Sunday, October 7, 2012

Body positivity

I've done it. A LOT of women have done it - we've stood in front of our mirrors, eyeing our bodies critically, thinking to ourselves, "I wish my stomach were flatter" or "I wish my thighs wouldn't touch." I've stood there, hating my body and hating the fact that I was cursed with a slower metabolism and a sweet tooth.

I've tried lots of diets. I've joined lots of gyms. I've taken lots of pills. I've read lots of fitness magazines. I've bought lots of workout dvds and workout equipment. Some things were more successful than others at making me lose weight, but none of them were successful at making me love and appreciate my body. I kept trying to starve and/or beat my body into submission, and it just didn't work.

And then this year, I tried something different. I tried to take care of my body instead. Instead of taking out my wrath and frustration on my body, I tried to nurture it instead. I found ways to work out that I loved and that focused on making me stronger rather than making me thinner. I found a way of eating that put my body on the path towards optimum health rather than to pump it with processed food and chemicals.

And you know what? It worked. And the funny thing is, while I have lost weight this year (something that I would've been ecstatic about in the past), it's like... I don't care. I don't care so much about the weight I've lost, because I've found that it's more important that my body feels good and functions properly. I've stopped caring so much about what my body looks like, and I've started caring more about what my body can do. And now, I love my body.

I ran twenty miles today. TWENTY MILES. It's the peak long run of my marathon training program, and I totally did it. How can I hate my body after that? How can I stand in front of the mirror and wish I had a different body when it totally just did something awesome today, something I never in my life (and certainly never in the ten years that I've been running) thought I would actually be able to do?

Body, YOU ROCK.

Does it mean that I don't want to lose more weight? Does it mean that I'm going to stop my quest to improve my athleticism? Absolutely not. I care about getting faster and stronger. I care about performing better. Some weight loss is involved in that - after all, I didn't start running faster until I lost weight this year and suddenly my body didn't have to work so hard to run.

But it means that I'm going to stop hating my body. I'm going to stop trying to force it to fit society's definition of an attractive body and I'm just going to let it be what it is - I'm going to be myself but better, rather than trying to be someone else. I'm going to stop treating my body like an enemy, an archrival that keeps trying to foil my plans to look like a supermodel. Because I'm not meant to look like a supermodel, I'm meant to look like ME. And moreover, it doesn't matter what I look like, as long as my body is healthy and functioning.