Of Neuroses and Body Dysmorphia

When you come to a dive resort, one of the first things you must do is check in with the dive center. There, they go over your certification and then cover things like the structure of dives etc. Finally they ask how much weight you want to carry.

To explain, when you dive you want to just carry enough weight, usually in the form of lead bars, to allow you to sink. But you don’t want to carry too much. If you have a higher proportion of body fat, you generally need to carry more lead. If you are leaner or carry more muscle, you need less weight. And if you have good buoyancy control, you also tend to need less, whereas people with poor buoyancy tend to carry a lot.

So when I went to the counter yesterday and asked for 6 pounds, it didn’t feel great when the divemaster’s eyebrows shot up. There was clearly judgement. All of my body dysmorphia kicked in and I thought, “does he think I need more?! But maybe he thinks I need less and just have terrible buoyancy control.”

I walked away with my two 3-lb bars just questioning myself over and over again. I could deal with having too much, but what if I didn’t have enough? Then again, he had said the boat would have a few spare pounds, so I felt comfortable with that.

On the boat I made a few last minute checks including making sure my flashlight was in my pocket, and we did a backward roll into the water. Interestingly, that’s what they do in all the movies, but I’ve rarely done it. It was fun.

Immediately the woman next to me sank like a rock. I on the other hand, hovered in about 10 feet of water, neither sinking nor rising. I debated surfacing for an extra pound or two, but the logical side of my brain said I would be fine once my wet suit absorbed a little water. So I relaxed and exhaled all of the air I could, drifting slowly to the bottom.

In all truth, a slower descent is better for me, because one of my ears doesn’t equalize well.

Drift diving is the thing here – riding the currents past the reefs. I haven’t done it much and still am undecided. The good is, it’s easy. The bad aspect is you have to fight current to look at anything for an extended period.

Somewhere on the first dive I discovered that my pocket was unzipped and my light was gone. Some of the other divers saw it go but were unable to rescue it. Sad. But at least my spare dive computer survived.

Also I have a new camera that I’m learning still, so not many photos from the first dive. Most of these are from the second.

For the second dive I found out that they didn’t really have any extra weight on the boat, so I was stuck with 6 lbs. During that discussion others were having buoyancy issues and discussed the weight they were carrying. I, of course, judged them all.

Honestly, 6 pounds is arguably perfect for me, as I never had to put any air in my BCD, but it also gives me no buffer with which to work.

At the end of the morning we returned to the resort and lunch, then a free afternoon to follow, with which I walked to the very touristy town nearby and found dinner.

I guess when you distill everything down, it was a bit of an inglorious first day, but I got to dive, so that still felt good.

But I still wonder what the dive master thought about 6 lbs.

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