One goal I've been really avoiding is the first on my list- weight loss. I've avoided writing about it and avoided it physically. Mentally it's been quite pervasive. Really I haven't written about it because, unless your succeeding, it's rather embarrassing to talk about. So far I've defined this goal in two different ways: to lose as much as possible and to lose 10 pounds by the time I got to Portland. Neither of these has exactly been accomplished. But, like I said, I have been thinking a lot about this goal, which is the first step to integrating it physically... right? But I should explain what exactly I've been thinking about.
I've been thinking- I kind of like myself, you know, just the way I am. It's odd to say that out loud, or rather, type it determinedly. When I set that goal, all I felt was guilt. Guilt that I ran two miles instead of three. Guilt that I ate more than I should have. Guilt that I wasn't fitting into an unrealistic size or image I had set for myself. But now I have this new found reverence for my body- the way it heals itself, the way it knows just what i needs to be at its best. I'm learning to listen to it and take queues from within myself to know what the true meaning of "healthy" is.
Since moving to Portland I've had a flux of emotions over the issue. There are a lot of healthy people here. And I mean, a lot. And that can be intimidating and sometimes soul crushing. There are also a lot of really really really good places to eat. And that can be hard to avoid or deny. And to round it out, generally the people around this town are happy- they walk around with this glowing contentedness. And I've been thinking a lot about what makes someone happy and healthy. Is it a number? Is it a notch on your belt? Or is it found in an ice cream carton? Really, it's found in none of these. It's from a sense of enjoyment and a fulfilling life. And I'm sorry, but if I'm killing myself over a number on a scale, forcing myself to run so far I throw up, I am not enjoying myself. Just like I'm not feeling fulfilled after I eat a bunch of junk filled with sugar, chemicals and preservatives. It's a balance found between being able to enjoy really good food living a life not defined by what I ingest.
A dear friend was in town the past week and it was then I started to really consider my relationship with food and my body's health. We ate. Oh how we ate. But generally the center of those meals wasn't the food. Everywhere we went was delicious, don't get me wrong, but the main object of those meals, seated across from each other, forks in hand, was conversation, bonding and creating a moment in time that could be remembered. Remembered for the relationship being cultivated as well as the wonderfully crafted and delicious items going into our mouths. Had I been worried about calories or whether or not I'd be able to work that brie and toast off the next day, I would have missed out on some really beautiful moments we had together. One of my favorite moments was at a French bakery. When our server asked if I'd like the wheat toast or the butter croissant with my eggs, we both looked at each other- the server and I- as if to say, "Is that even a question? Of course I'll have the butter croissant. And the dark chocolate mousse to follow. And a mimosa while you're at it." Being at that patisserie has got to be one of my best memories with my friend. We drank our mimosas, ate our croissants and cake and deliciously hand crafted egg dishes and then toasted to the best cup of americanos we'd ever had (and yes, we used real cream and real sugar). And in the middle, we talked about our futures and what scared us, laughed about shared secrets only true friendships breed, and grew closer than ever. That is what makes a meal. Calories be damned, I regret nothing.
But let's not forget the "healthy" part of the equation. In a real world we can't all go around eating butter croissants, justifying them because we had a good time doing it. No no, my arteries would not appreciate that. If I'm going to indulge, I'll indulge- and that's the fact of the matter. But it's not going to be on a bag of generic brand chocolate chips or a carton of cheap ice cream. It's going to be on the good stuff- made of pure ingredients and put together in an artful and deliberate way. And yes, those things are usually expensive, which means it probably won't happen that often. But when it does, oooh mamma, I won't be holding back. Because, as it turns out, Weight Watchers was wrong- LOTS of things taste better than skinny feels. (And shame on them for creating such a damaging and limiting mantra).
Exercise is something to be considered as well, of course. And that too should be as good for the soul as it is for the body. I love yoga. I really really do. I think it's worth the investment because it is so wholesome for your body and heart. I have never felt like I did when I was going to yoga three or four times a week. I plan on getting back into that. I may be done running for a while. I only did it because it was the fastest way to my weight-loss goals. But, generally, I hated ever mile of it. I'm determined to exercise in ways that make me happy. Because, seriously, what's the point otherwise? I bought a Groupon for a pilates-yoga-arobic studio that I'll be checking out soon. After I've used that up I'll be taking ballroom dancing lessons! It may not be the high-impact, get-thin-quick route to go, but I can pretty much guarantee I'll be enjoying myself.
So, basically I've decided to not drive myself crazy with this weight thing. Is there a bit more of me then there used be? Well yes, but I'd like to believe a little more Sarah Van Wyke in the world isn't such a bad thing. Does that mean I have an ass, curves and a bit of a belly? Well, it's still a little embarrassing to say so, but yes. Yes I do. And instead of longing for the days when everything will lie flat like the body of a jr. high boy, I'll just use what I've got- love on it, embrace it, and flaunt it in the most flattering and classy ways.
I'll leave you with a quote by Elizabeth Gilbert from Eat Pray Love. I feel like it applies to my own adventure here in the Pacific Northwest. Just replace "Italy" with "Portland" and you've got what I'm trying to say in a nutshell.
"I did not know yet what I deserved. I still maybe don't fully know what I deserve. But I do know that I have collected myself of late- through the enjoyment of harmless pleasure- into somebody much more intact. The easiest, most fundamentally human ways to say it is that I have put on weight. I exist more now than I did four months ago. I will leave Italy noticeably bigger than when I arrived here. And leave with the hope that the expansion of one person- the magnification of one life- is indeed an act of worth in this world. Even if that life, just this one time, happens to be nobody's but my own.