Body basics

Saturday, October 04, 2014

I've been keeping this blog since 2010 and for the last four years have been snapping photos of myself in sexy swimwear and luscious lingerie however none of those photos have made it onto the blog until this week. During this time my weight has been as low as 43kg and peaked at 57kg last year when I decided that enough was enough, the NZ Blood Service were not going to take a donation from me no matter that I finally weighed more than the 50kg minimum, and it was time to lose the extra pounds sitting on my belly and thighs.

I have few inhibitions — you might be able to tell just from a reading a few posts on this blog — and years of performing on-stage clad in revealing costumes and in skin-tight clothes in the dance studio means that public display of shape and flesh doesn't really bother me. But the world can be a judgmental place and the anonymity of the internet can let the trolls out in ways that aren't considered decent or polite in normal settings. Images that are published will never truly disappear so I've held back because once I send photos out they'll be there to stay and can I really live with people seeing photos of my imperfect self?

At the end of the day the worse judge of all is me. When I look at myself I notice the stretch marks that crease my ass, the cellulite on my thighs, the piggy dinner I just ate three helpings of. Given that the extent of the tinkering I choose to do on my photos is applying filters and adjustments to correct poor lighting and bad framing, the dishonesty of 'photoshopping' to make my image match the ideal is not at all appealing. I'd concluded it was better not to publish.

I think we all suffer dysmorphia to some extent where what we perceive in the mirror is not the reality and I am certainly no different. The human brain works in funny ways because when I look down at my belly I see blubber which I know from the photos, the sideways view in the mirror and in the fact that I still fit all my clothes, cannot be the reality. Sure, I could lose another inch and flatten down to my twenty-something abdomen but that girl who ate and didn't put on weight and couldn't find adult pants that sat right wasn't consistently fit. She was enviable but not admirable.

In preparing for this article I looked at some of the photos that haven't made it here and what I realised is that they weren't terrible: not the skinny but un-toned at 31 nor the more voluptuous version at 34. But of all the photos I liked the ones from this week best and although my fitness journey is ongoing, as is my body-shape journey, what I see reflected in the photos is a story about the hours of exercise, the weeks of diligently recording my food intake and controlling the calories to get back to 50kgs, and the persistence with my all-over body skincare.

I grant this isn't a heroic story about someone who has lost 50kg of weight and turned their life significantly around. There are many of those stories and I respect the men and women who overcome adversity or illness to progress themselves to healthy weights and healthy living but just because this isn't heroic doesn't mean it comes easily or effortlessly.

We make choices everyday: whether to run, to go to fitness class, to eat the cake or drink that wine. I make choices everyday and sometimes they include drinking that wine and I definitely eat the New York baked cheesecake. I also make the choice to go to yoga, to turn on my Kinect and dance off some calories, and I have the mini-size can of coke.

A couple of my friends were discussing this blog over dinner a few months ago and we talked about whether I would feature any bikini shots. Lou said I shouldn't and it was unnecessary whereas Tess said "if you have the body, flaunt it." I will never be a lingerie supermodel: my height alone stands in my way, nevermind that I am getting long in the tooth for that kind of thing. But at 36, I think I'm not in too bad a shape for my age.

I realise that when I judge myself poorly against the morass of images out there from barely clad rockstars, movie stars with cut muscles and Victoria Secrets models, that they make their living from looking good and can spend hours and money working on their physique in ways that are unnecessary for someone who makes her main crust from sitting in meetings and writing documents. My photos are un-doctored: there's no elongating my thighs and trimming my waist. My life is reflected in this body: it has never been trimmed by the surgeon's knife or the excess vacuumed out. Whatever gain or loss, definition and shape has been from conscious choice and planning. This is me as I am.

So if not now, when? Will there be a time when I think, that's perfect? No, there won't be. True fitness is about progress and maintenance; It's not preparation for that big show or single photoshoot; it's about living everyday and what looks good to one person is not the same as another. Even my view of the ideal body has changed over the years: when I was a dancer it was much different to one I strive for now.

Part of my clothing and style and lifestyle journey includes my large collection of swimwear and lingerie. So here's me sharing - and you can probably expect to see more of me in future.

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