Monday, December 3, 2012

Because I'm good enough, I'm smart enough...

I haven't written in a few weeks.  Frankly, I wasn't sure what I wanted to say next and honestly I had my hands full with the one goal I had given myself which was posting 30 days of gratitude statuses on Facebook for the month of November.  As hokey as it may sound, I thought this was a good project for me because being full of love and gratitude and all kinds of hand-holding, kumbaya feelings is not my strong suit.  But I gave it my best shot and I think I did ok.  Some were half-assed on my least gracious days, I'm not going to lie.  And some were genuinely full of feeling.  But the final post of the month is probably my favorite.  I wrote:

Gratitude Day 30: This one is difficult to write because I have a real hard time believing it most days. In fact it seems like total self-absorbed BS to even write it and if you think it's obnoxious, trust me when I tell you that fact is not lost on me. But today and every day from now on I'm going to try and be really grateful for myself. This body, mind and heart have put up with a lot of abuse, physical and emotional, for 38 years and yet they continue on. This imperfect shell I'm living in has had the opportunity to create two beautiful boys that, for right now and hopefully forever, seem to authentically love and take pride in themselves. I've done lots of things wrong but I've done a few things really right, too, and I'm thankful for all of those experiences.

My goal for the New Year is to improve and grow internally, reducing the "weight" of my own self-criticism until, with constant practice, my internal dialogue is one of love and thankfulness for myself and my body. We all deserve to care for ourselves as much as we care for all those whom we hold precious.

I'm also thankful that this is the last gratitude that I'm obligated to write as, I'm sure, are you. Bring on December!"

The very next day the body that I was trying to be so eternally grateful for decided to gift me with a stomach virus, leaving me laid up in bed (I'm actually still there), giving me plenty of time to think on my new blog subject. I have a lofty goal mentioned in that gratitude post but no clear path on how to get there.  I've been reading body-accepting blogs and curvy-loving Facebook pages and sadly, a lot of those still end with people debating via comments, nastily mind you, the difference between beautiful and just plain fat.  Sigh.  Not helping.

I've also read a memoir by successful "anti-diet, pro-body acceptance" blogger Kim Brittingham called Read My Hips.  While I have found her thought provoking, hilarious, entertaining and compelling, I still don't agree with her 100% on some topics. However, here was a passage that struck me early on.  She was remembering a frumpy, chubby, awkward classmate who, after one mysterious Summer break, came back to school transformed into someone sophisticated, stylish, graceful and outgoing.  Kim tried to coax the secret from this friend who seemed altogether ignorant of this miracle that had happened, one that Kim wanted for herself.  Finally, Kim decides, "Maybe all that happened was that someone told her she was beautiful, and maybe for once she believed it."

Hmmm... A place to start perhaps?  But as I've already explained I don't receive compliments well so it doesn't matter what anyone says if I don't believe it.  So it has to come from me.  And there you have it.  Affirmations.

No offense, Senator Franken, but you will always be Stuart Smalley to me.
My first exposure to affirmations came from my Grammy. My mother and I moved back in with my Grandmother and all my mother's siblings when I was around 5 or 6 and on occasion I slept in Grammy's room with her.  She didn't mind because I slept like the dead with no moving or sounds at all.  My Grammy was one of those people obsessed with the newest in holistic type medicines and concepts. (That's not a bad thing - I prefer holistic and homepathic paths myself)  However, she didn't do anything in less than it's extreme. She was a mini-trampoline using (hysterical if you had the pleasure of knowing her bra size), Neo-Life vitamin selling, protein powder consuming Bible beater. And she read every self-help book known to man.

One morning after staying in her room I woke up to her talking to herself.  She would spread her arms wide and bring them together to a centering point, touching her nose with both tips of her index fingers while saying her daily affirmations in a low, monotone voice. "I am smaaaarrrttt"  "I am successssful" "I am callllm" "I am beauuuuuutiful".  At this point, I cracked one eye open and in my most snarky, dead pan, 6 year old voice said, "I wouldn't go that far".  She laughed and laughed at my quick wit, which probably wasn't the best idea.  It only encouraged my ongoing habit to say what ever sarcastic, dry humored thought came to my head just to get a laugh.  But sarcasm was a language of love in our family.  I was fluent at a very young age.

I didn't give much thought to affirmations for awhile.  And when Stuart Smalley came on the scene I was mostly just reminded of my kooky grandmother. The idea of positive internal dialogue was pretty much lost on me seeing how I eventually became fluent in self-deprecation in addition to sarcasm.

During my years online in the Weight Watchers community my friend, Marylyn, would surprise us with a post out of the blue saying, "Quick! Name something you love about yourself!".  I loved those posts and the idea still sticks with me today.  How wonderful it was to see a hundred women or more post something positive about themselves or their bodies. It wasn't always easy to add to the thread but almost everyone did so.

We are coming up on the New Year soon.  Time for resolutions and new gym memberships.  For "This time I'm going to actually do it!" and "Wait till you see me next Summer"  This is a very profitable time for weight loss companies and fitness centers to capitalize on your big plans.  January is the cash-cow (I promise this is not a fat joke) for the industry.  But it's all a bunch of bullshit and I'll tell you why.

I was a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor. I had lost 130 lbs. with no medical intervention. I had a pretty decent knowledge of nutrition and a pretty flexible schedule to get in all my workouts. I worked in a gym, for God's sake. And I still managed to gain back nearly 50 lbs in 4 years knowing all that I know and having the time to prevent it.  The answer doesn't lie with a specific eating plan, exercise class, bootcamp, personal trainer, or corporate weight loss center telling you when to eat and how much.  Those are all tools and very good ones.  But if you don't fix what's in your head, if you don't find a way to love yourself and tell yourself that you are beautiful and worthy and actually BELIEVE it, you won't succeed.  Maybe for a while you will. Maybe for a while you'll think you have it beat and you'll think you can help others beat it but it will come back around to you.  I promise you that.

I'm going to try something harder for me than my 30 Days of Gratitude in November.  Leading up to this New Year's Resolution time I'm going to attempt 30 Days of Body Gratitude.  I'm going to try and post something positive specifically about my body or my appearance every day with the final post on January 1st. I could post about all the other things I believe about my character and my personality but those are not where I'm lacking.  I like myself in those categories.  But, like most other women, I cluster most of my thoughts of self-worth with my physical appearance and I do so in a negative way.  Time to change that.

Will this fix everything? No.  I'm a long way off from that.  But I'm going to baby step into 2013 focusing on changing the one thing I really have control over, how I view myself, instead of that stupid number on the scale.  I will post something every day for 30 days and I will attempt to do so without any self-deprecation.  I hope you will join me.  If you are my Facebook friend, post what you are grateful about your body right on my status. "Quick! Name something you love about yourself!". (Please, please comment with your own gratitude on my status or I'll look like that asshole who can't stop talking about how hot she is.) If we aren't friends yet, post something in your own status or post something here, even if you have to do it every day on this one blog post.  This is what it's here for.

I'm hoping to enter 2013 with a new thought process.  I want each of you to wake up and have your first thought (before you think of your specific body gratitude of course) be, "I'm beauuuuutiful"  Touch your nose if you  have to, I don't care.  And don't ever say to yourself, "I wouldn't go that far".

I'm hoping that soon each of us can say "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and, doggone it, I like me."

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