There's so much to learn about the self with any new undertaking (particularly after it has become less-than-new), and lifting weights is no exception. (Note that I've not been working out for the last couple of weeks, though still do long walks regularly).
I've now seen,in the not-doing, some of the drivers behind my desire to weight train. First, of course, is the wonder of the physical and mental experience--lifting 200 pounds off the ground, repeatedly, and fully-focused in the moment.
But I'm learning that much of my satisfaction from lifting, losing fat, and being more fit is driven by my belief that I am less valuable and unattractive if I don't. Put simply, a big chunk of this is about my lack of self-acceptance, and a desire to control and erase that which isn't satisfactory to me.
A frenzied fear swept over me the other day, when I realized I've likely gained 7 or 8 pounds recently. My first thought: I am falling behind schedule, I am going backwards. At the core, I realized, was this: I would be less likely to be loved.
What often follows is a desire to punish myself, to step into control, to whip myself into shape, to force myself, like a ruthless headmaster, and make working out a punishment, no longer the joy.
This time I've simply been sitting with the experience, letting the feelings flow through me. I haven't forced myself to go to the gym, or changed my food, or anything. And this has been challenging, and painful.
There are a lot of stories about anorexia and other eating disorders among bodybuilders and those losing large amounts of weight. And that is understandable, given how our culture rewards the non-fat--even when it is deadly to the person being rewarded.
I wish I didn't have this low self-esteem, and the accompanying fear that, unless I somehow perfect my externals, others will find me wanting. One day I will be the person who loves herself as she is, for all of who she is. I am not that person, yet.