Participants Point of View
Week 30 Exercise
by Tabatha (@tabulous)
I didn’t mean to stay long at this week’s #dsma – I had other blogs to write, and I hadn’t quite fit in my workout of the day. Yet, as soon as the first question came out, I was sucked in.
I’ll interject here by telling you I’m two weeks shy of 27, the mother of two children under two years of age, and I’ve been a type 2 diabetic since spring time 2006.
I also am a former ballerina and recovering bulimic, though they are not mutually exclusive in their prevalence in my life.
I don’t tell many people about the second – because when you say bulimic people imagine what they see on TV – girls eating everything in sight, then purging into Rubbermaid totes hidden in their closets so their parents don’t suspect anything’s up. That wasn’t me though, honestly, I hate puking. No, I ate as I pleased, and then I worked out for three hours straight twice a day, water my only companion. I purged through exercise.
So you can see what a complex relationship I have with exercise before even bringing diabetes into the equation. Add to that the fable I was told that, when diagnosed as pre-diabetic, that I could just stave it off with exercise and diet – which I threw myself into wholeheartedly, only to be diagnosed six months later as full-fledged diabetic – and it’s an intricate dance I do with my health on many levels, every day.
Yet I realized something about myself when question #3 appeared, asking what everyone’s favorite kind of exercise was. I didn’t hesitate because I knew it all the way to my destroyed ankles and broken toes.
Sure, I’ve been a gym rat, tied to the elliptical every morning and evening; I have an extensive collection of workout DVDs from pretty diverse schools of thought; I used to devour exercise magazines and try everything they threw at me. Usually, though, I’d tire of them, get beat down by the difficulty, start to hate my body for not responding, not becoming what was in my head as the ideal.
But dance? Oh, no, not there. From Yoga Booty Ballet to Zumba, if I’m dancing? I feel alive, I feel whole, I feel like my body and myself aren’t two separate things at war, but entities gaining strength from each other, becoming more than just the sum of the parts.
I had to quit ballet because of my ankles – one horrible fall, one ligament torn, and a potential career was over. It wasn’t until years later that the bulimia appeared; after actually my second turn with ballet in my first major in college, where I had dance class every day. No, it was late in college that it appeared, not long after my last belly dancing recreational class.
It appeared when I stopped dancing.
After a lot of struggle to “work out right” or “healthily” and generally ending up either overdoing it or hurting myself or still diagnosed with a life-changing disease, I’ve realized that it’s not just the familiarity of dance that brings me back to it. It’s that I’m working out and having fun and feeling beautiful all at the same time. It’s one activity I know how to eat before, during, and after without sabotaging myself one way or the other. And it’s something in my bones, a freedom from the constraints of the rest of my issues, a place to just be who I am, however I may come, and have that be perfectly alright.
When I dance, I’m okay with who I am, my faults and weaknesses, my hopes and dreams, my ups and downs. It brings me a true joy I just haven’t really been able to find anywhere else. Yoga takes a close second, but it’s actually a lot of the same movements, just slower and more introspective.
I know I’ll never be a ballerina again, and I’m okay with that. However, my super secret resolution is that by the end of the year, I’ll be able to take the adult class taught by the local ballet troupe … and keep up. I start over again with a basics DVD … and I hope it takes me somewhere.