Tuesday, May 13, 2014

gettin' physical.

In conversation with a friend last week, I shared openly my hopes for a (pretty vulnerable) full creative and expressive blog. I've stumbled upon many personal journeys and heartfelt exposes of challenging seasons or uplifting moments - all of which build community and offer the sweet reminder that, as humans, we never walk alone.

Given the last few months of personal goal development, it seems fitting that today's exploration is a deeply personal and sometimes challenging place from which to write. In the peace of my home tonight, I want to get real with you - blogosphere - about the struggle that has plagued my mind and taken up space in my heart where grace and acceptance should abide.

I'm going to talk to you about my body. Yep. All 155 pounds of my 5'10" bod.

And let's start with that number. How many times have I heard that "weight is just a number?" So often, it feels like that phrase is coming from some perfectly lean, six-pack toting girl who can eat a pizza and hit the gym for 30 minutes and rock a bikini in the same week. #loveyou #meanit. To me, weight isn't a number. It's an indication of "on track" or "off track." It's a defining point. It's a measuring stick. It's everythingthatswronginmyhead. I've let that number define me, so much so that when I look at photos of myself from MBA school or our wedding day, I don't review the memory but instead remember the weight on the scale. Full on tragedy, people. And just ridiculous.

Next topic up for discussion? My relationship with food. In short, it sucks. I attach emotion to eve.ry.thing. In college, I did a rad round of lettuce and tomato and called it a day. Today, I preemptively dread eating out with friends, because I am fearful I'll binge or, worse yet, be judged for taking out a massive steak. I'll spend five days on a rigid meal plan and quicklyveerleft if you mention Mexican food or pizza. There isn't balance. And there definitely isn't grace. Instead, my dinner plate is full of guilt and shame.

Yet I am not clinically overweight. I workout four to five times a week. And I live the most joyful life alongside my husband and four-legged son. So why the drama? Why the tearful Monday nights when I apologize to my man that I'm not Victoria Beckham?

It's a matter of the heart, my friend.

For me, the heart breakdown started more than a decade ago (way more) during those pivotal (and whoa changing) high school years. I suppressed a lot of those challenges and justified the process as "teenage development," but as is the case in all matters of the heart....they reappear in (insert here: college, dating season, wedding prep, and now the fast approaching thirties) without a proper dose of cleansing grace.

I work for a yoga and running apparel company and am surrounded by triathletes, competitive cross fitters, and nutrition extroidinaires. I didn't walk in to this company claiming those traits. I was the musical, whimsical, adventurous and creative gal who loved a game night with friends or a movie on the couch far more than a half marathon or eight mile hike. But somehow, in my preexisting condition of comparison trap/warped body image, I lost sense of the beauty I possess - inwardly AND outwardly. I claimed I loved a certain workout. I touted that I would absolutely work out at least five times a week. And of course, I was 100% down to try a juice cleanse, go gluten free, become mega paleo girl, or quit sugar for forever. SERIOUSLY!? This coming from the gal who grew up in the largest barbecue producing town in THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Let's get real people.

The truth about me?

1. I love binge movie Saturdays when there is no movement for 10 hours (except a restroom and popcorn break)
2. I. would. move. mountains to get to Lexington BBQ - and I will order two meals for one person, with pride.
3. I believe a passion for sweet tea is next to godliness.
4. I think cupcakes are one of the greatest dessert inventions, of all time, second to s'mores.
5. I find peace in slow strolls around the lake with my husband and my pup.

These are hidden truths of my life (ok - not so hidden lately) that I stowed away as I "grew up." In some desperate need to fit in (which no one dictated but myself), I put away the "bad" and touted the "good" (both of which I defined myself. Cool). And, in the process of doing so, I forgot how to take care of myself, provide balance for our family, and find creative expression both in cooking and working out.

I have grown increasingly frustrated with my back and forth, and it's showing up in my life - both physically and emotionally. In exploring my angst with a dear friend, Jessi Connolly, (check out her amazingness here), I shared that I have started to ask God to radically change my heart and mind. I asked that He would provide a "cease and desist" of self judgement and instill, instead, a desire to care for myself the way He loves me, and to see myself as He sees me. Whoa. Her response? What if I made room for Him to grant that request? What. If...I stopped working out this week? What if I was still? What if I took that time to be with Him instead of working to achieve some illusion? No regularly scheduled pilates class. No race to the bike. No jump to the mat. Absolutely. No. Sweat. She encouraged me to find some space from the "have to" as God instilled in me the "want to."

And so I am. It's day two. I'm scheduled to be in a bikini in 2.5 weeks....and I'm not sweating (physically or emotionally). I don't have some major revelation or powerful truth to share from this short experience. Instead, I have only love. In just two days of stillness, I have sensed rest, rejuvenation, acceptance, and love. 

He reminds us that we cannot earn His favor, and that we are saved by grace through faith alone - not. by. works. So what would happen if you stopped working (perhaps not physically, but maybe emotionally? Spiritually?) What if you rested? What shows up for you? What becomes possible for you?

Be still, and be loved by the One who made you, because guess what? He made you on purpose.


Meredith said...

Love this! Thanks for sharing your heart!

Krystal M said...

Thank you for being brave enough to write about this! I think one of the best uses of blog space is being brave in such a way that it invites others to find comfort in knowing they are not alone, and allows them to walk through the mess of life with you :).

I can relate to much of what you said. 4 years ago when I was preparing to get married (that June), I was really struggling with some of this stuff as I hoped to look "perfect" on my wedding day. That was the first spring I had ever decided to do a fast for Lent. As I prayed about what to fast from, working out kept coming to my mind. I would quickly push it away because I thought, "But God wants me to work out! He would want me to take care of my body. He wouldn't ask me to give that up." Then I was talking to a close friend one day about how I wanted to do a fast for Lent but wasn't quite sure what to give up. She said to me, "Krystal, this might sound so strange, but working out keeps coming to my mind. Do you think God could be asking you to give that up?" To me, that confirmed my suspicion (that I had been actively trying to avoid). God actually was calling me to give up working out for awhile. I decided that for the entirety of Lent, I could not go to the gym or work out. I could only go on walks, where I could listen to sermons, pray, or spend time catching up with a friend. It was hard for me at first. I had to let go of this obsession with trying to control my body to look a certain way. I had to trust God. And I had to trust that my soon to be husband was marrying ME and not some exhausted but super toned and skinny girl who was living in bondage. That 40 days ended up being SO good for me. I saw so much junk in my heart to be repented of. I felt so much love, acceptance, and grace poured over me. I actually ENJOYED exercise since it was walking while enjoying God, people, and nature. I felt so much more free than I had in a long time. When I did start working out again after Easter, I had a new appreciation for it and a least a little bit of a healthier relationship with it ;).

Since then (and before then), I feel like I've constantly been on a journey of trying to be kind to my body - to love it and want to take the best care of it that I can, but not to punish it. I feel like I often use working out and food as a way to punish my body for the times I "slip up" in healthy habits, or I live in shame and regret when I eat something I have decided to restrict from my diet. Then I feel so defeated, that I just give up and binge! And then feel so guilty that I go back to punishment through high intensity workouts and restrictive eating. A vicious cycle. But I have come further in the journey lately than where I have been, and I take comfort in knowing that God carries out His work in our hearts ;).

Whew, sorry that I wrote a book! I just hope to encourage you that you are not alone and thank you for your honesty! You are a striking woman with a striking heart. <3