I’m obsessed with the Fitness page on Pinterest.com. I find some of the picture/pins incredibly inspirational. Some I find borderline eating disorder and frankly, disturbing. Really, I feel conflicted that it even invokes feelings at all. I wish I could reconcile emotions around body image. As a girl, it is a delicate, tricky topic. Try telling someone that you are having a “fat” day and if that someone is female, you are guaranteed one of two responses. The first is “Oh no, you look great” or “I am having a fat life”. The responses may vary but almost always synced into one of the categories. If you do find one outside of those two answers, chances are the person you are talking to is male.
What I really want within my last goal on my 30 by 30 list is to be able to stop having these conversations constantly in my head. I’m ready for the 16 year war with my body to be over. I’m only 28, which means that I have been thinking about my body image, weight and therefore worth, since I was 12. It was not in vain. When I was 12 I weighed close to 185lbs. I had high blood pressure. It was right after my family moved back to Nebraska and I started a new school. It was the first time in my life that I realized how different I was from everyone around me and not because I was the new kid. I had a terrible haircut. I wasn’t able to wear clothing my peers wore. I felt different and alone because I was fat and different. This was the starting point where the war begun. I lost weight that summer. I was never skinny. I learned to find ways around it. What I never learned was confidence to take control of the voice in my head.
I continued to lose weight over the next 12 years. I reached a healthy weight after adopting a dog and becoming a vegetarian. It was also at this time when I took up running. I would run between 1-4 miles. I did not care about pushing past that point or even being consistent with it. I was finally able to feel confident in what I wore and how I looked. Then my sister asked me to run a 5 mile race with her. I had never run 5 miles before but I took the challenge. After that race, she asked me if I wanted to run a half marathon with her. Christmas 2009, I decided to accept her challenge. February 2010, I ran my first half marathon. It was while training for this race that I introduced strength training to my routine. I realized the importance of protein and other nutrients. My race memories are very vivid. Physically, it was tough. Mentally, it was even tougher. My sister told me before the race, this will be hard. I can’t describe to you how hard it will be, but it won’t be easy. I didn’t realize what she meant until I crossed the finish. I realized a new strength within myself that did not exist before but it didn’t quiet the voice.
Since that breaking point I’ve accomplished numerous fitness goals including running a full marathon, winning an age category medal, setting a PR in both the 5k and half marathon distance. My body has noticeable changes in that I have arm definition. I am able to do 10 real push ups. I can do all of level 3 on the Jillian Michael’s 30 day shred. I can run 26 miles, straight. I have proven to myself that it is possible to set goals. It is possible to reach them. Even with all of this positivity, it is a struggle to keep working out. There are still ups and downs with my weight and my work out schedule. The one thing that remains constant is the criticism and inability to see myself as others do.
As an aunt I want to be a role model to my nieces. I want them to know that fitness is important for more than just making/keeping you “skinny”. I want them to know the inner strength and calmness that comes from proving yourself within a goal. I want them to see it is not as easy as every Hollywood actress pretends. That continues to annoy me. No one stays in shape by luck and pilates. I want women to stop looking as skinny as the end result. I want it to be health, strength and confidence. The first step to that is reshaping my own conversation with myself, one baby step at a time.