This week has been quite emotional. As I read more and more of Body Positive Power I feel my eyes opening more and more. Like my last post, laying it all out in one place can be a powerful way to really see the big picture. But more importantly this book was giving me pause. When I wrote the entry about breaking the wheel my mind was already moving in the way that other Type-As can understand – I was already forming goals, planning plans, thinking of ways to execute what I thought I wanted. And then this book blew it all out of the water. It showed me that while my intentions were good and honest, the reasons behind them were still fraught in fear and self-loathing. If I don’t address those issues or learn to heal them, then my goals won’t achieve what I truly set out to do, even if I complete it on paper. So I formed a new plan.
Friday night I knew I would have some quiet time. BF was going to be spending the evening at a local gaming shop, and I am proud we’ve gotten better at doing our own things and not feeling like we have to spend every free moment together. I knew this would afford me some down time to really focus on myself and my journey. So I brewed a pot of tea, I lit some candles and incense, I put on some classical music … and I began to research and dive into the world of Body Positivity.
What I found is a community fraught with issues, but truly what community isn’t? On instagram I was encouraged to see so many different body types using the hashtags and posting about their own journeys, but I was disheartened to see some of the comments being left on pictures – some of them were quite vicious and cruel. And while I understand that this movement is about recognizing and embracing all body types, it was hard to see the #Fitspo and #Thinspo hashtags alongside the others. These are tags used by people who are looking to thin and fit bodies as an ideal, who frequently post the “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” quote and who struggle to find something positive in their body as it is now. I had folders in my computer or hidden boards on pinterest dedicated to that ideal as I struggled with my own acceptance of myself.
What I didn’t find was an actual community – a place to actually talk with others who are trying to find a place in this movement and bring more positivity into their lives. And sure, I was hoping to find a forum similar to Ravelry or other forums I know of (depression forum, ED recovery forums) … and while others could be repurposed as needed, I was hoping to find a place specifically for people to get support as they work through previously held notions and move into a better place for themselves.
And before I wrote this entry I talked through everything I had found out with BF, as we waited outside to catch a bus home this morning after shopping. It was nice to bounce my thoughts off someone who understands in his own way, but hasn’t had necessarily the same struggle I had. It provided a different perspective and allowed me to think through my thoughts and feelings. At the end of the discussion we both came to the same conclusion – that we should be the change we want to see in the world. I can’t stop hurtful comments on pictures, and I can’t stop people from dreaming of an ideal body shape, and I can’t stop the diet industry from continuing to come up with more and more ways for us to hate our bodies. But I can post pictures of myself without hiding, editing, cropping, filtering (unless I want to for other non-body-hiding reason). I can continue to use this blog, to tell and expand on my story, and learn and grow as I move through this world. I can accept that good and bad things might happen as I go through this, and resolve to be honest and true with myself as I deal with whatever comes my way.
With that in mind, I present to you my SMRT goals. Not only do I get make my goals a Simpson reference, but I conveniently remove the one part of the actual “smart” acronym that I always struggled with – attainable. Attaining means I have an end game. Attaining means I have a finishing mark, or “you’ve arrived at your destination” point in my goal. Those is not the goals I want to set. I want to set goals that are constantly moving and evolving. Goals that can fluctuate. Goals that are less about the finish line and more about the journey to get, well, anywhere. So here we go … the goals I am making to continue on my recovery, live a more balanced (to me) lifestyle, and move towards the realm of body positivity.
Goal # 1: Exercise more.
Exercise is definitely a huge part of a healthy lifestyle. I have tons of evidence that tells me that I am a happier person when I am moving on the regular. At the same time, when I feel winded walking up a flight of stairs or throwing a bowling ball I sink deeper into a depression. At the same time, this goal was originally problematic because I knew/was hoping/was counting on dropping dress sizes with exercise. This one took the longest of quiet self-reflection before I could make it because I want to move away from the idea that I need to or should want to lose weight to be happier. I may huff and puff up those stairs or throwing those balls but my body still allows me to do that exactly as I am today. So there is obviously nothing wrong with my body except my own perception of what it should or shouldn’t be able to do.
My realistic goal is to add 2 days of exercise per week. I am already bowling 1 day per week, which feels like plenty of work some days. I would also (eventually) like to add a yoga day into my week at some point … but for now moving more is my goal. Whether that is finding apps to walk me through an exercise, walking home from a few blocks away, or making time to go for longer walks on the weekend … the point is to move because it feels good to me to do that. Long term goals include training to run a 5K, but the point is to just start moving and make it a regular part of my lifestyle.
Goal # 2: Maintain current eating habits.
I frequently (read: basically since my ED diagnosis) beat myself up for my eating habits – the wrong food, not enough food, not enough meals. As I researched into things I realized my eating habits are exactly where I need them to be, but because I’ve bought into the diet industry and those ideals I’ve convinced myself that I wasn’t enough or doing enough. Actually, through any given week I eat fairly balanced to what I like and need. I am not eating three meals every day, but I am hitting that more often than I’m not. So I am committing to maintain my own status quo. I’m committing to acknowledging the disordered thoughts that tell me I’m doing something wrong. And I’m committing to reminding myself that my body tells me what I need when I need it, and that all food is good food.
Goal # 3: Take more pictures.
Specifically pictures of me. Specific pictures where I might feel scared or vulnerable. Specifically pictures with the people that mean the world to me. Last night at my friend’s wedding I snapped three pictures total – one of the couple in their first dance, one of my friend and I to send to a friend who could not be with us, and one of BF and I. It then occurred to me I can count on one hand the number of pictures I have with BF after close to a year of dating, and that I have even less of me and my friend who I’ve known almost 6 years. I want to be more present in pictures. I want to be seen smiling and having a good time at the events I go to and the things I do. I don’t want to feel like because of my size, my blemishes, my XYZ that I’m not worthy enough to be in pictures. I always have been.
At the same time taking more pictures will help me challenge the beauty standards I want to start shaking from my psyche. So what if I have beauty marks on my face? So what if you can see my fat rolls? So what if there are wrinkles on my forehead, or rashes on my legs, or nothing is flat? I’m still attractive to someone. And even if I wasn’t, what does it matter?
Goal # 4: Keep Writing
Keep sharing. Keep researching. Keep challenging.
My story may not be earth shattering. My story may not be the subject of a lifetime movie. My story may not go viral. But it is my story, and I have the ability to share it. I have the ability to write about it. I have the ability to possibly affect change. But more than anything, writing fills me with joy. Knowing that I could inspire someone to challenge their own disordered thinking means I want to keep going. Being vulnerable after spending a lifetime trying to avoid that very thing helps me grow as a person. And if I ever decide to become a parent, that’s the type of lessons I want to instill on my child. To critically think, to challenge, to be the change they want to see in the world.
Goal # 5: You didn’t fail, keep going.
So I skipped a meal. So I didn’t work out today. So I couldn’t muster the energy to bowl. So I didn’t take the picture. So I stepped away from writing for a bit. No matter what each day brings choosing to not do the thing does not mean I failed. It does not mean I need to make up for it later. It does not me I’m failing behind. It means tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow is it’s own beast and will be what it will be. None of my goals have deadlines. Nothing is set in stone. Life is fluid and so must I be. As long as I’m challenging myself, as long as I’m looking forwards and not backwards then I am succeeding spectacularly.
Some of these goals will feel very easy and natural sometimes. Sometimes they will be the hardest thing I do. But no matter what happens I am in charge of all of this.
And I’ve got this. I’m a goddamn rockstar.