Bring out the Funk

septumI got called n*gger nose a few times as a high school student.

My mom grew up feeling self-conscious about her nose thanks to her own family members teasing her about its flatness. She still makes comments about not liking her nose, though less frequently than she used to.

I guess we all just grow into ourselves eventually and realize what’s important.

I wanted my nose pierced when I was a teenager but when I mentioned it to my mom, she scoffed at the notion and the idea of bringing more attention to my nose. I understood.

Many years later, I recall talking to a co-worker about the nose ring I had. She said she’d had one earlier in her life but then realized she didn’t like her nose so why would she want to bring more attention to it. (We are all so critical of ourselves. It’s a bummer.)

I eventually did get my nose pierce with a tiny little stud that I was sure everyone could see from a mile away. I remember when my then boss came to see it he said, “It looks like a little fleck of glitter on your nose.”

After I got comfortable with it, I went to a silver ball stud and eventually a hoop. I always liked the hoop best but worried it was “too much,” though by whose standards, I don’t know.

That original piercing closed up a few years ago and I recently got pierced again. Nose rings are just a statement I relate to. I feel like I’m most accurately representing inner self with my nose ring and turquoise jewelry.

I have an appointment on Saturday to get my septum pierced. For me, this is really taking my interest in piercings up a notch. Not only are they not quite as mainstream (though gaining popularity as time continues), many people don’t like how they look. And it’s that discomfort I’m fighting right now. I’m imagining the next time I go up to one of my very rich, very traditional board members to shake hands and he sees I have a septum ring. Hmmm.

However, I like that septum rings have a history tied to Native Americans and people of color, generally. The Aztecs had pierced septums (with items bigger than rings) and the Nez perce tribe name translates to pierced nose. In African tribes, the septum piercing is a sign of strength. (When my husband expressed reservations over the septum piercing, I said, “You know the Aztecs used to have their septums pierced and I am part Native American. And he said, “Well then you must get it done!” Sarcastically, of course, but he has come around to the idea.)

I want to live boldly and embrace my ethnic backgrounds and not be afraid to bring attention to the parts of me I felt self conscious of for so long. And even as I do it and want to do it, I know I will feel uncomfortable going into my one-on-one meeting with the new boss and having him see I have yet ANOTHER piece of jewelry pierced into my face. On top of my huge turquoise necklace, my handful of turquoise rings, my five turquoise beaded bracelets, and my turquoise earrings. And also my shaved head. I hope I’m talented enough at my job to be permitted to look so flashy. (Happily, I talked to a friend who works in HR and she said there is no policy dictating body piercings, so I should do what I want. Also, I have seen at least one other person in my office building with the septum pierce so it’s not without precedent.)

And so it is such a minor, insignificant thing in the scheme of life to get another piercing. But it feels significant to me. Because I’m pushing forward with presenting my true self to the world. And it’s not always a comfortable thing to do.

On health and fat

My work place offers great incentives to stay healthy: Affordable exercise classes, free access to the gym, nutrition workshops, finance workshops, how-to-deal-with-stress workshops, etc. When I saw they were offering biometric screening, I signed up right away. For along time now, I’ve been interested in my health numbers and I’m always grateful when they’re good.

I went to the faculty house and met the nurses, signed in, and went to a private room for the blood draw. As I sat there talking to the nurse, she asked if I had any health goals I was working on. “Losing weight,” I said. “It’s a continual effort. I take a total body boot camp here at work and I’ve started counting my calories again to try and get a better handle on how many calories I’m taking in.” I told her I was trying to give up cheese and sugar, though I’d been finding it difficult, and she said sugar is particularly hard to get out of our diets. I had just learned a few minutes earlier that my weight is the highest it’s been since high school. I weigh now what I weighed in high school and for a lot of people that would be a good thing. But not for me. I didn’t start becoming active until I got into college and more so once I got my first job and joined a gym. For most of my twenties and thirties I maintained an ok weight, though I always, always, ALWAYS was in the process of trying to lose more. I’ve never not been trying to lose weight. But now that weight I wanted to lose when I was 30 looks like skin and bones today! As the saying I found on Pinterest goes, I wish I were as fat as the first time I thought I was fat. Ha! Cracks me up. 

In hindsight, and thinking about the struggles I have now, I wonder if part of that weight maintenance was due to my terribly low metabolism working as fast as it would ever work. Excess weight and low metabolism are two traits that reach throughout my father’s side of the family. Now I’m wonder if my metabolism is slowing more (is that possible??) as I age and making it harder to lose weight. (Though I’ve heard doctors say the notion that one is doomed to gain weight as she ages is a myth. 

But back to today. It turns out all my numbers are great and my good cholesterol is really excellent. I was particularly pleased with that number because good cholesterol is a strong reflection of your diet, so it’s good to know I’ve been making good food decisions most of the time for the last year or so. Blood pressure and sugar levels were normal, too, so other than weight, I’m in good shape.

And I can’t help but think of all those body positive activists who try to tell you that you don’t have to be skinny to be healthy. I guess I’m a living example of that now. I’m at my highest weight but my numbers are excellent. So my innards are healthy, which makes me happy. Now to keep kicking ass in that total body workout. Maybe I can start blaming the number on the scale to my huge muscles. 


Post-workout ponytail…

At the start of the month, I joined an exercise class (total body conditioning) offered on campus. It meets twice a week after work and costs only $60 for the entire session and goes until June. I tend to delude myself into thinking that I’m in reasonable shape. I can walk two miles to work in no time, and I can get on elliptical machine for 30 minutes and feel fine and, hey! I ran a half-marathon last year. I can hold a plank for 30-60 seconds. I can climb several flights of stairs everyday. Yeah. Good shape.

I went off to this class, where I learned quite quickly that I have no idea what I’m talking about. I knew I might be in for trouble when I was totally and utterly winded by the WARM UP. The warm up, people. And the hour of work got harder as it went along. I left with mat burns on my elbows from planks. Two days later, I could barely walk the stairs. 

But today–two weeks in–I’m starting to feel the benefits. I had a searing headache yesterday for much of the day and kept thinking I might skip the workout. Not only that, I might go downstairs to the vending machine and get some cheeze its and a chocolate bar. (Did I mention I haven’t eaten chocolate in the month of January? And I know we’re only 17 days in, but that’s remarkable for me. I could eat chocolate for every meal. It’s part of my effort to give up as much sugar as possible.) So, yesterday afternoon, I was on the verge of throwing in the towel and gorging on chocolate and going straight home from work and taking a nap. But, I decided to take an ibuprofen instead to see if that would make me feel any better. Slowly the pain faded and I ate my oranges instead and thought, well, I may as well go and do my class since I’m paying for it anyway.

And I did. And I’m getting better at some of the exercises. I was able to do four regular form pushups, which is nothing short of staggering improvement because I have no upper arm strength at all. And this morning I realized I feel really good.  A bit more energy, my body feel sore but loose and flexible. I feel good and I’m thankful for it.