On the Level

I know that Body dysmorphic disorder is a real thing for many people.

I don’t have it.

But I have something like it…in reverse.

Recently, I had my blood work done and though all the numbers were great, I have high cholesterol. It’s been creeping up over the past decade, but in general, it doesn’t run in my family and I eat a diet that they usually give people to lower their numbers. I do eat sugar even though my sugar numbers were looking good in my lab work. But I am overweight. Slightly chubby. Always have been. Perhaps a little heavier than I used to be.

My docs wanted me to go on medication for the cholesterol. I said no. I know that it is because I have not had a lot of movement in my life this past year. Being able to work from home, there were days I never went outside. My apartment isn’t big, so mathematically speaking, I didn’t get a lot of activity.

When I saw the high numbers, I agreed with the docs that I would start walking and working out regularly and get retested.

So a-walking I went.

Every day. Almost. But pretty consistently. Most days, I was logging 10,000 steps. But because of the lack of movement from this past year, I also had some back issues from my WFH set up. Boy, it was a perfect storm of feeling like my body wasn’t working with me.

But I persevered through the PT exercises and kept at the walking.

I haven’t been retested yet, but I am hoping that the numbers will be different when I do.

In the process, I have started to lose inches and a little bit of weight.

Shaka noticed it first. Then my friend, Christia noticed it when she saw me. A co-worker mentioned that she had noticed it on our last zoom call.

I…didn’t notice.

In fact, when I looked in the mirror, all I saw was how far I still had to go to look like I thought I currently looked!!!

I was walking with Faye and telling her about this. She laughed and said that it must be a great place to be. She knew too many people who actually had body dysmorphic disorder and that it’s a really dark mindset to have. I told her that my mindset was troubling too. I blamed the way I looked on the dryer shrinking my clothes or someone not knowing the right angle when photographing me. Even selfies I blamed on the angle or the lighting, etc.

It was disturbing to not be aware that I had gotten so large.

How had I missed this? I wasn’t leveling with myself.

The brain is a funny mistress. She will convince you of whatever you want her to.

The other day, I actually thought I looked thinner and was kind of afraid to ask Shaka in case it’s my brain rewiring how I see things.

I didn’t ask him.

Out of the blue he mentioned that he noticed it.

I am so far from where I want to be. But at the moment, the actual reward isn’t being thinner because that wasn’t the goal. It’s to get my muscles back in action and to be healthy.

Mads and ST8 asked if I wanted to join them on one of their walks in the hills. I was like, YEAH, cuz I knew I would be able to handle it better than say, 5 months ago.

Um…so word to the wise…hills are different than flat ground!

It didn’t matter how much I had been walking prior to this, cuz if you aren’t adding in levels, you will plateau pretty quickly.

I felt like a 400 pound man trying to lug my limbs up their hills. Mads said, “We can walk slower. Take your time.” And we did, but I was huffing and puffing and they weren’t breaking a sweat or a hitch in their breathing. ST8 does this walk daily. My fitbit counted it as 45 flights of stairs. Mads asked, “how many flights do you normally do in a day?”

“4”, I wheezed.

She giggled. I would have joined her, but I needed to focus on the new pains in my legs. Oh and to keep breathing.

Faye walks this kind of hilly climb daily as well. When she and I went walking (on flattish ground), I knew that hills or…levels, were going to be the next hurdle for me.

Then my next round of treatments for the bladder kancer happened.

The first session was perfect. No pain with the catheter and minimal pain after.

The second and third week, however, oof. I mean, I am barely able to leave the house from the pain at the moment.

All I am dreaming about now, is the walks.

The main thing I am coming to terms with is that every day is a new chance to work on improvement.

Or just to take a rest when I need to. To stay aware of what my body is really doing. I thought I was getting arthritis at some point last year, but it turns out…now that I have been working out more, I think it was just my muscles pretending we weren’t on speaking terms.

I have introduced my brain and my body back together. It’s not like they are getting along, but they at least say hi to each other.

Once the pain from this round of treatments subsides, I will be out there again in the gorgeous LA spring air, smelling the night blooming jasmine and feeling the strength come back to my limbs. And I will try and get the courage to attack those levels…er hills.

I am heavier and older than I used to be. But I am definitely more content.

I think Faye is right. It is a much happier place to be thinking I look good than bad.

But it has to come with a conscious thought and not delusion. Leveling out my perceptions and the realities has been a welcome change.

And that is an incline I am finally ready for.

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