I think I’ve discovered Nirvana.
If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you’ve witnessed first hand that I have body image issues. That’s a really dramatic sentence for a very low-drama reality. I mean really, in honesty, don’t most 20-something women have body issues?
I’ve had my share of frustrating shopping trips, poked at every area of my body before walking around in a swimsuit. I’ve pulled and pushed my stomach to figure out which way I look best. I’ve dieted, I’ve lost a lot of weight and I’ve gained weight. And through all of that, I’ve dealt with the mind games we play with ourselves. “If I just lost x pounds…if I looked like x super model…”
Let me tell you what you already know: it’s all crap.
The other night, I came home from the gym and was about to grab a shower. I shrugged my shirt off and flexed my arms in the mirror. Instead of jumping to criticism, for some reason, this time I smiled and turned so I could see my back in the adjoining mirror. I repeated this process head to toe standing there in my running capris and sports bra. Sure, I could drum up some criticism, but why? Instead of hitting myself with negative comments, I looked at myself proudly. Damn. I look strong.
And a word about shopping and fashion...This skinny jean fad is pretty much crap. Y’all, I am tired of saying to sales people and my shopping buddies “yeah, no on the skinny jeans. I have big legs” and getting this response “oh stop, you are so thin.”
I’m not saying I won’t wear skinny jeans because I think I'm fat. I’m saying I won’t wear skinny jeans because honey, these legs run marathons. I have a lot of strong, powerful, sexy muscle in my legs and I’m not ashamed of it. I’m proud of it because I worked for it. I don’t want skinny legs, mine are just fine, thanks. It would be really awesome if fashion decided to ditch the skinny jean fad, though. Can’t a girl get a normal cut jean in one of those awesome colors? Who wants to have “matchstick” legs anyway. Eww.
I have always been concerned about my arms. You know that girl who worries about her arms in photos? That was me. But now, I look at my arms and I thank swimming. They haven’t gotten smaller, they’ve gotten stronger. My shoulders have gotten broader and stronger. And when I’m a half mile away from shore in my half IM, I will be very very grateful for all that muscle and power and strength.
For the first time in my adult life, I’m not thinking (or caring) about what I weigh or what size pants I’m wearing. I care about how fast I run, how strong I can swim, and whether or not I’m going to eat it on the bike (odds are currently 3-1 on eating it). I have no idea what I weigh and I literally have 4 different sizes in my closet (and I fit in all of them. A size label doesn't define you). I strongly suggest you put yourself on the road to finding that self acceptance. It is an astounding freedom.
I care about my performance, my health, my strength…not so much that I’m not a waifish stick figure. I’ve actually even begun to find it unattractive and unappealing in fashion magazines to see size 00 women. And wouldn't you know...I haven't been sick (aside from the Noro Virus) in months.
If you’ve fallen into the “if I lose weight I will run faster” mindset, do yourself a favor and please read my teammate Victoria’s blog post about Weight Versus Running Speed and do some reevaluation.
So how do you get to this magical head space? The secret is not to run out and sign up for a half Ironman, nor is it to get to a point where you’re happy with your body and work like hell to stay there. It's to focus on the positive. For me, it took signing up for a half Ironman to rob me of any time for negative thought. All I can think about (and really, WANT to think about) in my spare time is how to train, when to train, gear I
Take a moment and promise yourself that at least once today, you'll stop a negative body image thought and replace it with something physical about your body that you're proud of.
Being comfortable in your own skin is really worth it.