Let self-confidence, strength, and a sense of accomplishment be your motivators.
Jealousy is an ugly emotion as it is, but it’s even uglier when we use that envy to degrade our own bodies.
I’m a healthy individual. I eat right, I exercise, and apart from the occasional cupcake or glass of wine, I have very few vices. It hasn’t always been that way – in college, I did more than my fair share of incredibly stupid fad diets – but I’ve finally found a lifestyle that works for me. As a result, I lost a significant amount of weight, I do marathons and triathlons, and at 29 years old, am in the best shape of my life. Most days, realizing what my body can accomplish on a track or a steep hill is enough to leave me in complete awe.
And yet, as much as I hate to admit it, I have those days where I’ll step out of the shower and scrutinize my body in the mirror. At a race, I look at the other girls at the start line and realize our body types are vastly different. My triathlete’s body, with its wide shoulders and beefy cycling thighs, covets the skinny arms and legs of my running compatriots.
In really low moments, yes, I wish I looked like the other girls on the starting line.
Almost every day, TV ads, magazines and websites offer “helpful” tips on how to “blast fat” and “get swimsuit ready.” We’re bombarded with messages about weight loss everywhere we go. Even running publications (Competitor included) get in on the action, telling us that losing weight can help us to run even faster. As I work to achieve my goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon, I’ve had conversations with my coach and a dietician about my weight. Though they have all been positive, with a focus firmly on keeping me healthy, I still see parallels between losing 10 pounds to increase my running performance and my college days of losing 10 pounds to feel prettier.
It can be hard, especially for women, to feel like they body they have is “good enough.” As a result, it seems as if weight loss is the initial motivator for some to take up running.
Ultimately, though, we have to remember that fitness is about so much more than just being skinny. I can covet a body that looks thin, or I can strive to make my body the healthiest it can be.
I run because I enjoy it. Before I started running, I used to emphatically state that running was for crazy people, but now I understand why people love it– and I count myself amongst one of the “crazies.”
I can use running to help others. I can’t cure cancer or prevent juvenile diabetes, but I can run to raise funds and awareness for those causes.
When I run, my friends join me…and I get to bear witness to an amazing transformation from insecure, awkward runners to confident, proud race finishers.
Instead of wondering if I could ever run faster or make it all 26.2 miles of a marathon, I go out and I do it – and I get my answer.
When I think of all the reasons I choose to be active, I realize “being skinny” doesn’t even fall on that list. Instead, self-confidence, strength, and a sense of accomplishment are my motivators. Every runner has a different reason for being active, whether that runner is you, your spouse or the person on the treadmill next to you at the gym — some are motivated by vanity, some are not.
Me? I’d rather have the swagger that tells the world “I raced a marathon” than a pair of jeans with a size zero tag hidden in the waist.
About The Author:
Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons, and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). In addition to writing for Competitor, she serves as Resident Triathlete for No Meat Athlete, a website dedicated to vegetarian endurance athletes. Susan lives and trains in Phoenix, Arizona with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete boyfriend. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke