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WEEKLY WELLNESS/ rest, removing judgment from the equation, and on to exercise

my wee of a bathroom

Weekly Wellness is a community driven project to help each of us adopt a more mindful lifestyle. It is a twelve week experiment wherein we (Laura, myself, and whoever else wants to join) commit to one small change for each of those weeks in an effort to see how even a small shift can reap big rewards. (For the introduction read this and this.) 

I know, I know, I'm a little late to the party this week. There was a bit too much partying this weekend, if you know what I mean, and so I'm behind.


So rest. Rest, rest, rest. I am a person who finds that if my home is impeccably clean I sleep better. It's as simple as that. I wake refreshed and with a feeling of peace.

Whenever I leave home for a trip or for an extended period of time I become nuts about everything being clean and in its place. Why? There is no better feeling than returning home after a little sojourn to a clean house. There just isn't. There are other things that are up there with it, but nothing trumps it.

So, for this last week with the goal of rest, I got to thinking about this clean house, clean room, clean space directive.

And so I got on the subway, headed to Target, and bought myself a new shower curtain. I've lived here for a few months now and I've held off on getting one because...well, I'm not sure why. I wanted it to be PERFECT, I guess. And also because the bathroom is the place in the house I least care about. It's such a small and odd space and if the door isn't closed just so then it seems you can't navigate the thing. But I went to Target and got a shower curtain and then a massive white spa towel. And I tell ya, if those two things didn't just transform the space. My bathroom went from the place where I left all my dirty clothes hanging on the towel rack to a space where I could keep dried lavender atop the toilet and in the mornings light a candle by the sink. Transforming that space meant that my everyday shower now felt luxurious. And that alone is incredibly restful.

In the last few years I've come to learn (and really relish) in taking a lot of joy in every day necessities--cleaning the sink, cooking myself a meal, climbing into the tub. It makes for a much happier, more fulfilling life--and one where those things that we have to do just to keep going move from the realm of chores to small, restorative actions. Restorative being the operative word.

I think the key to any of these weekly goals or any suggestions you read on a blog or in a magazine is figuring out how to make them work for you. Redefining the norm, thinking outside the box (cliche, but true). For me focusing on rest became decorating my bathroom.

What about you all? What did REST mean to you and how did you make a go of it?

and now on to Fat Talk...

I'm gonna level with you. This week was harder. Maybe it was that it was my birthday and I was around more people and more food and where there's that much food and that much celebration people make comments. Or maybe it was the cover of People Magazine declaring Jenny Garth 30 pounds thinner which meant she had just gotten her life back! Full disclosure, I didn't read the article. Maybe it was about how she reclaimed her life after divorce, but that wasn't what the huge block letters on the cover suggested. I found it offensive. The implication that she didn't have a life at 30 pounds heavier, the implication that I-SHOULD-THEN-NOT-CLAIM-WHAT-I-HAVE-AS-A-LIFE-IF-I-AM-30-POUNDS-HEAVIER-THAN-WHAT-I COULD-BE-IF-I-LIVED-ON-A-DIET. Meg, you're overreacting you might say. You're reading too much into it. But I'm smart enough to know that I'm reading just as much into it as they want me to--just as much into it as all the weight-loss driven ads that pepper the pages hope I will.

So yeah, fat talk was harder this week. Harder to avoid. Harder to disengage from. And that made me harder on my body.

But there was also a lot happening this week (or the last two weeks, really) with celebrities admitting eating disorders or coming out and saying that they love their fuller bodies.

First their was the flurry surrounding Lady Gaga as she released a picture of her in bra and panties (supposedly 25 pounds heavier) and admitting to anorexia and bulimia. A part of me was totally impressed by this and yet another part of me was also a little perplexed. So I went to my guru, Tom, and asked him about it. And he said something that has stuck with me since. A static image (a photograph) can never accurately reveal or show or convey what a body looks like. He then asked me, What did you think when you saw the photograph of her? Well, my first thought was, if that's her 25 pounds heavier, what did she look like before? She's still tiny. To which he replied, That's the point. By releasing a photo she invited judgment of her body--and judgment of our bodies is the problem. Counterintuitive as it seems, it would have been more powerful had she made that admission with no photograph attached. 

I saw his point. Or well, I thought I did. Sometimes Tom will say something and I'll start to get it and then I'll come in six months later and say, Tom, remember when you said this, this, and this?! I GET IT!  {I was a little afraid this was going to be like that}.

In response to Lady Gaga all sorts of people shared photographs of themselves with statements. The one that stuck with me (and began to clarify Tom's point) was of a young women who said something like If size 2 is beautiful then my size 22 must be glorious--implying that a size 22 is somehow better than a size 2. This comparison, this either/or, this one against the other is at the heart of the problem. I get where she's coming from and it's great if she can embrace her body but her body is not better or worse than someone else's because of the size. It simply is. The size 2 simply is. As is the size 6, size 8, size 18.

Strangely enough, it was Christina Aguilera that drove this point home for me. I came across an article in which she talked about her curves and having gained weight and the record label's problem with that.:

When she gained about 15 pounds during the tour, her label held an emergency meeting, she confessed.
"[They claimed] people I toured with would also miss out if I gained weight, because I would sell no records or tickets for my shows. I was young, so I lost the weight quickly and was toothpick thin during 'Back to Basics' promos and touring."
But now, Aguilera is fighting back. She says that when she met with her label before she started recording her upcoming album, "Lotus," she told them:
“'You are working with a fat girl. Know it now and get over it.' They need a reminder sometimes that I don't belong to them. It's my body," Aguilera told Billboard. "My body can't put anyone in jeopardy of not making money anymore -- my body is just not on the table that way anymore." (text source)
It was that line--my body is just not on the table in that way--that gave me what Oprah would call an ah-ha moment (and let me in on what Tom was really talking about).

Oh right! My body is not on the table in that way--not on the table to be scrutinized or judged or declared beautiful or ugly. It's just not a discussion I'm open to having with myself or with anyone else. My body gets me out of bed each morning, it gets me to the subway and up the stairs, and through the tremendous hour-long workout that is Physique 57, and so yeah, I'm going to celebrate that--the tremendous ability and miracle that my body is. So when fat talk pops up that's my new answer: my body is just not on the table in that way. No more. Now as I look in the mirror at my reflection and start to scrutinize I hear that new mantra, that new edict: nope, not on the table, and I walk away.

AND FOR THIS WEEK: STRECH!! commit to exercise and trying something new. (I've committed to a full month of unlimited Physique 57, which is not a new exercise for me, but it's been a good long while since I've gone {or done any exercise} consistently. 

**I also want to say something else here: In a lot of ways a blog--my blog, any blog--is a static image and so not an accurate depiction of the person writing it. It's taken me a long time to come to terms with this,  but it's made any and all criticism much easier to deal with. The critics aren't coming at me, they're coming at the blog. And that's okay. I can take criticism, what's more dangerous and of more concern is this: just because I don't post pictures during those moments when I've eating a full box of donuts doesn't mean those moments don't happen. I write about health in a way that's meant to encourage and show strides I've made, but I, as much as anyone, have my moments (often, I fear I have them more than most). Moments in which I don't want to exercise. Moments in which I hate my thighs or hate my stomach or can't believe I just ate a whole bag of those pink and white frosted animal crackers. Moments when I can't divorce the guilt I feel about what I've just eaten with the desire to then eat more, because well, screw it. I, as much as anyone, am still very much in the trenches of making peace with my body and the constant need to feed and nourish it. The past few months have been quite difficult for  me in terms of food and acceptance, which is in large part why I wanted to do something like weekly wellness and focus on small actions. It's my opinion that getting better feels much like a grain of sand traveling through an iceberg. And I'm still trekking.**

If you're new to the blog and want to understand why all this is so important to me, I'm going to direct you here


hannah debbie said...

I totally see your point about the size 22 woman. I feel that she's still falling into the comparison trap. I hate all those "real women have curves!" ads or whatever -- some real women have curves, others don't. Neither is better than the other.

Kmarie said...

Thank you for speaking out. Women need to hear this. You are a great voice.
P.s. lovely spa bathroom;) I clean with lavender and tea tree to fill our home with health and happy aromas...

blackcatbaby said...

Whoa. I didn't write the exact same thing in my blog (the reasons diet/weight were very different but still) This post spoke to me. And with 2 jobs I'm not always able to keep up. Funny, I never mentioned it in my blog - but I JUST bought a shower curtain liner last week and did a total clean up...
It's like spring cleaning of the soul, 2 seasons later.
God bless you -xo-

Lori said...

If there's a "blog voice" of our generation then you are among them. Every time I make my way to your page, you give me an ah-ha moment too. Beautiful Meg. Just beautiful. I just keep coming back for more. xxoo :)


Belen said...

Thank you for this. <3

Heather said...

"my body is just not on the table in that way. No more."

What a powerful post! This series really is getting me rethinking body image and how to incorporate some kind of healthy exercise or relaxation/feel good (aka yoga) back into my life :)

Alyssa said...

So I've been keeping an eye on your weekly challenges and think that subconsiously I've participated.

This week specifically. If the word was rest, then that's what I've done this week. I work over 40 hours a week and haven't had a lot of weekend recoup time. This past weekend, I had a Saturday to myself. Going to market, running errands, decorating, and watching lots of Disney Channel Halloween movies. And this week, each night, I've laid on my couch after exhausting 10 hour days and fallen asleep by 9pm watching more Disney halloween movies. It's been restful. The dishes are piling up and I haven't done things I should have. But I feel rested.


Jessica said...

Hey Meg,
what a helpful post this is. I really do love it especially the part about how a size 22 shouldn't be prouder than a size 2 because no size means that someone is more beautiful.

I do want to point out though that Christina Aguilera actually stated that she didn't say those things.. it was false. A positive false nonetheless as the "statement" was a very strong one! :)

KristyWes said...

"It makes for a much happier, more fulfilling life--and one where those things that we have to do just to keep going move from the realm of chores to small, restorative actions."

Awesome, awesome, awesome perspective.

I have this constant nagging desire to make more time in my busy schedule. Which isn't always possible. But if I could transform some of the have-to's into more restorative get-to's...maybe that's the ticket. Thanks, lady, for the perspective!

Julie said...

Beautiful post, Meg. I love having somewhere to go that I know will be a place of peace and reflection...it may not be my bathroom yet, but it's often your blog!

On a side note: Did the vase in the picture come from Target as well? It's calling out to me!

Diana said...

Not on the table. Wow. So simple and direct and it still never crossed my mind. I love that!

Rest for me this past week meant allowing myself to relax, even though it meant putting off studying a bit. I was able to go on a retreat this weekend and that alone was restful because I got away from the noise that engulfs my home (figuratively and literally).

I love that you mentioned how you began to enjoy those small necessities. So true. It has to be done, so why not look at it in a better light so that it becomes enjoyable or rewarding? I was able to do that with cooking a few years ago and now it is a creative outlet for me.

I'm loving these posts, Meg!

Sera said...

I so needed this post this week. Thanks, Meg. :)

sarah nicole said...

Not on the table anymore... WOW. Thank you for sharing that! So powerful.

katilda said...

Yes, yes, YES. I love this: "If size 2 is beautiful then my size 22 must be glorious--implying that a size 22 is somehow better than a size 2. This comparison, this either/or, this one against the other is at the heart of the problem." ...the problems have nothing to do with size. It has everything to do with comparison. And saying that curvy women are "real women" or size 22's are "more beautiful than a size 2" is just as dangerous and derogatory as saying skinny women are real or size 2 is the only beautiful. Some REAL women are thin and a size 2, and some REAL women are curvy and a 22. I wrote about this on my blog recently too: http://www.katilda.com/2012/08/guess-what-you-can-love-yourself.html and http://www.katilda.com/2012/04/skinny-is-new-wrong.html

Anonymous said...

Hi Meg

I really agree with the fact that decluttering and keeping your living space clean helps you stay focused and feel better in general. I find it stressful if I have a busy day and I am out and about and didn't have time to clean a bit before I left the house. I just keep thinking about going home and cleaning, haha. I have a much better day if I know that in the evening I will come back to a clean space. Little things make a big difference. I have also become obsessed with decluttering and I try not to buy random things unless I absolutely need them. Unless it is a book, a CD or a DVD (although they have a pretty good collection in my library)

Regards from London!


Anonymous said...

this week i started making steps towards making peace with rest. At some point I convinced myself my need for rest meant something was wrong with me, i was lazy, unproductive. I don't know what i let those thoughts creep in but i've been battling them this week and will continue to.

meg fee said...

@Julie: I think it came from Anthro a few years back. But I've seen knockoffs elsewhere--keep your eyes open, I'm sure you'll find something like it in no time.

Lottie Simm said...

inspiring post as always.

adn the little things like a candle here, or a plant there make such a difference to me too. ridding my home of some of the unnecessary clutter just makes me feel more restful and relaxed.

AshCall said...

I really appreciate your words, always. There are sometimes days when I feel like I will never completely conquer the food issues that I have been fighting for ten years plus. But I am so grateful for words of hope and to see brave women (and men) taking great strides to overcome the media's attack on our bodies. Thank you for fighting.

Whitney said...

thanks for sharing this. it's hard to remember at times.