Focusing on Performance, not Aesthetics

I feel like I talk about this a lot, and you probably do too. It’s because I have to keep reminding myself. I have to keep telling myself that I care more about how well I perform than how I look. Maybe someday it will be something I believe and not just tell myself. Every time I work out, I wish that I could have done more reps or a heavier weight. I don’t think to myself that I wish I could look better. But, when I get home and I look in the mirror, thoughts of how I wish I could look differently come creeping back in, slowly, but surely. It’s like playing tug of war inside my head.

It is especially bad if I notice how wide my hips are which is pretty much any time I see them in the mirror. They are pretty much the reason these thoughts keep creeping back in. If I could split my body into two halves, upper and lower body, I’d happily keep my upper body (especially after I get top surgery), but I would gladly get rid of my lower body. But then I remember how strong my legs are, how they carry me through my day and my workouts. I’m now able to squat over my body weight in the back squat and front squat, and I can deadlift 1.5x my body weight. I like the weights that my legs are able to lift, and I want to be able to lift more.

But there’s always this nagging in the back of my mind about wanting to reduce my body fat. I won’t be able to perform better if I focus my diet on fat loss though. Argh! It’s like being pulled in two completely opposite directions. I want to throw away all the mirrors in my apartment (okay, I’d probably just cover them), but that seems unrealistic. I just need to be able to deal with what I see in the mirror. I need to decide what is more important to me. Who cares if I have wide hips if I am able to compete and better myself in other ways. My hips are one small aspect of me, and not a very important one in the grand scheme of things. So why do I keep focusing on them? They can completely turn my day around on really dysphoric days. I wish that our society wasn’t focused on aesthetics so much. It’s hard when we are constantly barraged with images of “beautiful” people. I’m also guilty of going around comparing myself to every guy I see. I look at other peoples’ transitions and wonder why I can’t have narrow hips like them. Or why their fat has redistributed with no effort while mine won’t budge with regular exercise.

Note: I wrote this a couple of weeks ago, but I wanted to give it time to sit since I was feeling really dysphoric when I wrote it. Some days are better than others. Sometimes, I look in the mirror and it seems as if my silhouette is straight down. Later in the day, I can look again and all I see is a really curvy body.

Since I wrote this, I measured my hips because I felt like my clothes were fitting differently, and I lost another quarter inch from my hips since the Whole30 ended. That ends up being 1.25 inches total from the beginning of February. I also decided to stop obsessively measuring myself with a tape measure (this is in addition to putting my scale away). It’s baby steps, but it’s progress. I also have made significant improvements in performance since I made changes to my diet. I intend to make this a lifestyle change. Hopefully, with time (and constant reminders to myself), the way I think about myself will also change. It’s been 28 years of feeling unhappy with my body. I shouldn’t expect the way I think about it to change instantly. Like all good things, it takes hard work and time. I hope in a year or two, I can look back on this and see how far I’ve come.

Graduation and Dysphoria

This morning as I was dressing for my graduation, I was planning to wear the same clothes that I got about a week and a half ago that I wore for my final presentation. I grabbed my pants and shirt from the dryer since I was trying to dewrinkle them without the use of an iron (because I don’t actually own one). Anyway, at first, I tried to put an undershirt on because I thought my binder could be seen through my shirt last time I wore it (or at least I could see it, and that made me self-conscious). Anyway, that didn’t work at all because it just made everything too tight, and the fabric obviously pulled at the buttons. So, I removed the undershirt and tried the shirt on again, but by this point, I already had it in my mind that it wasn’t fitting right. So, of course, I wasn’t happy with that solution because the binder was so blaringly obvious to me, and the fabric at the buttons still seemed like they were pulling. At this point, I just sat at my desk as tears started to fill my eyes. I had maybe 15 minutes before I was supposed to leave to go to campus, and I was freaking out because the shirt I had planned to wear definitely wasn’t going to work.  I nearly panicked, but I went back in my closet to take another look. Finally, I settled on the red shirt I wore to our wedding ceremony last month (which is one size larger). Now, I didn’t really want to wear it because it was red, and my school’s colors are blue and gold. I have a thing about clashing colors, but at least I had the robe to cover up the shirt and could almost completely hide the collar. When I put the shirt on my dysphoria finally calmed down.

Honestly, I feel like since I’ve started testosterone, my dysphoria has gotten a lot worse. While I’ve definitely noticed some very desirable changes, in my mind I still look very feminine. I rarely am called by the right gender, which probably doesn’t help, but I don’t think that’s why it has gotten worse. Maybe it’s because I do notice some masculinization in my face and shoulders, but I feel like some things are still very feminine (my hips, ass, thighs, and chest). This definitely causes some cognitive dissonance (to steal a term from psychology). I don’t know how long this fat redistribution takes, but I really hope it starts soon. At least now I can help facilitate the process since I have a break from school over the summer; I can focus on eating better and working out more consistently.

Despite my rough start this morning, graduation went really well! While we were lining up to go be seated, one of my classmates came up (who I recently added on Facebook) to me and asked if he should call me August or April. I told him August, and he gave me  a high five. That was probably the highlight of my day. After we walked across the stage, another of my classmates that sat with me also asked what he should call me. I assume this was because I wrote on my graduation ticket “August,” so that’s what was read as I walked across the stage. I definitely appreciated them asking; it was very unexpected. I didn’t intend to have any of my classmates call me August since I figured after we graduated, I wouldn’t really see very many of them.

Afterwards, I went to a late lunch/early dinner with my mom, uncle, brother, and grandpa. I got a couple of cards, which said August on them. However, when they were talking to the waiter, they said “she” just graduated. My mom still calls me April and uses female pronouns all the time, which is slightly embarrassing when we’re out. I just wish I could be invisible during those moments. I’m not really sure if and when it’s appropriate to correct her. I know she’s aware that I’d prefer to be called August and he, but I’d feel guilty if I corrected her. I’m not really sure how to handle the situation at all. It just ends up being very awkward for me, and I haven’t seen any indication that she’ll be getting the hang out of it any time soon. I expect her to slip up, but she doesn’t even try to correct herself like my friends do when they call me by the wrong name. Has anyone had to deal with a similar situation?