Retraining

by Emilie Daly

I’ve had this thought rolling around for a while now. I could see it out of the corner of my eye, but it would never come into full focus. I finally got tired of the distraction and turned myself in its direction, determined to learn.

The thing is, when I work out I feel strong. I feel healthy. I feel fit.

 Frankly, I feel attractive.

 I feel lean, not skinny, lean.  Even when I am sweating in my un-makeuped eyes, a direct result of being too hurried to fit “me time” into my day to get pretty for it, I am too focused to get that last rep done to wipe the sweat away and I feel, no, I know I am down right hot. I have command of my body at that moment. It’s doing what I have worked so hard to train it to do. Continue even when it feels like quitting. Because it’s good for me. Because it feels great on. Because I can do hard things.

I walk out with a little wiggle in my hips. Partially, because I have just worked out to the point that my legs are more jello than muscle, and partially because, well you remember, I’m lookin’ good today!

Then, I go home and walk past a mirror. I stop. The woman looking back at me looks nothing like the woman I knew I was at the gym. She doesn’t look as strong, healthy, or lean as I was sure she was 10 minutes before. And the sweat? Yeah, it just looks like a bucket of water was dumped on her head while someone taped her hair to her forehead in the most unflattering way imagined by human or non-human.  And then, because that didn’t seem like quiiiiiiite enough, someone came along and took a red bucket of paint and slathered it all over her face making her skin resemble less a baby bum so much as a baboon bum. And are your kidding me?!?!? She went out of the house without a single bit of makeup? Did she forget sometimes her skin still thinks she’s in her teens?

 She not a hot mess. Just a mess.

Just like that. The power. It’s gone.

Today I asked myself why? WHY do my eyes get to tell my brain who I am and what is valued? More importantly, why in the world would I give up the knowledge and confidence, I had mere minutes ago, because some light particles bounced off my retina?

On paper it sounds completely ludicrous that I would do such an obviously self-demoting thing.

Yet, I know I am not alone in this.

Have I let the constant images that I’m told are the ultimate goal really shape my reality so much? Clearly, the answer is yes and it makes me sad. I’m a smart kid. I know those images are edited to the point that you would barely recognize the real person standing next to it. I know everyone is different. And still, still, I let that mirror voice in.  I let that mirror voice point out all the other women at the gym who physically reflect who I felt I was and then compare them to who mirror voice tells me I’m seeing.

There’s a little too much hanging over the waist line, Dear.

Maybe next time just a bit of mascara, don’t you think?

You’re right, sucking in helps, but that’s not really what you look like.

This has to stop. I know women have the market on this kind of thought pattern, but I don’t believe for one second that men don’t go there too. I’m sure their mirror voices are manlier, and perhaps mention mascara just a bit less, but they’re still there.

When I realized what kind of power and light and force for good I had been giving up today, I cried.

I had a good, long, logical, fact filled, talk with myself and ran through everything I knew to be true compared to what my eyes were demanding I take as truth.

I am in a healthy weight range for my frame.

I eat mostly good foods.

 I exercise.

 My husband loves when my eyes have a natural look.

I wanted to run back to the gym and do the workout all over again to gain what I had back. That doesn’t fix the problem though. We have to learn to bring that power with us andkeep it even when mirror voice tells us it’s a façade.

We have to retrain our inner voice and eyes to match the reality of our actions to the visions that come bouncing back in the mirror. This is not to say that we don’t continue to have logical, fact filled conversations. Sometimes we do need the mirror to help us see changes that need to be made for our health. But more often than not we need to give ourselves a break and be proud of that reflection in the mirror.

That reflection, in all it imperfect glory, moved in ways most people don’t even know they are capable of moving today. They are, of course, capable, but they’ve been told they can’t. They aren’t fit enough, strong enough,thin enough.

I don’t care what the mirror says or how much is hanging over the waist line. Did you move today? Did you GPP move today?

Then you are strong, healthy, and fit. You grab hold of that knowledge and carry it with you all day. Wear it like a badge. I’m convinced that what your body looks like is less relative to your health than what your body feels like when you move it. If you feel healthy when you move, you are there. If you don’t feel healthy yet, keep moving. It will come. It will come WAY before mirror voice tells you it’s here.

Until mirror voice catches up to reality, listen to your body. It knows what it needs and how strong you are. Things won’t change over night. Retraining your brain is tough work.

Good thing you already know just how strong you really are.