Guilt, Be Gone

Buenos Diaz, peoples!

It's been awhile- my usual excuse is that I've been busy (which I undoubtedly have been). I've been adding to my book more than my blog lately- I've got to tell you, it is no easy task figuring out what to put where. In my daily life, every element of the world around me sparks a topic for me to write about. I'm constantly jotting things down and snapping pictures like a maniac, then I sit down to write when I get off work and I'm stumped. Do I blog it, do I book it, do I do both? This is when I start to fantasize that I will be the next Carrie Bradshaw in that some random publisher will approach me in a fortnight or two to impart the good news that he or she would like to turn my blog into a book. Except Carrie had a column, not a blog, and she had an editor, and lived in New York City where she was getting paid to write in the New York star and could afford Roberto Cavallli and Manolo Blahnik on said writer's salary. Sooooooo... I'm thinking this will NOT happen for me. I'll keep working on that book separately though. The good news is I have a title and a good chunk of material! I'm excited. I think I'll need to give myself until the end of the year to wrap it up though.

Today's blog follows a lovely trip to Northern California to visit one of my best friends Carlos. It was a quick Friday-to-Sunday trip filled with chit chat and libations with a little bit of nature thrown in for goos measure, or as I like to think: because I'm obsessed with gorgeous tree-filled places. Honestly, we could have sat in his place all day eating pizza and playing video games. I would have been happy just to see this guy (ok that's not entirely true, but you get what I mean). It was great to catch up with him and get a dose of his unique brand of humor and sarcasm. I'm very proud of him as well- he's about to start his second year at Santa Clara Law. Go Carlos! You're doing us all proud. #certified

When I started this post, it was Monday morning and I was sitting back in San Diego doing laundry and unpacking & such. I decided to also indulge in my guilty pleasure: reruns of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Some of you will chime in here going, "OMG! I watch that toooooo!!!" while the rest of you will come at me like torch-wielding villagers for this silly obsession. To you, I say: leave it alone! Put down your opinions and judgement for 6.7 seconds, this portion of the story is really more of a segue.

I wasn't paying attention to the first part of the episode, truthfully, since I was absorbed in the Nordstrom anniversary sale catalog and obsessing over a Vince Camuto skirt that I would never buy if it wasn't on sale and don't really need, but then again NEED. It's that awesome. I tuned in towards the end though, right when Kris Jenner had staged a semi-nude photoshoot for herself in her backyard- like with professional photographers and lighting, the whole shebang. Kim, Khloe and Kourtney then stepped into the scene mid-shoot to find Kris in the pool wearing nothing but a sheer cover-up and six or seven pounds of makeup, then proceeded to immediately attack her for not "acting her age." They heckled her a good deal and poked fun at her nudity until Kris, evidently hurt by their judgment, lashed back- she just wanted to show her daughters that "being 50 you don’t have to curl up and disappear, you can feel vibrant and sexy at any age." This got me thinking...

At first listen, I liked the positivity of that message (though I perhaps would not have chosen to express it via a Glamour Shots solo sesh in a pool with my goods being clung to by a flimsy wet fabric). After all, I like to think that in 20 years when I'm knocking on 50s door, I'll not be doing so as a mullet-permed hunchback wearing sweatpants with my cat posse in tow. I'd like to be a hot old lady, but classy. Think Helen Mirren, but Mexican.

Theeeeeeeeen I had a change of heart. When Kris Jenner dished that line about being sexy at any age, I quickly went from "good for you!" to "hold up a cotton pickin' minute, Kris" (and yes, I did say "cotton pickin." I watched a LOT of Looney Tunes as a kid). My reaction changed so quickly because I remembered that this same woman has had multiple face lifts and breast implants. So when she sat there touting "beauty at any age" as a lesson to her daughters, I thought to myself, "That is really easy to preach when your 'beauty' has been adjusted, added to and restored via a trusted plastic surgeon and your boundless checkbook." It angered me because in the end, the message there is a good one; the source is just not the most shining example of its veracity.

Then, because I play devil's advocate with myself all the time, I asked myself whether I was being a bit of a hypocrite. This is what lead me to want to blog- it's not a brand new topic, it's one we've likely all discussed before: what is beauty? Is it natural, or can it be arrived at through some creative measures and still count? Where do you draw the line between sensible enhancement and superficial modification? I dye my hair, even if it is close to my own natural color, and I style it to either enhance my curls or straighten & sexy them up. I wear makeup daily, and what's more: I can admit that I like wearing it. I don't honestly know whether I would feel the same if I was some beautiful, natural beauty, but as it stands now I find it rather fun. It's an element of fashion, an accessory. Now, I know better than to put makeup and hair under the same category as going under the knife; the former is temporary and is used to bring out what you've already theoretically got, the latter is permanent and adds or removes what your genetic code did or did not manifest in you. Still- both are used to "change" you. So am I any better than the Kardashian matriarch?

I started to think a lot about body image. Me, for example: I get up at 4:15-4:30 am five days a week to hit the gym before work. I'm no CrossFit champion, but I get in a good 30-40 minutes of cardio then add in weights, calisthenics or TRX work for another 30. I avoid carbs, not altogether by any means, but I do limit my intake and try to stick to lean protein. I juice daily, and beyond that my liquid intake is limited to regular water, coconut water, nut milks or regular milk. I'll have a soda once or twice every couple of months and while I enjoy my wine, I keep it to one glass every few nights. I'm not saying I never indulge in an unhealthy morsel- we all do sometimes. But I generally feel guilty about it afterwards and vow to add an extra circuit to my next workout.

The kicker here is that I am not as fit-looking as that regimen above would lead you to believe. I'm curvy, and no: I don't mean I have a tiny waist with big boobs and a butt to match, which seems to be what most people mean when they use that word. I don't know how to describe my body, honestly. I've got a decent cup size and wider hips that might be more enticing if my waist would listen and get smaller. Some days I like my legs, some days I don't. So I keep on hitting the gym and torturing myself to be smaller, fitter, thinner.

Pero, I'm healthy. Then in theory, I should be happy with my figure and call it a day, right? Well- I'm not. And this is the utterly vicious cycle I find myself in daily- the cognitive dissonance of wanting to appreciate my body the way God made it while also wanting to be thinner. I want, like any woman, to feel beautiful. I want to feel like I'm every bit as appealing and sexy and desirable as a girl half my size. As such, I've come to really appreciate the Honor My Curves movement for championing the expansion of the definition of beauty to include all shapes and sizes- not just the ones that you might find on the cover of LowRyder magazine, you know? My kind of curvy isn't the kind of curvy that I feel is traditionally labeled as attractive, and I'd like to think that maybe that could change.

You know what else? I'd be a bold-faced liar if I said I wouldn't be mother-flipping ecstatic if I could lose 20 pounds. I'd love to just pick clothes off a rack and be confident that they'll fit. I'd love to do a pull-up, or wear a bikini and *own* it. I'd love to know what it's like to turn heads. And sometimes I feel like this makes me a traitor to my "kind." I'm content to sit here on the board of the Girls with Curves Club but would rip up my membership card and run like I stole something if I could qualify for the Fit Girl Coalition.This is a confusing space to live in, my friends.

Many will argue that you can appreciate a fuller figure and still want to be more fit, and I suppose this is true. It's just hard to really embrace that fact if you're mid-struggle. I live in Southern California, and in San Diego at that. GEESUS PEOPLE, the pressure! The world would have me believe that in order to be my most beautiful self, I need to be lead a gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, calorie free lifestyle; I need to be a vegan and run in marathons and do pilates, all in between yoga sessions and organic food shopping. I do partake in some of these lifestyle mantras and activities, I enjoy them in fact. But sometimes I just want an effing burger. Not a soy burger, not a turkey burger- a buurrrrrgerrrr. Meat. Cow. And with cheese. Sometimes I want fries, or ice cream! I want more cheese! Sometimes I want to skip the gym. Maybe even for two days in a row. Still, I want to be thinner. I really do. I want to say I'm comfortable in my own skin, and I sometimes am... until one of those Kim Kardashian types walks by me, then I want to throw myself in front of a moving vehicle. Here we go again.

There's that guilt. The guilt is palpable. The guilt that maybe I've gained five pounds if I did have that cheeseburger or that stupid, sexy Salted Caramel gelato by Talenti (my kingdom for a scoop!). The guilt that I didn't get in enough cardio. Or there's the reverse guilt if I did eat super lean and hit the gym hard this week: am I taking myself too seriously? Am I forgetting to relax and enjoy myself a little? Am I becoming one of those annoying people who talks about their awesome workout every morning when the gal next to me just wants to enjoy her donut in peace (the answer here is yes, in case you were wondering)?

Where is the happy medium?!? Where do you find the confidence to live in your own body and just be, to know you're doing what you can and giving it your best effort? Because let's face it- we don't all have to work as hard to look a certain way. My brother can eat Doritos, pizza, garlic bread and chicken wings all day but has to lift weights and drink protein shakes to keep his weight up. He does 15 minutes of cardio at best and keeps his figure. I'm over here eating lean and running for miles just to fit in my jeans. And I ask myself daily- am I supposed to just accept that we're built differently but be ok with my fuller size, or am I supposed to dig deep and work three times as hard to try and ourtun my metabolism? I don't quite know the answer. Some days I feel like I've done enough. Other I wonder if I'm supposed to try harder. Again- the guilt.

Interestingly enough, I was really thinking hard about this topic and was on a writing roll when I had to stop and save this entry for later completion: I was off to a book signing for one of my favorite authors as of late, Jojo Moyes, who made an appearance at Warwick's Independent Bookstore in La Jolla in promotion of her latest work, One Plus One. She was absolutely, genuinely charming- witty, dynamic, warm and passionate. She spoke of the book of course and obliged the substantially sized crown in patiently answering all of it's questions, touching on everything from her writing process, sources of inspiration, her experinces as a writer over the years and her family life as well. Something she said really stuck with me: when asked how she is able to juggle being a writer with being a mother of three, she spoke of the difficulties in setting aside time to write. She said, "I try really hard not to feel guilty, I've always found guilt to be a useless emotion. So of course I feel guilty every day."

There it is, guilt. The very topic I'd just been writing about. I thought about that statement all the way on my thirty-minute drive home. The guilt she referenced was a different type of guilt, yes, but what she said about it was peculiar and interesting in it beinf described as a useless emotion. There are clearly instances where guilt probably does us all some good, perhaps when we're in the wrong and need to make amends. Still, if you stop to think about it, how often do you feel guilty for reasons that truly are of no good use to you? If you can honeslty say "not often at all," mazel tov. Send me your contact info as I should probably be paying you to be my life coach. I suspect thought that for more than a few of you, as with me, guilt creeps its way into your life and not only complicates it uncecesarily but also just makes you bloody miserable. In my own life, guilt has often been my reason for overthinking, the source of relentless indecision, the foundation of stress and anxiety, the cause of self-loathing and dangerous behavior. I.e., a certified pain in my ass.

So I'm going to trying this on for size- I will try to feel less guilt. I will aim to be healthy, I will aim to be strong. I will accept that my healthy and my strong may look different than yours. I will have cookiedough or a piece of manchego if I want to, and I'll enjoy it. Some days I'll make tofu and roasted veggies, but sometimes I'll allow myself a grilled cheese. I'll be the first one to yell from the rooftops if I ever fit into the freak-em' dress hiding in the back of my closet. I'll just try really hard not to obsess about it, which,if you know me, will be no easy feat. Still, I'm putting it out there in the universe where it's real and can't be unsaid: I'll strive each day to give up the guilt. Who needs it anyway?