When did you become aware of your body?

I have been really struggling with my body this week.  Which seems silly.  My body is capable of amazing things.  I’ve run marathons.  I teach multiple classes a week, sometimes multiple classes a day.  Sometimes, I look in the mirror in the morning, and see something awesome.  And yet, this week, when Aunt Flo decided to visit a few days early, and I put on a teeny bit of weight after what I felt was an amazing week at the gym, everything went to hell, and I became uncomfortably aware of how much physical space I was taking up.

I found the responses to last week’s post really interesting.  IRL, as well as online, I heard a lot from you guys (which I love).  However, the most intriguing responses came from the folks who’d shared on it in an online Trail and Ultra Running group I’ve been a part of.  Many folks commended my friend for calling me out, as they should have.  A few folks commended me for admitting what an asshole I’d been.  And more than most admitted to feeling poorly about their own bodies.  Some admitted to doing what I’d done, turning the things they felt were negative about themselves into rules that dictate what others should wear, and how they should wear it.

What’s so interesting about this group is that these folks are capable, strong humans.  Some of them truly do look like models.  Some look like fitness models.  Some are overweight.  Some don’t look like “typical” runner.  Some do.  However, their running and their capabilities are in no way defined by their looks.  So why all the angst as it relates to our bodies, especially considering the fact that at the very least, in that group especially, our bodies are capable of running endless miles on rugged terrain?

When did we get so aware of our bodies, and what they should look like?

For me, I remember being 120 lbs as a freshman in high school.  I struggled with my looks, the way I’m sure all 14-year-olds did.  I was sitting in a civics, and I looked down.  I was wearing a fitted top, and noticed the part of my tummy that was hanging over the edge of my jeans.  I pinched it.  I pinched it again.  To this day when I’m feeling anxious or particularly down, I will look down, grab that little roll, and pinch.  No matter how small or how round it’s gotten.

I’m not sure how I learned that behavior, or what drew me to became aware of this part of my body.  However, at 13 or 14, I knew that there was something “wrong” with it.  And, as I talked about last week, the things I find “wrong” with myself, I look for in others.

All of that said, I do identify with the fact that not everything I’m thinking is logical or right.  I recently ran a marathon.  I have incredible physical strength.  I just completed a grueling vinyasa sculpt class with minimal nausea.  I should have incredible gratitude for my body, these limbs, these muscles that get me from more than point A to point B.  But, my first instinct, my first learned behavior is to be critical of the physical manifestation of who I am.

At what point did you become aware of your body?  What does your body mean to you?

I removed my work email off my phone, and no one died.

Months and months ago, a friend asked me, over coffee, what my biggest struggle was.

I told him, quite simply “balance“.

It’s a well-know fact that within my family, we don’t really do anything halfway.  I don’t just exercise a bit, I do it for a living.  I don’t just sort of like Gavin DeGraw, I’ve seen him on like 5 separate occasions.  It’s kind of why I don’t do drugs.  Because I’m not a casual do-er of anything.  It’s really all or nothing.  Which is why balance can be an issue in my life.

I want to do it all, run it all, work all the time, and still fit in time to teach, work out, and play with my friends.  But that becomes a little challenging when you realize that there are only 24 hours in a day, and that sleeping is a must.  And not getting my work done isn’t really an option either.

I started to notice a month or two back that I would noticeably become agitated  and anxious around 7 a.m. when some of my instructors would wake up and start sending messages.  Typically, the messages themselves were perfectly fine, but I would feel the need to immediately respond to them before my feet even hit the floor to get ready for work, and there’s something a little weird about that.

So last week, my 4s started to grind to a halt, and I swapped my phone over to another, functioning 4s so that I could squeeze a little time out before I have to take the plunge and buy a new phone.  Because of this, I never got around to the convoluted system there is to set your work email up on your phone, so in essence the only time I’ve had access to my work email is when I’m on my work laptop.

Which has been, in a word, glorious. 

At first I was nervous.  Nervous that I would miss something important, or that someone would be upset with me for my less-than-immediate response to their questions.  But that has not happened.  I have responded to emails once I’ve opened my laptop in the order that I’ve received them.  Nothing will fall to the wayside.  No one has been upset.  And it has been such a blessing for balance and such a blessing for my sense of well-being.

How have you worked to bring more balance to your life?  

Comparison is the thief of joy.

About 3 days after I completed my marathon, an awful awful feeling started creeping in.

Days 1 and 2 were filled with a little bit of disbelief.  Except for the profound ache in my quads, I wasn’t quite sure I’d done it.

And then came the postpartum depression.

Literally, I was overwhelmed by this sense that I could have done better.  That I, and my race time, was a disappointment to friends and family.  That I hadn’t worked hard enough initially, and that’s why I hadn’t pulled an Olympian time.  I started to feel antsy.  That I immediately needed to sign up for something else, to begin training, and to “redeem” myself in a sense.

I explained this to Yoga Kerri a few days later at work, and she, as well as a few others, explained that the race was about me, and not anyone else.  It doesn’t matter what anyone else thought.  My time was nothing to sniff at.  I’d done it.  I’d enjoyed the experience.  And I wanted to do it again, and if I did it better (and one day qualified for Boston and then had a really sweet jacket to proudly wear about as people marveled about my beauty and strength), then so be it.

I don’t know who I was comparing myself to.  But I have a lot to be proud of.

      • I finished a marathon
      • I ran the entire time, the way I wanted to
      • I felt relatively good the entire time
      • I created a training plan, and stuck to it
      • I’d gladly do it again

So raise your glass (of low-cal Gatorade), and cheers to not comparing yourself to anyone else.  Do you!

Look at that fine behind!
Look at that fine behind!