Over the last four years, my body has gone through some extreme changes. I developed an eating disorder nearing the end of my freshman year of college. It was life threatening, but somehow I managed to maintain a well-packed lifestyle while wildly underweight. I experienced a summer of emotional trauma with the end of a relationship and the loss of my grandfather in 2017, which ultimately led to a complete reversal of my restrictive eating to emotional eating and binging. Before I knew it, my body had transformed into someone I had never known before. I was facing a whole new set of problems and was unsure how to approach them. Roughly a year later, I discovered the be.come project. My prior experience with exercise was limited to an extremely competitive dance schedule as a child and later a tendency to over-exercise in the height of my eating disorder. Cautiously looking for new ways to exercise, I stumbled upon Bethany and the be.come project. I was so excited about the incorporation of fluid movement with body neutrality, differing so much from the extremes that flood the Internet; I joined the app and soon joined Bethany in classes at Bandier. I took Bethany’s class weekly and felt so inspired to move in ways that helped my body rather than harmed it.
I remember the day they asked me to film for the app. I felt so excited and honored to be a part of something that was so special in my routine. As the excitement settled, panic set in and I walked home trying to think of any quick fix that could get my body to “look better” by the time the filming day arrived three weeks later. On the day of filming, I challenged myself to wear only a sports bra and forgo the tank top I brought with me. I thought if I can wear this in class, I can wear it here. Nothing felt particularly “wrong” until I watched the videos when they were released on the app. As excited as I was to see myself be.coming for others to learn to be.come, I was totally fixated on my appearance — the rolls on my body, the color of my hair, the fact that I hadn’t tanned my skin beforehand, the list goes on. Scared of who I was, and quite honestly unsure of what to do next, I decided that I was really going to make some physical changes, whatever those happened to be.
I continued coming to class each week, but I began a very rigorous exercise program during the rest of the week. It seemed that no matter how much I agreed with what you spoke about in class and agreed with the years of work I put into my mental health, my thoughts were out of control and the only way to control them was to run far away. I very quickly ran myself into a pretty severe ankle injury near the end of the year and all at once disappeared from your class and from myself. I spent months trying to get myself to go back to your class or to turn on the app, but I felt so defeated that I turned around or closed it every time.
Over the last two months or so, I have worked really hard to separate my own thoughts from those of my eating disorder. I sat with myself and thought about what mattered to me most. As I sat with my thoughts, I began to understand that I needed to focus on healing my mind and taking care of my body before I attempted to step back into exercising. And life is so much better when I’m not so stuck in my head and fixated on the way I look. I eased back into exercise over the last month or so and have kept a pretty regular, but flexible, routine. Today I decided to take a slow morning and answer emails and enjoy a few hours to myself instead of heading towards a sweaty gym. I finished everything I needed to do and still had some time before I needed to leave for the rest of the day. I could have gone for a run or done nothing at all, but for the first time in months, I felt called to be.come. I wore just a sports bra and leggings, something I hadn’t done in a while, and laid down my mat and let it all flow. I could have been angry with myself for only completing one round because I know that I have the ability to complete two, but one round felt right today. I connected with my mat and with my own movement and didn’t think about the way I looked once during the routine. I didn’t even realize how much I had been thinking about it all morning until my head stopped spinning and I focused on the routine. I felt so content and proud of myself as I chanted, “I can do it” all the way to the end and kissed my shoulders in gratitude to my body. I am still figuring out who I am and how I will manage this life, but because of Bethany and the be.come project, I am releasing some of this tension into the universe and accepting what light will come to take its place.
thanks cristina for sharing! you can follow @thelifeofcristinashea