I’ve had a love/hate relationship with my body for as long as I can remember. I grew up heavily invested in a life of dance. I ate/drank/slept/breathed dance from the age of 5 till the day I quit at 19.
When I was a dancer, I really lived in my body. I was aware of it all the time. I pushed myself to expand my limits all the time. I wanted to dance longer, better, more beautifully with more correct technique. I danced through sore muscles, sprained ankles, and more bloody toes that I can count. I loved my body for the way it moved, and hated it for the way I never seemed thin enough, never had the “perfect dancer body”.
At 17 I went to college as a dance major. I had dreams of moving to New York City and making it as a professional dancer. The “not thin enough” message got ground into me every day. The reality of life in professional dance lost its glamour and became frightening - not knowing where your next paycheck was coming from, facing constant rejection that feels really personal. More and more, dance became less something I did because I loved it and more something I did because I had to for class, a grade, a performance.
Eventually, I snapped, and I quit dance altogether. I changed schools, changed to a major in psychology, graduated with my degree and went to seminary. The minute I quit dance, I stopped thinking about my body. I was so relieved to be done with the worry, the stress, the watching every bite I put in my mouth and obsessing about what I looked like.
I recall stating that I was ready to make a living with my brain instead of my body.
So for the next decade, I ignored my body. Like straight up, wouldn't answer the phone, return any text messages, or answer the door if it came knocking. In my last year of college, I gained 40 pounds. When I went to seminary I gained another 30. When I started in my first church position I gained another 30. Then in the last year or so I've gone up another 15.
That's 115 extra pounds. Holy Moly. Now, many times over that decade-long period I've declared that I'm going to lose all the weight. I've gone through phases of healthy eating and exercising, sometimes successfully losing up to 30 pounds. But I always give up at some point, and the weight comes right back on, usually bringing some friends.
In 2017 I've decided that instead of declaring "I'm going to lose ALLTHEWEIGHT!" and then forgetting about it by the end of January, my goal is to become mindful of my body again. To listen to it. To stop eating when I'm full. To move more instead of sitting on the couch. To pay attention to what this now 30-year-old body has to say, instead of telling it to shut up like I did for most of my twenties.
To that end, my husband and I did some yoga today. Hopefully, we'll do some more tomorrow, and more again the day after that. This is a journey I need to take intentionally every day, and I'm hoping writing here will help remind me to do so.
We chose the name "The Big and the Small" for a myriad of reasons we will eventually talk about here. But one of them for sure is I hope to be on a journey from the "big" to the "small" body wise. Or if not small, at least a healthy medium.