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Body image and sustainable habits

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I'm starting to explore burlesque. I took my second class over the weekend. I knew it would be fun and challenging, but what I didn't know (or expect) is having a little body image meltdown.
As most people who know me know, I'm a nudist. I'll take my clothes off whenever I can (assuming it's in an appropriate venue). Being a nudist is one of the primary things that has helped me accept the body I have and work towards honoring my body and self love and all that good stuff each and every one of us deserves.
I'm still not at the point where I can say I love myself, but I can say that over the years I don't intensely hate myself and I've actually got a reasonably good relationship with myself...in other words, if I were any other person, chances are I'd get along reasonably well with myself, if that makes sense.
So when I signed up for this second burlesque workshop I knew we would be taking off at least some of our clothes. I excitedly knit up some cute little pasties, bought a feather boa and gloves and looked at heels (which I didn't buy...couldn't find any with a low heel that I loved). I was unbelievably excited for the class-- I didn't sleep at all the night before in part because I was so excited, but also because I'm still having abdominal pain (you'll all be happy to know I finally made a doctor appointment, but it isn't til April 1).
Anyways, class was going spectacularly-- I was having a terrific time and then we started the stripping part of the routine--we slowly, sassily pulled down whatever bottoms we were wearing to reveal our cute underwear. I briefly glanced at my backside in the full-length studio mirrors. I have to admit that I haven't had the opportunity to look at my back side in a full-length mirror in quite some time. I was rather surprised and unhappy looking in the mirror. I have the backside of a fat 37-year-old woman (sarcastic "gasp")! There's only one other woman in the class who is over a size 18 as far as I can tell (and most would probably fit more in the 6-12 category). I didn't totally lose it-- I didn't lock myself in the bathroom and cry over the fact that I am a fat 37-year-old woman. I kept dancing, laughing, and having a good time even though I was also freaked out by what I saw in the mirror.
It's taken me a few days to process even a fraction of that experience. Don't get me wrong: it was a good experience--it was--is-- a growing experience. I clearly need to continue exploring burlesque so I can become more comfortable with my body (does anyone else find it odd I'm more comfortable completely nude than half nude?!).
I've been reading an amazing blog called Dances with Fat-- I highly recommend it. This woman is so inspiring to me. She has tremendous physical strength, flexibility, and stamina... and she is truly plus size (which in my book is over a size 14)-- quite possibly a size 22 or 24. I want to be like her-- and I think being like her is not only attainable (even if I can't do the splits or lift my leg up to my head-- ever--omg--I couldn't do those things when I was 4), but it's also sustainable.
When I lost all that weight a couple years ago, I was pretty happy about it; I thought that it could be sustainable. Indeed, it could've been sustainable IF I hadn't had some pretty drastic life changes. Sustainability is an important question I've been asking myself lately. What changes can I make that are sustainable, meaning I can do them for the rest of my life? Drinking more water and eating at least one serving of veggies at lunch are sustainable habits for me. Belly dancing at least once a week is definitely a sustainable habit. Seeing a personal trainer and going to the gym every week isn't sustainable.
The things that I admire about Ragen (author of Dances with Fat) are primarily her strength and flexibility (the woman can benchpress something like 200lbs). Since those are the attributes I most admire, those are the things I need to focus on. When I was seeing my personal trainer I got to the point where I could easily zip through 40 pushups. I did pushups daily before work. So my plan is to work up to thirty push ups a day. I'll start with knee pushups if my knees will take it. We'll start with ten pushups and see how that works and then add to them. Once I can ascertain if doing pushups is indeed as sustainable as I think it could be, then we'll add some flexibility exercise into the mix; I'm thinking start with one sun salutation flow and then adding more if that is sustainable. The beauty of starting with push ups and later adding the sun salutations is that it takes up very little room ( a five foot space) so I can do it pretty much anywhere, and neither uses any more equipment than my own body weight. I'm going to give the push ups a try as soon as I'm done here to see if my body can handle this; like I said, I'm still having abdominal issues and if there is a problem I'm going to have to be more gentle until the doctor rules out things like my gall bladder and spleen.
So that's my current plan. If things go the way I want them to there will be other benefits like feeling okay with stripping down to cute underwear and looking at my arms and seeing how strong they are...not to mention having the stamina and flexibility to do really well in both belly dancing and burlesque.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • MAMADEE84117
    Laurie you are amazing and continue to inspire me! I can see how full nudity is more comfortable or relaxing!. my personal issue with burlesque would be that I would be drawing attention to specific parts of my body, such as hey look at just this left calf.. and I would be thinking yes.. this large left calf of mine.. so drawing attention to your backside (as lovely as it is *wink* ) i can see how it would be challenging.. i luv you ! you are amazing thanks for sharing your blog!
    *shimmy on*
    3198 days ago
    That is wonderful! Burlesque and belly dancing, I've found are awesome ways to feel good about yourself. =] I hope you continue them!

    And good luck with the pushup goal. =]
    3237 days ago
    Update: I did the ten pushups last night...my arms definitely didn't have a problem with it (yay!). However, because of the type of pain in my abs (often it's a very tight feeling), I wasn't entirely sure how engaged they were in the process so I may just have to stick with ten pushups until I know for sure what's up in that part of my body.
    3237 days ago
    I also love to be naked. I dont consider myself a nudest, but I do love to feel free! My dance studio is trying to bring burlesque in. How exciting for you!!!

    I am proud of you for continuing through class and enjoying it!!
    3237 days ago
    Hello Laurie!

    Great blog! I found it very interesting that it was more difficult for you to be half naked, than it is for you to be completely naked... but I understand. I think that in some ways, being nude is very freeing, and can see how burlesque would feel a bit different. But one thing I know is that you have the strength of character to take what you can out of this experience, and learn to enjoy the exercise in it. I think you're doing an incredible job of learning to love yourself, and think this will add a new dimension to that love! I also love your pushups goal, and think that you've found a wonderful role model.

    Keep up the great work!

    3237 days ago
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