Bridging the Gap

I know a girl. This girl — you can her read like a book. She’s still not sure how she feels about that, but you probably have a pretty good idea. Her feelings tend to flicker right across her face.

Her mom says that she wears her heart on her sleeve. (Always has.) She’s trying to find the nerve to hold out her hand. You should move a little closer — help her bridge that gap.

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She’s coming to all sorts of conclusions, this girl, and she wants you to come and see. Some of them have been a long time coming.

She would greatly appreciate it if you would give her something to do, while you have this little chat. Hand her a knife and point her towards the nearest cutting board. Both boxes of mushrooms. Quartered.

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She’ll be able to talk more easily, then. She has a lot on her mind. She’s thinking about what healthy looks like. She used to think that it was about balance. The best balance of carbs, of fiber, of protein, of healthy fats. She used to think about it as a juggling act — between exercising, resting, and fueling.

Now she hates the word fuel. Loves the word food.

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She’s beginning to think that what’s healthy for her is eating when she’s hungry, and not eating when she’s not. She’s beginning to think there has to be some kind of trust. That if she tends to eat a little less when she’s sad, and a little more when she’s stressed, it’ll all even out, in the end. That if she really would like cheesecake for lunch, chances are that she won’t want it again for dinner.

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She’s beginning to think that food is supposed to be enjoyed. Would she be safe in saying that there is no shortage of other things to agonize over? She thinks she would be, somehow. She wants to savor her food, every last bite of it, and she wants to share it, with you. And that little look, right there? She’s looking for your permission to slurp the rest, right from the bowl.

She’s beginning to think that her body knows better than any magazine, any nutritionist, or any carefully calculated program. She’s really put it through the ringer, in the last six years, and she knows it better than anyone. (For now. Maybe one day, someone else will learn it too.)

I can tell you this — this girl has a body that loves broccoli and brown rice, but not exclusively. Bring her a toasted bun and a burger with double the cheese, and there won’t be a need to twist any arms.

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She’s beginning to think that what’s important is just to keep moving, every day. Exercising is good and grand, but five or six days a week ought to do it. Not, you know, thirty days a month. Without pause. And exercise can look like twenty minutes or sixty minutes. Whatever she decides. It can look like any number of things, too: lifting, running, walking, biking, hiking.

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She’s beginning to think that part of being healthy — maybe the biggest part — is just being happy. And that part of being happy is being comfortable. Not just in her own skin, but also in whatever she’s chosen to wear. (This is a girl who will forever be more comfortable in yoga pants and a loose t-shirt. With her hair piled on top of her head.) And she also might need to make another choice. To obsess a little less, over the word healthy.

She’s sort of convinced, now: however her body looks, when she’s doing her best to remember and live all of those things — that’s what healthy looks like, on her.

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This girl — she’s not looking for toothpicks, anymore. And she might have written something similar, a year or two ago, but she would have written it with your hum of approval in mind. And although it would be nice, to hear that you’re proud of her too, today she didn’t write this for you.

(Note: Photos today are courtesy of @nickersonross, as per brother-sister privilege. I typically pull from my own photos, but my Instagram addiction is having trouble keeping up with this one!)

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