When I was first starting to blog a couple years ago, I read a post from another Lokean Blogger about a meditation/journey she had. She remarked about how every time she transformed her form in the journey, Loki had pushed her back into the same exact form that she had in life. She talked about being extremely mad at him for doing so, because she hated her figure so much. But Loki insisted, saying he wanted her as comfortable with her body in the physical form as she was with her mental form and abilities of shape changing.
When I read that, I remembered thinking, ‘yep, I’m going to have to do that someday too.’ Well, that day has come. But learning to love my form is happening in a much different way than what this blogger had to go through. For me, there are additional facets of this that I must face.
As most who read this know, I have Fibromyalgia. When I was first diagnosed, I thought I could handle the disease by simply decreasing the quantity of my activity, and taking longer rest periods.
Boy was I wrong!
It’s a lot more complicated than that. Sometimes you can push yourself, but more often doing activities becomes dependent on variables that must be considered before you do an activity. Further, the more you push to do something, the more you can make the disease worse. That means the little bit of extra work you did in a martial arts class might mean you have permanently shortened the amount of energy you have every day for the rest of your life.
So my being comfortable with my body doesn’t just include the body issues (which also thanks to the fibro are on the forefront again). It also includes becoming comfortable with what I can and cannot do. I need to learn how to listen to my body more deeply than I ever have before to better understand what I can do, when I can push to do more and when I need to take time to rest more deeply.
It doesn’t stop there. Fibromyalgia also messes with digestion and exacerbates other conditions. This now means what is going into my body is just as important as what I do. Eat the wrong thing, and the balance of the whole system can take weeks and even months to recover.
So in short, instead of just being comfortable with my body, I now must also be mindful of my movement, my eating, my rest and how I think and feel in order to deal with this disease properly and make the most out of what activities I can do.
I am not writing this to whine. This is a challenge. It’s one of the hardest challenges I’ve ever had to take on in my life. I also know I don’t need to accept this challenge if I don’t want to. I could simply go with what I can do at any given moment. But if I want to lead a life that is the most authentic to my spirit, my morals and my beliefs, and if I want to become the best person I can or pursue any activity that needs any sort of training, and to fulfill my obligations, it is work I must do. This to me, is what my Gods would want me to do.
So, what does being authentic to my body mean to me?
- It means bowing out of my last martial arts class, for now. But that doesn’t mean I can’t continue to read up on the arts I have trained on and practice the techniques when my body allows me to. Sure, I won’t be in a sparring ring as an opponent anytime soon; but perhaps with patience I can be there as a referee. Or at the very least, I can support my husband and help him with forms and technique as he prepares for his own black belt boards in late summer.
- Running slower, or doing a running/walking practice instead of straight running needs to be considered if I ever want to race again. I could still complete races, but it may be much more walking than running depending on how my body feels that day, and I must be OK with that and not push anyway.
- My sword practice needs to be equal amounts of reading about fencing and drills I can do alone; and I must not get upset about missing opportunities to cross blades with my sword brothers and sisters. I have already beat myself up enough for the significant number of practices I’ve missed. Even though historical fencing is lower impact than my other martial arts studies, it still takes a significant amount of energy to engage an opponent. I need to remember that.
- I need to reconsider a personal eating plan. Foods I once had no issue eating now bring stomach pain and days of being uncomfortable, which then eats into the stamina of the day. My beloved two cups of coffee in the morning are in jeopardy as I find I am still having discomfort from drinking it even after switching to a lactose free creamer, and then to a non-dairy creamer. Carb-laden foods like the gluten free pizza my husband and I both love are now on the chopping block once again, along with the infrequent serving of bacon we occasionally have with a weekend breakfast. And as a caveat to this; I cannot just depend on a diet someone else puts together for me: Diets like Paleo, or FODMAP are good starting points, but they are not one size fits all with conditions like I have.
- Finally, I need to become comfortable with my figure. I have a ‘lovely’ area around my stomach that reacts like a natural ‘muffin top’. (when you wear tighter jeans and your skin pops over the top of your jeans like the top of a muffin – that’s a muffin top. By the way, whomever decided to name a flap of skin after a calorie-laden baked good needs a right and proper curse.) It doesn’t matter if I am wearing tight pants or not; my body has made this natural hideousness on its own; and instead of pushing myself to lose weight and attempt to hide that area with slimmers and tops that flare out; I need to be comfortable with it. This is the part that I think is going to be the hardest.
This sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? It does, until you realize what routine I kept prior to the onset of the fibromyalgia:
- Two hours of Tae Kwon Do classes a week plus an hour of Hap Ki Do classes per week
- 1.5 to two hours of yoga per week
- Running twice a week, with one run being a distance run of 5 miles or more
- Swimming a half mile to a mile a week
- Weekday lunch walks done as fast as possible with a minimum of 2 miles completed each walk
- Eating the bare minimum of calories I could (usually 1500-1800) to continue to lose as much fat as possible (Yep! Way too little for the activity levels, I know.)
Perhaps I should be thankful for the Fibromyalgia in some ways. It made me realize what I was doing to my body was torture and not healthy. Sure, I was getting down in size. But I realize now it wasn’t worth the panic over the calorie or not being able to get a workout in because of sickness. And it absolutely wasn’t worth the fear that I had every morning of my pants not fitting well because of bloating or because I had gained weight.
It’s amazing what we put ourselves through for reasons like health, pushing through obstacles or to become better at something. Sometimes in the effort we become taskmasters and beat ourselves down more than anyone else ever could.
And that is why being authentic is so important to me now. Loki was right about the other blogger needing to be comfortable in her own form, and he’s right about me needing not only to be comfortable, but being able to understand and know my body now more than ever before. This isn’t work that is going to happen overnight. And it will probably take many months of understanding and then months trial and error to move my activity levels forward.
But like with any other task, it’s not going to get any easier or take less time until you get started.