I have several drafts of this post that have been sitting in my draft file for several months. Then yesterday I read a post by Another Mother Runner and I was inspired to complete my post and share it with you.
I am a fraud. There it is out there, Shannon the “Original Tough Chik” is a fraud. Well, fraud is a pretty harsh word, so I will let you decide for yourself. If you have met me a an expo or know anything about the mission of Tough Chik, you know that my goal is to get women out and active and look cute while they do it. I preach that we are all beautiful, all shapes and sizes, and we should love our bodies. Your body is your vessel and allow you to do all of these amazing activities. Blah, blah, blah. If you want to read a article on positive body image, stop here. This ain’t that kinda post.
If you are anything like me, I am sure you have read several articles and posts about positive body image. Heck, I could write one of those articles. I do believe all those things…for other people. I struggle, like millions of others, with poor body image. Is it due to some jerk in past saying jerky things? Unrealistic images in the media? An anxiety disorder? Who knows, probably a little bit of all of those things.
My poor husband is constantly telling me things like “no, you look fine”, “no, you don’t look chubby”, “yes, you are being crazy”. I know my thoughts are ridiculous. I know that the magazines are Photoshopped (I am a graphic designer for heaven’s sake…although I am not that good). I know that jerk was being a jerk and projecting his issues on me.
I was a new runner and I thought if I was going to be a distance runner, I needed to look like a distance runner. We all know what runners look like and most of them don’t weigh 90 lbs. But in my head, if I was going to take this seriously, I need to get light…light=fast. What a joke! I know women who have 20 lbs on me and could blow my doors off. But there was an evil demon that had been sleeping for many years and running woke the demon. He started to stir and mumble and the more I ran, the louder he got. I am NOT blaming running, I have always had an issue but with the combination of a new passion and a crappy job, my size became my project.
During this time I was “watching my calorie intake” a little too seriously and getting close to being what was considered “underweight” and I loved it. I know that sounds terrible and sick, but it was almost a game, the more I lost – the happier I would be (and the fast I should run). But I was never happy (and not any faster), not even at my skinniest. I still wanted to loose more. A lot of people started to worry about me. My counselor even brought in a scale and threatened to start weighing me if I lost more weight to ensure I wasn’t loosing to much. I never got to the point of an eating disorder, but I saw how easy a diet can slip into a full blown disorder, for some people.
After I ran my marathon, I joined my husband on the bike. I had taken a 6 month hiatus from the bike to give running all of my energy. On that first ride out, I could barely make it up hills that I use to be able to bound up with no problem. I had great endurance and I was lighter, but I had lost all of my strength. The pounds I was so determined to rid were fat, but they were muscle too. I was weak and tired. And instead of being happy and skinny, I was avoiding going out to eat or grabbing a drink. I was becoming anti-social and not happy at all.
I decided to stop weighing myself, because no matter what number came up…it ruined my day. I stopped food journaling on the weekends and allowing myself a glass of wine or splitting a dessert here and there. I was still very conscientious about what I ate, but gave myself a little break on portion sizes on the weekends. And I started to gain the weight back, slowly and it was hard. I am not going to lie, it was tough but I couldn’t deny how it was helping me on the bike. I had to make a decision and be skinny, sick and sad or healthy, happy and strong.
I am a lot better now than I use to be but the evil demons do sneak up from time to time but I know why. I have discovered that the negative self talk is a coping mechanism, not a good one, but one I have adopted.
I am not writing this for sympathy or seeking compliments, trust me, nothing you say will change my thought process. Although is in nice to hear, my reality is not reality. I am not dumb, I know what a “healthy” weight is and I know that I am within that range. But I wanted to share that even TOUGH women have their weaknesses. It doesn’t make us less tough, it makes us human. I wanted to share my story because I don’t want to hide in shame. I don’t have all the answers, heck I don’t have any answers, I just have my truth. I am lucky that my issues didn’t get to the point of being something that was detrimental to my health. I was able to change my habits, but not everyone is so fortunate.
So maybe I am not a fraud, maybe I am just human.