Chapter 2: Breakthrough

I had originally planned to go in order with these posts. I was going to talk about therapy next – lessons I learned early on that I’d like to share with others, progress and missteps, and so on.

But I had a thought the other night that I want to share.

This was Thursday night after my midterm, and I was feeling EXHAUSTED but joyous for the next day. My Friday was going to consist of:

–       11:30 am workout

–       train two new employees at work for 2-3 hours

–       mani/pedi

–       dinner and drinks with coworkers.

Joy.

I was really looking forward to all of this, especially blowing out my hair and putting on makeup because the week had consisted of my hair in a bun, glasses, sweats, and the same neon yellow Victoria’s Secret sleep top that I wore to both the review session and the midterm… I hope my TAs didn’t notice. It’s really bright.

So, I had a thought. Thursday night I was excited about my Friday. And I realized that what I was excited about had nothing to do with my body. None of the things I listed had anything to do with how I look or feel. Yes, a workout is physique-related, but nowhere in that list was “I’m feeling really good about my body right now,” or something along those lines… and I thought, “Oh my god. It’s happening.”

Let me explain.

Most of my thoughts somehow come back to my body. It doesn’t matter what it is. My body becomes central to much of what I’m thinking and feeling. For example, three weeks ago I was totally stressed because I had a really large workload for the weekend and didn’t see how I was going to accomplish it all. Soon enough, my thought process progressed to: I’m never going to get my body back to how it was before vacation because how will I ever lose weight if I’m not really “strict” with my eating, and I’m going to “stay this way forever.” And I ended up in a hopeless fit of hysterics.

As hysterical as my fit could be, anyway, with my boyfriend napping on my bed. It was a silent fit until I got into the shower, which I had to do anyway, and which was nice because when new tears come you don’t really feel them with the water running (#emo).

My therapist pointed out recently that usually there is something else going on other than how I feel about my body whenever I get that emotional. In that example it was school-related stress. Other times it’s something with one of my personal relationships. Whatever it is, my body becomes a focal point of how I’m feeling. I might not even be focusing on how I feel physically intially, but something external triggers that thought process. And, more commonly, it goes the other way, in that my body affects my brain. I can be having a great day and suddenly try to get dressed and when my jeans don’t fit I’m in the “worst mood ever” (i.e., Saturday night).

A huge part of my work with both my therapist and my nutritionist (yep, the future RD has a current RD) is to separate how I feel in a given moment from how I feel about my body. Not to let the two get mixed up. Thursday night I realized that my general positive feelings about the next day were totally unrelated to my perception of how I feel physically. In addition to that, I don’t even feel so great about my body right now, and I was still feeling really positive! HOW COOL IS THAT?!

In therapy, I believe this would be called “a breakthrough,” and I’m super excited to tell my therapist about it today. I’m not totally sold on the fact that I’m going to continue to feel this way, but it’s a notion I’m going to try to hold onto. How many times have you said, I’ll be happy if I lose those last 5, 10, or 15 pounds, or those first 100, or 200? I’m not saying we should forgo our goals by any means. What I am saying is that happiness and physicality should not be so tightly interlaced, and that happiness can exist without having “achieve perfect body” checked off  a to-do list.  If I can feel the way I felt Thursday night for even a few minutes, then maybe it will happen again. And then again. And then even more, until I finally begin to stop letting my body drive my emotions.

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