Mini Blog 5/n, Body Image in Quarantine

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In a lot of ways, I feel like a completely different person than I was a year ago. My interests are different, I spend my time differently, and I’ve done a lot of introspection this year that makes me feel like I’ve grown a lot this year mentally.

However, I didn’t realize that I would physically feel like a different person as well. I went into a fitting room for the first time in a very long time the other day and was shocked! It sounds dramatic but it’s true!

My body looked completely different. I have full-body mirrors in my home, but very rarely look at myself nearly naked while changing. I’ve been exercising regularly but in completely different ways than I had in the past and my body composition definitely reflected that. My limbs were more toned than they had been before because I was lifting more weights; on the flip side, my body felt more “squishy” overall, likely because I was doing significantly less cardio.

Even my head, which I look at every day in the mirror, looked different with the context of the rest of my body! My hair was much frizzier than it’s ever been in the past, probably because I never need to actually style it anymore and simply tuck it under a hat whenever I need to leave the house. I was wearing glasses and not wearing any makeup, which I started doing in quarantine and have gotten used to but, again, was not used to seeing together with the rest of my body.

Like many people, I feel like my entire being – physically, mentally, etc. – was becoming amorphous in quarantine. However, I had not been confronted with that reality until I stepped into that dressing room. I left the store that day realizing that I hadn’t really felt “beautiful” in… a long time. Maybe this is because I hadn’t put on contact lenses, makeup, and a nice outfit in a long time. Maybe it’s because my mind hasn’t been focused on feeling “pretty” in a long time.

As superfluous as this sounds, I liked putting effort into my appearance on a regular basis. Whenever I could, I liked looking put together with carefully chosen and coordinated outfits, with a matching lipstick, dramatic eye makeup, and rosy cheeks. “Looking the part” made me feel like I could conquer the world! When I realized that I hadn’t been doing that for a long time, it felt like that part of me had been slowly fading away and I had not even noticed it – which was scary. I realized that I hadn’t truly felt like my confident, pre-quarantine self in a long time, and it made me sad, frankly.

Anyway, I wish I had a grand takeaway at the end of this post – you’re beautiful no matter what! beauty is on the inside! fuck beauty standards! – but I don’t! I am a big proponent of sitting with discomfort and learning from it instead of following my first instincts of putting a band-aid on it, running away, and ignoring it. Feeling “ugly” in my own skin was not a good feeling, but I’m choosing to use this realization to make plans moving forward instead of regretting the time and choices made in quarantine. I want to feel better, so what changes can I make to do that?

(I know it’s not that easy for some people! However, I’ve made a lot of mindset shifts, especially around my body, that I’ve been using to guide myself toward workable action that not only affects my appearance, but my overall health. I’ve always viewed myself as a work-in-progress, in every sense of the word and in every facet of my being, but also acknowledge that I’ve done a lot of mental work and meditation to get to a point where I don’t hate my body simply because it doesn’t “look good,” whatever that means. It’s a tough road!)

At best, I’m hoping someone out there will read this and realize that they’re not alone! At worst… maybe I’ll read this post again in a few years and cringe at how superficial I’m being. Who knows!

Mini Blog 3/many, Classpass is Kicking My Ass

I first signed up for Classpass as a complement to my running. I loved running, and I still do, but training for a marathon all summer had me completely burnt out. I wanted to build my fitness back up but did not want to do it by pounding the pavement, especially as the cold winter months got closer.

The first “class” I actually went to was gym time at a women’s gym near my apartment. At that point, I hadn’t been to the gym in a long time, so I was a little lost about what to do – treadmill? lift weights? – but the biggest takeaway was that I was able to go to the gym and move my body around at all, which made me feel great after a long break from exercise.

After that, I used my generous trial period credit allowance to try all different types of classes to see what would stick. I had loved boxing when I was in college and took full advantage of different classes at several local boxing gyms. I tried out a pilates reformer and aerial yoga, both for the first time, and had never felt so out of my element in my life. I discovered a new love for Barry’s Bootcamp and rowing as well as affirmed my ongoing dislike of cycling classes. I even twirled so many times at a jazz dance class that I got dizzy and wanted to barf!

I’ve contemplated cancelling it in favor of taking up running and other outdoor activities again, especially as the weather gets warmer and warmer, but part of me has gotten used to the variety available on the app. So far, it’s been a great complement to my running, and I’ve noticed the benefits of cross training now more than ever.

All this to say – if anyone wants a free 2-week trial to Classpass, hit me up!

Mini Blog 3/many, In Defense of the Full Album

Since listening to the podcast Dissect, I’ve been making a greater effort to listen to new albums in their entirety.

The rise of MP3 players and music streaming apps have made it very easy to pick and choose which tracks to listen to. In my experience, this eventually turns into, “Oh, I like that artist! I mean, I know their singles! I’ve never actually tried listening to anything else!” This is not necessarily a bad thing – if an artist releases a new single, then chances are it’s a good song that they’re proud of, right? – but it definitely makes it easy to forget that they’ve worked hard on so many more songs. In many cases, artists work hard to make cohesive albums as a singular work of art (as Dissect taught me!), so I’ve recently come to feel that I should consume music the way that the artist intended.

This was especially apparent when I started going to more concerts where I only knew one or two songs – songs that I really liked, sure, but did I like that one song enough to drop money on a concert ticket and clear my entire night to see it live for four minutes? (Honestly, it varies.)

I’m definitely still a long way from the days of listening to CDs on my CD player – make sure you don’t tip it over or it might scratch the disc! – but I definitely like having more variety in my music listening!