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On Body Image and Strength

I ran a 5K today! (With my siblings!)

The last time I did a 5K was ten years ago, and I was one of the volunteers handing out water. I don't run. Heck, I barely even exercise. I'm just lucky that my job keeps me on my feet for at least eight hours a day, otherwise... well, I don't want to imagine the otherwise. I used to do yoga 3-4 times a week, and I really loved it, and that was the best I'd ever felt in terms of feeling strong, and fit. Then I moved, and the next studio I started going to closed after a month of me joining. So I stopped doing yoga because I struggled with developing a home practice. Then, a few years later, I tried doing the 30 Day Shred for a bit, and I kept it up for about a month and then I stopped. Then I joined a gym that was within walking distance of our new apartment, and I was really enjoying the classes, and two weeks later they announced that they were closing. So I tried to get back into doing yoga and fitness stuff at home... and eventually I kept making excuses to avoid it. I've never been good at developing motivation, or staying motivated in general. And as much as I love yoga, classes are really expensive, and I just don't get the same satisfaction when I do it at home. But I really want to get back into some kind of exercise routine!

Growing up, I never really struggled with body image issues. Aside from an abundance of facial and back acne which sorted itself out once I started taking birth control pills, I really didn't feel negatively about the way I looked. Sure, my thighs touched, my breasts were small, and my arms were flabby, but for the most part, I was happy with my overall appearance. I mean, in high school it was more about the clothes you were wearing, right? Not so much the body underneath them. Well, that was my experience at least.

As I've gotten older though, my body has changed. I've developed wider hips and, oh-my-gosh, real bewbs! Like, really real big boobs. My thighs still touch and my arms still jiggle, and now I have what I can only refer to as a belly pooch. And even though this development has happened over the course of ten years, in the past year I've really started to struggle with keeping a positive body image. The size of my clothing and my weight hadn't fluctuated since high school... but earlier this spring I tried on some of my summer clothes that I've had for years, and I found out that they didn't physically fit me anymore. Then I measured myself and found out I had gained an inch across my bust, waist, and hips. Then I went in for a regular check up at the doctor's office and found out I had gained fifteen pounds over the past year.

My first thought was "Where?!" because I really have no idea what fifteen pounds looks like and honestly it sounded a lot worse than it actually was. Fifteen pounds sounds like a lot! And maybe it is. Maybe it isn't. All I know is that on the BMI scale, that extra fifteen pounds put me right on the cusp of being overweight. And knowing all of this made me feel really shitty. Really really shitty. And when I looked in the mirror at what I used to pay no mind to, all of a sudden I couldn't help but analyze every little bit of myself. I had started noticing the gain earlier this year, but it didn't fully strike me until I saw the number on the scale.

I'll be turning 27 next month. Sure, that's still plenty young, but I know I'm only getting closer to my metabolism starting to slow down and my skin starting to lose its elasticity. So I have to start taking care of the body that I have now. Maybe I've gotten away with a relatively lethargic lifestyle for the past 26 years, but I can't get away with that forever. And yeah, maybe I'm stuck with this pooch and an extra inch all around, even if I do up the ante on my exercise regime. That's probably my body preparing for child birth. (Hey, body! I never said that was what I wanted!) Maybe a lot of my wardrobe that I've built over the past few years is going to need to be updated to fit this new body I've grown into. (Hey! I'm not a young 20 year old any more! Maybe my style should reflect that.) And maybe my mind needs a little boost to remind me that change is ok, and it's inevitable, and that good things can come from it. For instance, maybe this is the push I need to get the motivation to find an exercise routine and stick to it. Or to save up money to do that yoga teacher certification I've been contemplating for years.

I'm strong! And I'm capable! And my body is good to me! I mean, I ran a 5K today!! I'm really proud to say that, despite how I may feel about the way my body looks these days.


  1. That's awesome you ran a 5k! My biggest problem with exercising is staying motivated, I'll do it every day for a weeks or so, then then just stop for some reason. It's crazy when your metabolism grinds to a screeching halt. I went from being able to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, but now if I eat when I think are normal portion sizes at each meal, I'll pack on the pounds! Oh the fun of being an adult!

  2. First of all, Congrats on running 5K!!!

    Second, going to the doctors is the worst. I went a few weeks back and saw my weight. I feel fine about my body, like you mention about yourself - a few things I wouldn't mind working on but no big deal at all, but seeing a number bummed me out so bad. In hind sight I should have said "please don't tell me my weight, I don't want to know" but felt dumb letting them know that it would affect me.

    I'm so bad at staying motivated too! I'm unstoppable for a few weeks then I just hit a wall and stop exercising. Biking is actually the only physical activity I haven't gotten bored of. I'm rather shocked that after a few months I love it even more than when I first started.

  3. Thank you!!

    I don't keep a scale in our apartment because I really don't feel that knowing that number is important. If I'm gaining weight, I'll notice it in other ways, so I try not to stress out about the number so much... but it was such a big jump that my mind definitely got the best of me!

    You've been doing so much biking! It's very motivating to see, and it has definitely got me thinking about buying a bike. But biking around Philadelphia just seems really dangerous (the drivers are not respectful of bicycles!). I love doing yoga, and I really just need to find a way to do it at home and still get the benefits I would get in a classroom setting.

  4. Staying motivated is the worst! I'm the same way, I start off real strong and then I get sick, or I skip two days because I have to work late, and then it's hard for me to start back up again. And I definitely used to eat so much worse! But I've cut back on snacking and I eat healthy 90% of the time. Shawn on the other hand... he eats junk food constantly and eats at weird hours of the day, and yet he's a stick! It really bums me out sometimes, but I know it's just nature and aging, and being a woman.


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