I have all these big huge topics that I want to write about floating around in my head, and for some reason they have paralyzed me from writing about anything else (at all). But, given the comments on my last post about my physique, I thought maybe it was time to address one of them, and if it isn’t a witty and sparkling and insightful commentary, oh well.
Like many women, I have long been plagued with a poor body image. My boobs are too small, my ass is too big, and now pregnancy, child-bearing and breast-feeding have not only magnified those two problems but also given me a small layer of cushiness around my midsection.
When I was 22, I kept a picture of myself at 14 – all knobby knees, bony hips and flat chest – hanging on my refrigerator at grad school in Springfield, Illinois. That was what I aspired to – prepubescent thinness.
By 29, I had lost that picture, though I do remember the bathing suit (orange, green and blue flowered one-piece). In its place I mentally hung a picture of myself at 21 lying with my college friends on Daytona Beach in a blue two-piece, freshly-pierced navel and kicky short blonde hair. I didn’t catch the irony at that time. I was unhappy with myself at 22, but just 7 years later, that 22-year-old’s body looked pretty good to me.
After I put up that picture of myself in the bathing suit earlier this week, I started to wonder: Seven years from now, will my body today look pretty good to me? With its cellulite and stretch marks and just-three-more-pounds-and-I’ll-be-happy-itis? Will I wish, as I do of that 22-year-old body now, that I had appreciated its beauty and wonder when I had it? Will I regret that I wasted so much time worrying about my fleshy parts and not enough time being grateful for the parts that are strong and good and functioning?
A week before Memorial Day, I started working out regularly. For two months, I didn’t miss a day on the elliptical machine (or, when I travelled, running or some other form of exercise). About a month ago, I started running on days the weather allowed. I wanted a goal, something to work toward, and the 5K on Thanksgiving seemed like as good a target as any.
In less than three weeks, I was running more than a 5K on my regular, every-other-day schedule (I even ran on Saturday morning at my mom’s boat last weekend, much to the shock of my lovely husband. Hell, he’s shocked by the whole damn thing). The numbers on the scale haven’t dropped very much. But I feel good. I feel healthy.
Why isn’t that enough?