So today I got on the scale and I was between four and five pounds heavier… than yesterday. Okay, I know in my mind that I did not eat an additional 12,000 to 14,000 calories. And I know that I didn’t suddenly put on four to five pounds of muscle. It isn’t time to panic. But of course I am. Of course I find myself planning on intensifying work outs, adjusting eating plans, pushing towards thin.
For some reason, as I am playing this all out in my head I can’t shake Friday night. Friday nights Katie has gymnastics. It is one of my favorite hours of the week. I love to watch her work on skills, but mostly I love the way she laughs and bounces around. Even when she is feeling shy, she is sort of bopping around and pushing herself. The energy in the room is one of joy and strength. There is a lot of dancing, giggling and of course some sort of flipping. The girls are all different shapes and sizes and pretty close in skill level. It doesn’t appear as though they are competing or comparing themselves to each other, although I would be surprised if they weren’t. What I love so much about it, is the message they are getting about their bodies. A message that I hope can override the constant barrage of media and cultural messages women and girls receive that says their value comes from how they look. For Katie, for now, it is all about what she can do.
I know that I have written about this before, but I wonder how long before she hears the media. And I wonder if she will be able to push it back in a way I couldn’t. And then I realize that a huge part of the way she handles that message comes from me. Comes from the way that I deal with it. And I can say over and over again how important it is to not worry about some ridiculous media inspired vision of women, but if I continue to allow it affect my life and my self esteem then it is only a matter of time before she too becomes another woman striving for something that just doesn’t matter.
So I sit here after a crummy run, feeling a little defeated. And I’m thinking about trying something a little crazy. I’m thinking about letting go. Letting go of counting the calories and letting go of trying to lose weight. I’m thinking of being honest with myself about who I am and who I am striving to be. I am a woman who still desperately wants to be thin and attractive. But I want to be a strong woman who can run a 5K in twenty four minutes. And I want to be a woman who can do a hilly hundred mile bike ride. And I want to be a woman who gets up on a Sunday morning and runs for the pure joy of what my body can do and not because I need to combat a number on a scale.