Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Does This Holocaust Memorial Make My Arms Look Fat?

I don’t mean to offend anyone with the title of this post, but it relates to how I got to a place of greater acceptance about my body.

Have you read Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books? You should. They are the literary version of a pillow; they are soft and relaxing. And because I’ve always hated the term “big boned,” they gave me a great description to explain my body type. Like the bush-tea-guzzling main character Precious Ramotswe, I am “traditionally built.” I work out more often than anyone I know, but in a line up with my friends, you’d pick the others as the runners and you’d think my workouts consisted of a biweekly walk down the snack aisle (a Ho-Ho stroll?) at the supermarket. For this reason, I am constantly trying to work on accepting my body and body type.

Which brings me back to the title of this post. When I was based in The Netherlands, I had lots of opportunities to travel. One weekend, about 40 of us in the international expat group I was part of headed to Berlin—awesome city, by the way. My friend Michael was our default photographer and he snapped a candid photo of me at the above-ground part of the Holocaust Memorial. When I was later browsing the photos, I saw my arms, a body part I’ve always disliked for their chunkiness, and was horrified. I groaned and asked him to delete the photo right away. And then I realized what I was saying. I didn’t like how my arms looked chunky at a Holocaust Memorial. WOW. That, in all honesty, was one of the most striking incidences of me needing to get over myself.

These days, I’m really trying to improve my body type acceptance with the old saw, health is wealth. Because it is, as almost all ECGers can personally attest to. In my case, my husband just recently had some melanoma removed. What we thought would be a routine checkup at the dermatologist became a serious diagnosis, two procedures to remove the cancerous cells from his leg, a major procedure to close his excision, a week of total bedrest, two-weeks of using a walking cane, an emergency ultrasound to check for a DVT, emergency wound care after necrosis and infection, grafts with pig bladder tissue, another infection, a full-thickness graft, more bedrest, more emergency visits, a 4-inch scar on his hip, a 10-inch scar on his calf, and a lifetime of follow-up appointments every 3 months.

For the majority of the last several weeks he has been unable to run or cycle (his two favorite activities), but he’s glad it’s been taken care of and he appreciates that they caught it early and treated it. I’m grateful he’s fine and I’m so thankful that through it all, I was able to work out to burn off the stress and anxiety of the last several weeks. I felt like I was working out for the both of us.

So, when you’re really feeling down about your weight or body type, try to instead think about your health. Are you fit? Do you feel healthy? If your answer is no, then by all means, take action. But don’t belabor the number on the scale or on the tag of your jeans—it’s just that, a number. Instead, focus on your overall health, because without that, you’ve got nothing.


Mary L. said...

wow - great post. I am so sorry to hear everything that you and your poor hubby have gone through recently! Glad he's doing better and glad that you continue to take care of yourself & workout. Keep up the good work!

Ian said...

i 2nd mary's post. also... best title ever for a blog post--lol

Ian said...

i 2nd mary's post. also... best title ever for a blog post--lol