Saturday, October 3, 2015

It's Weird and It's Wonderful

The nurse in the hospital told me that diabetes is like a part time job that you never get a day off from and never get paid for. She was right, and she forgot to mention that it forces you to become a workaholic, too. But while I am working hard, I also have a great appreciation for the work that I'm NOT doing.

Becoming aware and responsible for my body's processing of carbohydrates has made me in awe of everything else my body has been quietly, effortlessly chugging away at. Managing my blood sugar is exhausting and overwhelming and somehow my body is keeping me breathing?! It's translating my every intention into motion, every beam of light I encounter into visual information? Just spend some time thinking about it. It's a fun meditation in yoga class, to picture your muscles flexing and tightening and releasing, right underneath the skin. Imagine your lungs inflating. Try to break down the process next time you lift your leg to take a step.

When I was sick, unable to process carbohydrates on my own and unintentionally depriving it of insulin and access to proper energy, my body began breaking down its fat and muscle as energy sources. I lost 30 pounds. I shrank to a size 2, size 0, I shrank to my "Hollywood" weight, and I got compliments. I was scared but I was also happy. Because what woman doesn't want to be skinny?

But when you lose your fat, you lose your curves. You lose the part of you that looks like an actual adult woman. You can't sit down without feeling your bones hitting the chair. Your face sharpens and your features look too large. When you lose your muscle, you lose your abilities--to hike, to walk, to wander. When everything is effortful, you lose your enjoyment. Your body is "what you've always wanted" but there's nothing fun about it.

So imagine my joy when I actually got my body back. I got a second chance. I still have my struggles with my appearance, of course. But whenever I'm disappointed in the way clothes look, or feeling dismay over my bulky arms (everyone's got that one thing, right??), at least things are working. At least I'm alert enough to dismay. At least my body is functioning so well that I basically (well, with a lot of help from the media's messages to women) have to invent problems with myself.

The body-positive message is always, forget the outside, focus what's on the inside, right? Well of course personality is important. But don't forget about what's actually on your insides--muscle, and bones, and blood, and electrical impulses and whatnot. There's a lot going underneath your skin before you get down deep into your personality. There's a lot to appreciate in virtually every layer of you. 

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