Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Long Time No Post

I've been meaning to get in touch for ages but life is getting in the way. I can barely keep my personal blog afloat, but want to check in here with you.

I am was down to 180, making my total weight loss 12 pounds. I've just hopped on the scale after that last sentence, and now I'm up again to 184. This is because my family is visiting, I haven't been on a bike in almost two weeks, and the celebration food is flowing.

Interestingly, I feel healthier than I have for a long time, despite this upward trend. Why? Because we're spending nearly every day outside from dawn to dusk, canoeing, swimming, walking, playing. So my fitness is down (must be), and my eating is up (can't help it) and I still feel better. I think this says a lot about the measuring stick we use for "health". There are so many factors involved, and it's so dangerous to focus on the weight alone.
BUT, that being said, I have complete confidence in my ability to lose the weight again after this halcyon month is over. I will start today, in fact - though this weekend will be a total loss because we are going camping and neither death nor hell nor things that creep below nor things that fly above will keep me from marshmallows and hot dogs.

* * *

I've been thinking lately about happiness and how it contributes to my health. I am not a small woman - never really have been, aside from two brief years as an anorexic. And do you know what? Those two brief years were miserable. Horrible. Frantically unhappy.

My mental state, with regard to my weight and size, could be described as "slightly uneasy". I'm not overly worried about the extra pounds, though when I see pictures of myself I am always surprised. "Is that what I LOOK like?!" Because what I FEEL like is so different.

An interesting thing happened a few weeks ago. There was a year-end hafla (belly dance party) for my troupe, at my teacher's house. I was so excited about it, and got dressed in my most colourful costume. Bought a new lipstick and everything. While I was there helping my teacher set up and decorate, she told me about plans she is making to put on a belly dance show in February at a local theatre. It was a very big moment for me when she asked me if I would dance a solo in the show. A real, paid, for-money, BUY TICKETS show.

I said yes, of course I would! I would start work on a choreograph and a costume and be ready for February! It would be great! I was so excited!

After everyone arrived, some girls took pictures, and showed them to me on the spot. I glanced at the first one and was shocked - I felt deflated and worried. I felt like I looked silly and fat, instead of powerful and beautiful. But I smiled and agreed when everyone said enthusiastically, "Great picture!" Because that IS what I look like - and my friends think I'm beautiful. And my teacher wants me to dance a solo.

When I was 20 years old, in my third year at UVic, my rowing coach called me into her office and told me that I had made the team after two months of tryouts. I wasn't the tallest, the fittest, or the most talented, but she told me that, during those endless hours doing time trials on the ergometers, I had shown something else: "Mental Toughness". I'll never forget what it was like to hear that from a woman I admired - a member of Canada's National Women's Rowing Team - a woman who was, to say the least, NOT lavish with praise. I stored it away and have pulled it out since, playing it for myself whenever I feel I'm floundering.

At the hafla, I used that Mental Toughness again. I used it to put aside my feelings of inadequacy (overadequacy?) and discouragement, and to straighten my spine and put a smile on my face even though I was still dressed in that flamboyant costume when I suddenly wished I had worn something more concealing - even though I was tempted to look around at the other, smaller girls and think anxious thoughts about the difference between them and me.

I'll lose more weight - I'm not concerned about that. What I AM concerned about is my attitude. I am making daily efforts to change how I feel about myself: not to be ashamed and worried, not to hide under big clothes and dark colours, but to race powerfully through the life God gave me with the muscles He granted me, the strength He placed in my arms, and the charisma He wanted me to have - no matter what size I am. My belly dance teacher said, when I confessed to her (for the first time in three years of lessons) that I feel fat, "There's an inner beauty and strength that shines through, Shannon, and you have so much of that. Your body size is not what people notice first, or even second."

I didn't mean to write so much today. I was just going to give an update on the weight situation - that was all. I guess once I got going I realised I had a lot to get off my chest, after all.

Belinda, I'm so glad you are finding a difference with judicious administration of protein.
: )
My mom always (and rightly) harps on the importance of protein and always reminds me "it's the building blocks of cells. The more you exercise the more you need to build your cells."

Fox, I hope you are well and happy.

As for me, I will be getting back on track next week, when I wave a very sad goodbye to my sister Amy and my brother Mark, and my nieces. I will watch them down the street, then I'll go get my bike and do a hard 90 minutes with the pedals, to get myself going again.

Good luck everyone....carry on!


Belinda said...

Dear Shan, Comrade in arms!
I'm sitting in my office, munching on a salad for lunch, with some crispbread and the very best cheese (I LOVE cheese), to come next, and enjoying reading your post.

Thank you for sharing so much of your journey with us. It really does help to talk about it and to pull encouragement and practical help from one another.

Best of all, I love the cheering one another on part.

Congratulations on the amazing honour of being asked to dance a solo belly dance. Oh, I wish I could afford it; I would fly to BC to be there if I could.

As for the photo--I would just consider it a bad one, no matter what people said. Lighting etc. it all makes a difference! Even the star's photos are airbrushed and retouched--none of us are the perfect beauties that we see on the cover of magazines.

If someone told me I had "mental toughness" I would consider it a very high compliment, as you did.

Knowing that you recovered from an ED is an incredible encouragement. I have two young friends who are on their way to recovery and every time I hear of someone for whom that is in the "past" I am so encouraged and hope filled for them.

Joyful Fox said...


I enjoyed your post. Something tells me you are powerful and beautiful and not silly and fat. Inner beauty truly does shine through!

Mental strength is important, it does not fade with time but is honed the more it is used.

Your posts give tribute to your inner bearty and strength and I, and many others, enjoy the fruit of that.

Congratulations on the honour of your belly dance in February. I second Belinda's sentiments - if it weren't so far I'd buy tickets and come watch.

Shan I really like the line that you rejoice in "the life God gave me with the muscles He granted me, the strength He placed in my arms, and the charisma He wanted me to have"

That spoke powerfully to me. Sometimes I forget that when I mourn my thunder thighs, "bye-bye arms (they wave by when I do), and my overly broad shoulders, my short legs and fair skin.

Shan, thanks for a beautiful post.

I am well and choosing to be joyful. I have been at our family cottage for the month so have missed Stopping the Slide and all of you.

Your post delights, inspires, and lets me get to know you better. An honour...


Shan said...

Oh, now you've made me cry.

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