I am so honored that Catharine asked me to be a guest poster! Thank you for this amazing opportunity!
I thought I’d talk about body image. I’ve been running since I was in middle school, and I actually began to run because I had a bit of a weight problem. I was about 20 pounds overweight… which isn’t fun when are you in your middle school years. (My freshman pictures were so awful, I made my mom burn them which sounds less dramatic when you find out I grew up in the country and burning stuff is kind of normal.) But, it wasn’t anything new, it was a struggle I was dealing with for some time.
I finally decided to do something about it. I started to run, and found that I actually liked it. I took off the extra weight and stayed relatively healthy. But the one thing I struggled with, and continue to struggle with, is my body image. Although I have learned that what I see is not what the rest of the world sees, I can’t help but focus on the imperfections. The slight dimples in my thighs, the little belly roll when I sit. My fiancé laughs at me because I have this patented move where I rub my thumb underneath my chin and along my jawline to make sure I’m not getting a double chin. Something I do at least once a day, you know, in case it just pops up.
But, I’ve found that my image of my body has changed for the GOOD since I started running. Instead of looking in the mirror and focusing on the imperfections, I can focus on the things that I’ve been able to change through fitness. It has helped me appreciate my body and how it has helped me grow as an individual as I face challenges like marathons.
This has been a journey. A few years ago, I even started a secret journal to write out, once a day, something that I loved about myself. No matter how small – I loved my smile or I loved the way that my hair seemed to work with the humidity that day. On the bad days, I would write about what I loved about my workout… how I was able to kick it at the end or to knowingly give myself an “easy” day to take in my surroundings.
It helped me find the appreciation for my body that so many other women have. It showed me that there are great things about me that are unique to me alone, so why not celebrate these things? Why should I conform myself to look like someone else, who may be struggling with something I envy about her? By celebrating what we appreciate about our bodies, we are able to build confidence within others. Walking out of my house without make up may show another woman that she is beautiful in her natural state as well.
Is my body image perfect? No. Will it ever be? Probably not. But what I can say is that I have more appreciation of my body – and can actually tell myself qualities that I like about myself – than I ever had before I started running.
What is one thing (or more!) that you love about your body? If you work out, has it helped improve your appreciation for your body?