I am out of shape.
A blogger! On the nets! With belly fat! Oh noes!
Yes, it is true. I was not always out of shape. In fact, I used to be obscenely in shape, but because of a myriad of factors that begin and end with my possession of a uterus, I totally thought I was fat then.
I know I’m overweight now. And I watched myself slowly get that way over the last two years with a sentiment that pretty much went “meh.” Occasionally I got all, “Oh my god fat fat fat fat fat” but mostly “meh.”
That’s been a luxury for me, and I’m happy for it. My period of uber-fitness neatly corresponded with my period of marital abuse. Motivation to head to the gym came a lot easier when I didn’t want to go home. Motivation to take aerobics classes skyrocketed when it was the most positive input I would receive about my body all day (good job! you’re working hard! vs. I wish you were smaller, like that other woman I want to fuck who’s way more attractive than you). And the crushing desire to be fit fit fit was impossible to ignore in an abusive relationship. Getting skinny and fit — like being smart, or cooking well, or cleaning constantly, or smiling perfectly all the time, or only talking about interesting things, or wearing the right clothes — was one more thing that I thought could stave off the abuse. If I was just prettier. Skinnier. Muscly. Tough.
Mr. Flint encouraged me with this directly. Throughout the seven years of our relationship, no matter what kind of shape I was in, if I called attention to the fact that I thought my body was shaping up pretty well, he’d never fail to remind me that it was all right, but I could probably still manage to lose ten pounds. Even when I had NO FAT on my body, and was all muscle, and could not have lost more weight without being anorexic: you could still lose about ten pounds. And he encouraged this indirectly, by ignoring any overtures I made to sex, any attempts I made to act sexy, dress sexy, be sexual for him. Dang. If only I were skinnier, I thought, I bet my husband would have sex with me. Time to go back to the gym for the fourth time today.
And I encouraged myself. I got no positive, worthwhile, healthy, functioning attention from my husband, and was isolated from anybody who wasn’t his friend. His friends gave me somewhat more positive, worthwhile, healthy, functioning attention, but only in comparison with him. In comparison to the kind of attention one could get from a positive, worthwhile, healthy, functioning human being, they were still epic fails (such as: Whoa, Harriet! Way to hit that bong! You’re awesome for a girl!). I was too terrified/shy/terrorized to speak to strangers, since, as far as I knew (as far as Mr. Flint told me) I was boring, hysterical, weird, manipulative, awkward, and generally shitty to be around.
BUT. I knew, no matter what, I could get easy positive attention about my body. People watched me when I walked down the street. Sometimes, in brief interactions with customer service people, or coworkers, I’d get that little flash of a connection from them. That pregnant pause full of, “Oh god you’re hot.” I loved that. It made me feel like I existed. And, too, that my existence wasn’t just something that brought trouble to others. Some people thought my living was a good thing.
And my body gave me a way to talk to and connect with the ugly horrible people Flint wanted us to hang out with, a bunch of drugged-out generally misogynistic creep-fucks. They might dismiss every opinion I had as boring and female, refuse to talk about anything that interested me, speak condescendingly to me about things I knew more about than them. But if I could just, you know, shift this hip the right way and remind them how much they wanted to fuck me, I was going to be a part of the group. Flint didn’t mind. To the contrary, he liked it. Here is Hot Girl Everybody Wants, and she will only eat what he lets her, only talk about what he has approved, only like the things he likes, and only go home with him. He got a massive power trip out of owning my body, even though he had no desire to fuck it.
A little side note titled Why I Love My Bear: I have got ass. Like, serious ass. Badonkadonk. I didn’t really consider this an attribute most of my life. It wasn’t something I didn’t like, or wished would change. I mean, I assumed part of the hugeness was due to all the invisible fat I was obviously carrying that made my husband not love me, and I assumed that once I reached that perfect state of body where my husband would love me my ass would not be so huge. But I did not walk around with shame about the ass. It just kinda was, like the color of my eyes. I know Flint didn’t appreciate it. Sometimes I would say, “Damn, honey, my ass is huge,” and he would say, “Yeah, I guess it is. You could probably stand to lose ten pounds.”
Now, I have since learned that Bear loves ass like bears love honey. And back in the days of yore, when I was a shy and terrorized coworker spending my workdays thinking about how nobody liked me, my bear was paralyzed at his desk, trying not to bug-eye me too creepily when I badonkadonked by. The first time I said to him, “Damn, my ass is huge!” he said “YES!!!!!!” and, um, illustrated some luv.
So! Even when my body was at this peak condition that I can only imagine and dream about today, I thought it was an ugly bunch of nothing that was only good for getting people to smile at me. Then that period of my life ended like whoa yeah, and so began a new era of reconsidering my body. I lost all my biggest motivators to work out. I had no insane abusive husband to please, or avoid. I had no need to acquire attention from strangers or bug-eyed creep-fucks. And I had a bear who liked curves because he likes women, and he likes it when women look like women, and he loves badonkadonk.
All I really wanted to do, in the year or so after my divorce, was curl up at home with my bear and overindulge myself all day and night. I wanted ALL the cookies, ALL the sex, ALL the booze. Every now and again I would think to myself, Self, you are gaining weight, you should stop that. But those thoughts were still tinged with self-hate and a lack of self-satisfaction. I should lose weight why? Because I am no good as a person if I don’t? FUCK YOU, SELF, there is nothing more self-satisfying than mac and cheese out of the pot and a Firefly marathon in my panties.
So I have had to really re-evaluate what my body means to me, what it brings to me, and how much I give a crap about any of that. Now my bear, he likes curves. I would guess that he probably was driven far more wild by my curves when they were a little more on the side of curvy and a little less on the side of spherical, but I know he loves me, and I know he likes me, and I know he wants me. So, while I would like to be a little sexier for him, I am not overly concerned about my body affecting my relationship. I no longer need or really want attention from other people. In fact, I am positively hermitical (fun note: this both means as pertaining to a hermit, and a spiced cookie. Om nom nom solitude!). And I have found that getting bigger has really kicked out the crutch of external attention from under me. Nobody likes fat girls. Nobody gives them special treats at the coffee shop. When I find myself disappointed by this, I am forced to consider how fucked-up that is on an interpersonal and feminist scale, and how fucked-up it is that I do indeed have a conditioned need to acquire attention based on potential access to my vagina. It has been a relief, being forced to let that go.
But, I do miss fitting into some super awesome clothes I have. I do miss the strength I used to have, if only because it felt so sexy. I miss feeling healthy. And while I don’t miss looking hot as much as I thought I would, I really do miss looking like I could punch a motherfucker. I haven’t missed all that enough to get up off my ass and exercise, or learn to eat right, which I hate hate hate and have never done. That was one of the benefits of working out like an obsessive-compulsive — all the bacon I ever wanted was mine for the noming.
Now, finally, after two-plus years, I am starting to develop what I feel like are healthier and worthwhile reasons to get fit. Lately, I’ve been fucking exhausted, all the time. Not just “it’s a bad week” exhausted, but so exhausted that sometimes I feel like I am not going to be able to get up and cross the room to get a glass of water. At first I thought it was just stress. I’ve got a job I would really like to not have, and there are some other interpersonal things not for blogging going on, and I am just overall feeling trapped. So I took a week off, thinking some time away from these things I hated would do the trick. But it didn’t. Still exhausted, not even a little refreshed, and never a break from the cascade of stressful thoughts about how much my life sucks.
So I went to the doctor to see if there’s any medical issue (still waiting to hear back), and my doctor talked to me about my lifestyle. Not about my weight, which she touched on only a little, but about how I’m living. Eating food that provides little in the way of nutrition, providing myself few outlets of stress, spending more and more time sequestering myself away all immobile in the dark. This exhaustion has just been killer, and my stress level has been overwhelming. I just feel like I never have good, happy, positive, thoughts — everything I think and feel just adds more stress to the pile. So maybe focusing on my body, on my health, is going to be a big way to deal with that.
When I get into something, I tend to get all analytical and hyper-detailed. That was mostly borne out of a lifetime of abuse, where tracking and mapping every tiny detail of a situation might help me avoid getting abused. But mostly, these days, I can harness my abilities for good, and write excruciatingly detailed reports at work, or breakdown my budget like an autistic accountant. To me, the only way to make something not-so-fun enjoyable is to give myself all sorts of special little toys and brain-teasers. So, now I need to get healthy, and I would like to get fit, and so I’m getting hyper-analytical about how to do this, and creating fun little methods and processes for myself.
ALL THAT BLOG was just a build-up to the attached documents. I put together a fitness journal for myself to help track all the things I want to pay attention to as I get to know my body better. I need to learn more about food, which I am woefully ignorant about, so I’m going to start tracking what I eat, when I eat it, and what kinds of nutrients it has. And I need to pay more attention to how my eating habits affect my mood and my energy. Stupid as it sounds, I am in fact the kind of person who can skip lunch, and then honestly wonder why I am so crabby and logy all day long. And I want to learn more, statistically and methodically, about how my activity level and eating habits affect what my body does. All I ever used to understand in my abusive-workout days was: work yourself into the ground, body gets tiny. I need a more nuanced understanding than that.
I put all this together because I was really unsatisfied with what I found when googling food or fitness journals online. So I want to share it with anybody else who wants to start tracking their health, but don’t want to focus just on weight or calories.
Okay, yes, I blog too much to say one simple thing.