The beat drops and I pound my legs forward, hovering over the seat, making perfect circles in sync with the song. My heart is thumping aggressively against my heaving chest, but I take a deep breath and muster up my last ounce of strength to power forward to the finish line. I am cognitive of the other bikers, the sweat dripping in my eyes (fortunately, I hadn’t forgotten to put away my new pure optical lenses), the instructor’s encouraging words, and the rhythmic motion of my hips, swaying slightly back and forth as I trudge on. And in this moment, I feel thankful.
Like most women, I have a love/hate relationship with my body. Erring much more regularly towards hate. Just today, I cleaned out a jar of peanut butter.. then sat in self loathing while I polished off garlic dip. Okay, I get it.. I’m crazy. I don’t eat bread, haven’t had a chip or french fry in over a year, wouldn’t dream of letting fast food or soda touch my lips… and the list goes on. But I’ve got vices. A sweet tooth for one. And a real problem with severely overeating foods I deem ‘healthy’. Nuts, seeds, fruit and vegetables… oils and ‘good fats’, dark chocolate, coffee, wine… you name it. I
even have tricked myself into thinking froyo is nutritious, and thus frequent the neighborhood DIY yogurt joint on the regular. Let’s not even get started on the fact that I am a self proclaimed foodie who feels it is a necessity to order the most highly recommended menu items… regardless of subsequent flub consequences.
So I polish off a bag of grapes at 11:00 pm and indulge in pork belly here and there? (don’t judge.. pork belly is trending). Healthy choice or not, I feel it stick to my hips. And for that, I don’t love my body most days. In fact, I would say 95% of the time I pinch my love handles and suck in my gut staring longingly in the mirror, dreaming of a former nearly-anorexic, food deprived, but in control, self. (check back at pageant photos.. oh the glory days).
But tonight, as I expend myself in spin class, I felt this true appreciation for my body. I wasn’t born athletic, but I have trained my body into thinking so. In high school I was horrified by gym class, unable to touch my calves, let alone my toes, and regrettably the first out in every round of kickball. Yet here I am, leading my yoga class in the most difficult moves, running the extra mile and pushing out another rep. At 26, I am stronger and healthier than I maybe have ever been. And for that, I am grateful.
I still want to be skinny, but now a thigh gap isn’t enough for instant bliss. I need to be healthy. I have completely nixed genetically modified foods to the best of my abilities, and I’m slowly switching to eating primarily organic. Gluten, refined sugar and dairy are the enemy, but processed and fried foods? They are the devil. I am more conscious of BPAs, hidden chemicals and fake sugars. I’ve switched lotion out for organic coconut oil, and wash my hair with apple cider to reduce product build up. I am no longer purchasing products with unnatural fragrances or dyes …or worse, microbeads. And while I am overwhelmed with my new lifestyle choices, I am refreshed by the pride and awe I feel for my body, regardless of it’s shape or size.
So, perhaps my post category “get skinny” needs a rewrite. As I ease into my late twenties, perhaps skinny isn’t the ultimate goal. Just maybe, the intention is “get healthy”.