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Saturday, January 1, 2011

A year in the mirror

Last January I joined Nautilus, a local gym. This was a huge moment in my life, a battle between my past and my future. I had reached a plateau at home and needed new horizons in order to continue my fitness. When I began trying to work out at the gym, I discovered much of my past that I had shoved into a closet and hidden. Standing in front of the mirrors brought back the past ghosts of an eating disorder that I imagined long gone. It seems those self doubts needed healing not hiding.

I have blogged my way through many of the ups and downs of working out this year. I have been honest here in my struggles with my value and self esteem. There have been bright moments as well as dark seasons. This year I have struggled more with doubt than I have in many years - struggling to find my worth apart from the number on the scales and the size of my jeans.

Working out at the gym meant seeing myself in mirrors from many angles. One morning I was doing a set of squats and caught a glimpse of my reflection. My first sympathetic thought, not realizing those were my legs, "That poor dear....cellulite is such a pain to get rid of." Then realization hit and the next thought was, "Dear God, when did THAT happen?" As I persisted, working out 5-6 days a week, I slowly saw results. However, I still attached value to the number on the tag of my jeans.

I have slacked off greatly this last semester. Between work, attending school, and family needs, I found very little time for exercise. I have gained back many of my pounds and more of my inches. I have avoided the gym, dreading to see my larger self in the mirrors. Feeling discouraged about the quick regression, I finally headed back to the gym this week, only to discover a beautiful change of heart happened somewhere along the way.

This week as I lifted weights, deliberately standing in front of the mirrors to check my form, I found a new peace. I realized that I did not despise the woman in the mirror for her weight gain, but instead applauded her for investing in the future - working at creating health to enjoy her children and someday her grandchildren. I was surprised to find myself mentally detached from the reflection and cheering her on, as if she were a stranger. "Come on, two more reps - you can do this!"

I wondered if it was a fluke, but the same thing was true in the workout classes this week. I found myself checking the mirror for form, not to see if I was a failure at the move. I am not necessarily any more graceful, or any less dancing dyslexic, but I did not beat myself up for those things. Instead I saw a woman determined to face her future with a healthy heart, a healthy body, and a laughing soul. If I went right when everybody else when left, I did it with gusto - I can burn calories being wrong just as easily as being right!

A year in the mirror - what a battle! But in the end, I like this woman that won. This is the woman that is less worried about her size compared to everybody else, and more concerned about being her own personal best. Whatever that size might be. This is a woman who is determined to invest her time in loving life, knowing that fitness is a critical component to mental and physical health.