I saw this on a recent Facebook post and just knew it had to be the basis for my Fit Friday Motivation post. Like many women, I, too, have suffered over the years with body image issues. I went from being overweight and uneducated about health & fitness (the teenage years) to being underweight and still uneducated about health and fitness (the quarterlife crisis years). Throughout my entire weight spectrum, I was never happy with my body’s appearance. When I was heavy, all I wanted was to be thin and tiny. I put my body through hell until I was finally the thin, tiny person that I wanted to be– then I was unhappy with the shape my body had taken.
Throughout all of the disrespect and abuse I put my it through– starving it of meaningful calories, pumping it full of fake sugars and other dietary toxins, and pushing my cardio sessions to the extreme– my body never failed me. It carried me through each day. My lungs gave me the oxygen I needed to survive; my heart pumped nutrients throughout my body, my brain gave me focus and clarity, my muscles worked together to make me capable of each and every movement, and so on. But I didn’t see all of that– all I saw was the reflection in the mirror of a body that was not good enough. I disrespected my body and I took it for granted. Until I started running.
It’s like my body stood back and passively accepted all of my negativity and insults until I started running. Then, it was like my body finally decided to stand up to me and say, “Hey, you think I’m not good enough– watch and see what I can do!”
Pushing my limits, pressing on when all I want to do is give up– those are the ways running has shown me what I’m really made of. When I first started running, I was so surprised by what my body could do. It could do things that I never thought it was capable of doing. I was no longer disappointed in it; I was impressed with it. Breaking barriers and reaching new goals was such a wonderful feeling. And, over time, my relationship with my body began to change from a negative one to a positive one.
Running has taught me so much about my body. It’s not inadequate. It’s not weak. It’s capable of so much more than I ever gave it credit for. It’s stronger than I ever thought possible– not just physically, but mentally as well.
Now, three years after I first began running, I can truly say that I respect, appreciate, and love my body. And I only have running to credit for that. My body isn’t perfect– but my body is strong and it is healthy, and I respect and appreciate that. I’m proud of it for carrying me through life the way that it does. The fact that I can run 13.1 miles without stopping has a much bigger influence on my self image now than the number on the scale or the reflection in my mirror. And that makes me happy.