Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Walking everywhere

How does it happen? That moment of looking in the mirror for the first time and actually thinking "Woah, I don't look fat." Because it felt like for so long, I couldn't say that. And it wasn't even that I believed I was fat or had body dysmorphic disorder or anything. Rather that I simply didn't have the confidence to look at myself and actually admire what I saw. Maybe it was society's fault? Or maybe it was an internal virtue? Whatever the case, it's nice to finally look at who I am and see who I am, rather than an image that I aspire to but never belief I'll achieve.

There are so many benefits to living outside of southern California. Chief among them is this thing called public transportation. It teaches you the (literal) value of a single voyage, forcing you to be aware of how much money it costs just to board a train. Somehow in my endless hours of driving my car through the streets of the Golden State, I never paid much attention to the cost of gas. Sure, it was exorbitant and painful to fill up my tank on any particular afternoon. But it wasn't as direct an awareness as, perhaps, scanning my Oyster Card at the tube station and seeing I've spent £2 on a one-stop journey.

So I've taken to walking. A lot. And everywhere. Even when it's impractical.

This wasn't a conscious decision. Well, in some way it was. But it had nothing to do with maintaining or creating a physical figure. I've spent so many years of my life feeling like a blob that I'd basically resigned myself to the fact. That isn't to see I planned on letting my body turn into something supremely unhealthy and unbecoming. But I also didn't care too much about the superficiality of physical beauty - at least not enough to have me go running every day.

Then I arrived here and realized that walking isn't just an institution, it's a method of intellectual pursuit. You walk through the streets of London and with the more practice you get, the more spatially aware you become of the various neighborhoods and their relative proximity to one another.

Today I was walking down Oxford Street to try and find a store where I could return this item I purchased. I learned on my walk to the place, that it had been permanently closed and I should go find the alternate on a few neighborhoods over.

Well, let's just say I underestimated how long it would take for me to get to that distance second alternative. But in the process, I became more aware of where exactly certain landmarks fell into place in terms of my mental map of the city.

That being said, I've embraced not only the intellectual aspects, but the physical (positive) ramifications of my lifestyle choices.

Yet it really was all by chance.

When I left the United States, I was already on my way to become healthier. After being vegetarian for over two years and exploring the opportunities of physical fitness (to a very very small extent), I'd started to become more visibly careful about my healthful circumstances.

Now when I look in the mirror - though I may have had fried potato wedges earlier tonight - I see a balance of health and pleasure; an awareness of the limitations we all face as humans who enjoy eating but don't necessarily enjoy the after-effects of over-eating.

It's really the first time in my life this has ever been true.

Back at five years old, my mother used to check up on my weight to make sure I was gaining at the proper speed. Eventually her precautions took on negative forms. I ate McDonald's regularly and by the time I was nine, I had already become the size of a small but chubby 12 year old.

Now, I feel, is the one opportunity for me to embrace my physical health, but also be aware of all the varying circumstances of being thin. It doesn't necessarily mean healthfulness. I think that's something I never understood until I'd been in this place.

But now I walk through life with a stronger, more courageous and hopefully kinder head on my shoulders. I look to others struggling and I want them to find answers to their own health concerns.

I'm so proud that in the last few weeks I've started to really feel confident about my life choices and my appearance. But I also have no problem with the way things were before, and I recognize that now. I may feel better in my skin than ever before, but I recognize that sometimes emotions are derived from the subconscious. You can't control them and you just have to be happy when they work out in your favor.

At the end of my excursion running around all of Central London this afternoon, I started to become aware of the very many confusions of traveling by foot. Instead of taking the tube, I decided to walk everywhere and get all of my major errands done.

While I tried my darnedest to remain composed as I spilled Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte on myself on my long walk,  at the very heart of everything was this belief in myself - and perhaps even in my physical prowess. That I can navigate. That I can lose weight. That I can combine these things and make life choices that enable me to feel better about myself.

There are so many wonderful things about living in a huge city. Even when you just want to explore for fun, it becomes an activity worth writing about and re-experiencing. But for me the best thing is that London has enabled me to feel like the best person I can be. The healthier, happier, more confident version of myself.

I've done more unintentional long-distance walking in the past few weeks than I have in any other instance in my life. But as I've come to learn, it's the experience that matters. Not the retelling. Not any other factors.

And for me, the experiences have enabled me to become an overall better and happier person. So there are no regrets. And that's the best way I could possibly feel.

No comments:

Post a Comment