So I am utterly terrible at taking care of myself. Sure, I live alone now and I haven’t managed to die of scurvy or anything, but I let my brain beat the hell out of me with my own insecurities. I remember once asking mom why I didn’t get in trouble when I brought home low grades, (Like, Bs, I was neurotic,) and she said, “I know you beat yourself up way worse than any lecture or punishment I could think up.”
I’ve been trying to improve how I take care of myself. I know the discovery of Health at Every Size has made a HUGE difference in how I feel about my body, and how I take care of it- hating yourself skinny has never worked for anyone, and seriously, my body is AMAZING. Just think of all the things it does all by itself- circulates blood, filters out toxins, breathes, all of my senses- and how it gets me here and there without complaint (usually) and has the ability to show caring and do my job to the fullest every day. How could I hate something this awesome, just because it doesn’t look how society says it should? Screw society. I’m awesome.
Since discovering HAES and learning more about intuitive eating, I’ve been making peace with my body, more and more every day. Accepting my physical form, however, is the easy part. Now to tackle my brain.
I’m a big fan of low-impact physical exercise, like aqua aerobics, because it feels good to exercise and my joints don’t hurt like nobody’s business later. The fact that it’s in water means I don’t get too hot, and any sweating I’m doing is being washed off continually. I have a pathological fear of sweating and smelling bad. Which, according to this article I found on about.com about overcoming your fear of exercise, is evidently not that uncommon. I am afraid of pain, and sweating to the point of smelling bad. I’m pretty sure the fear I’ve got in particular is connected to my fear of locker rooms and showers in locker rooms dating back to middle school, when we had gym. I was always terrified I would be late to class if I took a shower, and I was also just afraid of the showers in general, so I tried not to participate to the point of sweating excessively so I didn’t have to shower and deodorant and perfume would freshen me up without too much trouble. I was scared to change in front of the other girls because I was ashamed of my body back then, so all of those anxieties just culminated into one big ball of fear and self-hatred. It’s interesting to try to untangle those old fears. I’m also extremely sensitive to body odor to the point of getting sick or developing a migraine. According to Disabled World’s list of phobias classified as a disability:
Osmophobia, Olfactophobia – fear of smells. Osmophobia or olfactophobia refers to a fear, aversion, or psychological hypersensitivity to smells or odors. The phobia generally occurs in chronic migraine sufferers who may have odor triggered migraines. Such migraines are most frequently triggered by foul odors, but the hypersensitivity may extend to all odors. One study found as many as 25% of migraine sufferers had some degree of osmophobia.
Citation: Disabled World News (2009-01-11) – List and definitions of some of the more common phobias in children and adults including social phobia: http://www.disabled-world.com/definitions/phobias.php#ixzz2JUKM2635
This has more recently been leading to hyper-vigilance about how my apartment smells, especially as my neighbors, many of whom are not native to the US, cook food with very… interesting… smells, and my downstairs neighbor smokes. Right now I can smell the double-bagged garbage waiting to go out and it’s making me gag, even though it’s across the room, tied in the kitchen bag, and then tied again into a larger black trash bag. (So I went and tied it again, just now.) I keep a can of Febreeze in every room of the apartment and use it pretty frequently. (And just fogged the heck out of the living room. Much better.) I can only stand one scent from Febreeze, the seasonal “falling leaves and spice,” so I have to stock up right before Christmas when it goes on sale, and usually by the summer I’m running low and freaking out.
As much as I love aqua aerobics, I am in a constant state of Absurdly Broke, so I can’t afford to join a gym or Y that has classes. My apartment complex doesn’t have a pool (dear lord, we barely have hot water,) so obviously I can’t do that particular exercise regime, even in the summer. I have always liked the idea of yoga, but was afraid to take a class due to fear of how others will treat me. Fat shaming is really bad in gyms and other places of exercise, so I typically avoid them like the plague. On the other hand, due to this marvelous invention of the internet and YouTube in particular, it occurred to me I could learn the basics of yoga in the comfort of my own living room, without anyone judging me or making unwanted comments about my body. Once I had the basics down, maybe I could take a class, to learn the more advanced things that I’ll want a professional monitoring me to make sure I’m doing right, so as to avoid injuring myself. I want to be able to keep up and not look like a complete idiot, because, well, fat shaming. At least if I look competent, hopefully other people will keep their commentary to themselves.
My mom and sister bought me a yoga mat, and on Tuesday, I did my first yoga workout. It’s called Basic breathing and is beginner level with a woman named Tara Stiles. I watched it before trying it and really liked doing it. It was simple and focused more on breathing while moving, which is definitely something I need to learn, as someone who tends to hold her breath while exercising. She has a whole series, but I’m going to just keep doing this one for a while, until I’ve mastered it, and the move on to the next beginner video. I did find two yoga instructors that focus on healthy movement for people of all sizes. Curvy Yoga, led by Anna Guest-Jelley (which is quite possibly the best last name ever, other than Dr. Linda Bacon, writer of Health at Every Size) and Heartfelt Yoga, led by Abby Lentz. Of course, both of them have videos and DVDs and classes in cities I don’t live remotely close to, so I’ll have to save up for the DVDs and work on the basics with the freebies I can find on YouTube for now. Oddly enough, my search for “HAES yoga Cincinnati” actually turned up my own blog as the fourth entry, and sadly, the other things I found were articles from people in Cincinnati ridiculing the HAES philosophy for the usual, badly-informed reasons.
So anyway, I’m writing this Wednesday morning and my back hated me until I took some ibuprofen, but I’m going to put on my exercise clothes and do that workout again, because I want to do it daily. I’m going to build it into my existing routines, though exercise should not be done right before bed, so I’ll have to work it into my after-work routine because getting up early to exercise will never work. I like sleep too much, and it’s hard enough to get enough of it in the first place. Though I have been doing better about getting to bed on time, having to set that time a half hour EARLIER might kill me. That, and I shower at night because it helps me fall asleep, so I don’t want to be sweating in the morning and have to build in time to shower on top of exercise when I’m so good at getting everything done in fifteen minutes before dashing out the door to get to work. I like to push it to the last possible second in the morning. Exercise would never be done, ever, and I’d just feel guilty and hate myself some more. Completely counter-intuitive.