Health Cannot Be Rooted in Self-Hate

It is not a secret that I am not kind to myself. This is an aspect of my personality that I have been working on throughout the past year. Some days, I am better at it. Other days, I find myself in the center of a hate spiral that has been building for days. One of the things I’ve learned about self-improvement is that it does not occur overnight. You don’t have an epiphany and then everything changes and you never doubt yourself again. I wish that was how it works, but it’s not. It takes time, it takes kindness, and it definitely does not benefit from self-hate.

I have let self-hate drive a large part of my life for a very long time. I have allowed it to convince me that I am not worthy of many things. I have allowed it to convince me that the love of my life, who loves me very much, will eventually run away when he figures out I’m actually not that smart. I have allowed self-hate to permeate every single part of my life and sometimes, it’s shocking when I find it hidden somewhere in my life I thought was safe from my own negative, and often vile, self-talk. Exercising and health are apparently not safe from this self-hate and I witnessed it in myself last week.

There is a woman in Daegu that I have grown to dislike simply because she’s beautiful, thin, and well-liked. This goes against everything in my feminist repertoire. But, it is important that I understand and address what it is so I can move beyond it. But, this woman has been present when I’ve been disgusted with myself– disgusted with how fat I am or how gross I feel. It’s comparable to being back in 9th grade and thinking all of my problems would be solved if I was just thin and pretty like other girls. I compare myself to this person constantly and it’s not healthy. She’s done nothing to me. She’s a perfectly lovely person. But, I have allowed myself to make her the villain and that’s just not fair to her or to me.

I truly grasped the gravity of this situation when, last week, I was running intervals on the treadmill in a gym. I was struggling through one of the last intervals of my workout (which was 40 minutes long, by the way) and instead of giving myself a good inner pep talk about how I can do this, I automatically chastised myself and thought “Well, she could do this. If you did this more, you would look like her.” I finished the interval, but I hated myself. That is not the point of exercise and it is definitely not the kind of health I’m looking for– I don’t want my health to be rooted in hating someone else, or hating myself. That’s not health. That’s punishing myself for not looking like someone else. It’s just another way to tear myself down.

I want to run because it makes me feel good when I’ve done something difficult. I want to run because with every step I take, my heart and legs and body are getting stronger. I don’t want to run to look like someone else or to accomplish what it is to be normally beautiful. I don’t want to push myself through a hard run so I’ll be thin like her or her or her. I want to push myself through a hard run because I want to accomplish things that are hard. I can do hard things.

If my health is rooted in self-hate, then it is not healthy. It is not for me. I want my health to be rooted in a desire to maintain the best lifestyle possible, to keep my brain happy, to keep my lungs open. Using someone else to fill the void of self-hate will not work for me, and I am adding it to the list of things that will no longer stand in my life. I want to be all versions of healthy, not just the outward version. I don’t want to dislike people simply because they’re thin and beautiful as much as I don’t want people to assume I’m a sloth because I’m overweight. My health cannot take shape at the expense of hating myself, or someone else. It won’t sustain itself.

I had a great week this week after the treadmill incident, after I saw what could happen to me if I allowed that kind of mindset to build and grown into a monster. I was gentler with myself. I danced in my kitchen to The Fitness Marshall’s sweat set. I won trivia with my team. I played the best game of soccer I’ve ever played– proof I am improving mentally and physically. I’ve enjoyed the autumn sunshine walking to work. I ran 5k on Saturday. On Sunday, I got up early, hangover free, and hiked a mountain.

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I’ve been, for the most part, feeding my body with good foods. I’ve been seeking creative outlets. I’ve been keeping up with my bullet journal and it has helped so much. I’ve been planning with Rob for the future. Rob and I cleaned the hell out of our apartment. I didn’t drink all week. I’ve been trying to look forward at things I can change and control instead of obsessing over the past– over things I ate, runs I didn’t do, or anything else I can find to dismantle my progress. I have control over the future. I can change and grow and bloom and break free of the bullshit chains I’ve placed on myself. I am not weak. I am not a person who hates others because of their appearance. I refuse to be that person. I refuse to be molded and hardened by a society that wants to tear people down because of how they don’t feel or look or think. I won’t.

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If yesterday showed me one thing, one great thing, it is that I am fucking capable of anything, even if it feels like the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m on fire. The only person who can stop me is me and I will not be stopped.

Have a great week, y’all.

I Am Blooming: The Power of Yoga and Running

i am overwhelmed and overjoyed with so much happiness.

happy thursday evening, friends! there is only one more day in the workweek and then, hopefully, everyone gets a chance to rest up. the weekends, as i have always stated, are my favorite time of the week (obviously). but, this is not just because i get to sleep in– it’s because i get a chance to spend some real time on myself and my own personal development. my alone time and my reflection time are excruciatingly necessary for me to function in the real world. i find this to be incredibly funny, though, because there was a point in my life where i did not need to be alone at all. i preferred, at all times, to be around a large group of people. now, i need to spend time by myself. i really credit that to teaching, grad classes, and working at the Studio. there are so many people who require my attention throughout my days that by the time my day is over, i just want to be left alone with my own thoughts to process my day and begin recuperating.

this week, so far, i’ve run 7.25 miles. monday night, i had a major victory as far as changes in my behavior are concerned. i received a pretty awful (awful by my standards) grade on a paper in one of my classes and my initial instinct was to get Taco Bell and wallow in my pity while watching television. instead, i strapped on my running gear and went to the gym to run on the treadmill. at first, i said “i’ll run a mile and a half.” then, a mile and a half became “two miles.” slowly, two miles became two and a half until i eventually ended at 3.25 miles. what i’ve noticed, more than anything, now that i’ve been exercising regularly again is the amount of sweat i produce. case and point, this is me after my monday night run

delicious sweat, don't you think?

i am proud of my sweat. i have been begging for sweat like this my whole entire life. also, my sweat after hot yoga

mmm yoga sweat

in other news, i lost 3.2 pounds this week! since October of 2010, i have lost 27 pounds. hooray! i was pretty pumped this week when i got on the scale and it read 227.4. i have not weighed this amount in YEARS. it definitely motivated me to get out and get running. it also kept me motivated throughout the day. i ran 4 miles today and while some if it was difficult, i felt powerful. my legs wanted the movement; my heart wanted to pump that blood through my body. my body wanted to move through the crisp fall air and it felt so incredible. this happiness, this notion of success, kept me from cancelling my yoga class on campus this afternoon.

speaking of yoga, i know i talk about it incessantly, but it is literally the most beautiful thing happening in my life right now. i am discovering parts of myself i did not know existed; i am finding ways to keep moving, to keep pushing, and i am feeling my body give into me. it responds to me and what i want, and week after week, my body just keeps surprising me. so, i will keep surprising it by pushing it, taking care of it, loving it, even if it is not the shape i want right now, i am learning to love my body for its flaws, for its struggles. i started writing about yoga tonight and here’s what i wrote:

yoga has become my sanctuary, a place where i am free to embark upon a limitless, personal journey, eventually coming to rest on the gentle shores of my soul. every breath, every deep inhale cleanses the raging wars in my tired, divided mind. unification. namaste. the sweat that forms, bubbles, beads on my forehead, forearms, foreground of my mind, symbolic, the necessary release of pent up energy and feelings of failure, released into feelings of bliss. with every pose, i’m on a mountain, or dancing, or folding over the sky, coming into contact with my deepest core, my inner heart of hearts– i am one with myself on a soft mat, grounded by the sweet, enveloping, forgiving earth. i am a warrior, a goddess, i am playing on the moon. i am liberated, exploring incessantly beyond the boundaries of my mat. i am translucent. i am a child; i am a tree. i am caressed by a compassionate internal breeze. i am melting, slowly, into inner peace. 

so yeah. that’s how i feel about yoga. right now, it means everything to me. i want to pursue it; i want to chase it. practicing yoga makes me feel like a whole person. it puts me into contact with everything i hate about myself- my negativity, my weaknesses, and it forces me to push past those. i’m not lying when i say beautiful things happen in yoga.

i promise i’ll start putting up food pictures again. i’ve been so excited about cooking, and then eating the food, i have neglected to take pictures! i hope everyone is having a great, great week. stay healthy, y’all.

Running Two Miles: Restoring Confidence

i feel powerful

i know i already wrote an update today, but sometimes, i just need to write another one to express either joy or frustration. fortunately, this is a post of joy, a post of discovering something new about myself: i have taken my feet and legs for granted for many years. they deserve so much more respect, dignity, and love than i have given them. i just need to say thank you to my legs and feet– they carried me for two miles as i was trying to restore my confidence, my faith, in my ability to run distances. before tonight, the longest i had run in months was about a mile, or maybe even less than that. the last time i ran, i ran about seven minutes and got a side stitch so bad i thought i was going to throw up. that failure of having to stop in the middle of the run halted my exercise. i have been afraid to run again, afraid of failing, and realizing that i cannot do what i feel i am capable of doing. but tonight, feeling the wind on my face and the pavement under my feet, made me understand that my body will respond to whatever i put it through. if i want it to keep running, it will. if i want it to move faster, it will. my body is the slave of my mind and as long as i can overcome my mind telling me to stop, telling me that i am weak, i can do anything. i owe a lot to my legs and feet, who seemed to have a mind of their own on the streets of Richmond, KY tonight. at times, as i was climbing inclines in the neighborhood, i felt like i was going to puke, but i didn’t. i felt like my lungs were going to crawl out of my throat, but they didn’t. i felt like my heart would explode through my chest, but it didn’t. i survived and it has made me stronger. i ran the first two miles i have run in months and it felt so damn good.

this half marathon is possible. it is achievable. it is conquerable. stay healthy, y’all.