I’m a messy person and rarely plan anything. I’m not regimented. I’m not someone who follows anything strictly. I’ve had my ‘maintenance required’ light on my car for at least a month. I’ll get to it, eventually.
So I guess it’s a little shocking that the one thing I do every day, the one thing I fit into my schedule no matter what, is hit the gym. Sorry for saying hit the gym. Please sedate me if I ever utter the phrase, “rise and grind.” Actually, just murder me. I fear at that point it would be too late. I’d probably have a Live, Love, Laugh poster hiding somewhere in my room. There’s no rehabilitating someone at that stage.
I don’t work out particularly hard. I don’t like running, never have. In school, I would walk the mile whenever my gym teacher looked away. I don’t contain a single athletic bone, and I never wanted to. Sports seemed like a waste. Exerting energy seemed…exhausting. It still does.
I go to the gym and spike the incline on the treadmill. I set a fast paced walk, a light jog, even. My phone sits delicately in front of me and an episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer or The O.C. plays for 45 minutes. If I’m angry or thinking about my ex, I might up the speed and run for a minute or two. Still, it’s not like I’m kicking my own ass. I’m just there, walking.
I go home and peel off my slightly sweaty clothes (remember, I don’t work out hard enough to justify a lot of sweat). I hop in the shower. I grab skin folds and see how hard I have to suck in to make my stomach concave. I ache for my collarbones. I hate Teenage Me and how thin she was. Photos of her make me mad. Photos of her make me touch my belly in a way that breaks my heart a little. Of course, Teenage Me hated herself too.
It’s never good enough, is it?
Someone on Instagram comments, “I hope I love my body the way you love yours one day!” and I feel like crying a little bit. I showcase my flaws online as if they do not bother me. I put on pants that were loose three years ago and go back to the gym when they’re too tight. Okay, I’m bothered. I’m bothered often.
I love myself, but some days it is more of a negotiating process.
Some days, I am telling everyone else they are beautiful but berate my own reflection. I contract the muscles in my ass and watch flecks of cellulite appear and disappear. I smack myself, and count how long everything jiggles. Before bed, I Google firming creams.
Am I allowed to be a body positivity advocate if I still wish I was skinny?
Am I allowed to preach self-love if I’ve somehow convinced myself my ex doesn’t want to get back together because he saw the extra 15 lbs I carry around with me?
I am uncomfortable writing this because someone is going to say I am too small to be upset. Someone is going to say I’m insulting the movement. Someone is going to think I’m complaining for no real reason.
Imagine, a world where we don’t worry about expressing our deepest insecurities. Imagine, a world where I’m not quieting parts of myself because I don’t think they will be accepted.
Imagine, a world where I accept my body but still hate it aloud sometimes.
I go the gym and work out with the expectation my body will bounce back to the way it was. Before alcohol. Before heartbreak. Before college. I’m thinking if I just go enough times, I’ll erase everything that came before.
There’s something about all of this I hate. This acknowledgment of things I’ve acted okay with. This disgust I shouldn’t aim at myself. This fear of what people will say.
It’s a lot.
I wish I could conclude this with something inspirational. Like, I went to a yoga retreat and learned the power of the human body. Or maybe I deactivated Instagram and no longer care about hip to waist ratio. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? I could end this with a powerful statement, with something I learned.
Instead, I’m still trying.
Instead, I’m still going to the gym. I’m still hungry for something to change.