Mind Games

I am naked as I type this.

Standing on a towel in the middle of a hotel room in Sacremento while my friend from college (who I haven’t seen in over a dozen years) meticulously applies tanning lotion to every inch (and I mean every inch) of my already chocolate skin.

In 4 hours (more like 6 with the pure size of this show), I will step onto a hot stage under glaringly hot lights, wearing an impossibly small and incredibly blingged out bikini. And I will prance about in my posing routine, replete with a model’s walk and quarter turns. I will be judged on my muscles and leanness and overall look. And then — regardless of the outcome– I will blessedly eat the ridiculous bag of goodies that I’ve been saving for this day, drink Moscato with my friend who flew out to support me, and be relieved? Elated? Grateful? That this is finally over.

This day has been 9 months in the making and  has been one of the most difficult journeys that I have ever undertaken. I have woken up as early as 3am every morning in order to get my workouts in, avoided going out on the weekends to maintain my diet, and even abstained from my beloved salsa dancing when my energy levels could only maintain so much activity and I chose the gym.

At one point I was so fed up with my quotidian diet of chicken and turkey every day that I made a list of all the things that I couldn’t  wait to eat. The odd assortment of food even included something that I’d seen on FB called Oreo rice (google it).

I also made a very short list of food that I don’t want to eat (or see) for the foreseeable future:

1. Turkey

For the past three months, I have woken each morning and stepped immediately upon the scale and then I stared critically at this body that I’ve been so focused on. It’s like some wily science experiment where I’ve manipulated various environmental factors and then observed my body’s incremental response. Except I can’t really recognize my own body anymore. My friend says that I have mirror blindness where my mind determines what I see in the mirror and the image in my head doesn’t match up with what the mirror actually shows.
The mirror in this case shows a very lean girl but my mind says: nope not good enough, not lean enough, do you really think you can climb on that stage and fit in with everyone else?  You’re going to make a fool of yourself. Maybe you should just quit now….

Except I haven’t quit. I haven’t given up. Not even last week when just getting on the stairclimber was an act of faith (especially when I realized that I’d forgotten my headphones!) I did this journey because I wanted to see if I could do it. If I  could master my own body– if I could tell it what to do instead of being led by my feelings and desires and emotions.

I was nowhere near perfect during this journey  and I certainly didn’t do everything right but I’m here. I’m here at the finish line. I’m not likely to place or take home a trophy but that was never the goal. And I intend to walk across that stage like I was meant to do it.

Don’t believe me? Just watch.

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