becoming a happy adult in a sunny sustainable world.
(yes, the title is a Village People reference. Don’t judge.)
I hadn’t decided which of my formspring questions to answer next…and then I went to work on Friday. And I got my answer.
I had strolled down to the little convenience store in the courthouse to buy a gatorade. And I don’t remember how this conversation started, but somehow it came up that the cashier used to run track. And, like I always do when someone says they were a runner, I ask what events she ran.
Her: Oh, I was a hurdler and sprinter.
Me: Me too! Well, I moved up to middle distance by my senior year.
Her: Yea, I hated running anything more than a 200m.
Me: Yea, I hated running anything longer than a half-mile in high school. I never would have thought that I would end up being a marathoner.
Her: Wow, I would NEVER look at you and think you ran a lot of miles. You just don’t look like…
Me: *nervous awkward chuckle*
And, I leave, and turn to the coworker who was in there with me, and we both react “what the f does that mean?” I of course take it to mean that I’m too fat/large/oafish to run marathons.
Ok, so that brings me to the formspring question I want to answer… You seem so comfortable with your body! Have you ever struggled with weight/body image problems?
I received a bunch of variations on this question. Which, honestly, surprised me. Because confidence in and comfort with my body has never been something that was my strong suit. So, the short answer? YES. YES YES. I have and still struggle with body image and weight issues.
I grew a whole lot during 8th and 9th grade, going from 5’5″ to 5’10″. My senior year of high school, I started really wanting to be “small.” I hated being tall. Because it was different and non girly. And I was taller than most of the boys. And if I couldn’t be petite, I would be small gosh darnit. And then I lost about 25 lbs from an already thin frame. I looked like a skeletor. It was not my most attractive time (my fastest running, but most unattractive). And, it left me with the scars of an eating disorder for many years. I ballooned up in college, gaining many times the freshman 15. I was clearly at war with food. I hated my body. I hated food. It occupied WAY too much of my mind during my college years. I worked out like crazy. And always knew an exact calorie count at any point in the day.
I’d love to say that a switch just flipped and I got “ok.” But, clearly, that’s not what happened. A lot of work was put into being ok. But, for many years it was a daily battle. As I grew up into an adult, it started to fade away. I started just eating when I was hungry; I slowly stopped having a running calorie count in my head for each day; and I started excersing because I loved it. And after about 5 years, I just started to be ok. I now can generally consume food without feeling guilty. I recognize the benefit and role of good food. And thoughts of hating my body do not consume my day. Once I stopped being anxious about my body and food, my body found a happy weight. I’m not super skinny. And I’m probably not at my fastest race weight. But, I am at a good healthy weight that I can maintain without obsession (which, for a person with an obsessive and addictive personality, is an important factor).
When I miserably loathed my body, it was oft a topic of my discussion. And, I was a bore in conversations because NO ONE wants to hear about me complain about my perfectly functional healthy body. So, I just stopped talking about it. Which is probably why you all came away with the impression that I am comfortable with my body. And I guess I am. Mostly. I have my days. And the lovely Ariela listens to me bitch and moan. I’ll complain about being (now) 5’11″ and taller than the average man. And being strong and not little and cute and petite. But mostly, I don’t spend too much time thinking about my body one way or the other anymore.
Do I love my body? Meh…it has its perks and it’s flaws. But, I’ve gotten to the point where I realize there are way too many wonderful things in my life to spend time worrying about my plump rear. Would I like to lose a little body fat and gain some muscle? Sure. Will that likely happen as a result of my Ironman training…I’m also sure…But this body that I used to treat so poorly has done a lot of wonderful things over the year that I and it should both be proud of. A two time marathoner. A half-ironwoman.
I also know that ED scars in my brain have left me with a healthy case of dysmorphia. So, even if I’m feeling large and fat, I try to give more credence to what an outside observer says. I may not believe them, but I leave open the possibility that my perspective of my body may be off. I also know that I can and will drive myself crazy thinking about me being “oafish.” So I don’t let myself think that way often.
So, the short answer, Yes, I often wish that I were shorter and smaller. Long answer, I’m working on it…and I have times when I love rocking out heels and being over 6-ft tall.
And now, after being incredibly honest and vulnerable…it’s time for a glass of wine and bed.
A public defender super heroine by day, I am a cupcake baker extraordinaire by night. And come weekend, I am an IronPerson. I deal with an NPR addiction daily and I dream of one day having Carl Kasell on my answering machine. I strive to be the best fur-mommy I can be, and when I have time, I'm learning to be a grownup.