The alarm clock goes off, loud, beeping in my ear causing an annoyance like no other. I roll over groggily to shut it off and look at the time. 5:10 a.m. on the dot every morning. I set another alarm for 5:15 a.m. and roll back to the other side with my phone still in my hand, just in case I fall asleep again. I hear the whirring of my ceiling fan spinning cold air throughout my room. I pull the blankets up a bit tighter underneath my chin. I feel like a warm burrito, my fuzzy socks heating my toes and my pillows indented just right with the shape of my body.
My body. My ugly, good for nothing body that takes up too much space in my full sized bed. You should do something about that body, I tell myself. Don’t skip out on this workout, you can’t afford it. So what if you’re too tired to move? So what if you’re sore from yesterday? Maybe today can be an easy day, I respond. My body deserves a break after all that I’ve put it through. I take my easy days hard and my hard days even harder. I haven’t had a day off in over a month. I haven’t relaxed my pace in almost a week. Maybe I don’t need to do extra core before I go workout, my back is a little sore. Maybe I should let myself rest and not cross train extra after, I should save that energy expenditure for later in the day when I’m trying to study or walk to class.
My alarm beeps again and I jolt up this time. No, I sharply tell myself as the cold air of my bedroom hits my bare legs like sharp icicles. I shiver, my room definitely wasn’t this cold yesterday. I think I stood up too fast, the room is spinning a little bit. I slowly bend over to put my Apple Watch on and stand up while holding the corner of my makeup table. My muscles are starting to wake up as I flip the light switch on in the kitchen and reach up to grab a mug out of my cabinet; this one today says “All Damn Day.” That’s right Megan; all damn day you should be getting after it. The grind doesn’t stop, let’s get this bread, whatever the kids say these days. As I press brew on the coffee maker, I tell Alexa to read me the morning’s headlines while I put my contact lenses in. Leaning over the bathroom sink, I feel the corner push into the soft part of the bottom of my stomach. I turn my nose up in disgust, then put my other contact in.
I step back and blink, letting my contacts settle a bit in my eyes as my vision opens up and I can see the world clearly. My legs look so undefined and just plain blah. I turn to the side and see all the wrong curves in all the wrong places. I poke the pudge on the side of my stomach, love handles as some call it, but there’s nothing to love about them. I flip my head upside down and gather my hair into a bun, then flip it back up and reach for a scrunchie while I hold the hair with my other hand. I see the bottom of my tricep muscle jiggle as I pull the scrunchie tight then snap it as I let go. Why does it jiggle so much more than it did yesterday, I ask myself. Mental note, start adding pushups into the daily routine. A little extra work won’t hurt.
I go back into my bedroom and pull my giant t-shirt off, quickly pulling on a sports bra and dry-fit long sleeve to cover myself. I shiver again. It’s dark and I can’t quite tell which leggings I had intended to wear today. I smell both pairs before deciding which one is less likely to send people running the other way when I walk by and toss the other pair over my shoulder into the hamper. I balance on one foot as I pull a sweat-wicking sock over my other foot, then switch legs before hearing my back-up alarm startle me. I hop over to my phone to shut it off.
I hear the grinding of my coffee maker start to slow down and I walk back into the kitchen. I grab a banana on my way to the fridge and peel that as I refill my water bottle. I then chug my water as quickly as possible to calm the rumbling in my stomach. I’m so hungry, but I read online that its best for your digestion if you have a whole bottle of water first thing in the morning, so I’ve forced myself into the habit. Once I finish my water, I refill it then take a bite of the banana. I grab my coffee and walk back to the other side of the counter to check my email as I feel the caffeine coursing through my veins, waking up the final nerves and muscles that haven’t caught up yet.
I turn around to rinse out my empty mug and catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I stop again and tilt my head ever so slightly to the right. My legs actually don’t look that bad today, I start to think. Is that a little peek of a quad muscle sticking out? Am I hallucinating, or is there a gap where my inner thighs used to chafe together? I take a step closer to the mirror and suddenly this reflection melts away. It’s almost as if stepping closer to the mirror created a whole new image. My butt, flat instead of lifted, but wide as ever. My thighs, my cursed thunder thighs. Why can’t I have thinner thighs, I whine to myself. My stomach, my ugly stomach, jutting out even though it’s the first thing in the morning.
The feeling of defeat follows me as I shut off the light switches and pull my sneakers on by the front door. I walk outside and instantly am hit with the early morning aromas of dew on the grass and air without car pollution, and of course the ever-growing trash pile from the dumpster by the side of my window. Today will be different, today I will be stricter, today I will change the reflection staring back at me I tell myself.
I unlock my car and connect my phone, blasting whatever R&B song I was studying to last night. I turn my headlights on and pull out of my parking spot, driving mindlessly to the gym. Isn’t it scary how zoned out you can be while driving, yet how attentive you are? This routine is like second nature. Wake up, groan about how early it is, wish for a few more minutes snuggled under the covers, force myself up, drink my coffee, listen to the headlines, check the back door before walking out the front even though I haven’t used my back door in ages, all while catching glimpses of my terrible body in between, trying harder and harder to shush the voice telling me how fat and unattractive I am. Cringing every time I go over a bump in the road and feel my legs jiggle, or doing laundry constantly so I can wear over and over the leggings that best suck my stomach in when I lean forward on the bike, its just a part of who I am and the day to day life, I don’t even let it phase me anymore.
As I put my car in park, I admire the sun rising ever so dimly, with a few stars lingering behind from the night. I get out and lock my door, and walk to the gym ready to take on the workout and the day. As I’m crossing the street, a girl stops me to tell me I have incredible legs. “They look so strong,” she says. “I see you biking many mornings, no wonder you’re so jacked. You work hard.” I smile and turn my face away, thanking her quietly. She walks ahead of me and I slow down a bit. Maybe today will be different. Maybe today will be the day I believe her, maybe today will be the day I appreciate my body too.