August 2, 2010

Stepping On.

What I can still feel now, viscerally, is the few seconds between picking up my foot and stepping on.

I hear the stickiness of my sweaty foot peeling off the linoleum and the whirring sound as the scale starts its ascent. Standing there staring at the wall; its green color (jewel tones were in then) sears into my mind. (Interestingly, I chose it as the color for my bedroom when we moved a couple years later.  Therapists, feel free to talk amongst yourselves.) I don’t look down, knowing I’ll get the bad news soon enough.

I often tried to think of excuses to get out of those weekly weigh-ins. I was too young then to give the icy glare of my teenage days that dampened at least a little of the weigh-in enthusiasm. However, I still had my ways. I’d feign illness or try to wear some “heavy” clothing like jeans so I could at least say, “oh, well, we have to take off a couple pounds for clothes!” The funny thing is, I have no recollection of how much I weighed then—at nine, ten, eleven; looking back at pictures, I was a pretty average-sized kid.

It’s amazing the perspective time can give you.  Back then, I felt anything but average; I felt huge, and I’d look everywhere for answers: my clothes, my eating habits, my pet gold fish Leon (why not? I was desperate!). I looked for any opportunity to not become that girl. The girl my mother always warned me about.  (Nope, not the slut.  Worse!  The fatty.)

Fast forward more than a decade.  I had arrived, curves and all (and life wasn’t as bad as I’d been warned—I still had friends, and even love interests!).  During this time, I started to notice how conversations with the women in my family usually came back around to calories, dieting, eating that “bad” dessert, or needing to start a new exercise regimen in the next five minutes.  I saw how intergenerational body-hating got passed around, and I realized that my mom felt compelled to help me lose weight out of love and what she thought was best. Eventually, I discovered that what I wanted was health and joy, not a number on a scale.

Yoga gave me the tools
to find my way, often bumbling, into wellness and self-love. It gave me the ability to enjoy moving my body for the first time, which also paved the way to other forms of exercise—because I wanted to and it felt good. It also gave me the humor and space to look at my body, my practice, and my life and just say “this is me in this moment; I’m sweaty and inflexible and I’m so blissed out on yoga that I feel like hugging my neighbor.  Aren’t I glorious?”

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