There are many "side effects" to my new cycling hobby -- among which, I am proud to say, weight loss does not figure --, but I have been most surprised by the emergence of a sort of sensual pride in my body.
After a long ride, there is nothing that I like more than to spread out a few yoga mats on the floor, grab a bottle of lotion, put on my shortest shorts, and give my legs a deep massage. Do you know the feeling of hand over muscle? It is incomparable. Of course I'm tired, and sore, and maybe even a little sleepy, but I like those moments of leisure, when the hard job is done and I'm still eager for the next ride.
There is also the sensuality of the ride itself -- the feeling of wind on my face; the motion of my legs on the pedals; the total concentration that I have to employ to keep myself alert to the road and its dangers. I love riding fast, down hills and on the flats; I love the mental place where speed takes me, the feeling of flying (and fleeing?) on my two wheels.
In college, when I developed my eating disorder, I had an academic lifestyle that was almost devoid of any contact with my body or my senses. My days were spent in lecture halls, reading in the library, and writing papers; I heard plenty of speeches from professors about how to put our minds to the best use, but no one ever talked about our bodies. My eating disorder, with its intense preoccupation with food and my body, seemed almost a reaction to an academic world that denied corporeality and substance. Ironically, perhaps, I found that I had to go deeper into my body -- through yoga -- and pay more attention to food -- through cooking -- in order to give those aspects of my life their due. Massage helped too, as did music, and knitting, and no wonder: all of these were activities that allowed me to focus on the senses, instead of denying them as I once had.
Do you feel that there is a relationship between eating disorders and the senses? What does that look like, and what does it mean to you?