What started out as a short term fitness experiment turned into a deeply transformative experience that has reshaped my relationship to inhabiting a body.
Before I begin, I need to come clean about something. In my first post on this topic, The Before, I didn't tell the whole truth. I said, "Let me be very clear about one thing. I am not dissatisfied with my body the way it looks now." That's not true. I still have mornings when look in the mirror and wish that things looked different. It would have been more accurate for me to have said, "I have done a lot of work around accepting and appreciating my body as it is and have come a long way in that process. However, my conditioning around wanting my body to look a certain way runs very deep, and although I am much closer than ever before, I have not gotten to the place where I have full acceptance of my body yet." This process of publicly posting pictures of myself in my underwear to show my results really illuminated how deep those insecurities run.
On Monday, I went in for my final assessment appointment at Relic Tree fitness center to get my photos taken and to be weighed and measured in order to track the changes in my fat and muscle percentages from when I started on this journey five months ago. I was confident that there was going to be a massive shift in numbers and that my after photo would look drastically different than the before shot. When I received an email with the results, my jaw dropped. Almost everything was the same. The only difference was that I gained 2 lbs of muscle and lost 1 lb of fat. When I received this email and looked at the pictures I was flooded with emotion. Anger, sadness, frustration, disbelief. I had been working my ass for the past 5 months. Did I not try hard enough in class? Did they mess up on the measurements? How could this have happened? How disempowering to post a before and after picture that look almost exactly the same.
Then another voice fought back. The voice was loud and strong and it came from the center of my being. It reminded me of all the times I didn't want to get out of bed in the morning for my 6:30 class, but I did it anyways. It reminded me of the day I did my first push up without assistance (I can now do 10). It reminded me to really check in with my body and pay attention to how different it feels now instead of being consumed with the way it looks.
The truth is, I inhabit my body differently now. I hold my head up higher. I feel more agile, more capable, more free to move with a new sense of strength and deep seeded power. My digestion is stronger now than it has ever been, I have way more energy throughout the day. My back pain has dissipated tremendously. This is not the end of my fitness experiment. In fact, I see it as a more solid starting point. Rooted deeper into the way my body feels as opposed to the way it looks. I am ready to begin again.