Your Body, Your Home
[A low point] I specifically remember one night in high school when I was close to my lowest weight. I was hungry, and crying in the shower. All I could think about was how I would have to feel that way for the rest of my life.
Gaining weight didn't seem like an option at the time. It was almost like I wouldn't be allowed to, that the number on the scale [that I stepped on every night] could only go down and anything else was unacceptable.
Eventually, I did put on some much needed weight. I also stopped weighing myself. This was the summer before my freshman year of college, and I came into school feeling like the healthiest and strongest runner I could ever imagine being.Then, in the spring of freshman year, I got my first stress fracture. And it all went downhill from there. Here is the cold hard truth: gaining weight when you are injured is inevitable. I tried so hard to avoid it.I'm not exercising anymore so I will just eat way less than normal. Sounds easy enough, right? HAHAHA nice try. You'll get hungry and eat like a normal human, and then you'll gain weight because your body needs the extra fuel to help itself recover.
[What happens when you get injured] cry about your injury, swear you won't gain weight, try to eat less to avoid weight gain, gain weight anyways, eventually start running again, feel incredibly slow, feel incredibly guilty for letting yourself gain weight, lose all confidence in your abilities as both a runner and a human (and then sometimes you get to repeat the whole process with a brand new injury!!)
Weirdly, I never felt like I was in my own body. This new, heavier one was just temporary, and I'd get the old one back eventually. But guess what? Your body couldn't be further from temporary. That living breathing home is yours for good, and you will live there for the rest of your life.
When I saw pictures from the triathlon I did a week ago, I felt surprised and embarrassed. It was like I still didn't recognize my body. So I looked back through pictures to find some from a tri that I did in high school. 6 years later and at least 15 pounds heavier, my body is much different now. But it has been so long since I was at that weight, so why do I feel more familiar with that body? Why is my current body harder for me to recognize?
Well, that's because without even realizing, I am still guilty of thinking that this is temporary. If I envision myself as that teeny high schooler, then of course I won't recognize pictures of myself now. It's unclear why this has taken so long to realize, but now that I have, I'm done. I'm tired. It is exhausting to constantly chase after a different 'better' version of yourself.
It also takes work to accept and love yourself, but this energy is well spent. Body acceptance isn't something that you can check off a list and forget about. It takes a conscious, intentional effort. But what could be better than feeling at peace with your body, your home?
[Steps to take towards body acceptance] look in the mirror and give yourself a compliment (out loud), write down 5 things about your body that you are grateful for, wear clothes that you feel comfortable and confident, walk with a purpose, make eye contact, REPEAT