The body as a machine

Blood flows, oxygen is inhaled, muscles stretch.  Our bodies are meant to be used, meant to move, work and play.  The body houses everything necessary to accomplish these things – our mind, our soul/spirit, our personality, our intelligence, our preferences and our beliefs.  We focus so much on the exterior of the body and how it looks that we often forget why we have a body in the first place.

I went to a Memorial Day cookout this weekend and played volleyball for most of the day.  It was an amazing feeling to jump, run and dive without wondering what I looked like.  No one cared whether I was wearing makeup or not, they just wanted me to not suck at serving and passing.  They didn’t care that I was sweaty because it meant I was working hard.  The grass stains on my pants didn’t mean that I was ugly or un-feminine, but that I was diving on the ground and really getting into the spirit of competition.  I had so much fun.

Today, my muscles are incredibly sore.  Everything hurts – my back, shoulders, quads, everything.  I have color on my skin from a long day in the sun, and a few bruises on my legs.  These marks are reminders that I used my body – I put it to work and challenged it to perform.  For one day I didn’t feel like a statue, painted and clothed and placed in the public eye to be gawked at and judged.  I wasn’t standing still, trying to take up as little space as possible and hoping to go unnoticed.  In fact, it was quite the opposite.  I yelled, laughed, danced and tried to take up as much space as I could (at least on the volleyball court).

It brought me back to my tomboy days.  All the way through high school I was a competitive athlete.  I focused intensely on my training and was always pushing myself to be better.  Though I was slightly self-conscious about my body and my appearance back then, it was never as overwhelming as it is now.  At least, it wasn’t something that caused me extreme anxiety.  I was so focused on what my body could do, that what it looked like was less important.  Since high school, I have participated to a smaller degree in sports and continued a fairly active lifestyle, but have lost the “body as a machine” mentality.  This weekend showed me that I need to head back in that direction.  I want to take pride in a healthy, capable body.  I want strong muscles, endurance and flexibility.  I’m hoping that refocusing will eradicate some of my BDD compulsions and some of the negativity surrounding how I view myself, just as it did this weekend.

I feel like I should end this post with a giant roar of accomplishment.  ROOOOOOOAR!!!!

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