Thursday, July 19, 2012

Redefining Health, Fitness, and Beauty

For a long time I have been in a dilemma, because I am really short, stocky, and pale among other things that make me completely not fit in with the ideas of beauty in this society.  In the past 6 months I discovered Crossfit, and started redefining my ideas about strength, fitness, and my own fitness and body image. 

This week I decided to add in another approach.  For many years I've courted the idea of being really strong.  I admired strong, muscular women, and wanted to be like them and yet, never seemed to find the way in at the gym in the way that made sense.  In the past six months I went from being in pain and being lazy, being in horrible cardiovascular health, to being vibrant, stronger than I have ever expected, and having a strong physical balance in my core.  I love how I feel.  I feel alive!

And yet, something wasn't adding up.  I eat decently to begin with, and yet, I weight almost as much as I ever have and am not getting thinner.  My body proportions have changed a lot in the past 6 months.  In fact, I've lost 2 inches off my chest, waist, and hips.  I've probably lost close to that off my thighs as well.  My ankles look different too.  My wedding photos from less than a year ago look soft and round to me.  And yet, I wasn't getting smaller, quite the opposite in some ways.  My pant size is the same and my weight is the same.  I am looking at maybe starting to wear men's tailored shirts and altering the waist in order to have room for my biceps, shoulders, and back.

So I started looking at photos.  Here I was feeling strong, and fit, and proud of myself, and wondering why my reflection still looked so far off from any idealized form of feminine beauty I could lay hands on.

This week it occurred to me.  I was looking at all the wrong photos.  I needed to look at Olympians, bodybuilders, and Oxygen Magazine.  A new world opened to me.  Suddenly my legs started looking strong, not bulky.  My back is stable, not wide.  I took it a step further and tried to find some inspirational photos from someone my height.  At 5'1", it's hard for me to find what might make sense for my build.  I found Maribel Dominguez.  She's 5'1", 40 years old, lives in NJ, and weighs 135 pounds.  Ha!  a real weight goal for me! I think she looks amazing. 

See Maribel Dominguez here

I won't look like a professional bodybuilder, ever, doing the amount of physical exercise I'm currently doing, but I can still maybe adopt the adage that "Strong is the new skinny".   Looking at women who have muscles and workout, my body doesn't look weird.  It just looks untrained.

We all need to be active and conscious about how we identify with our culture and the messages we get from the media and our peer, etc.  The issue however, is just like in energetic healing, unless you replace a void with a new thing to fill it, it remains a void.  That void then attracts something else.  This is where the saying that nature abhors a vacuum comes to mind.  Without deciding what to fill that void with, it is very hard to actually change perceptions and habits moving away from the old and towards the new.  

Maribel will be mine for now.  Just because most jackets and T-shirts are too tight in the arms doesn't mean I'm a freak.  It means I'm healthy and strong and clothing styles assume I'm a weakling.  Just because a focus toward health and athleticism is a minority in this culture doesn't mean I'm obsessed, it means I'm healthy and the bell curve needs to shift.  It's time for us all to wake up and build the Earth of our bodies, the salt of our being in a way that will move toward longevity and vitality.

Remember the work is in the mundane.



  1. This!

    Just because the clothes don't fit my body ... usually means the clothes were designed for someone I am not.

    I'm reminded of the 7th-grade moment when I wanted a 'pencil skirt' -- the tightest kind of straight skirt -- so as to be 'like the other kids.' And then I was horrified to discover I couldn't run while wearing it. I kept trying to be that person for more than a month, and then that skirt migrated to the back of my closet in favor of dirndls and other wide-hemmed shapes. (Bearing in mind this was the 50s and 60s, when girls wouldn't have been allowed in school in trousers).

    I'm so glad to see you posting this, and thrilled that you found such a lovely photo to exemplify your kind of beauty.

    When I saw you a few weeks ago I was struck by your new definition and grace. You looked strong and capable as well as lovely.

  2. oh gack, if you don't recognize the 9:28 poster's ID its the sailboat you may have heard me mention.

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