Thank you, Jessamyn Stanley
There aren’t external rules saying I have to move. I don’t need to find movement that leads to a specific result. What I’m doing, this stopping myself before I get the chance to experience something I enjoy, isn’t treating myself kindly.
This afternoon I had the privilege of seeing Jessamyn Stanley speak. I first found Jessamyn online through Cody App, which sells series of yoga videos for home practice. I’ll be honest, I haven’t gotten through many of them (for reasons explained a little further down) but there’s something incredibly freeing about seeing someone with a body like mine practicing yoga.
After the talk, I stood in line to meet her very briefly and she signed my copy of her book, Every Body Yoga. As is often the case when I stand in line to meet someone I’m excited about, I really worked not to come on too strong. Do you experience this? There’s literally so much I want to say I have to make myself pick just one thing or I might come off as slightly crazed or fanatic. Anyway, whatever. I’m going to just say it here, just so it’s out there in the ether.
I’m at the point in my recovery where I feel relatively good about my ability to handle food. Movement, however, is a much stickier proposition. I have trouble moving, even when I want to. Right now, it goes like this: I try something new. I do it a few times, or maybe even just once. I work hard to be gentle to myself, and to keep an eye out for destructive thoughts while I’m doing it. It feels good.
The next day, though, I feel a twinge of muscle soreness. A little tightness running down my abs or up the back of my thigh as I slip on a pair of pants. And a sly little voice whispers, here it is. Do it again. Today, tomorrow, the next day, and by the time ____ rolls around maybe you’ll fit back into that dress you like. That’s literally all it takes. The weight loss/fitness myth is so fucking seductive it isn’t even funny. And I know better, but it’s still really fucking scary to have those thoughts. So, honestly, I don’t try it again. I tell myself I can’t risk it. What if my body did change? What would I do to keep it that way?
The last time I spoke with my nutritionist, though, something clicked into place. Or started to, at any rate–in my experience, these things take me a while to learn. I am depriving myself of something that has the potential to be a fulfilling and enjoyable part of life. There aren’t external rules saying I have to move. I don’t need to find movement that leads to a specific result. What I’m doing, this stopping myself before I get the chance to experience something I enjoy, isn’t treating myself kindly. Sure, it feels like it. I have good reason to be wary, given my history of self-destructive behaviors. There is a difficult and thorny path to navigate, but no more so than learning to feed myself well again.
And so, in the Q&A period of the evening, I raised my hand. I asked Jessamyn, “given that we are so saturated with diet and fitness culture, do you still have these thoughts? How do you uncouple from them?” It was an incredible thing to have a woman I admire say “yes, not a day goes by when I don’t, and I literally talk myself through them.” Well, shit. I’m pretty sure I can do that. Scratch that, I know I can do that. I’ve done it before. I can be resilient, and kind, and curious towards my body. Now I just need to start.
So thank you, Jessamyn. Thank you for writing your book, and for speaking to me, and for being open and human in a way that is far too uncommon. Thank you for being open and frank on social media in ways that inspire and challenge me. I am grateful that you offer your voice, opinions, and passions the way you do. And more than anything, I wanted to say that I am so excited to read your book and move forward with my practice. // 7×35