The winter and the mounds of snow here in New England have encouraged me to be in a more internal space with my writing practice. I'll return to blogging as sure as the robins return, but I have also discovered some fantastic writers in my hibernation. Today's article is written by guest blogger Deanna D'Amore. Deanna is a fitness trainer who honestly and courageously tells of her challenges around body image and self-care. I hope you find her words as inspiring as I do. The article was first published at http://www.inspiredperspiration.com/battle-skinny-demon-deanna-damore/.
I’m the heaviest weight I have ever been. But I’m not going to do anything about it.
Maybe it comes with maturity, maybe it’s exhaustion of trying to squeeze into a version of myself that’s not actually me, cuz I’ve been there too. Many people might look at me and say I’m in great shape and “who are you to complain?” But we all compare ourselves, to our old selves and to each other.
I’d love to tell you that being skinny and waifish didn’t make me happy. It did when I was that! Skinny was the only thing I had, though. I knew deep down I was a mess and couldn’t figure out what else I was bringing to the life table besides being cute and skinny. Maybe it takes not looking the way you think you want to in order to dig a little deeper and find what it is that you really have to offer. Who you really are.
Being skinny is a demon women can never seem to outrun. It runs rampant through our TVs, our social media feeds, it chases us down at lunches out with friends, gatherings with the closest of family. It’s bad for us. Really bad. What’s worse is that proving our desire to be skinny is even expected of us by our own friends and family. It’s not just the magazines, our own circles reinforce the demon we all despise.
I was at a bridal shower table with some of my closest college friends. These are girls I lived with, cheered with, ate with, everything-ed with. Girls who I’ve seen and have seen me cry in a bathtub over a boy (of course). Do I care how any of them look today? No. I’m happy we are able to see each other once this year. But do I care whether or not they think I’ve gained weight, if they’re wondering if I’ve been working out? Yes. I do care.
As we sit there, the conversation inevitably turns to our bodies. Many of us are fit. Some are CrossFitters, others are members of some alternate venue for flying our fitness freak flags. The chat today is whether we are “too muscular,” maybe we should “tone it down, try to be smaller.” Two years ago, it was all about longing for toned and muscular arms (which we all have now). The “oh, me too!” and “I just want to be skinny!” starts flying all over and I can’t help but join in. I even notice it happening. I am fully present to the moment and I don’t like it but I chime right in with the same complaints. I can’t stop myself.
My ride home from the shower is spent wondering about my own programming, figuring out whether I should squeeze in more running, contemplating skipping some exercises this cycle, or maybe just go light for “toning”. No wait, it’s my diet. I just need to lean out a little more. I should drop carbs, drop fat, drop carbs and fat, do a Whole30 minus fruit and nuts. I’ll just stop eating so much.
My mind races. Everything I pride myself on knowing better than, being above, all of those thoughts I have worked so hard to overcome in the past few years flood my brain and I am consumed with the skinny demon. I know I’ll snap out of it, but I wonder why the f***ing f*** I am here again. If I were sitting around with G coaches and members, I wouldn’t be caught dead preaching anything less than how each of us, myself included have awesomesauce running through our veins. How we are so beyond thinking skinny means anything, how we value ourselves for so much more than that, for being strong and capable and badass! So why, after banging out a PR on pullups at G this morning and feeling on top of the world for it, am I on the verge of a fitness breakdown, questioning all that I know to be truth? Because I can’t help it. None of us can and we fuel each other’s fire.
Outside of my sanctuary, all reality and truth is lost based on a comment from a loved one, a shirt that’s too tight, a big event. There just won’t ever be any escape from these situations or these conversations. It’s the thing you can count on as a woman: women getting together to hate on themselves.
Why? What if you didn’t, though? What if you could find a place of acceptance, and dare I say even love for your body and it’s capabilities? What if you were the one friend who didn’t participate in the conversation or steered it in another direction? How do we go about doing and actually feeling that? I don’t know. But these questions are generally where I start.
Besides Coaching, I also do hair. Sometimes, I’m standing in front of the mirror in my underwear, clothes strewn about, freaking out about feeling fat, with a client coming to the salon in 20 min. I pull out the eyeliner, curling iron, maxi dress and just get it together. I remind myself that my client only cares how beautiful I make them, not how I look doing it. Everyone has that outfit or look that makes them feel better, or at least not awful. I have mine and I put it on. I don’t care if I wore it to work two days ago. I take a pouty selfie and move on with my day. The stupid demon goes away. Other times, I need to dig a little deeper.
I ask myself lots of questions starting with “am I getting my big three right?”
- Am I eating the way I know works for me?
- Am I moving often and with the right mix of intensity?
- Am I getting enough sleep?
Those are my big three. We all have our own, but if you don’t yet, take mine! More times than not, the answer is yes to all three and I just need a high five to the face. I’d bet it’s what most of us need.
My strategies are ever evolving. I am creating my path and figuring out what I need to live the life I feel most confident in and satisfied with. It changes. I know it’s ok to not have it figured out and to have these feelings come up no matter how far along the path to self love I might be on most days. I’m still young but I’ve been through things, faced things, figured out things. I’ve actually grown up and made my way. And I’ve been around long enough to realize that not everyone can say that.
Figuring out how to cope with my life takes trial and error, patience, and will be completely unique to me. The demons may never leave me alone, but awareness and practice means I’ll meet them less and less. And each encounter will be less devastating than the one before. Eventually, the “I feel great” and the “I love my____” outweigh the “I hate my_____” and the “I wish I were_____.” And, I’m always glad when the smoke clears and realize I no longer pound my body with terrible fitness or food choices because of my demons.
At one obstacle course race last summer I was among 5% of participants who climbed the entire rope. I can run, sprint, climb, lift, pushup, pullup, crawl, jump and love circles around my younger, skinnier self. I may be at the heaviest weight I’ve ever been, but I’m also so much more than I have ever been. And you know what? I love it that way.
~ Article republished with permission from the author, Deanna D'Amore.