Earlier this year, I had the flu and when I returned to the gym, a fellow trainer told me that I looked so skinny, which was meant to be a compliment. She said that it was the great thing about getting sick - you lose so much weight. I explained, rather attempted to explain, that I don't want to be skinny and that losing weight from being sick isn't healthy.
Fifteen minutes later, another person told me that I looked "so skinny and looked great." In my explanation, I noted that I hadn't lost any weight and had been too exhausted to train after having the flu.
This experience reminded me of when I was training for a 1/2-marathon and was scrutinizing my food, eliminated all alcohol, and was running - a lot. My training was going really well, which meant that I was injury-free (a rarity when my mileage was high), sleeping well, and was certain that I was going to PR that race.
Then, a co-worker noted that I looked too thin. She described it more poetically, "You look like Skeletor."
Excuse me, what?
She commented that my face looked so thin that I looked like a skeleton.
Well, that's just freaking great.
When I was a long distance runner, I had trouble maintaining my weight. After I recovered from an eating disorder in high school, I continued to struggle to maintain weight while I was in college.
Until I started resistance training. Then I found strength in my body and my weight stabilized. I'd finally realized that being skinny didn't feel strong.
As soon as I'd train for a long race, my face would lose it's joy and I'd look so thin - even when my weight didn't change at all.
When I was "skinny" I could always find something on me that was "imperfect."
Also, being skinny was about control - I could manipulate my food intake and exercise intensity to feel in control when everything around me felt chaotic.
Being skinny made me uncomfortable - people made comments, boys whistled and yelled inappropriate things while I ran by, and it made me feel weak.
When I restricted my food and over-trained - I was hungry, tired, and emotionally drained. But my thinness often made people think I was healthy.
I didn't come to except my body easily. And there are still days that I have to put myself in check if I just feel blah in my body.
Strength training helped me welcome muscles on my body. Being able to lift more and move better made it easier to accept parts of my body that weren't my favorite.
But the most important part about loving my body was doing a whole bunch of heart + mind work. Working through trauma, challenging limiting beliefs about myself, and letting go of control over every damn thing have allowed me to love myself - mind, body, and heart.
These days, I leave my hoodie and sneakers on at the doctor when I'm getting weighed because it doesn't matter if I have a few extra pounds on my body. (Did you know that you can request to not be weighed - a blog for another time.)
I am strong - my body is fueled well and sometimes that fuel includes pizza, chips and guacamole.
I am strong - I can hike mountains, stroll the beach, and swing kettlebells.
I am strong - I remember to breathe when life sucks a little or I have anxious thoughts.
My body is strong and so is my mind. And I love the heck out of everything that my body can do.
How do you feel strong in your body? in your mind? in your heart?
Hugs & High-Fives to You!