For years I hated seeing runners around this hilly little college town.  I wanted to smack those healthful smiles right off of their faces.  I imagined them going home, doing a few pushups, and then throwing some camping equipment and their golden retriever / lab / other popular dog type into their landrover to seek adventure.  I loathed those people and the lives I imagined for them.

Well, I think I might be turning a corner right now, becoming a lot less spiteful, and more open to the idea that yes, even I, a person of many workout phobias, can run.  Not only can I run, but I actually enjoy it.  This realization really took me by surprise and knocked me right on my ass when the boy was visiting a few weeks ago.  I had probably turned him down for a run about two dozen times in our relationship when finally I caved, warning “You’ll have to just get used to going really slow and not judge me when I get winded and have to walk.”  It was kind of like that the first couple of times.  But then I realized that I could somehow keep going… not from being in amazing shape so much, but because I have grown accustomed to having a much higher heart rate than is actually recommended for exercise (I spend a lot of time in the 170s and 180s).

The boy left and I have been continuing to run.  Not every day, but probably every other day on average.  I bought running socks.  I donned a really poser-y camo pattern hat that I bought at some vietnamese dollar store in NOVA years ago and had stashed in a drawer for halloween and other potential costume situations.  It’s amazing.  After years of being absolutely, adamantly against running outdoors, I’ve given it a chance, and it hasn’t totally sucked!!

The most surprising realization of all is that I can run hungover.  In fact, it is the closest thing to a cure that I’ve ever encountered.  It doesn’t erase the self-loathing of overindulging the night before, but it does feel good to think that I’m sweating out some of the poison.  Obviously I have insane diarrhea both before and after — booze always wrecks my entire GI tract — but it definitely helps me get back on track with life sooner.  So far I haven’t had one of those emergency poops you hear runners talk about sometimes.

So, if anyone ever wants to join me for a run sometime, I’ll say in advance: yes and totally.  Don’t run your mouth off to me though.  I like to be in the zone.

So, I get the Livestrong e-mails and whatever my beliefs about the LANCE ARMSTRONG DYNASTY might be – they’re often interesting.  The current editor of writes really good letter-from-the-editor columns, often filled with things which are not “ah-HA!” moments but rather, “that was a nice way of reminding me that thing I already knew.”  I think this is a good example – not because it tells me something new (it tells me something frustratingly well-known, honestly), but because it’s nice to hear a professionally fit person tell me to be more loving to myself.  He says: you want to feel good?  Well, that might take hard work, but it should be hard work that you ultimately LIKE, not that you hate and makes you angry and want to cry.

Thanks, fit dude.

Hey ladies, this link seems pertinent.  While this gal’s Body-things are different from my body-things, I think having Owen say to me, at banquet, “Wow.  You’ve lost a lot of weight.  I didn’t recognize you.  You look hot.”  was…kind of a thing I get really terrified of, any time I try to lose weight.  I think This Articulate Lady sums up some good thoughts on the matter:

So, I’ve been reading and thinking and I just need to get going.  Here are some thoughts, in the order they make sense in my brain, to kick us off:

  • I believe, wholeheartedly, that Body Issues are about control
  • But maybe not in the way that SaturdayAfternoonSpecialsAboutNotBingeAndPurging mean it?
  • I didn’t know there were SKINNY people with eating disorders until…college?  Maybe?  Even now I kind of don’t believe it.
  • I remember thinking I was fat, and fat meant “not pretty” and “pretty” meant “loveable” so “fat” = “unloveable” in, I kid you not, kindergarten.
  • Every single member of my immediate family has an eating disorder.
  • The first time I joined WeightWatchers I was in the 8th grade.  It was a Fun Family Bonding Time activity.
  • I have never, ever, ever, in my entire life, not been fat.  Ever.  EVER.

So, I’m actually really hesitant to talk about/join in on any discussion of LovingOurBodiesAndOurselves because, as the bullet points talking to you from the top of this page might indicate: I’m kind of aware that my relationship with my weight and my body have very little to do with “health” and very much to do with “OH GOD WILL YOU PLEASE DESIRE MY BODY SO THAT I CAN BE VALIDATEDDDDD.”  I maybe don’t believe in weight-loss for health (even though my dad is, pretty literally, killing himself with his weight) because I cannot detach mental health from physical health and I have never (ever ever) gone on a diet that was about health and not my ideal body type.  Including the diet I’m on right now.  I am not kidding. I understand, on a strictly intellectual level, that diets for your health are A Thing That Is Real, and supported by science but when I read things like Claw’s first blogpost, I am filled with such rage and panic that I have to kind of shut down for a minute and take a walk and re-center.  Claw eats SO MANY VEGETABLES and RUNS SO MUCH and IS SO HEALTHY and the thought that someone could look her in the eye and say “You need to lose 25 lbs or you will die early, and because you find pleasure in eating you are doing something wrong” (which is the overly simplified message I hear when I read that) is insane to me.  I don’t believe it.  I don’t think it’s real.  At all.  Even a little bit.  That just cannot be how logic works.  Claw, in my mind, is the Epitome Of Doing Everything Right. So, yes.  There’s my bias, there it is.

I liked Mundy’s point about intuition: take a deep, mindful breath (thanks, yoga!), listen to what your body is telling you, and follow those instincts above all else.  I think this is a way I would like to live my life.  This is not the way I live my life. This is what I mean, I think, when I say that I believe Body Issues are all about control: my control over my body (and I do think of “us” as two separate and distinct entities – entities with a symbiotic relationship – but separate entities nonetheless), society’s control over me and my feelings about my body, my control over the environments I put my body in and how they influence it, etc.  In recent years, I’ve taken some combination of the “be mindful of your body’s actual needs” approach + a “fake it ’till you make it” mindset I try to use in a lot of my life to create what has been a vaguely-functional relationship with my body, food, and exercise in the past few years.

Here’s another list, to lay out what I mean:

  • While I may not believe, in my heart of hearts, that “I eat well because I care about HEALTH” is…A Thing Most Of Our Society Is Capable Of Feeling, I think it’s a really good thing to live my life like I believe.  I eat a lot of vegetables, both because they are Skinny Food and because I understand that they are Good For My Body.  I read the occasional raw food blog.  I opt for locally sourced produce and things I believe have a smaller carbon footprint.  I do these things because maybe SOME day I will care more about my body getting the nutrients it needs than I will about being skinny and I want to have a good foundation.
  • I tell myself I feel better when I work out.  I’m not 100% sure this is true, but I tell myself it is.
  • Very, VERY recently – I’ve started pushing my body outside of its comfort zone.  I hate pushing myself.  A lot.  I feel like just waking up and not loathing myself is already such an accomplishment PUSHING my body is just asking for something so outrageously above-and-beyond its laughable.  However, I’ve started trying to push my body, to push past those feelings.  I recently agreed to do a “Couch to 5k” running program with my friend Carly, in preparation to run a 5k in memory of one of our dear childhood friends who passed away when we were all first years in college.  Grace, our deceased friend, was a phenomenal cross-country runner, and running was something which always gave her joy.  It hurts my ankles, but yesterday I ran for SIXTEEN WHOLE MINUTES (not consecutively) and some of those minutes were in FIVE MINUTE CHUNKS.  My ankles hurt like shit but man…it’s kind of weird that I very literally could not have done that a week ago.
  • In my perfect world, I am able to read blogs like “The Fat Nutritionist” and be all “yeah!  Eating is totally this thing that I have a great relationship with because I don’t think of it as some fucked up ‘other’ that is controlled by weird societal rules!” but…also be a lady who considers herself desired by other people.  I think this will, some day (SOME DAY) have less to do with my actual size and more to do with my FEEELLLIIINGS.  Like my attitudes about sex, in general…less about Actions more about Feelings, etc.

Whew.  Sharing.

So I’ve always been curious about how other women use their intuition to navigate their personal lives.  For me, other than using my intuition when it comes to knowing whether or not a client is going into labor or if my daughter is ill in the middle of the night, intuition comes back to food.

Throughout my many different body shapes, there has been no ‘diet’ that has ever really worked for me.  I’ve tried them all from the anorexic to the Atkins diet- nothing longterm.  Ultimately, in order to find the shape I am now pretty satisfied with, all of my choices have lead back to intuition.  I feel like when I’m deciding what I want to consume, I have a very particular idea of that in terms of what I am truuuly craving.  Obviously, I honed this system down to a fine science when I was expecting and made sure I got a good helping of all that I desired without tipping the scales off the charts.  Anyways, if I’m craving a cheeseburger, I’ll have one or something really doggone similar in terms of protein/fat/carb ratio depending on where I am.  No calculator necessary.  I just eat and then stop when I’m full.  Also, no scales.  My body fluctuates, but my pants don’t lie.

Now, this is not meant to be one of those: if only people used self control and discipline they wouldn’t have diet issues.

No.  What I’m saying is that for me it just came down to intuition and listening deeply to my body.  No structure other than that made sense for me.  So where does intuition figure into your life?  In what capacity does your intuition speak?  Lord knows that my intuition tells me allll kinds of things about other areas of my personal life that I ignore regularly.  How do you communicate with your intuition and how does it manifest itself in your life?  Is it important to you?  Or do you even think about it?  Do tell.