Thursday, February 16, 2012

I Don't Know What I Want To Blog About...But This Isn't It.

The scarcity of updates on this blog make it really clear that I have no idea what to write about in my post- political days. My fancy blogspot tools tell me that a much larger number of people than I could have imagined actually read what I write. Either that or you are stumbling upon it while trying to find something cool. Either way..."Hej! People of Sweden!" Apparently there are more than 2 dozen of you wondering what Ali In Esquimalt is up to. Thanks for checking in!

I also get emails and I'm really touched every time someone takes the time to say they miss my writing. Often I'm offered suggestions of what to write about.  The most common suggestion is weight loss.

I've now reached an awkward place where I can't seem to just say thanks and walk away when someone says, "you look great". The weight loss is significant enough that people really want to know how it was done.

I'm simply not going to write a blog about that.

My top 3 reasons being:

1. No one seems to believe me. Apparently the manner in which I've lost weight is too simple/boring/outrageous to be true. In politics I kind of got used to people accusing me of lying...but it still surprises me when it happens. Sometimes the truth hurts...but here it is. Your taxes are going up. Eat less and exercise more.

2. There are lots of blogs about weight loss. Me adding my story to the masses serves no one. Even before the Internet, there was a wealth of information (good and bad) readily available. I made my first scrapbook of diet and exercise tips when I was 9 years old. Yes. 9 years old. I was already playing several sports competitively and I was keenly aware that my muscles didn't match the images I saw in every magazine. I started clipping out articles and putting them in a scrapbook at the age of 9. I didn't get over-weight from under-information.

3. Most importantly I don't know that my weight loss story is all that remarkable or interesting. I'm not convinced that how I got to this weight or that weight is truly relevant to anyone but me...and I certainly don't feel qualified to give any meaningful advice.

I keep getting asked for my "secret" though...and while I don't have one...I will tell you ONE story about my weight loss journey. Just this once. Then, I'm letting the topic be and wishing everyone well on whatever journey they are on themselves.

When I first started doing yoga, I was at my absolute largest. The peace yoga brought me was worth squeezing into a pair of uncomfortable pants, adjusting the steering wheel on our truck so I could squish behind it and driving to the studio. It helped me find myself in a body I didn't even recognize as my own after having 2 kids. I got over my fear of being surrounded by "perfect" bodies in fashionable clothes and just kept showing up. The teachers were always great. They offered caring suggestions to modify postures to accommodate my size. Mostly, they taught me lessons that had less to do with improving my body physically and more to do with increasing my capacity to be myself.

I learned to find my breath amidst discomfort. I learned not to compare myself to anyone else in the room. I learned to focus on nothing but the stillness within. I keep learning and re-learning these lessons each time I show up...because 6 years later, and many pounds lighter, I still need to practice. Some days, I can listen to the sound of my own breath and be calm. Other days my mind races and wanders and wonders what to blog about.

Recently, my mind (and empty stomach) began to admire the costume of the woman in front of me. I thought that her pastel colours looked as pretty as Candy Coated Mini Eggs on a bed of Cotton Candy.Since I had just reached a personal weight loss goal, I decided to treat myself to an outfit from that same yoga clothing store. I won't tell you which store as that part isn't important....and if you wear anything above a size 12 you probably know which store I'm talking about anyways. They don't carry your size there. 12 is the absolute largest, with many of their offerings going up to only a 10. Even the hair accessories are too small for me. And while a part of me is outraged by the fact that 50% of all women will find NOTHING in that store that will EVER fit them...a part of me has always desperately wanted to fit in. So that 9 year old girl part of me, the one who clipped pictures from magazines, went shopping.

I am not exaggerating when I say that I crept into the store nervously.  I was half certain that the salesgirl would haul me out by my big boned wrist and escort me to the nearest Fat Girl store. That didn't happen. Instead, clothes were leaping off the shelves and into my arms singing, "Pick me! I'm just your size!" Yes. They were.

I couldn't find racks of baggy, black pants so I tried on everything else. Oh The Turquoise! The Pink! The Purple! No more "who are we really trying to kid anyways" dark colours for me. I was wearing a Rainbow of Springtime! I couldn't stop smiling at the flowers blooming in my very eyes.

I was calculating how many delightful confections would fit on my MasterCard when I caught sight of a girl staring at herself in the mirror. If she were a photo, my 9 year old self would have glued it to the cover of the scrapbook. She even had the elusive, never a hair out of place, ponytail I've never achieved. Perfect...except for the unmistakable hatred in her eyes when she looked at herself in the mirror. The equally teeny tiny salesperson was trying to assure her she was beautiful. She was frantic with compliments as she scurried about promising to find her shorts in a more "slimming fit." I couldn't watch.  I knew nothing on the shelves could cover up the sadness in her eyes.

I'm still not sure if I was laughing or crying when I left. I only know that I folded up every item of clothing and handed them back to the salespeople on my way out. They weren't singing to me anymore.

There are lots of diet and exercise programs. Most of them will work to change the number on your scale. None of them will change what you see in the mirror.

It doesn't matter if the pants you fit host a logo from a trendy store. It doesn't matter if the size on the tag is one digit or two. It only matters if you can look into your own eyes and see Springtime.

I've been thinking about weight loss for about 30 years now and I only feel qualified to give one piece of advice.  It is this: Smile at your face in the matter what it looks like today.