I live in the Midwest and deal with long, bleak winters that seem to have no end. We fantasize about summer. So when the weather finally begins to warm, it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. While I’ve spent months looking forward to the feeling of warmth of sun, I can’t help but become more aware of my body. I suddenly realize how cottage cheese like the cellulite on the back of my thighs looked. I realize that the pocket of fat on my belly is bigger than I thought it was when it was covered by my sweatshirt. And wow, have my arms always jiggled and flopped around like that when I wave them? Seriously, why did no one tell me I have chicken wings? Suddenly I seem to plunge in self-consciousness. And it was a cycle that would continue year after year. Until last year, when there was a series of fortuitous events panned out that finally broke the cycle.
My friend approached me one day and asked me how I felt about marathons. Well, obviously I hated them. I hadn’t gone on a run since I was in high school and had to run around that dreaded track over and over until I thought my stomach was going to fall out of my body. But my friend was persistent and kept asking me. She didn’t want to do it alone and would help me train up for it in the gym leading up to the marathon. She would go really slow with me. Finally, I couldn’t deal with her nagging anymore and I relented.
So we began to train in the gym. And I wanted to kill my friend. My body hurt and I could barely walk. Every time I had to sit up, and every time I had to sit down I felt like I was going through a form of torture. Yet, after just 2 weeks, I began to notice another feeling. I no longer focused on the pudge of my stomach but instead mainly thought about the muscle underneath which I could feel. Despite having lost no weight and not having changed shape at all, my perception of my body had completely changed.
Just like that, it hit me. The key to feeling good about my body didn’t require me to be a size two or look like the models in magazine. The key to feeling good about my body was feeling good in my body. And to do that, it required me to be healthy. When I eat a healthy meal and go to the gym, I feel fabulous. And when I sit on my butt all day and eat McDonalds, I feel like a fat schlub. So now when the summer months start creeping up, I start going to the gym. Not because I feel the need to get a toned down tummy in time for bikini season, but because the simple act of going to the gym and running for half an hour makes me feel amazing about myself. I carry myself differently and feel an inner confidence that is incomparable.