Monday, January 7, 2008

The First Cut is the Deepest

I'm about a week into my new training, and already a lot has changed. It started the first day, when I increased my weights and started really pushing myself, which was partly fueled by competitive spirit and partly by a very real fear of public humiliation. And also, because my trainer told me to.

He also told me to increase my protein, drink a lot more water, and to put some clothes on already. You see, I like to run outside in the freezing cold January air for about 20 minutes before the gym opens, so my skin gets all red and my lungs start to burn and my ears feel like they are going to fall off. But, now that I am taking this a little more seriously, it turns out there is something called my "internal body temperature" that I need to be concerned with regulating. And apparently, that involves putting on a shirt. So, good bye tank top, hello thermal.

I started telling more people about my plans and gauging responses about the relative level of insanity I was currently in. One friend suggested that I start taking photos of myself in a swimsuit every two weeks so I can personally see the progress I am making. For a moment, a picture of myself on a beach, taken when I was about 16 or 17 and at one of my personal lows, flashed into my mind. I vividly remembered that day. I remembered that I had just eaten at an all-you-can-eat buffet and how crappy I felt and how much I wanted to change the path I was on, and how when I actually saw a picture of myself in such an unhealthy and depressed state, it was one of the pivotal moments in shaping my focus on nutrition and exercise. I didn't want to repeat that experience and be smacked in the face with the reality of what I actually look like. I know that I am not fat; the fact that today I am wearing my one-time "goal pants", and that they are way too loose on me, is a testament to that. But I still wanted to live in the reality I had created, where I could flex my muscles in the mirror and feel great about the way I thought my body looked. I didn't need to know how it actually looked. So I tabled that idea and thought, "maybe in a month."

Well, exactly a week later, I succumbed to the curiosity. I am a believer in living in reality, and that you can't truly move forward until you know where you're starting. So, in the spirit of working on a better version of myself, I donned my red swimsuit, handed the camera to my husband, and said, "cheese." I immediately snatched the camera back once the photos were snapped so I could scrutinize my pale self. I uploaded the pictures, opened the files, and....I didn't look that bad. I actually almost looked good. It was literally the first time I had ever looked at a picture of myself in a swimsuit and thought, "not bad." It was weird.

I definitely have more work to do before I can get on a stage and compete, but I can see myself getting there. I might not turn out to be the laughing stock I have been imagining.

I kept going back to the computer throughout the weekend and looking at my pictures. I felt that I had turned a corner in my life...not only was I looking at a woman who didn't look half bad in a swimsuit, I could finally admit that it was me.

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