A Scale Tale

I have a confession – I weigh myself. I step on the scale every single day. Sometimes, twice a day. It’s a habit, or maybe an obsession, and definitely a ritual. I strip down before a shower, shedding every extra inch of unnecessary weight. I take a deep breath, close my eyes, and step up onto the scale. It’s a small, square box with a digital window at the top, and it makes a squealing sound when I step on it – a sound which I both love and hate. It satisfies an ingrained need to check myself, but I cringe when I hear it. Maybe it squeals because it’s a cheap scale, a Target special, or maybe because I’ve stepped on it a few too many times, but it reminds me that I am not light and delicate. I am heavy and weighted. That squeal is the sound of my body pressing down, the digital numbers flickering up, up, up, before settling on a final amount.

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That number is almost always the same, give or take about five pounds (mostly give). It’s gone down, before, and I felt proud, accomplished, acceptable. Compliments and accolades accompany that number going down. It’s also gone back up, as pounds are wont to do, and I felt ashamed, defeated, fat. Rude looks accompany that number going up – or worse, no looks at all.

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So, I weigh myself, and judge my worth by the number on the scale, but that number actually represents a lot more than I give it credit for. It represents my natural curves, my full breasts and my round hips – my femininity. It represents my struggle with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), a condition that wreaks all sorts of havoc on the body, including high levels of androgens, infertility, painful cysts, insulin resistance, anxiety, depression, and weight gain. That number on the scale is partially caused by the PCOS, but it is also in spite of it. That number represents strong arms that lift heavy weights at the gym and accomplish more push-ups every week, and it represents strong, solid legs that run and bike and swim, and yes, also rub together and have stretch marks.

http://www.kellymartinspeaks.co.uk/2013/09/the-gap-between-womans-thighs-natural.html

http://www.kellymartinspeaks.co.uk/2013/09/the-gap-between-womans-thighs-natural.html

I’m currently working through a heavy-lifting fitness program, which includes an amazing online community comprised of every shape and size woman you can imagine. Everyone is supportive and everyone is supported equally. Some people are there to lose weight and gain muscle. Some people are there to gain weight and gain muscle. Some people are there to feel better about themselves and some people are there to work their troubles out in the weight room. My weight has actually gone up since starting it, but that’s ok. The truth is that I’m not actually supposed to be weighing myself at all, but the habit has been hard to break. The focus is on strength and empowerment. I’ve gone from dreading the gym and feeling embarrassed in the weight room, to craving a lifting session and proudly watching myself in the mirror as I push those weights into the air, sweating and grunting. I’ve gone from worrying about how much I weigh to wondering how heavy I can lift.

Sometimes I even work out in public!

Sometimes I even work out in public!

My doctor will still tell you that I weigh too much, that I’m obese and I need to lose pounds, but anyone who knows me knows how much better and stronger and more self-confident I feel. So, yes, I still step onto the scale, and yes I sometimes still get mad at myself when the number creeps up and wonder why it doesn’t go down. After all, every piece of media I’ve seen suggests that if you make healthy eating choices and work out, you will weigh less and therefore be “better,” but I’ve got another confession to make – though I weigh myself every single day, the number is becoming less and less important to me. It’s losing its value and the effect it has on my own self-worth. Maybe, soon, I’ll stop thinking about it altogether, and throw the scale away.

Qualifications

Hello! I’m Michelle and I’m happy to join the BFD tribe…well, sort of. Actually, when Bethany asked me if I was interested in being a part of the gang, I was thrilled…and absolutely terrified.

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I’m a big carrot addict!

You see the thing is, I’m thin. I always have been. “What will I say to BFD readers that they will find valuable?” I asked myself. “They’ll all think, ‘That stupid skinny girl is posting again and has no idea what it’s like to be me!’ and skip over all my posts,” I feared.

And you know what, you’d be right to think that I don’t know what it’s like to be you. No one does. I think that’s the thing we all have to remember and that I needed to remind myself when I was about to go to Bethany and un-agree to be a member of the tribe. All of our experiences are different, but they are all valuable and can make such a difference just in the sharing.

I’ve been reading BFD for a long time and getting such insight from it. Why wouldn’t the inverse be true? I have never been fat. I thought without that, I had no qualifications to be a member of this family. But I was missing the whole point.

love

It’s all about love!

This family is about loving yourself at whatever size and loving others and helping others to love themselves, whatever size. It’s about body positivity and healthfulness and being the ones who determine what “healthy” means for ourselves and living that definition. We’re all “qualified” to talk about that. So, I’m very happy to be here…I just took a bit of convincing.

Motivation When You Haven’t Found “That Thing”

You know how a key component of a healthy lifestyle is moving your body in a way that you enjoy? Yeah… I struggle with that. See, as an adult, I haven’t found THAT THING yet — the thing that makes me say, “I’d rather be doing THAT THING than hanging with my kids or reading a book or watching a movie with my husband or sleeping.”

I used to be a dancer.

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A very disciplined dancer.

From three to thirteen, I lived in a leotard. I still struggle with the misconception that I’m fully dressed when wearing just tights. From 13 to 18, I dropped most of my formal dance classes, but I still performed in school musicals and called myself a dancer.

After 18, it got a little less clear cut in my head. I could still rock the dance floor at a college party, but my body was changing. The insane core strength and muscle tone that was a side effect of hours of barre work and floor exercises started to wane. The pudge that had always surrounded my midsection started migrating downward, covering my former rock-hard butt and legs. My stamina and flexibility were shockingly crappy. My self-image and self-esteem, while never stellar, were as low as my arabesques.

After college, my activity levels really changed. I was working full time and feeding myself on an entry-level salary (all carbs, all the time). I wasn’t making a conscious effort to add healthy movement to my lifestyle, and my body and overall health reflected these choices. By the time I realized “muscle memory” and youth weren’t going to keep me healthy for the rest of my life, I had been rocking the sedentary lifestyle for the better part of a decade. (And I’m not even going to touch my disordered relationship with food. That’s a post for another day.)

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All carbs all the time.

Fast-forward through 12 years of desk jobs and weight-loss attempts, two pregnancies, multiple failed relationships with personal trainers, many miserable late-night workout sessions after the kids were (finally) asleep, and I find myself here: embarrassed at how different my 34-year-old body is from my 14- and 24-year-old bodies, and not motivated to work out.

I was pondering this dilemma recently during a particularly sleepless night when it hit me. Two things are holding me back from incorporating regular, healthy movement into my life:

  1. I don’t like working out because there’s nowhere to hide from my body. I’m actually focusing on it instead of pretending it’s not there. It can’t do what it used to be able to do, it hurts a lot more, and that’s depressing.
  2. I’m a full-time working mom. I already feel guilty for spending so much time away from my kids. Taking MORE time away to go to the gym or go for a bike ride just riddles me with guilt.

What if there was a way to build healthy, fun movement into my life WITH my family? What if instead of waiting until my kids were asleep to try to motivate myself to work out, I could work out with them? I could model a healthy, positive relationship with exercise while getting my own butt moving. I’m a champ at expressing body acceptance and positivity when my kids are around, so maybe their very presence would shut down demons in my own head.

So I decided to email my current trainer, whom I had paid in full for a year and then successfully avoided for six months. She’s one of those amazing women who always seems to say “YES!” and she didn’t bat an eye when I asked her to train my family of four instead of just me. She created an awesome interval-based class that involves teamwork and competition that meets the needs of two adults and two young school-aged kids. We meet twice a week, and though we often feel “too tired” to go after a long weekday, we always feel amazing when we leave. And guess what. I’m far too busy cheering on my five- and seven-year-old to give a second thought to what I look like in my workout gear. I’m more interested in how many push-ups they can do than how many I can’t. We’re a team, and we’re kicking butt.

Team Healey

Team Healey

I won’t go so far as to say that I’ve found THAT THING. I’m never just DYING to go workout, but I feel so good about including my kids in my workouts that I’m willing to keep going. I’m actually motivated to get over myself and just be in the moment with my family. Next up? Maybe a family dance class!

How about you? Have you found THAT THING? Is there something active you love doing so much that you can’t imagine life without it? For those of you with kids, how do you incorporate healthy activity into your family life? How does your relationship with your own body affect your motivation to get active with your kids? What solutions have you come up with?

It’s Actually About That Bass AND That Treble

This is gonna seem totally off topic for BFD, but stick with me. It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I am a pop-culture addict. While I have some long-time loves (the Monkees, Johnny Depp, Fame, the Muppets) and some destined-to-become long-time loves (Supernatural, Doctor Who, Tom Hiddleston, Arrow), my most recent obsession is the country acapella group that won The Sing-Off last winter, Home Free.

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Tim, Rob, Austin, Adam, Chris. From NBC.

These guys are talented, funny, positive, and a little cheesy – all things I look for in a pop culture obsession! I saw them perform live in March, and cannot wait to see them again in November. So it hurts me to tell you how disappointed I was when I saw that their newest cover is of Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass.”

Do you know this song? It’s pretty catchy (or pretty annoying, depending on your tastes). And at first pass, probably sounds body positive. Here it is:

But when you take a closer look, it’s only positive about a certain type of body – which is definitely not what the body positive movement is about. Let’s break it down.

Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two
But I can shake it, shake it
Like I’m supposed to do
Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
And all the right junk in all the right places

Can you see all the trouble here? Implying that size two women can’t “shake it,” that there is a way you are “supposed” to shake it, declaring that “all the boys” prefer a specific body type, saying there is a “right” way to have junk.

It goes on to say, “I’m here to tell ya/Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top.” Great, right?  But the lyrics and the video clearly show that this message is not meant for “them skinny b*tches.” Here’s the thing: You can tell someone they’re great from head to toe without telling someone else that they’re not.

Then we have this verse:

Yeah, my mama she told me don’t worry about your size
She says boys like a little more booty to hold at night
You know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll
So if that’s what you’re into then go ahead and move along

Some boys probably do like “a little more booty to hold at night.” But some don’t. And that’s totally fine. If Meghan doesn’t want to be “no stick figure silicone Barbie doll,” great. But there are women out there who look like that, and they are no less worthy than a woman who has a little more, um, bass.

If any Home Fries are reading this, it’s basically like saying Rob’s body is great, but Austin’s isn’t.

HFVBFive guys, five different bodies. (From their Instagram.)

You can be fat positive without being thin negative. Want to know how? By accepting all bodies. All. Every shape, every size. With stretch marks and cellulite – and without. With sharp collar bones and thigh gaps – and without. Shaming fat bodies is terrible. But so is shaming thin bodies. The only thing to really do is stop shaming all bodies. All.

Here’s the Home Free version of the song:

And just to be completely clear, this post is not a criticism of their talent, or the obvious fun they had in making this video. It’s just to make people aware of the message that is, for a lot of people, hidden in this song.

HFBassScreen grab of the video. (Red pants alert!)

Maybe you’re thinking, Get over it! It’s just a silly song. Or maybe you’re thinking, How much can you really like Home Free if you’re being critical of their song choice? The truth is, I can appreciate their talent, skill, and charm while also having issues with the things they promote and say. I think that we each have to decide what’s important to us, what we want to stand for, and how the messages the performers we follow affect us in regards to those things.

So, to that end, here is my message to Home Free:

Austin, Tim, Rob, Chris, and Adam, at first it made me really sad that you made this video, and that you think it’s “a positive message for women everywhere.” And then I realized maybe we just needed to have a chat about it, so you could see another point of view. I still love you guys, and I hope we can hug it out in Buffalo in November. I’ll be in the third row.

What I See Is Not What You Get

Whenever I go to an event or somewhere public, one thing I worry about is if I’m going to be the fattest person there. I tell myself it doesn’t matter, that I’m a great person, people tell me I’m pretty, my husband loves me and is proud to be seen with me. My children reassure me. But it doesn’t help. The worry is: Will people look at me and judge me because of what they see and not what they know about me? They see me as the fat lady, but they don’t see me as a mother of three amazing children. They don’t see me as an educator who makes a difference in the lives of children. They don’t see me as someone’s friend who offers strength, love, laughter, and the occasionally needed shoulder. They don’t see me as a wife, and they certainly don’t see me as my husband does: a sexy woman who makes him happy.

6943016582_e3704975a9_zMe with my main squeeze on our favorite beach.

So, if I worry about all of that, what does everyone else worry about? Do they worry that they’re going to be seen as fat? Do they worry about their thinning hair? Do they worry about their wrinkles or age spots? Do they worry that their clothes may not be just right? When I look at them, will I see what they see, or will I not even notice their biggest fears? Is it the same for me? Am I worrying over something that others don’t even see? I’m almost six feet tall. Most people notice that I’m tall. But do they look at me and say “man, she’s tall!” or they do look at me and think “man, she’s fat!” Is it both? Is it neither? Or are they too worried about their own insecurities to notice mine?

judgingHow many times have you had these thoughts about yourself?

I’ve had to make a very conscious decision to be a confident woman. A confident, tall, fat woman in a world where skinny is beautiful. Ever since I was six weeks old, I’ve been fighting a losing battle with my weight. I’ve had people tell me that gastric surgery is wonderful and I should try it. I don’t want to alter my body that way. I have nothing against anyone who has chosen that path, but it’s not my path and I don’t want it pushed on me. I’ve had others suggest different diets or exercise regimens. “You should do it; you’d be amazed at how great you feel!” I feel pretty good, with a few exceptions that have nothing to do with my weight and everything to do with the way my body was put together. Sometimes I worry that I’m an embarrassment to my husband or my kids because of my weight. They assure me this is not the case, and sometimes it helps.

reunionMeet my fantastic, amazing, and supportive family!

The last couple of years have been instrumental in my decision to be confident. I’ve decided that if you have a problem with my body, it’s exactly that: your problem, not mine. If you have a problem with the way I look, then don’t look at me. If you have a problem with the fact that I don’t look like a model… well, chances are pretty good that neither do you, and I don’t have a problem with that. I’ve been pretty successful. My husband and my children are my biggest supporters, and are such positive forces in my life that I have no choice but to feel good about myself. Because if they’re so amazing, they would never choose to spend time with someone who wasn’t just as amazing, right?

reunion2All dressed up with my man.

So, I’m going to a fancy event with my husband and I will not wonder if I’m going to be the fattest person there. I will not worry that people are making judgments about me based solely on what they see and not what they know about me. I will go to this event knowing that I am a beautiful, confident woman who has so much to give and an enormous capacity to love my friends and family, be a good mother to three amazing children, be an educator who makes a difference to children, and be a sexy woman who makes my man happy.

I Think They Still Know…

This post has been in my head a while, but then resurfaced again earlier this month as I was walking past a window and saw a reflection of myself…

I’m a self-admitted “gut sucker.” Meaning I am always sucking my gut in. It’s like second nature these days. I literally do it without even having to put any thought into it. It’s pretty crazy. Anyway, I was wearing a new tank top that day, and its material is some blend that tends to cling more than usual to my body parts. And as I was walking past the above-mentioned window, I caught sight of the dreaded middle roll. The roll that is whisked away underneath virtually every garment I wear with my superhero-like gut-sucking abilities. But there it was. I kinda noticed it that morning while getting dressed, but was running late and didn’t care much at that time.

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I saw this in SkyMall. Granted it’s for men but it’s a compression shirt that “makes you look 5 lbs slimmer.” Really? I think people still know.

I pulled the tank taught and sucked it in as much as I could until I got to my office, all the while thinking, “Why the heck am I sucking it in? They all know I’m fat!” Plusies, do you ever have moments like this? Are you a sucker-inner? This also relates to my flabalicious arms. I’ve lost weight, and it seems like that was the first place I lost, coupled with still being a fatty, I have the worst “bingo arms” (FYI, I HATE this expression but you all know what I’m talking about). I have this maneuver where I sort of flick my arm out and tuck that skin under my arm when I’m wearing a sleeveless top or cap sleeves so the flab isn’t showing, OR I just don’t reach out very far, thus eliminating all chance of the person on the other end, or within viewing distance, from seeing my arms flapping in the wind. Who am I kidding? I’m fat. It’s pretty obvious. Do I think that people don’t know this? Do I think they don’t know I have flappy arms or a roll in the middle? Why have I adapted these habits? How about you? I think on a conscious level it just makes me feel better about myself. I’d love to hear the thoughts!

I think of this commercial often ( I think it was a commercial?):

See this original post here

It Takes a Village

You guys! I could not be more excited to write this post. I know, you were thinking that I was going to be radio silent for awhile, but I have big news. When I announced my hiatus, some really amazing women contacted me about writing for BFD. And then I asked a couple other phenomenal females… and here we are! I am so thrilled and proud to introduce you to the Big Fit Deal team! These wonderful women are going to write posts here on the blog and share stuff with you on the BFD Facebook page! I’ll be popping in now and then to share my thoughts, too.

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I have always hoped that BFD would be bigger than me, and it’s happening. We’re becoming a community! My heart, you guys. It’s about to burst. Okay, let’s meet the girls – in their own words.

beverlyBeverly

Hey all, I’m Beverly and I live in Utah. Small town girl dreaming of changing the world! I have a small graphic design and printing business that provides me with a creative outlet and some extra income, but I also like to craft, cook, and spend time with my husband and 2 1/2 year old son. I’m just a fatty learning to love her body, and I hope I can do the same for some others as well!


kimKim

I’m Kim; wife of 22 years, mom to three kids (21-year-old daughter, 20- and 13-year-old sons). Fighting for body acceptance since I was put on a diet at six weeks old. I’m a teaching assistant in a middle school in my small upstate NY community. I love my body, my man loves my body, and I make my family proud. I love to help my middle school students (even the guys) become more comfortable with their bodies, and more accepting of others’ bodies.

laurieLaurie

Hi, everyone!  I’m Laurie, and I’m a 40-year old woman-child who still doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up. I live in Small Town, Massachusetts, and my husband and I are currently raising our five-year old rock star to love himself and his body, no matter what shape it turns out to be (right now it’s beautifully boy-shaped). I was brought up to believe that my body would never be right unless it was thin, and I’m determined NOT to pass those hurtful values on to my son. I am currently in love with my body, but that doesn’t mean we don’t still bicker from time to time. All part of the process, I guess.


maryMary

Mary. Forty-something mom of two who loves food and drink, riding her bike, and walking. Not a fan of the gym scene. BFD advocate from day one.

 

 

 

rachelRachel

Rachel, body-positive mama of two, taking it one Oreo at a time. Instructional designer by day, DONA-trained birth doula by… other days. Nutritionally conscious, active in spurts, and awesome at napping. 

 

You can get ahold of any of the new BFD team members by sending an email to connect@bigfitdeal.com. And drop me a line if you’re interested in writing for BFD. There’s plenty of room in this family!

Gimme a Break

What’s the thing that you are most passionate about? What motivates you to get up in the morning, to stay up late, to keep going even when you’re totally spent? Maybe it’s your family, your kids, your job, your sport. The thing that drives you can be liberating, motivating, comforting… and exhausting. Especially if the thing that drives you is not just a thing, but many things.

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Here are my things: Fiction writing, this blog, and half marathon walking. Each of those things takes up an enormous amount of time. And on top of the physical component (yeah, writing can be very physical), there’s the emotional and mental effort of each thing to consider. It’s pretty hard to focus on all three of these things at once.

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All of which is to say: I need a break. Not only that, I also need to refocus. I’ve spent the better part of the last two years focusing mostly on this blog. I think about it all the time – what to write, how to say what I want to say, the things I want to talk to you about. Every single day something happens – I read something, see something, hear something, think of something – that relates to BFD. I could post multiple times a day, if I had the time.

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Which is great. But it also means that my fiction writing has seriously fallen by the wayside. I’ve been writing stories since I was eight years old. It’s my first and truest and deepest passion. And I miss it. So I’m going to go write some fiction for while. Thanks to my awesome friend Jen, I found out about a contest to get a middle grade novel looked at by a literary agent (http://tinyurl.com/pwbds3q), so that’s super exciting!

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I won’t forget about BFD. In fact, I’m sure I’ll be compiling a list of topics to write about while I’m working on my novels. Most of us have spent our entire lives believing certain (mostly negative) thing about the human body – especially our own. And I every much want to be a part of changing that, of making the world a happier, healthier, and safer place for each of us to live in.

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And, honestly? I’m kind of burned out. It takes a lot out of me to think and talk and write about this stuff every day. Don’t get me wrong, I believe utterly in what I’m doing here… but it’s hard to put so much into something and sometimes feel like you’re not getting much out of it. Some of you have told me that BFD has made a difference to you, and that means so much to me. But it’s hard to feel like I want to do more, be more, reach more people, and not have that happen.

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I also struggle personally with stuff about my body, which sometimes makes me feel like a hypocrite when I’m talking to y’all about accepting and embracing and loving your bodies. Of course it’s a journey, and I will always be on the road. I don’t think there’s an end, a magical moment where I wake up and suddenly love my body completely. But I’ve realized that it’s important to sometimes pull off the road and take a break.

FNL10

I hope you’ll miss BFD while it’s on hiatus. I hope you’ll keep sending me links and telling me stories. And I hope that, when I’m ready to come back, you’ll be waiting. BFD wouldn’t be possible without y’all – it would just be me, talking to wall. We’re in this together. I just need to take a little break, and then we’ll be back at it! Thanks for your support, your patience, and your understanding.

I Reflect on My Reflection

This is gonna sound pretty strange, but: I realized I have no idea what I look like to other people. This all came about because I was talking to a friend about how I might categorize myself in the way they ask you to on online dating sites. The options are things like curvy, big and beautiful, heavyset, a few extra pounds. I am completely stumped as to which of these best fits me – mostly because I don’t think any of these fit me. What’s wrong with me, that I don’t feel I fit into any of those categories? Which category does society think I fall into? Why don’t I know?!

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And this discussion reminded me that a friend at the gym commented that the camera seems to take ten pounds OFF me, instead of putting ten pounds on me the way it does for most people (actually, I think she said twenty). That seems like a flattering compliment, but it froze me in my tracks. Maybe I’m just really good at taking selfies? Or maybe I’m just super disproportionate in the head and face? Maybe I’m so focused on my small head that I ignore my giant (and thus unacceptable and unlovable) body?

BeetlejuiceMe on the right?

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the edge of the precipice. One small step and the ground gives way. Let the shame spiral begin!

supernatural_3

What if I look way worse than I think I do? What if I’m unappealing and unattractive to people who don’t know me? What if I think I’m smaller than I really am? What if I’m enormous and gross and everyone sees it but me? What if I’ve been deluding myself for years? What if what if what if what if……

pink

I had a long talk last week with a friend who is struggling with the idea of trying weight loss again – even considering weight loss surgery. One of the reasons she has considered hopping back on the diet train is because she struggles to find flattering clothes (she is a fabulous dresser!). She wants to be able to waltz into any store in the mall and buy whatever cute thing strikes her fancy. Boy, do I get that! It sure would be nice.

3Soh8ftI need to be more like Ron Burgundy. Sorta.

But what I told her, and it’s something that I like to remind people of (including myself) all the time, is if something doesn’t fit, it’s not your body’s fault, it’s the clothes. And then I thought, well, isn’t the same thing true for those words meant to categorize my body? Maybe it doesn’t have to fit any of those descriptions. Maybe my body is what it is, and it’s the descriptions that need to change. Maybe I get to choose the words that define my body.

nothingwrongEven if the messages come from me?

I get that on an intellectual level, but on an emotional one, I still feel pretty lousy about myself.

I could talk to you all day about how health is possible for people of all sizes, how you can’t judge someone’s health (or health habits) just by looking at them, how the sixty billion dollar diet industry wants you to hate yourself so you’ll give them your money, and on and on. But when it comes to love – because that’s what this all really boils down to, me finding someone to love me – I fall flat on my blogging face.

JTI feel your feels, JT.

So, at the end of it all, this is one of those “I have no answers” posts. It’s one of those “Should I even be writing this blog if I feel this way?” posts. This is not a “Please post compliments about me in the comments” post, though. It’s more of a “Have you ever felt this way?” and “How did you get past it?” posts.

Good Enough

So the other day we were talking about how sometimes we can be our own worst critics. I read a quote the other day about how we are so used to the face staring back at us in the mirror, we don’t realize how beautiful we might look to a stranger. I think it’s probably true, too, that we are so used to believing certain things about ourselves, that we would be astonished to know what other people believe about us. When we might be feeling not good enough, someone else might see beauty, strength, grace, power.

kneeThis post is brought to you by my injuries.

Last weekend, Gilda’s Gang did a six mile training session. I’ve done so many of these, I’ve lost count. But this one was tough. My hamstrings were tight, my calves hurt, my bad foot was acting up, and I was favoring the knee that I injured years ago (see photo above). It wasn’t a good morning. At one point, I said to my walking partner, “I want to slow down.” And she said, “So let’s slow down.” And we did.

boot2Clear eyes, full hearts… walking boot?

You know what? The world didn’t end. We went slower, and gradually I started to feel better. Stronger. I thought, I could walk a really long time at this pace. This is challenging but not uncomfortable. This works.

bootGoes with every outfit!

And yet I also felt like I wasn’t trying hard enough, wasn’t doing enough. I ought to be faster. I need to be able to finish the half marathon on September 21st by a certain time or else… Or else what? I’ve failed? That’s silly, because as long as I cross that finish line before the course closes, I’m still going to get handed a medal to add to my collection. If the clock says 3:30 or 3:45 instead of 3:15 or 3;00, the only person who’s truly going to care about that is me.

My doctor said to me: “Don’t be your own critic… that takes the joy out of life.”

10389556963_bffbd58d87_zLet’s add an ankle sprain to the mix, eh?

He’s totally right. One thing that I’ve lost (and found and lost again) during my seven years as a half marathon walker is the joy of it. It’s hard work, don’t get me wrong. The hardest thing I’ve ever done – repeatedly! But there also used to be joy in it. I think I can get that back, if I take it easy, if I take care of myself.

I say to my first-time Gang members all the time that their goal should be just to finish. And this year, that needs to be my goal, too. Maybe every time I step up to the start line from now on, my goal will only to be finish. At whatever pace, at whatever time. My Personal Record (2:59:41, for those keeping track at home) will probably stand forever. And that’s not the end of the world. I’m not the same person I was in 2008.

photo1(1)Annnnd we’re back to the knee.

I have believed for many years that I am only a good endurance walker if I walk fast enough, if I see a certain time on the clock. If I can’t manage that, then I’m a failure. I don’t think other people believe that about me. I think they see someone who has struggled with injury and pain, who is still out there doing it, who is still walking those 13.1 miles.

photo2These shoes (and these feet) will take me to the finish line…at any pace.

Sorry to be the one to break this to you, but slow and steady doesn’t win the race. It does finish the race, though. And that’s more than good enough.