Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Body Image

Let’s talk about body image for a minute.  The thing about body image is that it’s just that, an image.  Your body image is your perception of the image reflected back at you in the mirror compared with an arbitrary image of what you think you’re supposed to see.  Body image truly is in the eye of the beholder.
In full disclosure and before I go any further, let me tell you that my weight hasn’t changed at all since I started my marathon training plan.  I pretty much stay within the same 4 pound weight range all of the time and that hasn’t changed with the increased running.
What has changed during my training is the way I see myself.  My body image has changed.  What I first see in the mirror is not the pooch under my belly button or the jiggle above my thighs.  What I see is a healthy body that is capable of carrying me miles and miles down the road.  I see the calves that propel me up those dreaded hills.  I see the abs that help lift and lower my legs over and over and over and over.  I see the shoulders that swing my arms propelling me forward.  The biggest change is that I’ve stopped judging the image before me.  Don’t get me wrong, I still see the baby Buddha belly in the mirror, but now I just rub it for a little luck and move on.
I’m no longer worrying about skinny or chubby.  That’s not what my body is about.  I’m worrying about healthy and fit.  I don’t count calories in fear of tipping the scale above “that number” that I’ve been focused on for years.  I calculate calories to make sure I have enough fuel to perform at my best.  My thoughts about my body no longer focus on too big or too soft.  Now I think of my body in terms of my preparation to perform.  Am I hydrated?  Am I fueled?  Am I too sore?  Am I stretched enough?  Am I strong enough?  Do I have any pain? 
My body is not about what I think it’s supposed to look like.  My body is so much more than that. I am so much more than that!!  My body is a tool to help me reach the goal set before me and I want to treat it well.  Recently, I was watching an interview with a female runner and they asked her what her least favorite body part was.  Her response left me with my jaw on the floor.  She said she really didn’t like criticizing her body.  She said that even after all of the things she had put her body through (prior to becoming a real runner for over 15 years, she smoked, drank, and abused drugs), her body still continually showed up for her and allowed her to continue running and that because of that she just didn’t feel right criticizing her body for anything.  Wow!  Imagine that.  Imagine loving and respecting your body for what it is capable of and not for the size of pants you can squeeze it into.
Here is another thing about body image:  It’s easier to change than your actual body. Maybe, just maybe I’m on to something here.  Maybe if all of us could stop trying so hard to change our bodies and focused instead on changing our body images we would find ourselves a little happier and healthier.   Give it a try.

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