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Transformation Tuesday: Body Positivity

It's May 8, 2018 and it's a Tuesday so my Facebook feed is currently blowing up with transformation pictures #TransformationTuesday

I don't want to share a Transformation Tuesday post.

I have gone from morbidly obese to what I would consider thin (even though when I was thin I couldn't see it and wanted to be thinner) and now I'm lingering somewhere I don't really want to be; definitely not morbidly obese, but definitely not thin. I'm not feeling as strong as I'd like and I'm not looking as defined as I'd like. I don't really want to boast or brag about where I am today because I don't really want to be here, but where I am is exactly where I am meant to be.

It doesn't matter that I don't want to be here, I have to be right now. There is a lesson if I'm willing to learn it and I'm starting to understand what that lesson is. 

I am a recovering black-or-white-thinker and someday's I'm super gray, others I fall hardcore into the black-or-white and the tricky thing about that is I can't see it until I see it. I'm trying to make myself more aware of my extreme thinking, I'm trying to catch myself sooner so I can reel myself back in and sometimes it takes a long time, other times I'm quicker. A reality check is a super helpful tool I've been implementing and it's easy. All I have to do is ask myself "is that real?" and I'm usually able to come up with a yes or no. The more repetitive a thought, the quicker the reality check and the quicker the conclusion.

Lately I've been struggling a lot with the concept of body positivity and how to apply it to my life. I tried to google the definition of body positivity for this blog and I couldn't find one. Body positivity is so fluid and so "gray" that you can't actually describe it. As a black-or-white-thinker things that are gray make me super uncomfortable. I need someone to tell me "this is what it is". I like labels, I like structure, I like knowing this is what it is, this is how you implement it.

Structure, rules, guidelines. Those are my favorite! They're how I lost weight by dieting! We all know how awesome my diet worked, LOL. Structures, rules and guidelines provide me with a false sense of security. I need to know that I'm doing something "right" but when I inevitably go off the beaten path I now have done something "wrong" and that destroys me. I don't want to do body positivity wrong, especially since I think it's so important. 

I was thin. I don't know if anyone else would consider me thin but I had lost close to 110 pounds, it was 109 point something...I had dieted down by cutting entire food groups out; I was eating very few carbs, high fat, high protein. I was not healthy at the time but I was convinced I was. I was seeing the numbers on the scale change; I was being validated by external sources-people were admiring my hard work and praising my dedication to my new "lifestyle" which let's be honest, was an eating disorder. The people who were praising me didn't know I had an eating disorder, I didn't even know I had an eating disorder. Maybe that's a lie...I guess on some level I knew what I was doing was insane but I convinced myself it was OK. I convinced myself that the number on the scale was reaffirming my choices.

I could look in the mirror and see my body changing. I could look in the mirror and see that I had lost weight. I could see that my muscles looked a little more defined and that I appeared "leaner" than I had in the past but I could also see that I didn't look like a fitness model or the girls on social meda. I could see that despite the fact my stomach was smaller it was still rounder than I'd like and I didn't have a six pack. I could see that my bum still looked a bit pancake-ish and my arms while smaller didn't look as small as I wanted. I had reached a new low on the scale of 144 pounds and I wondered if I could just get down to 135, would I see what I wanted?

Looking back on pictures I scrutinized then I now see a body that appears healthy. I can appreciate the leanness and the definition but I also see someone who was very sick. When I look in my eyes I can see that I look empty, hopeless, disappointed. My body language represents someone who feels on top of the world but my eyes tell you otherwise. My eyes are pleading for some peace. I couldn't see then what I see now: that to be happy I have to allow myself to be happy.

It sounds so simple, right? Well it kind of is. Happiness is a choice. I can choose to feel grateful for all of my blessings or I can choose to feel overwhelmed by them. I can choose to feel comfortable in an imperfect body or I can choose to continue to pine for something someone else has; which, let's be honest is ridiculous. I cannot have so-and-so's legs and so-and-so's arms because I am not Frankenstein's Monster! I cannot pick and choose body parts from other people to create something perfect. I am perfect as I am and I can choose to see that and appreciate that or I can choose to tear myself apart. 

Tearing myself apart is absolutely not working but I keep trying it. Which is why this Transformation Tuesday blog is happening. Because though I don't love the physical transformation my body is currently going through I do love the mental and spiritual transformation I am allowing my whole self to go through. My mind and spirit are growing. My thought process is evolving. I'm proud of that, but I still have conflicted emotions about where I am physically

I struggle with balance in all aspects of my life and I often find myself at war with my thoughts. On one hand I want to embrace body positivity, on the other hand I want to get a little leaner, feel more comfortable in my clothes and in pictures. Then I remember that when I was leaner I didn't feel all that comfortable in my clothes or pictures. It wasn't until I wasn't in those clothes and the pictures looked different that I started appreciating the body I had.

Sometimes I tell myself I'm never getting back to where I was and I need to get over it. The truth is, I do not want to go back to where I was. I was broken mentally and spiritually. Yet, sometimes I yearn to be in that body again and I promise myself that when I get there I will appreciate it and I won't let it slip through my fingers this time...when I allow myself to indulge in those thoughts I feel guilty. 

I'm stepping back and asking myself why I'm discouraged by my body today. I am capable of getting up and getting out of bed every morning. I am capable of running 13.1 miles, lifting heavy weights, walking my beautiful dogs, cuddling my super sweet cat <3 

When I work as a Massage Therapist I depend on my body to help me provide the best treatment I'm capable of giving. I lower the table and squat for 60-90 minutes because with the table lower I can give a deeper pressure which has a calming effect on the spirit as well as on the muscles. Because I can lunge longer with the table lower I can stretch the muscles and connective tissue which relieves joint pain, increases circulation and relaxation. I use my arms and elbows to create a flowing and relaxing experience. I use my shoulders to support the limbs of a relaxed client while I gently manipulate their extremities to promote healing. I keep my core tight so I don't hurt myself while working and I can work this way for up to 8 hours. My body, which is not thin, can do that. 

Without my legs I couldn't squat. My thighs may touch and my butt may not be as perky and tight as I'd like it to be but they definitely help me give a good massage. Why should I want to change them? Do I really have to be leaner? Does my stomach really need to be smaller? Does the size on my clothing really need to go down?

Here I am again, conflicted! Trying to rationalize and justify WHY I want to lose weight.

If I say I want to lose weight because I'll feel better and look better in my clothes Body-Positive-Tiffany starts screaming "You should love yourself as you are. You should accept yourself as you are. You do not need to be thinner, leaner or lighter to be beautiful."

Body-Positive-Tiffany is right. 

If I say "I'm happy how I am" I ask myself that simply 3 word question: Is That Real?

No. It's not. 

Is there anything wrong with that? Is there anything wrong with wanting to look like I did, but feel like I do now? Is that even possible? Can I have both of those things? Someone suggested to me it was possible and I blew her off. I thought I could be thin and sick or overweight and not sick. I thought I had to pick one or the other but suddenly I'm entertaining the idea that maybe that's not true.

To be totally honest I'm exhausted! I'm fighting with myself so much and I wonder if that's part of the reason I'm feeling so stuck and stressed out. I don't want to change but I do want to change and I can't figure out which one I want more. One minute I'm in the dressing room declaring I'll never wear Spanx again, the next I'm trying on the dress I bought at home and thinking "I really don't like how it's clinging that way". I felt so empowered the day I said "screw the Spanx!" and so defeated when I realized I don't actually like this dress because of the way it's grabbing my "apron".

Sometimes I think I use body positivity to mask complacency and I think complacency is settling in because I'm scared to succeed. If I succeed, I could fall again and this fall has been long, hard and super painful. I don't ever want to do that again, I want to protect myself from that disappointment because here's the truth: it is disappointing to go to Kohl's and try on a pair of size 8 shorts and barely be able to button them when at one point I was wearing 4's. It is disappointing to look at old pictures and see that I am capable of achieving that lean, athletic aesthetic I've always wanted.  That's the truth. I want to say "it's OK. I'm healthier now mentally" and that's true, I am healthier now mentally but it still sucks that I had to get rid of all of my clothes, it sucks that I had to go up so many sizes. It sucks to see what I had and what I had and what I lost.

My mistake was forgetting how freaking amazing I am. I fell in love and then I forgot to keep falling in love. I forgot that relationships take work and bending and compromise and everyday isn't going to be perfect and that's OK. I forgot how beautiful I am and how amazing I am because I didn't remind myself

I am beautiful today not because of what I weigh or what size I wear, just because I am me! I am unique, I'm strong and goddamn it, I'm a fighter!!!

I will appreciate what my body has done, what my body currently does and what my body is capable of doing going forward. My morbidly obese body walked through the doors of Weight Watchers 7+ years ago and started me on this amazing path. My thin body showed me that it is capable or recovering from years of abuse. My now body gets out of bed everyday and walks me down whatever path I ask it to.

That's pretty incredible.

I'm going to lose this weight so I can lose the shame and regret that I've been carrying around with it. Because even though I am beautiful, strong, a fighter and PROUD of who I am, I do not want to carry around this physical manifestation of how I felt at one of the lowest points of my life. The extra weight is a daily reminder of how sick I was, how sick I chose to be. It is a heavy burden that literally weighs me down. I was sick and the weight I found in recovery was necessary to teach me a very valuable lesson: it is OK to love yourself today. Despite the scale. Despite the tag on your clothes. 

I've gained body positivity through the weight gain and because of that I can now see that losing weight isn't anti-body-positive, it IS body positive!! I'm giving myself what I want because I love myself! I will pay better attention to the food I'm eating, I'll move more, I'll treat myself the way I deserve to be treated because THAT to me, is body positivity! 

Body positivity doesn't mean settling for what you have; it means loving yourself to go after whatever you want. 



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