nothing I can do about it. I can only focus on myself and my health. I can only acknowledge for myself how great I think I feel and look (and I really, really do). Luckily, having endured this kind of mindless prejudice since a young age, I have learnt how to deflect it before it affects my psyche. Now when someone tells me to hit the gym, without bothering to find out if I really need to or not, I'll know that the problem lies not with the slice of pizza on my plate, but with the mounds of ignorance sitting on theirs.

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