What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
While I consider myself mostly inured to the constant shame-parade of products and activities promoted to fix my faulty ish with “one weird trick,” some still manage to prick my psyche.
It mostly happens when I exercise. Because as much as I value my time working out (and I do! It keeps me from uh, wanting to throw myself in front of bus -- yay malfunctioning serotonin receptors!) I am always aware that maybe I don’t fit in with most people’s ideas of a person who hits the iron often.
It’s me at 13 all over again, only instead of agreeing to flash the entire highway to make some idiots like me, I’m letting them tell me how to lift weights -- (“From your back!”) and doing what they say, in spite of myself.
Like the whole "Don’t eat before you work out thing." I used to fall victim to that, indulging only in the idea of what food might smell like a couple of hours before working out -- which is stupid, and counterproductive, and can lead to pooping yourself and collapsing while doing the Iron Man.
When I read recently that running on a treadmill can make you fat, it was a quiet shock to the guts like the one I get when I finish eating a personal pizza and discover that I've eaten nine servings in under five minutes. It's the same wave of upset and shame that hits me when, no matter how good I think I've been with my money that month, I'm overdrawn by 10 bucks. It's the kind of ick that hits me every time I think I'm living like a responsible grownup and the universe is all Nnope, untrue, you are still a portly, irresponsible child -- the joke's on you!"
I felt doubly shamed when I clicked through and saw that the meat of the story was just another manipulation of the facts. (Because, duh, doing any activity over time that focuses on working your bigger muscle groups is going to make those muscles bigger, but that’s different than being fat.)
While I was proud of myself for figuring that out in a way that didn’t require the intervention of the men in white coats, I was embarrassed that I’d been so deeply fucked-with by the headline. It made me feel a little cringe-tastic.
Why is my brain so quick to start chanting: “Your body is wrong, what you’re doing to your body is wrong, try this instead, also, maybe stop licking the inside of the microwave popcorn baaag, fucking weirdo!”
In an instant I flashed to learning that my time rocking out on the Stairmaster was doing me nothing, and that I what I really should have been doing was focusing on my core so I could, you know, take over the world with the trunk of my body.
Cut to me hitting myself in the face with the Pilates Tower bar easily 80 times as an instructor promised me that the workout would make me taller.
While I don’t believe any of those body-myths anymore, I don’t think I’m cured. I’ll fall for something new soon. I’ll be the girl in the "As Seen On TV" section of the pharmacy buying that hand-job exercise machine or that weird-ass double-chin banisher.
Does anyone still own their thighmaster?