I’ve been feeling rather “soft” lately. I’ve been dealing with the aftermath of that one time in August when I lost my balance wearing heels. I’ve been limited in the amount of both running and yoga I’ve been able to do. The fact that I seem to lack any amount of self-control when it comes to eating doesn’t help.
I tell you this at the risk of sounding like those friends who have complained to me about their singular pimples. I had ACNE as a teenager. I have scars. I will probably never feel comfortable getting a facial because the idea of anyone getting close to my pores makes my heart race faster than a 5K does.
So let me assure you. I know I’m not fat. But I’m also not in MY best shape. I have put on weight, and it bothers me.
Years ago I read an article about crime in Oakland. The mayor commented that he thought people had the wrong idea, that crime was really only up in “East and West Oakland.” I knew what he meant, but I couldn’t help but find it amusing. My husband and I still joke about the crime-free 2-dimensional center line that runs through Oakland.
I feel the same way about body size and shape. If I don’t exercise much and eat a donut and Chick-fil-A in the same day (like I did today), I am not being healthy. I accept what society tells me. This is bad. If I exercise regularly and eat nutritious food I will lose weight and people will accuse me of having an eating disorder.
I feel like I can’t win.
What is the perfect weight? Isn’t that the one million dollar question? How do we find the 2-dimensional center line of optimal health?
And since I’m studying the Eight Limbs of Yoga, I will also ask: how do we strike a balance between the niyamas santosa (contentment) and tapas (self-discipline)?
I suppose this is a question we each have to ask ourselves. And I suspect we’ll all have a different answer. My practice of santosha includes accepting that I have a pear shaped body. I will never have skinny legs or large breasts. (Except for when I’m nursing and fill out an entire A cup.) Instead of telling myself that my thighs are too thick I can be grateful for the strength they provide. Those legs have carried me hundreds of miles.
My practice of tapas will never be too much as long as I’ve set the right intention. I can reduce my consumption of sugar and junk to prevent diabetes and strengthen my heart. I can run far. I can run so many miles others think I’m crazy because I know how much running long distances has already transformed my mind and life, and I want to travel even farther down this path.
I can do these things. One day I will. I know in my heart and in my gut that it will serve me well. My weight and shape will be what they are, and it won’t matter what anyone else has to say about it.
So I have some work to do on both ends – contentment and self-discipline. I could love my body more and also feed it a few more vegetables. I’m not there yet, but at least I know the answer. I know what my perfect weight is, and it’s not a weight at all.