TGIF: Why I Didn’t Go to the Gym in 2011

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On hot fudge sundaes, loving my jiggly bits and saving the world.

[Full disclosure: I’m sipping on a glass of white wine as I write this post. #liquidcourage]

“It’s too bad you’re fat,” he said. “The dress looks better on your sister.”

I was six.

He* was my 21-year-old cousin.

This was the moment I believed a lie.

[*Complicated back story. Perhaps for another time.]

Being a hot fudge sundae

Like a lot of women, I have naively clung to the lie that my life would be mediocre, uninspired and boring, until I lost the proverbial ten or twenty pounds. Forget Santa, I’ve waited my whole life for Skinny Me to magically show up in a cape and rescue Pudgy Me. I thought of Skinny Me as my stronger, braver, carefree, adventurous alter-ego; she grabs life by the cojones. 

Does anyone relate to the following?

(It’s too bad I’m fat) If I was skinny I’d…

wear more colour.
wear less makeup.
ask for a promotion.
sing in a coffee shop.
take that belly dancing class.

write a book.
embrace my curly hair.
launch a small business.
charge the rates I deserve.
wear my glasses more often.

swim with dolphins.
Wait … 
put on a bathing suit,
stop obsessing about my thunder thighs,
learn how to swim, and …
then swim with dolphins.

wear a “little” black dress (Size: M/L – depending on the store),
forget about my back fat, muffin top and dark armpits,
rock red lipstick and smoky eyes,
smile at myself in the mirror (even my jiggly bits),
and shake my bon-bon.

stop hiding my face behind my hair.
believe that I’m worthy of love.
speak up in meetings.
find a mentor.
save the world.

I’m sensing a collective Amen.

After years of struggling with my weight, I’ve slowly come to realize I didn’t want to be skinny. I wanted the life I thought only a skinny person deserved to have. A life of: frolic + freedom.

Early 2010, I read Geneen Roth’s book, “Women, Food and God” after watching her on Oprah. (I’m such a cliche, right now. Haha. #shootme) Geneen’s book helped me re-frame 2011.

Geneen confirmed a hunch:

“It’s never been true that the value of a soul, of a human spirit, is dependent on a number on a scale. When we start defining ourselves by that which can be measured or weighed, something deep within us rebels. We don’t want to EAT hot fudge sundaes as much as we want our lives to BE hot fudge sundaes. We want to come home to ourselves.

Ohhhh …

I wanted to BE a hot fudge sundae. I wanted my life to be full of creamy decadent friendships, hot oozey passion, topped with whipped whimsy, nutty adventure and sweet maraschino-cherry life experience.

I wanted my life to be a story that was so riveting, so grand, so epic, you couldn’t put the book down.

The Problem: My Sinking Heart

A couple of weeks ago, I had a candid conversation with my friend “Lisa” about the role beauty plays in dating. She told me about her friend “Trent” who only dates girls that are long-distance runners. Aesthetic reasons aside, Trent believes their lean bodies speak volumes about their inner strength, dedication, determination, commitment and willingness to get uncomfortable.

If a lean body communicated such wonderful characteristics, what did my pudgy body communicate?

Something about this story totally unraveled me. I was a sobbing mucous-dripping mess. I cried for over an hour. Trent confirmed a deep-seated fear of mine: my pudgy body was not worthy of love. Why would someone see me as a worthy partner if I was weak, flaky, faltering, uncommitted and wary of discomfort?

“Weight loss does not make people happy. Or peaceful. Being thin does not address the emptiness that has no shape or weight or name. Even a wildly successful diet is a colossal failure because inside the new body is the same sinking heart.” – Geneen Roth

Ah, yes. My sinking heart.

When my sinking heart is drowning in self-hate, I deprive myself of food and I punish myself with exercise. A recipe for disaster, yes?

Trent’s theory is partially true. Some girls have indeed managed to find the perfect balance of diet and exercise. What he didn’t account for was skinny/athletic girls who don’t love themselves. We all have at least one skinny friend (her thighs don’t touch), who can’t stop obsessing about diet and exercise. Trent’s theory didn’t account for beautiful girls who lived in my dorm who ran 15 miles after eating one cookie. Girls who starved themselves a whole day before a family meal because they’d have to eat everything on their plate. Girls who, despite their pretty shell, didn’t believe they are worthy of love.

Girls, who look “athletic” on the outside, but share my sinking heart.

The Real Reason I Haven’t Been to the Gym in 2011

Once I figured out I was actually craving an exciting life, I knew 2011 needed to be different. No more New Year’s resolutions to reach my dream weight before the summer. I refused to go to the gym until my motives were clear.

I made a pact with myself to never go to the gym for the following reasons:
– Guilt
– Shame
– Punishment

This meant that I barely went to the gym this year.

The verdict?
I didn’t lose or gain any weight in 2011.

I did, however, write a killer chapter for the story of my life.

I went on a life-altering road trip. I ran my first half-marathon. I made a sick amount of new friends. I helped raise $43,600 for my sisters in Uganda. I went on dates. I read great books. I ate delicious food. I got out of debt. I debated life’s deep philosophical questions over Skype.  I bought a wicked camera. I shot my beautiful girlfriend’s wedding. I charged what I deserve. I wore red lipstick. I cut my hair. I got a promotion. I wore thigh-hugging running capris (cringe). I spoke up in meetings. I found my voice. I wrote a column that helped me find healing.

Psssh… who wants to be skinny?

I’d rather be a hot fudge sundae! Holla!
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My theme for the year has been to invest in the things and people I love. “Awake my soul” by Mumford and Sons nails this message for me. Enjoy!

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So dear friends…

1. Do you remember the moment you believed a lie?
2. What are some things you want to do in 2012?
3. What’s holding you back?
4. Have you struggled with your weight?

Love you more than Coconut Pinkcherry Yogurt, (<- Recipe)

xoxo,

Teen

To read more TGIFs from Tina: Click here.

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Tina Francis
My name is Tina. Loved ones call me: Teen. Words are my chocolate. Music, my caramel. Photography, my bread. Girlfriends, my butter. Confession: Some girls dream about Manolo Blahniks or their next Hermes bag. Not me. I dream of freshly baked bread, perfectly barbecued meat & steaming bowls of Pho. My dream lover *cue Mariah Carey song* is someone who would read out a menu to me in Barry White’s baritone voice. I celebrate food, ask for help, interrupt conversations, laugh and cry hard, acknowledge the elephant in most rooms, fight for the underdog and believe in the power of storytelling. I was born and raised in Dubai and currently live in the beautiful city of Vancouver, known for some of the best sushi in the world.
Tina Francis
Tina Francis