Thursday, June 19, 2008

Guest Post: Moments of Body Zen, Part I

This week we're bringing you two personal essays from Allison Keiley, who writes about eye-opening moments when her relationship with her body came into focus. Read today's body zen installment and check back tomorrow for part two.

Allison Keiley is a web producer and sometimes-writer living in Brooklyn, New York. She blogs (more infrequently than she’d like) at

Moments of Body Zen, Part I: My Thyroid, Myself

After my yearly check up last February, my blood work came back indicating that my thyroid levels were borderline low. I went back to the doctor to have more blood drawn for further testing that would show whether I had an officially lazy thyroid.

The early symptoms associated with an under active thyroid, my doctor explained as the nurse prepared the needle and vials, run the gamut from brittle nails to fatigue to depression to weight issues. Basically, a lazy thyroid makes it super easy to gain weight and super hard to lose it.

Despite the possibility that I was potentially facing a lifelong health issue that can only be battled with seriously scary drugs and could even affect my ability to have babies, this was music to my ears. I find it super easy to gain weight. I find it super hard to lose it.

Might I actually be a skinny person, hidden underneath this body?

“Wow,” I thought, “Skinny.” As in truly, meant to be, eat whatever the hell I want, forgo the gym membership, buy a whole new wardrobe skinny. I was excited. It would be a whole new me. And so easy, right? Go to the doctor, discover chronic condition, get some drugs, get skinny, live the life I always knew I was meant to live...

Whoa. Here’s where the crazy train of those thoughts screeched to a halt before, as Ozzy sings, going off the rails.

I’ve worked really hard to learn to love my body, as skinny as it’s not and will never be. At many points in my life I’ve been unhappy about my body and have felt like a hulk whose woman-ness is just so very on display among a sea of beautifully androgynous, skinny girls. People who are kind would describe me as voluptuous, people who think they’re kind would say “big-boned,” and people who have their own issues would call me fat. I’m really lucky because my friends and family just call me smart and beautiful.

Back in the doctor’s office, I was scaring myself, growing woozy from the blood loss as visions of string bikinis danced through my head.

Everyone, of course, fantasizes about what it might be like to lead a different life. But the leaps in my fantasies were scary—from a new dress size to a new life in so few steps. The obvious link in my mind between thinness and happiness made me feel like the years I spent learning to appreciate my body had been erased.

Here’s the thing—I already have this life that revolves around those amazing friends and family members, where I do work I love, and find myself laughing and feeling really lucky like, all the time. Things can get really crappy and stressful, and I’m finally realizing that my pants size has nothing to do with it.

The doctor finished up my blood test and I bent over to put my head between my knees. The blood rushed back to my head and I thought—finally, with some clarity—about the things that I never want to be easy anyway, like eating well and exercising, but more on that later.

A few weeks later, I found out that my thyroid is perfectly normal, adding another check in my mental tally of reasons to appreciate my body. Besides, now I won’t have to worry so much about putting these child-bearing hips to good use.

Have you experienced a moment of body zen? Care to share?


Shorty said...

I loved this post. I have struggled with my own body image even into my adulthood. thank you for posting this.

m. minkoff said...

This was a really fantastic post. Thank you! I am looking forward to Part II.