What’s Up Buttercup?

Heya!  I know I’ve been gone a while but I’m still alive and still dancing.

I guess I just don’t feel like I have all that much to share lately.  There is no definite competition on the horizon and my lessons are pleasant and fun but I still feel like I have to be in better cardiovascular shape and to have lost significantly more fat before I get on the competitive floor again.  Truly those are the things that are holding me back.

Thankfully Ivan is pleased with the quality of my dancing lately and even saying he’s excited to compete with me when the time comes.

I’ll be excited too.  It’s just that I want to have completely transformed and I want new dresses.  Period.  I just don’t want to compromise on this and I’m sick of being the fat one.

So, it’s really the same old same old.  Boring.  Who wants to hear about that?  It’s a broken record.

So I’ve not been writing.

On the up side, I feel like I’ve found my confidence in my dancing.  I believe I am a good dancer and can own it.  That’s a huge victory.  In fact, I was even shocked today in group class as I was asked to do the one and only demonstration in Jive.  Pretty cool to be recognized.

I’m still a little shy about it, and kind of try to hide and look at my fingernails between rounds of practice and stand to the sides or not in the front row.  I don’t feel 100% confident nor do I feel the need to pretend I’m a diva.  But there is some level of feeling like I’m somewhat competent at what I’m doing, even if there is still room for improvement.

Because, let’s face it, there’s always room for growth, with Ivan too.  But, for me, the deal is, the more confident I feel, the better I dance.  And being confident, for me, comes from practice, preparation, and the body-image stuff.  The smaller I am, the better I feel, the easier it is to move, the more I move, the better I can cope with the physical demands.  It all goes together – it’s kind of like which came first, the chicken or the egg.  All parts of me from the mental to the physical and emotional are interconnected and affect one another.  I can’t wait to feel so wonderful about how I look and have that reflect in my dancing.  I can’t wait to actually create a “look” to present on the competitive floor.  I can’t wait to really love my new dress and how it flatters me.

But all that’s old news.  Now it’s about being consistent, being as active as I can, and putting in the time and effort to drive the transformation.  It’s gonna take time.

Three interesting things of note have happened, though.  The first was Tony Meredith came into town and I was lucky enough to get a coaching with him.  He created a new Mambo routine for Ivan and I.

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The second thing is that on my last lesson Ivan and I had a grand old time just goofing around toward the end of the lesson.  I put on music I enjoy and he tried to whip me around like crazy, pretending like he was “Michael Malitowski.”  He tried to spin me all these directions and then he went to drag me, so I grabbed around his neck and he began to spin at the end of the drag.  And I don’t know why, but it just felt like the natural thing to do, so I lifted my legs up!  He spun me and I was completely off the floor.  I haven’t felt like that since I was probably 8 years old.  I was flying!  It was truly incredible and I can’t wait to see all the cool stuff we might be able to do when I’m lighter.  Because I’m strong under here!  And I can’t tell you what a phobia I’ve overcome with this because even when I was in high school and 80 pounds lighter, I was terrified of how heavy I was and convinced no guy could lift me.  I had to partner with this senior guy in the school musical and he even dropped me in one of the performances, proving me right in my mind!  So anyways, I can fly and the possibilities are exciting.

And the third thing is that I’ve been going to Orange Theory.  It’s great for me because it gets my cardio in, I’ve never burned less than 540 calories in a bout, and it keeps me interested so the time goes pretty quickly – much better than hopping on the stair machine for 45 minutes (which is tedious and boring and takes a lot of mental convincing to do).  And hey, I was pretty proud of myself when I first went because I was able to hang with the crowd.  Sure I might have had a higher heart rate, and maybe I wasn’t as fast as other people, but I was stronger and faster than others and I began to think, maybe I’m in better comparative shape than I thought.  There is no way 6 months ago I would have been able to perform this well.  It was also a pretty crappy reality check because my heart rate was so high (they track it throughout the workout).  I was working really hard, ergo, I am still fat, sick and out of shape.  But I was also thinking to myself during moments, “I am magnificent!” because I’m there, I’m sucking it up, I’m doing it, I’m pushing hard because that’s how things change.

And speaking of pushing hard, I had probably the most difficult and miserable hike of my life last weekend!  It was way too hot out, there were thick, icky swarms of gnats that plagued us from our first steps to our last steps,  and I’m fat, sick, and out of shape!  My heart rate was around 174 for most of the incline during the 3.4 miles.  I wanted to give up most of the time because it was so uncomfortable, and I made a pact with myself not to do that damn hike again until I’m under 200 pounds.  It is so much work to move my mass uphill and people just have no idea what it’s like for us fatties.  For example, my husband also tracked his workout and he burned 250 calories on the way up while I burned 3 times that amount, 750 calories.  Mostly it just makes me mad and that motivates me to keep working at it.  I made a pact with myself to be as active as I can this week and to get under 200 pounds once and for all.  I’ve been playing with the same 10 pounds for 2 months – stupid “social events” and “real life” – like Easter, family obligations.  I do great when I’m in my own little bubble during the week.  Weekends and any social obligations are much more difficult.  And my stupid body is so efficient if I give it any extra, it gloms onto it.

Anyways, I’m focused and fired up and while I was suffering on the peak I really concentrated on how awful it felt.  I wish sometimes I could bottle that misery up so any time I even want to think about going off plan I can take a little sip of it and instantly I’ll know what choice I really want to make.  I guess the next best thing is to go on miserable hikes and do horrendous workouts that feel awful so I am constantly reminded of why I want to change.  For the moment it is fresh in my mind.

So that’s the deal folks.  I’m still struggling with being consistent but I’m also still plugging along, I haven’t given up or given in, I’m resolved to be as active as necessary, and I’m gunning for the 199 pound mark in the next 3 weeks.

Oh, and I was sad to hear that my ballet class on Mondays will be cancelled.  I have to find a substitute activity and I’m thinking yoga.  But I’ll miss the ballet – the people, the exercises, the balance and leg strength it’s given me.  I will be sad to lose the progress but I don’t think there is another class nearby.  Yoga seems like the next best thing, maybe it will be better, who knows.

So now you are all caught up!

Until next time, Stef

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Results

First thing Saturday morning was the time I’d decided upon. My feet shuffled over tan stone tiles as bright sunshine lit every corner of the bathroom. I gently tapped the glass rectangle to awaken the machine and stepped up. The grey numbers flashed once to lock in my weight measurement for the week.
 
My throat tightened and my vision blurred as fat liquid drops fell downward. This was not the result I wanted.
 
Emotionally I was wrecked….part of why I knew it would be prudent to only weigh myself periodically because mentally I can only take so much discouragement. I’m telling you, eating on the plan is easy. It’s the emotions that come up, it’s my strong attachment to how I want my results to look, and it’s the negative patterns of thinking, those are the hard parts. I will say that perhaps a few months ago the plan and food part would have been more of a struggle. I was pretty much convinced I was just not a person who could be disciplined around food. But I’ve discovered that’s not true. At this point it’s actually becoming more about disciplining my thoughts than anything else.
 
So in this state I did the best thing I could think of which was to reach out for support. I emailed Chelle, my nutritionist because she’s made it clear she’s available to me since I’m a client on the personalized meal plan. She only takes on like 3 clients with personalized plans at a time because she puts so much time and energy into them. I consider myself extremely blessed to be one such client because having Chelle’s expertise and perspective is making all the difference in helping me to finally succeed at this battle of the bulge I’ve been waging (and losing) for as long as I can remember.
 
 
Hi Chelle,
I just wanted to reach out because I’m kinda having a tough day. I weighed myself today and had a loss of 1.8 pounds for the week.
 
I just feel….disappointed.
 
I logically know this is just about on target of a slow weight loss of 2 pounds weekly. I am just really struggling with eating so much food, feeling so full, and the weight loss being so slow. I am so sick of being fat, really I am, and it is just so sucky to be so big. I know, logically, that I’m doing the right things, but I want more. Emotionally, I’m a mess. Immediately my mind goes to what else can I be doing?
 
I do think adding one more weight training session a week is a reasonable thing to do…I only go twice weekly for a mere 30 minutes each session. I understand I burn the most calories while at rest and that re-compositioning my body to have more lean tissue which is more metabolically active is a good thing.
 
I am just feeling like I’m wading through a swamp of muck up to my chest. I’m making progress, yes, and it is slow going. I’m so hungry for those moments that are not happening just yet – when my clothes fall off, when it is finally easier to dance, when everything isn’t so hard, when I wake up and look in the mirror which is right by my bed and actually like what I see and am not horrified and depressed by it. I am so so so sick of being so large and I just want this off.
 
I’m especially struggling because my competition is so soon and I really look pretty much the same as the last time I danced. I am sad by this lack of results and am trying to find a way to still be confident and happy when I dance while inside I feel exactly the opposite. I’m so embarrassed to be this way. I don’t feel proud of where I am.
 
I promise I’m still eating on my plan. I have every intention of following through and will be going to to the store today and cooking tomorrow for the upcoming week. This isn’t going to be some excuse to derail me, I just feel like crap about it. Looking at about 8 pounds in an entire month, while staring down the barrel of obesity, and 98 pounds to get off, means it will take 3 months to even get of 10% of what I weigh now and I find that incredibly depressing.
 
I have a motto I learned, that results are often harsh but always fair. Well, this week I made modest progress. And…I don’t understand why my body which has so much extra fuel isn’t dropping pounds like crazy especially since we are feeding it properly and especially since I’m so active, yesterday notwithstanding. I can feel this fit muscular girl inside me and it just sucks so bad to be wearing the fat suit on top of her. How come other people can drop 6 or 10 or 12 pounds in a week that are my size? Why doesn’t my body respond like this?
 
I just need some help to shift out of this sucky place because I have a dance comp in a little over a week and a half and I need to be in my RockStar space by then…meaning I realize outwardly not a lot will probably change from now to then but internally I want to feel confident, strong, proud, and happy.
 
Any words of advice or encouragement are welcome.
 
-Stef
 
Chelle got right back to me:
 
I know it’s frustrating, I know it’s discouraging, but it’s temporary. There will be weeks when you drop larger numbers, weeks when you don’t. It’s not an indication of failure. It’s just part of the process. And yes, it sucks. I’m sorry. I know how hard it is. I think adding a weight day is a good, productive step. If you can, add two. If you can, make them 45-60 min instead of 30. If you can. And no extra cardio. Your body is still adjusting to the new food routines… you’re in flux, that’s normal. Stay mentally in the game, and maintain your course. Let’s see what the scale says next week… and the week after. I think you’ll see larger changes over the next couple weeks as your body begins to conform to your will.
 
 Hang in and hang on. You are doing great! You’re making progress, no matter what the scale says. And…. fyi… your weight loss this week is awesome!!!!! You are to be commended, not beaten up. Appreciate what you accomplished and know that I’m really, really proud of you.
 
If there is one thing I’ve learned it is that taking proactive action can be very empowering. So I resolved to workout on my own at the gym that afternoon and that is what I did. It helped somewhat, but I was still processing everything. And Chelle cares enough about me that she followed up with me a few days later.
 
How are you feeling today? Where’s your head at?
 
I replied:
 
Hi Chelle,
 
How am I doing? I’d say neutral. I’m not in a torrent of self-pity and despair but I’m not 100% carefree and happy either. Basically, I’m in this and committed and that is the most important thing. I’m doing what I need to do. I’m adhering to the plan and eating according to the plan. I actually enjoy the cooking and food prep. I enjoy eating the food. And the cooking/prep is relaxing in a way and I’m much more active physically just doing that. I laugh because I bought puzzles thinking I’d have to distract myself in the evenings, but it turns out my evenings are full of prep and I like it. I’m feeling more productive and organized in other areas of my life as well and this is a nice feeling. I am doing well with the schedule, the regularity, the consistency. I haven’t had that, especially around food, for a long, long time.
 
But the deal is, the moment I see myself in the mirror, the moment I touch my gargantuan fat arms, or look down and see my belly, it just bums me out so bad. I am SO big! I know I’ve been big for a long while so why is it bothering me so much now? Well because I had resigned to it. I put up the white flag and put on the blinders and gave in just thinking that I will always be fat. But now I’m fighting. I’m committed and taking the proper steps and I am only two weeks in. I look the same and what do you expect after two measly weeks? And it’s still painful just the same to see my body. I do not like what I see. Not at all.
 
It is a mental minefield. Like, I tell myself to notice how I feel, that jumping in ballet is easier, that my clothes are a bit looser yada yada yada. I do notice these things and at the same time it gives me very little joy. There is a disconnect about feeling good and happy about these positives. Because at the same time I objectively acknowledge and observe small baby steps of progress, I also see how I am two to three times larger than the other people in the class. And it is like Bam! Right in my face. Or I’ll see a fit, toned lady at the gym and I’m instantly reminded that I am NOT like her, that I look un-feminine, un-attractive, in my ratty gym clothes, that I don’t 100% believe I could ever really have a body like that or ever be that comfortable wearing a sports bra and bike shorts. Or I feel how I can’t properly jump or step my legs in from downward dog in yoga because my belly is in the way. It sucks.
 
I kind of have to walk around in the gym and think, “Fuck you. You don’t know me. You don’t know what I can do. You don’t know who I am.” And mentally shield myself. I don’t feel like I belong, that yes, on the inside where it is invisible I’m fit, I’m a clean eater, I’m a dancer and athlete, I do 70 pound deadlifts, but the outside is telling a very different story and when people see me they just see a fat person (and all the judgements that go along with that like being a slob and lazy, etc.), if they notice me at all, and it is painful, this incongruence. When I picture myself my mind while doing active things I sometimes feel strong, poised, athletic, but it doesn’t match the reflection in the mirror.
 
There is nothing for it. I know that results will change how I feel about myself but they are delayed. What I do today will show up in a week and even then they are slow and minor changes and I wish the process were faster and more dramatic but it isn’t. I have to just accept the process because it ain’t going to change and I’m still angry about that a little bit. It’s unreasonable, of me but there you go. I’m resisting how the process looks. I wish it looked different. Because I see how hot my Samba could be when I’m thinner. I see how I could do this pot stir step but right now I’m too heavy and my legs can’t hold myself up….and we’re talking a year to see that, or will I ever see that? Sigh.
 
Bottom line is I’m gonna feel what I’m gonna feel but the tail isn’t going to wag the dog this time – Whatever I feel, I’m sticking to the plan. I’ll be honest. I still don’t entirely trust it. I’m still leery about feeling full and 2000 calories….and that brings up feelings of unease about is this going to work for weight loss because my paradigm, my previous experiences with diets/weight loss involved being hungry and it being hard. But I’ve decided to come from a place of surrender and committment so I’m going along with it. I’m acquiescing to the expert on nutrition because she knows more than I do and I what I’ve tried doesn’t work. This is the agreement I made with myself, and implicitly with you because what is the point of having a plan if I don’t follow it to the best of my ability? So I’m on it like no kidding and I do trust that you will tweak it if/when I hit a plateau,and that gives me some peace of mind, though I am fearful/angry about the idea of going two to three weeks without weight loss to be in a true plateau because again, I have a thought about being so big and having so much fat storage fuel so why wouldn’t my stupid body use it…not seeing any progress and doing everything right will be hard for me to swallow for a two to three-week period. Heck, it was hard for me to swallow “only” losing the 1.8 pounds this past week. But then I say at least there was movement and at least it was in the right direction and at least I didn’t gain and at least I know that I am in integrity and that is important to me because then regardless of the results I will know I did everything I could and won’t beat myself up about it even if I am disappointed.
 
Again, it is not the prep or the actual “doing” the plan. It’s the thoughts I have about it. It’s the feeling that I can’t bear to be this big and fat one more second but there is no way out of that except through time and consistency. It’s the disgust with having handfuls, entire handfuls, of rolls of fat on my back just below my shoulder blades and feeling my bones maybe 6 inches underneath it all and wondering what is it going to take for this to be gone?
 
So that is where I am mentally. I don’t feel like a RockStar. The feelings are not coming yet. Like I can acknowledge that I’ve been really disciplined with my eating plan and doing a beautiful job, and I just have no positive feelings that bubble up with this acknowledgement. But the good thing is that I’m pretty insightful and self-reflective and I am aware enough to know I do not need to go chasing the feelings…that they will eventually come if I keep doing the right things, making the good choices. I’m just not in the place right now where I feel good about it all. Like the one blog post I wrote a bit ago when I was working out like a fiend, setting goals for myself and hitting them, and objectively I could say I should totally feel awesome about myself, what I accomplished, that I set my mind to something and followed through…but the feelings just weren’t there.
 
Well, probably a way, way longer answer to your question! LOL. I’m a writer, that’s for sure, and it helps me process through everything to write it all out. To summarize, I’m on target and in integrity. I don’t yet experience positive feelings naturally arising as a result of this. I am focused on how huge I am which I realize isn’t productive or helpful but it’s where I am. Regardless of how I feel, I’m committed. I’m in resistance to how the process looks which is futile and causes me to suffer mentally and that’s what I’m doing that right now anyways. And I pretty much hate my body and I definitely hate being so big and fat. I’m being all stubborn and Taurus-y and not being satisfied with what is, and digging my heels in about not being satisfied until I have created substantial change….which has the positive benefit of giving me laser focus on my goals and what I want! And I’m willing to shift around all this. At least I know I am at choice around how I look at things, even if I’m choosing the path of suffering for now.
 
Time for bed! Goodnight! -Stef
 
I wondered what Chelle would have to say after all that! I’ve been mulling over her reply, the compassion and wisdom she shared with me all day:
 
Here’s the deal – just like you said, you’ve got the “stuff” under control – you’re doing the food, the workouts, the dancing – you’re on track and right where you should be. The mental battle is just that – it’s a freaking battle and it’s brutal. Some days you’re winning, some days you’re a bloody body on the battlefield. As difficult as the weight loss journey is, the hardest part is the war against your own mind. I wish I could tell you that once you hit your goal weight and size, your mind will celebrate. It won’t. I don’t say this to take you lower, I say this to forewarn you and to arm you for the battle that is still to come. You are incredibly intuitive and you know your own mind – this is a HUGE benefit, though I’m sure sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. Thinking everything to death gets to you, I’ve been there. But the battles you’re fighting now are preparing you for the ones still ahead.
 
So when you look at the scale and get angry over a 1.8 lb loss – you tell yourself that it’s 1.8 pounds of fat that you will never, ever, ever see again. When your clothes feel a tad looser and you’re hurt that they’re not falling off yet, you tell yourself that they will never, ever, ever fit again. When you go to bed without hunger pains and you’re disappointed that you didn’t do enough to reach your goal, you tell yourself that you will never, ever, ever disrespect and starve your body again. When you fear that the process is flawed, that you will plateau, that you won’t get to the destination, that you’re not good enough – working hard enough, that you will never be the RockStar I see, you tell that fat girl in your head to fuck the hell off. We are evicting her.
 
You are not good enough – YOU’RE INCREDIBLE
You are working hard enough – YOU’RE MAKING AMAZING PROGRESS
You are going to reach your goal – YOU’RE CLOSER EVERY SINGLE DAY
 
Every step you take, every rep in the gym, every sip, every bite – you are closer to your goal. The battle in your body to change is being won. The battle in your head is harder, and I know… I KNOW you’re going to triumph in that, too. Hopefully it won’t take you as long to kick the fat girl out of your head as it did me 😉
 
You are a RockStar. Period. I believe in you absolutely. There’s no part of this process that’s easy – but you’re not afraid to work hard – physically, emotionally, mentally. You’re ahead of the game, and you’re going to stay there. Hitting your goal weight and size – no worries there. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a done deal, it’s simply a matter of time. Seeing that transformation in the mirror – that’s the struggle you’re really fighting. And you’re going to win it.
 
There is no other option.
 
😉
Chelle
 
Awesome, right? That I have such an amazing partner in this, someone who forged her own path though the wilderness called weight loss, who triumphed, who understands the process and who is someone I look up to, admire, respect, someone who is mentoring me, is incredible. She’s so encouraging and authentic and she believes in me.
 
But there was one sentence in her reply that shook me up: When you go to bed without hunger pains and you’re disappointed that you didn’t do enough to reach your goal, you tell yourself that you will never, ever, ever disrespect and starve your body again.
 
It brought up strong emotions and I’m still grappling with. Especially the idea of starvation/restriction versus overstuffing/being “too much.” You see, my experiences of successfully losing 60 pounds at the age of 12 when I did Nutrisystem involved feeling extremely hungry, so much so that I remember I snuck uncooked pasta to eat out of the pantry. And the weight loss was accompanied with lots of praise and attention…for feeling like I was starving myself. And then I beat myself up for eating that pasta because if I hadn’t cheated with that I might have produced a better result sooner.
 
This sentence messes with my paradigm of the world that it is impossible to enjoy my “diet” and not be restricting and still lose weight. It screws with my concept that to drop pounds successfully requires strict, unforgiving regimentation and self-denial. It blows my idea to bits that there is no way to be at peace with my body because I’ve always experienced it as something to be overcome, something that needed fixing, something that was flawed beyond repair. I’ve always experienced it, and because I identify myself so much with/as my body, by extension, I experienced myself as unworthy, “less than” others, because my body wasn’t beautiful, because I wasn’t beautiful.
 
My internal pendulum swings wildly from feeling like I am not enough, not worthy, and I should be restricting my intake to feeling like I am too much, that I’ve always had a lot of strong emotions and a big personality but I learned to tone it down because it was uncomfortable for other people, that I couldn’t fully be myself because it was “too much” and unacceptable and I wished I were different. And so I buried myself under a mountain of adipose, simultaneously becoming invisible in some ways and impossible not to notice in others. It’s a silent scream, this body of mine, broadcasting my despair, my need to stuff things down my throat so that my Voice is silenced, my needs are blunted, so that I’m not a needy person who is “too much.”
 
And here you are telling me that I’m doing enough. That I don’t have to be hungry. That I can enjoy the process. That I should respect this fatty lump of muscle and bones that is my body.  It’s a mindbender.
 
Well, the good news is that this was actually my experience from last week.  I continued to be committed and I stuck with it and I have some exciting progress to report….on my next blog post.  This one is already way too long!!  Stay tuned.  People’s Choice is 4 days away and I’m rocking and rolling like never before.

200th Post: This Is My Place

The lights were off but it was mid morning so sunlight illuminated the wooden floor in thick yellow shafts through blinds. It was warm, but not hot and my task was to bend at the knees, into that position you see kids doing at roller skating rinks with their butts folded down to rest near their ankles. A position in which you could skate under your friend’s legs if you wanted. Compact. Small. Like a tight little ball of human being.

I, however, was unable to do this. Not ever in the roller skating rink as a kid nor now, at the yoga class. While everyone around me sunk two feet below my head, I continued to hover like a person not wanting to fully sit down on a public toilet.

Was I doing this right? Was there something else I should be doing? My Achilles tendon has always been tight and it was blocking me from going any further toward the earth. I was frustrated. I was hot and sweating and it was hard to hover. And I was wishing I could be in a different place with my body. I was feeling the want, the lack, the utter dissatisfaction with how I was in that moment.

I spoke up, asking the Yoga instructor, “What should I do here? I can’t seem to go any lower.”

“That is your place,” he wisely replied.

It didn’t seem like a proper answer. I didn’t like that answer. I wanted to hear a solution, a modification…something that would get me to where everyone else seemed to so easily be. But I wasn’t, and there wasn’t anything for it. I was where I was, but still I rebelled against it.

“But isn’t there something I could do?” I begged.

“That is your place,” he repeated.

And so it is in every moment, isn’t it? We are where we are, how we are, and there is nothing for it but to be at peace with what is…or not.

In that moment in that yoga class, I was not at peace with my place. I was not open to expanding my heart, being present to the joy that was available, and fulling inhabiting my body. No, my mind was racing – critiquing my sub-par performance, telling me that I should be more, better, different, and completely wound in knots over my limitation.

Never mind the fact that I hadn’t done yoga in years and had less than even 4 months total experience. Never mind that this was my third class back. I had expectations for myself and I was not living up to them.

I lived most of my life from this same space of not being enough, of feeling like I was always falling short, of comparison and lack.

Especially when it came to dancing. From having the “wrong body type” to never having my leg high enough at the barre, to struggling with double turns, to having no plie’ nor ability to jump and fly. Through the lens of dancing my faults and imperfections were magnified. I could never see any of my grace or fluidity. I could never see the beauty I did bring, however imperfect it may be, because my eyes were clouded by the thick fog of wishing I were someone different from me. It was especially cruel because at my heart I am a dancer. I couldn’t admit it to myself back then, it was so buried. I was dancing and didn’t consider myself a “real” dancer! I was someone who “did” ballet, not a ballerina. I “did” jazz, but wasn’t a bona fide jazz dancer. I did it for exercise. I did it because I didn’t play sports. But I didn’t do it because I was actually a dancer – the title was to lofty for the likes of me.

What a lie. How could I come to see myself in this way? I’m not entirely sure. All I know is that I loved ballerinas ever since I can remember and would stare endlessly at the one adorning my bedroom wall made of foam and linen with her pink toe shoes and a real piece of tulle for her tutu, her arms up in fifth position, her brown yarn hair fashioned in a bun atop her head. I wanted to be her. So badly. And I so wasn’t.

It is funny how life works though. You guys who’ve read the blog know the story – I quit dancing after high school because I wasn’t going to be a professional dancer and so what was the point of continuing? I got my degrees, I “grew up,” I got married, I ballooned. Although I always struggled with my weight, I took it to a new level of obesity after I stopped doing things I loved, like dancing, getting up to over 300 pounds.

And one day, I started dancing again.

This time it looked different. I’d never really been aware of ballroom dancing but DWTS was a big hit by this point and what the instructor teaching out of my gym was doing looked a hell of a lot more entertaining than the stupid treadmill. I thought I’d give it a try.

Where ballet never felt quite right, like a tuning fork of the right pitch, ballroom harmonized with my core. From its emotionality to the partnership involved, no other form of dance has ever suited me more. And though I’m still not satisfied with where I am in my dancing, physical appearance, expression, and connection, I am closer to than I was last week, last month, last year. I’m growing and changing. I’m dancing.

Interestingly, all the angst and imperfection and pressure I used to feel in dance class is no longer present in my weekly ballet and yoga classes (I’ve been going to yoga for 3 weeks now). No, in those classes I am joyful. I am where I am and it is what it is and I can totally laugh at myself. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to progress, improve my balance, strength, and flexibility, but it is okay to be where I am. It is somehow okay that my leg can’t get higher than 45 degrees, that I fall out of my turns, that I can’t entirely hold my turn out, that I can’t do a plank for longer than 30 seconds (yet!) or jump in properly from downward dog, that I fall short of what’s being asked for in so many ways. It’s totally okay and funny and joyful where before it would be all self-loathing and punishment. I know that next week or next month I might notice some slight improvement and it is enough. It’s enough and it is wonderful and I actually banged out a double pirouette this week, can you believe it! I am happy with my place in these experiences. I am open-hearted and alive to the joy of just being present in my body.

But in ballroom, I am not entirely happy with my place. I feel this pressure inside because I care about it so deeply. I watch videos of ballroom dancers on YouTube or television and this little whisper in my heart urges me on, believing, profoundly believing, beyond all sense or reason or the appearance of things at the moment, that I have some of Yulia or Joanna or Karina or Anna in me – that I have within my spirit and body and mind the makings of a champion. No, I’m not talking about being a professional or anything like that, but I am saying that I see something in them that I must have in me. Like I believe I could move people like they do through dancing. I will most certainly never be as technically perfect or polished as their dancing may be, but I can dance with my heart, and it just might get to a place polished enough, and I can be in a body healthy enough, that people can hear the message I’m sending. To be honest I think many can see it now, and I think of how much more powerful it will be when I am stronger, fitter, healthier, more confident, especially in light of the very broken place I’ve come from. I’m excited for that possibility. In fact, I have even had brief moments of being in a place where I am happy with my place. Like today on my lesson, my first stab at our Cha Cha routine was solid. And in our Samba routine, I can see that when I’m thinner it is going to be sexy hot!

So my mission for the next three competitions is to be satisfied with my place. To be as open-hearted and present and bold/fearless as possible, knowing that I’ve not “arrived” anywhere (nor will I ever), but that I am solidly on my journey…to a new body, to a new dancer, however much or however little it appears I have changed from the outside looking in, from the inside looking out, I will center myself in the knowingness that I am in my place. This is my place. And all there is for me to do is to be at peace with it…or not 🙂

But, well, I’m declaring here that I will be at peace with my place, especially on the days I compete. I will laugh in the face of my fallibility and imperfections. I will dance with all the energy, technique, power, expression, and connection I can muster. It will be what it is as it is in the moment. All I can do is decide to leave every ounce of it on the dance floor, to not hold anything back. So that is what I’m deciding and I will refuse to be anything but joyful while doing it.

So here we are, on my 200th blog post, can you believe it? There seems to be something etherial about the number 200 for me right now – from this 200th blog post, and I just got a WordPress badge for getting 200 likes, to being only 2 away from having 200 followers on Facebook, to being closer to 200 pounds than I’ve been in years….it seems like a big deal.

So I looked it up and here’s what I found:

Angel Number 200 is a message from your angels that your devotion, faith and trust has led you to a ‘knowing’ that you are in-line with your life purpose and soul mission. Number 200 is a message of ‘Divine Timing’. Trust the Universe is working behind the scenes, and certain factors need to fall into place before desired results can come to full fruition. Things are happening behind the scenes that will prove to be of great advantage to you in the near future. Even though you may not be experiencing these opportunities just yet, believe that they are on their way into your life right now. Stay peaceful, positive and patient in the interim. Have faith and trust in the Divine and listen to your intuition, always. At this point in time you are where you are meant to be.

Uncanny. Sounds about right, doesn’t it? In other words, be happy with your place. This is your place. Be in your place, peacefully, and know that you will soon be in your next place.

Guess that Yogi had it right.

This is my place. Thank you for meeting me here. I am grateful.