Get back to work.

Now that my brain is getting sorted and all my neurotransmitters are getting the attention they need, I can direct my focus the parts of my body dangling helplessly below my head.

My body and I have a storied past.  I spent all those years ignoring it when I thought it didn’t matter, then too many hating it when it separated me from the world, then those wonderful years loving it when it grew babies and got strong.  And now we are in a strange place.

I’m not excited about rehab.

I’m not excited about gentle, restorative, “never despair, back care,” old lady exercise.

There.  I said it.

I am in complete denial about the fact that I cannot even safely do yoga.  I cannot even safely sit on the toilet first thing in the morning without giving serious thought to my posture and alignment.

I keep thinking it is optional.  Like it’s etiquette training, walking around with a book balanced on my head.  As if I don’t have to be this ladylike.  But wait, yes I do, lest I have metal inserted into my spine.

I know I can change my attitude toward this stupid exercise.  If it revolved around hill sprints and a squat rack, I would be digging through my notebook stash to create the perfect training log right this red hot second.  I would build a perfect training plan, carve out the best part of the day to to implement it, then the write up the best nutrition plan to support it.  But because these are slow, painful movements that don’t make me want to blast Eye of the Tiger or involve any type of sweat band, I am not excited.

Deep breath.  Imagine my best friend’s eye roll.

I need to do the work.

I need to call it work.

I need to call it training.

I need to put on the spandex and make a training log.

I need to blast Eye of the Tiger and make that shit real because it is just as hard, if not harder, than stepping back into the squat rack.

And call me crazy (which you can because, as we have firmly established, I am), but I believe that I will be back in the rack some day.  If I go slow and steady, if I build a steel cage of a core, wear protective gear, and have rock solid form, I can lift again.  I will never hit the same numbers, and I will never try, but I can get sweaty in my garage doing old lady exercise.  Old ladies can do work.

#powerrehab

Pardon my french toast.

Once the drugs are really working (the ones to make me immediately less of a lunatic have already slowed me down just enough to dislike being insane), ideally before, I will get my diet under control.

I will get my diet under control.

What’s a nicer way to say that? I will take my food medicine? Gag. I will embrace nutritional healing? Whatever.

I will quit eating crap that swells every part of my body, (it helps to imagine my brain swelling up like one of those sponge animals, soaking up my cerebral spinal fluid until my skull just pops right open). I will quit drinking to slow myself down. I will honor the cupcake and reserve it for it’s rightful occasion.

A note about mania: Mania is that person who comes to undo everything I have ever done, who intentionally pushes my buttons — eats food I don’t eat on principle, drinks beyond reason, makes me fat because HA HA! Mania likes to fuck with me. Mania asks, “What would really piss her off?” and then does that thing.

And yes. I am really pissed off. My belly is swollen — not with fat, but with constipation, gas, internal revolt against the poison I’ve dumped into it.

None of this helps with pain either. Or migraines. Cupcakes, Monte Cristo sandwiches (no matter how expensive or gluten free, freaking Steeping Room), baskets of chips and free flowing Mexican Martinis don’t just make me fat, they actually hurt me.

This episode has been the first time I’ve recognized manic bingeing as a form of self-harm. In the past I’ve viewed it as self medication or the “freedom” of mania. But this time I could almost hear the cackle, the maniacal laughter as I unwrapped my hundredth Hershey’s miniature. It is a step beyond “fuck it”. It is a deliberate “fuck you”.

That’s sad.
Let’s not do that.

Let’s make sauerkraut instead.

Old Rachel, old kitchen, old sauerkraut.  I miss them all.
Old Rachel making sauerkraut in the old kitchen. Makes me homesick.

From the journal.

The following was transcribed directly from my paper journal, July 3, 2013.  I was still brand new pregnant and starting to panic a bit.  I thought I’d share it with you because it’s a damn fine pep talk.

If you’re new here, brief history — I grew up morbidly obese, but have maintained a 100+lb loss for over a decade.  I gained (and lost) 60-70 pounds with each of my previous two pregnancies.  Before diving into this third pregnancy, I was a competitive powerlifter with a thriving health coaching and personal training practice.  Though I was never “underweight”, I carried significantly less body fat than I had in puberty which meant I was no longer ovulating, but I looked damn good.  Choosing our family over my body was not the easiest choice I’ve ever made.  But I made it.

***

When you focus so intensely on one thing, and that one thing does not change, not even one bit, then it feels like everything is stuck.

Maybe I am more than my body?  Maybe the sway in the scales in not because I’m not treating my body right, but because the rest of my self has needs and wants.

Progress I’ve made in life in the last three months not related to weight:

  • Successfully taken my daughters swimming almost every day since June 1.
  • Realized my husband’s true love for me and let go of the lie of not enough.
  • Re-established an authentic, loving relationship with my oldest friend.
  • Successfully increased all my lifts, including accessories.
  • Began piano lessons and practice 5 out of 7 days a week.  Progressing well.
  • Started Beatrice in piano lessons.  Progressing at lightning speed.
  • Made a summer schedule and sticking to it.

And I’m sure there’s more.  My life is moving forward.  I am growing.  And my goal is not just to be beyond reproach physically.  My goal is to be beautiful.

Am I beautiful?

The thoughts I’ve had lately most certainly are not. I’ve though more about the sacrifice than the worship.  I’ve mourned and moaned and even begun to desperately claw at my body and all the hopes and expectations of it slipping away. I’ve grieved more the loss of my body than I have celebrated the creation of a new one.

A new body.

My body for this body.

I am not the only one who changes.  My daughters change right before my eyes, transform from one being to the next.  Should they moan and shriek as their bodies change shape, as they put on fat and then height, as their hair changes, skin changes? They will grow into women who keep growing into mothers, then grandmothers, then great grandmothers.

Our bodies are never static.  A year ago my body was at it’s most beautiful, in my estimation.  It was lean, muscular, impressive.  And I wanted to lock it in.  Even if that meant no more babies, even if it meant I was barren.

But if my God is who I think he is, that is not a value we share.  God does not value my “leanness” over my family, his people.  God does not value my weight over the people he longs to make.

This body, this sesame seed sized body in my belly at this moment, houses a person God loves and is determined to reveal himself through.  This tiny person has been planned purposefully, thoroughly, perfectly.

I have prayed to have my body spared the ravages of fertility and pregnancy — but my actions, my willful participation in the creation of this person reveals my heart’s true desire.

My actions reveal my heart.

I chose to restore my fertility.  I put on 20 pounds just so I could ovulate again.  I fastidiously tracked every sign, fed myself the perfect foods, quit my job, and then intentionally, prayerfully, expectantly made love to my husband with the full intention of becoming pregnant.  I ripped apart the trophy so hard won.

Yes, I have desperately wanted to look better in my spandex.  Yes, I have been anxious about what building another baby would do to my body.  But despite that fear, I have done it anyway.

Courage is not the absence of fear.  Courage is action in the presence of fear.

Dear baby of mine — if someday you read these pages I hope that’s what you see.  I hope you see that your mama was terrified mess who trusted God so she kept going.

 

The work of fear.

Fear is always evidence that I am going the right way.  Fear shows up when I am stepping out of the boat, onto the water.  I know it’s just water, I know it should not hold me.

The work of God is this:  to believe in the one he has sent.

***

I always fear my work.

Some mornings I lay in bed before the sun comes up, fearing my first waking child.  I am afraid of the day that stretches out in front of me, full of conflict, noise, and people touching me constantly.  Everything will get dumped out, crushed, and sticky.  There will be disappointment, heartache, and lots of body fluids.

I fear the phone call at the end of the day, the sound of my husband’s voice, so heavy with fatigue I think it will break the phone.

When I write out my training the night before, I know it will be good when the numbers scare me a little.  How can I possibly put that weight over my head?  That’s insane.

Sitting in front of a blank page, knowing something has to go on it, something from inside me, I am paralyzed by fear.

Sometimes, I just walk away.  I do not pick it up, the kid, the phone, the first glimmer of an idea.  I do not fill my belly with breath and stabilize my spine.  I do not reach my calloused hands around it.  I do not do the work.  I choose to stay afraid.

But when I step up to the bar, yank up my tights, throw my shoulders back, my children are lighter, the weight of my husband’s stress is something I can move, the daily pain of relationships, mistakes, bad planning, and stupid choices is just a set of exercises that challenges every muscle, breaks me down just enough to build me up.

Fear becomes an invitation.

I am invited to feel real weight.  I am invited to carry loads I was convinced I could never bear.

Sermon.

“Wow!  Look at how much weight you’ve lost!  I am so jealous.”

In my head I am preaching.  I am pounding the pulpit.  I am red faced, sweating, shouting, “YOU ARE FREE.”  But my mouth, my hands, are silent.

I am not one to pass on an open pulpit.  I am a preacher, teacher, talk for two hours straight on any subject I know anything about kinda gal.  It’s how I’m made.  I don’t fight it.  EXCEPT…except when someone comments on my body.

It makes sense why.  I’ve spent the bulk of my life pretending my body didn’t exist.  Compliments on my hair, my eyes, my voice, my intellect, the way I have creatively draped my body in a interesting patterns and textures, those I can take.  But for the last few months, I can’t even go to the bathroom at church without someone from the next stall over comment on how much weight I’ve lost.  They stop me on the way back from communion, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?  I WANT TO DO THAT!”

Every single time, I just smile and do my best to disappear.  I did it again this week, when the woman who passed me the offering plate said those words that tore my heart up.  “I’m so jealous,” she whispered.  My eyes welled up and I said, “Thank you,” and pretended the nursery called so I could quickly excuse myself.

But I didn’t run away because I was embarrassed.  This time I was just angry.  Not at her, bless her very honest heart, but at the insidious lie that convinces people that women who lose weight, women who are healed, women who find victory — they are lucky.

They are not lucky.

There is no secret to weight loss, just like there’s no secret to making art, or getting a degree, or coding a website, or playing the cello, or deadlifting twice your bodyweight.  Each of these things has a set of instructions, a path to follow, a method that works.  People who are successful in these endeavors follow the instructions and do the work.  People who do not succeed have made the choice to not follow the instructions or not do the work.

This should encourage you!  This is FREEDOM.

Not one of us is cursed to stay right down in the bottom of the pit.  Not one of us is hopeless.  Not one of us is just plain unlucky.  Is there something you want to do?  Is there a dream you want to follow, a business you want to start, a portrait you want to paint, a house you want to own, a weight you want to pull, a life you want to live?  Find the instructions and choose the work.  Choose the blessed, glorious, one-step-at-a-time work.

 

Just can’t fight this feeling anymore.

There are two stories I am clearly avoiding:

  1. The part when my father left.
  2. My obsession with powerlifting.

I’m sure these topics have lots in common, but the most relevant thread is this blog.  I started this whole deal because I was interested in figuring out my story, looking at all the pieces, putting them in order, polishing up my testimony.  I thought the hardest parts were going to be the ones about being a very fat kid, a very crazy teenager, a very fat and very crazy young adult.  Turns out, those pieces came fast and easy.

I just don’t want to talk about my dad.  But that’s what’s supposed to happen next.

I do want to talk about powerlifting.  But that’s weird.

Dilemma.

Here are my options:

  1. Quit writing altogether.
  2. Keep writing stupid filler posts about why I don’t write and what I’m not writing about until I get brave enough to look at the part about my dad and write that.
  3. Write about powerlifting.

Well then.  I guess it’s decided.

Happy New Year from my Jesus loving, formerly obese, bipolar, Paleo, Montessori, Charlotte Mason, homeschooling, POWERLIFTING, mommy blog!

And my guns.