Who A U?

Since my return from the land of kimchi, I've been lucky enough to be continuously surrounded by a plethora of food that I have actually wanted to partake in. There are many positive things one can say about Korea and it’s culture. For this expat, the cuisine was not one of them. Seeing that for the previous 16 months of my life, give or take a few experiences, my daily eating habits consisted mostly of apples, yogurt and the occasional chicken breast thrown in for good measure, I came back from my travels a bit lighter then when I left. Since my quasi-triumph over my eating disorder that has plagued me since one of my university prof’s told me I should think about losing a few pounds in order to be a “serious actor”, I have tried to be as non-committal about my weight as my brain would allow. Not an easy task while living in an Asian country populated by women who are roughly half the size of most department store mannequins. The only change I saw was that the Korean sales staff didn’t call me fat when I would try on clothes anymore. Bonus!

However, having access to and being encouraged by my friends and family to eat all the foods I had been deprived of for what felt like an eternity, coupled with all the nervous breakdown binge eating that happened to occur while I was trying to figure out my life, a few pounds have since been packed onto my 5’2 frame. Even for someone with a quasi-triumph under her belt, any woman who has ever had a sordid past relationship with food and her weight will tell you, this is a difficult reality to make peace with. I’ve been doing my damndest…but it’s been hard.

And it’s not superficial, or ridiculous, or shallow. Fuck you if that’s what you think. It’s a medical issue that has not only been proven to affect both males and females; eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any kind of mental disorder there is.
My story, entitled “Steph Bungles Her Way Through Life” doesn’t end that way, thanks to the support and love and interventions I’ve received over the years. It did, however, encompass an interesting twist that occurred just yesterday.

I was at the gym, and it was Leg day, which includes squats, lunges, kickbacks, and dead lifts, 15 minutes of abs and 30 minutes of cardio.

No, I do not enjoy this.
Because if it doesn’t hurt, I don’t feel like I’m accomplishing anything. No pain, no gain.
Much like life. It’s the truth. Deal with it.

I was nearing the end of my work out and was pushing through the last 8 minutes I had on the treadmill when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror that hangs in front of the row of cardio machines.
(Side note: Why do gyms do this???? Are we supposed to be inspired by the sight of our blotchy and reddened faces grimacing in pain as we flail and run in circles like trained hamsters? Or am I supposed to gain inspiration from the sight of the toned-and-tanned-picture of-health running on the machine next to mine while I galumph along, with my make-up streaming off my face in a river of sweat? WTF?!?)

At any rate, I caught sight of myself and for some reason took a good long look. My hair screwed up in a messy bun and my face was flushed and sweaty. I watched my arms pumping back and forth and the muscles in the biceps and forearms flex and relax. I watched the rhythm my legs were in and the steady thump of my sole hitting the rubber band I was running on. And though my abs are not what they once were, I am still rocking what can only be described as a “four-pack” and am well on my way to restoring them to their former glory. I felt the adrenaline pumping through me and my lungs expanding and contracting with each breath I took. It dawned on my what my body was feeling. Strength. For the first time in a very long time, my body felt strong. Properly nourished. Well-used and well-taken care of. Strong.
It is no small feat to feel that. In your own body, in yourself. Strength.

It occurred to me, as I was stretching afterwards, as it has so many times before, that I will never have the long, willowy frame I so admire, that I will never be described as “barley tipping the scales”, that I will always have a weakness for vanilla cupcakes with chocolate icing and will occasionally skip a work-out to go and drink wine with friends. I will never have an ass like Jessica Biel, or abs like Britney, or legs like…well…..who ever is being hailed for having the best legs in the world right now. I can only have my legs, my abs, my own cute little butt. And at the ripe old age of 29, I think I’m starting to learn to not just accept that, but also love that. That they are unique to me, and just a sampling of the many, many things that make me strong and beautiful. That make me who I am. It’s nice to be reminded of that every now and then.

Still on a high from my work-out with a smile still plastered across my face, I made my way to the train station and proceeded to trip over my stupid feet and pitch forward, face-first, down a flight of stairs in front of the large group of college hipsters that had gotten the memo from God that I would be there at that exact time and place. I picked my self up and the gravel off my face and tried to ignore the snickering coming from the perfect people to my left who did not so much as ask if I was all right after witnessing my fall from grace. Good thing they didn’t know just how strong and beautiful I actually am!! Wouldn’t they feel like idiots then…
Just another reminder, from God to me, of who I really am.

Comments

I like your cute little bum, and I like cupcakes too.
Vivian said…
great post! i, too, was always self-conscious about my weight. and thanks to my aversion to korean food, i also came home much lighter than before. i think i prefer eating food i actually love, and hit the gym on a daily basis...
Melvin said…
great to read this ....
thanks for sharing....

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Melvin
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