I went for a walk yesterday. It was nice. I haven’t gotten to walk much in the past year.
I don’t miss living in New York City, but I miss various lifestyle options I had there. New York is a city of walkers. If it’s closer than a mile, you may as well walk there. If it’s a beautiful day, you may as well walk there. If you have the time, you may as well walk there.
Here, in the suburbs of Chicago, I haven’t had as much of a chance to walk.
This winter was so long. It’s already mid April and we have only had a handful of nice days.
And people don’t expect me to want to walk. Regularly, my boyfriend or neighbors will tell me to call if I want a ride, and then be surprised when I go wherever, or return from wherever, never having called them. People around me are always taken aback by my choosing to walkover getting a ride.
For me, walking is a great way to keep my eating disorders at bay. Especially my body dysmorphia.
My body dysmorphia is dormant right now. I am not in the throes of hating my body. But where I am is a place of resignation. I don’t look at my body and feel content. I still don’t love my size. I wish I would lose this 30 lbs I gained when I quit smoking. But I’m ok. I can be with it.
But I can feel that there is a body image disorder attack in me somewhere. So I am looking forward to being able to walk every day.
When I walk, I do a few things for myself. It’s a kind of meditation for me, so I get my head straight(er). I work off a lot of my stress hormones, so I feel peaceful. It makes me feel like I’m doing something for the health and strength of my body. And it’s exercise, so it lets the bulimic part of me calm the hell down.
I mostly manifested my bulimia through exercise. Though I did have a short (thank God) stint of old fashioned making myself throw up.
I keep a watch on myself when it comes to exercise. When I start asking myself how many calories I figure I just burned, that’s a glaring red flag. Seriously. A have-a-seat-and-drink-a-diet-soda-because-that’s-enough-for-today red flag.
When I was fat, people treated me as if I didn’t care what I looked like. They seemed to assume that if I were really ashamed (and a lot of people thought I should be ashamed), I would do something about my weight. But I was always that ashamed. I cared so much it was killing me inside.
And now that I live in a healthy weighted body, people seem to think I shouldn’t care so much about what I look like. But I do. Because no matter how I have learned to take care of myself, and lovingly put boundaries around my eating, I am still that same person.
It’s funny, because people encourage others to work out. Excessive working out is often praised. And I truly believe that people who work out because they love their body and want to nurture it are praise-worthy. Same for people who do it for love of sport. Or any kind of love.
I exercised because of hate. I hated my body. I hated the way it looked. I hated how I couldn’t stop eating and I wanted to hide that fact from the rest of the world. I exercised to the point of exhaustion and injury. I was punishing my body for not looking like society told me it should look like. What society told me it could look like if I were disciplined enough. What it would look like if I were a “Good Girl.”
I had to give up those notions, but I am still sick around those things. I will always be sick. I have to actively keep from killing myself with exercise. Just like I have to actively keep from killing myself with sugar and compulsive eating. And I have to remember to accept myself the way I am right now in the moment. So I don’t abuse my body.
It’s OK. As problems go, it’s not the worst. I have a solution for my eating disorders. And along with that, a way of life that keeps me happy, sane and well adjusted. And now that the weather is breaking, I will get to walk, and keep my body image issues on a short leash. Like the mean dogs that they are.