Reflecting on Progress
, Words by Kiana Duncan
As I come close to a notable anniversary taking care of my body, I thought this would be a good time to reflect.
There are many things in life where waving the victory flag too soon can be not only humiliating, but a massive letdown to ourselves. College acceptances. Relationships. Waiting for food in the microwave.
But not self-care. That’s what I consider all of this. The body-positive Instagram posts, going to the gym after a long day and picking up vegetables instead of cake. It’s not “dieting.” It’s just me taking care of myself.
I find myself trying to think about the differences between all my other short-lived trips to the gym and where I’m at now. How is it different? Why is this sticking, where other times I’d go for two weeks at most, get frustrated and slip back into my old ways again?
As some of you know, I was a vegetarian transitioning to a vegan diet, but during the transition, I chose a week to simply go with the flow and avoid meat while hanging out with my grandparents.
I was shocked how much of a transition it was. I’d packed my protein bars, running shorts and athletic shoes. I was ready to adjust. But somehow, at every meal, there was always something to remind me of another bad habit I’d gotten rid of or how far I’d come.
I cringed at using plastic bags. Ice cream upset my stomach. I ate my weight in Cheetos. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed every single minute of it. My grandma’s chocolate chip cookies are like nobody else’s, but it has hard. My legs felt stiff from not running as often as I usually do, and I found myself desperately craving a day at the gym. Have you ever done something for so long that you can’t see how far you’ve come?
At every turn, I kept seeing it, like big billboards — progress. My grandpa took a picture of me out playing in the waves one day, and I realized how long it had been since I’d seen my new body, unearthed from the winter sweaters. I was muscular! I was thinner! My legs looked amazing! My shorts fit better than ever, and my bathing suit bottoms were a little big.
My body was changing. That’s when I started to realize why I failed every time before this. I wanted a new body instantly. I’m all for instant gratification. (C’mon, I’m the Instagram generation who can’t live without takeout food.) But all the areas I’m used to working hard at, like school, my career and personal relationships, weren’t like this. It was like developing a new skill: patience with your body.
Patience with your body is a form of respect. I have to respect that after meals, I bloat. I weigh less in the morning than I do at night. I get hungry. I feel tired. I need days off sometimes. Some days I eat too much and other days, I don’t hit 2,000 calories when I really should. The more I work out, the more calories I need. These are truths about my body I have come to respect and have patience with. Just because I feel bigger after a meal doesn’t mean I’m unraveling all my progress. It’s healthy and normal.
Learn more about your body this week. It’s easier to see progress when you treat your body like a friend, rather than a bad roommate.