Last week, I thought my mother had discovered my blog. My initial reaction, as it has been in the past, was sheer panic. I wanted to shut it all down and hide it away. I wanted to burn my writing, including my most recent story. I wanted to disappear back into nothingness. I didn't want her to be upset. And I free-fell for a minute. But then in the most intense moment of clarity, the panic dissolved and floated away. It was the first time I folded up the fear and set it adrift on a burning barge. I mean, really, I'm a grown ass woman and, surprisingly, I'm allowed to feel what I feel and write what I want to write. It's the silliest and simplest of epiphanies, and frankly one of the more liberating ones for me. I am not nothing.
The fact is, she may have discovered the blog. I'm not sure. I hadn't communicated with her in a long, long while, until this weekend, and then it was only by short and blues-filled emails. I can tell she is on a downward spike. This is something that also induces panic for me and my reaction was that it was because of me. Thinking clearly now, it's obviously not. But, lord, I'm so slow at all of this. Each time, I shake a bit more free the stuff that's tangled in my tree.
Here's another story of simple realizations. My spin gym invited a Bod Pod to visit and conduct testing throughout the weekend for members wanting such a thing. A Bod Pod is a space-capsule-looking chamber that apparently is one of the most accurate tests of body fat, lean muscle mass, resting heart rate and metabolic resting rates. That last thing means the minimum amount of calories one should eat even if you're lying in bed all day. If you eat less than your metabolic resting rate one runs the risk of burning off muscle, not the kind of weight you want to lose. As an athlete, I was beyond excited to see where I was. As a woman not unaffected by the bombardment of "ideal standards" and having fought a life-long battle to deflect and reject my enslavement by scale #'s and jean sizes, I confess I was a bit anxious. The athlete in me most certainly dominated in that I wanted to know what could improve and set a realistic path on how to improve it. When the practitioner said, Ok strip down to your speedo bathing suit, the enslaved woman in me, no matter how small, choked me up for a nanosecond. It was not a noticeable choking by any means. I didn't hesitate. And I certainly refused to act coy and say self conscious things. That, in my mind, adds two fold to any private embarrassment. Besides, I'm an anti-shame kinda girl even if I have to fake it.
After a series of questions, I slipped off my sweats and put on a bathing cap, and I did not say a word or skip a step when the practitioner instructed me to step on a high-powered, fancy scale where I had to be very still. I couldn't see what the number was, which was fine with me, and I then stepped into the space chamber to complete the tests. Outside of the chamber, I heard the results print and I dressed, quelling fears and mapping out worst case scenarios. I was not anxious then, only accepting what was to be told to me. I had even asked the guy if people freaked out going into the little bod pod and he said, no, only when they heard the results of the test. People like to be in denial, he told me.
When I was younger, the last time I took a body fat test, I was about 23-24%, which is healthy and fairly average. I prayed that my current number wasn't larger than that though I had to have been about 15 years older from when that test was taken. I have wondered a lot about the changes our body goes through as we age. I work out a lot, but my weight has not gone down much at all. Where my fat is distributed too is different. That doesn't bother me, much, though I do wonder about all of that. I will admit that I prefer the bigger butt-flat stomach days of my youth more than the shrinking butt-softer stomach days of now. But what can I do? I think a lot about what am I not doing correctly, not so much in a vain sense but very much from a performance sense. It all fascinates me really, which is why I couldn't wait to hear about the Bod Pod results. Though as I waited, my anxiety climbed.
As the papers came out of the printer, the practitioner said, "Impressive." And for some reason I said out loud, nervously, "Uhoh." I was mad that I inexplicably blurted that because the guy looked at me, puzzled, and handed me the papers. He said, "You're the leanest woman I've tested so far." My body fat was 17.2%. I stared at the number simultaneously stoked and suspicious. My resting heart rate was 60 (excellent), my blood pressure very low. He pretty much told me awesome job, keep it up. I said, "So, my weight not going down even after all the working out?" He told me my muscle mass has taken the place of fat. Who cares about the scale #, which embarrassed me because I say that kind of stuff all the time to myself and other people.
I wondered, after all my self love and low-level self consciousness, if I had still become a woman who can't see herself clearly in the mirror. Having a piece of paper that told me how strong and healthy I am made me incredibly sure of every decision I've made health wise; being a vegan, commuting often on my bike, putting down and passing on my baking talents, working hard at cycling and strength training. I plug along because it feels good and right, physcially and emotionally, but I was oddly suspicious of the validation. Light headed, I unlocked my bike and took a ride to the beach after the test. My shoulders were back and I checked myself out in every window and thought, man, right? Look at me. I'm strong and low-fat, baby! Though duh, right? My clarity seems foolish and elementary sometimes. But I just gotta say again that each time, I shake a bit more free the stuff that's tangled in my tree.