September 25 2017
These six race day stories show the running world for what it is: a supportive community that embraces all new members.
When you look in the mirror, are you proud of what you see?
I, like so many others, struggled my entire life with my weight and body image. It started in elementary school when I was made aware of the fact that I didn’t have the same body type as my athletic friends. Sometimes I would get called hippo and as a 10-year-old girl, I drew a circle around the fact that my weight made me feel like something was wrong with me. The obsession continued through middle school and high school where I tried every fad diet possible from 700 calorie diets, diet pills, to not eating at all. Despite my efforts, regardless of what I weighed, I was incapable of seeing what other people saw. I only saw what I thought were flaws and imperfections.
It wasn’t until I gained a significant amount of weight after my younger brother unexpectedly passed away that I really understood what struggling with my weight actually felt like. It got to the point where I didn’t recognize myself when I looked in the mirror and every day I felt ashamed and lost. So I made a lifestyle change, worked tirelessly for months, lost the weight and even then, I still wasn’t happy. You see, the problem was never actually my weight, it was how I saw myself. We all have insecurities. We all have things we’d change in a heartbeat if magically presented with an opportunity to do so, but it wasn’t until I started running that I learned that confidence isn’t something you acquire when you look a certain way, it’s a state of being that comes with feeling a certain way. STRONG. The grass will always be greener when it comes to weight and body image. The sooner you can look in the mirror and feel proud of your body and the work you put into it, the happier you will be.
I always wished I would be confident enough to run in my sports bra. I’m in the best shape of my life, what was stopping me? Well, I was afraid of the judgement I would get from complete strangers. Anyone who has ever been teased or made fun of knows how paralyzing a fear of judgement can be. That all changed a few weeks ago on an exceptionally hot morning. I was one mile into a 13-mile long run and my shirt was heavy with sweat. I stopped and asked myself why I was so afraid of taking my shirt off and I realized that the only person unfairly judging me, was me.
So I took my shirt off and as terrifying as it was, I felt like a 50-pound weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I have since realized that the things I say to myself are infinitely worse than anything a stranger could possibly say to me. And let’s be honest, though hurtful, why should I care if someone thinks it’s appropriate to comment on what I look like while I run? Just the other day, I was running to the park to do hill repeats in my sports bra and a woman at a stoplight looked me up and down and raised her eyebrows. I smiled and said, “I’m about to run 7-miles of hill repeats! Have a great day!” And instead of feeling enraged, judged, and hurt, I just felt bad for her. It’s exhausting to go through life passing judgement on other people.
I’ll never understand why we struggle to treat ourselves the way we treat our friends and loved ones. Why are we are own worst critics? We only get one body. One life. The only way we will feel proud of what we see when we look in the mirror is if we stop wasting our time wishing we looked different.
I’m not perfect. Despite how far I’ve come, I still have days where I see a less than flattering picture of myself and feel a twinge of embarrassment. But that’s not my normal anymore and when it happens, I immediately start naming things that make me proud. We work way too hard not to celebrate the bodies that we have. Whether it’s wearing shorts or a tank top for the first time, or joining the #SportsBraSquad, take the first step towards feeling proud and confident of your body because you’re strong as hell.
Want to see a perfect body? Go look in the mirror. Now keep fighting to put your strongest foot forward. Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.