Why do you stay in prison, when the door is so wide open?

I went to the museum the other day to get myself out of the house and to take a peek at a new exhibit that had just opened. Since it was my day off and I had nothing else planned, I was able to take my time through the museum, starting at the top, 4th floor and working my way down. Taking the time to see each exhibit, each sculpture and all of the paintings. There’s a room with modern works of art that include a variety of mediums. I have never seen this room rotate in what it carries, so I have seen these piece many times. But Sunday was the first time that I actually had the chance to see them.

I came across one painting that really got to me, it made me think.

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The image in the painting is of Eve sitting in the bushes. She uses it to shield herself, but the description of the painting asks the question: Is her isolation self-imposed or symptomatic of social restrictions? In what space and time does she exist? can her voice be heard?

I had a slight break down today in regards to my weightloss. I honestly never thought I would lose the weight I did and while it was hard to find clothes at a larger size, it’s not much easier at a smaller size. My biggest fear is that I will gain the weight I have lost back. Realistically, I have more knowledge now than I did before. I understand my body better than I did before. I know what food and exercise can do for it and I know how I feel without proper nutrition and exercise, but that doesn’t change the fact that my fear is still weight gain and failure.

So do I feel this way because I’m putting the pressure on myself? Probably. Do I feel this way because society has unrealistic expectations of beauty? Definitely.

I’m excited to compete in the fall and I see it as a competition with myself. How far have I come since the first competition. Since I first started lifting weights. I don’t see it as competing against other women because we all train differently and our bodies respond differently to diet and exercise. November was an experience that put health into perspective for me. It put ambition, goals and dreams into perspective for me. I never thought that I could accomplish something like that, but yet I did.

I love the progress I have had with only 2 weeks and some change into the bikini body guide program. I like that it changes it up and I like that I can fit the routines into my day without feel stretched too thin.

While I have this excited and I can see progress in my photos, I wonder if I would want this as much as I do if there wasn’t any societal pressure. At my heaviest, health wasn’t the first concern or reason why I started to loose weight. I had gotten out of a relationship, a very long relationship and I needed a change. I needed a drastic change. I also believed that I would never find love at my size. There’s that pressure again, just in a different form.

I didn’t find love until 31 months into my fitness journey and it was only after I had finally figured out how to love myself. I owe that to weight lifting. I truly believe I didn’t attract anyone because I didn’t love myself before and accept things as they come. I have my moments, like earlier tonight when I was arguing with myself over a menu item in preparation for a lunch meeting tomorrow. For the most part, I’m truly ecstatic about my progress and I can tell that I hold my head higher than before.

So why do I let pressure get to me? Why do I set my own expectations so high? Why does society believe they have a right to an opinion on beauty and worth? How can we separate our own standards of ourselves from the misguided ideals of those we’ve never met?

Does anyone have any answers?

Until I figure them out, I’m going to keep scrolling through my progress photos and remind myself how a flight of stairs would leave me winded, how a pair of heels would leave my knees sore and how I can now run a 8:38 minute miles.

❤ Cristina

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