This post is inspired by 2 recent events so different you may wonder how they relate, but they do. I promise.
First I have to show you a photo.
Photo by Getty Images
See their arms? My entire life all I wanted was model thin arms. Well it wasn’t ALL I wanted, but it was definitely something I thought a lot about between the ages of 12 and, oh, I don’t know, yesterday.
I’m kidding, sort of. I would be lying if I didn’t say I’m still somewhat self-conscious of my arms, but I’ve been working hard at accepting my body for what it is. I’ve learned to ignore my inner mean girl who kind of likes to fixate on insignificant little things — like how my arms look.
For the most part, I haven’t heard from said inner mean girl in awhile. I’ve been going about my business, kicking butt at the gym, having fun with the kids, and living the active life I want to live because let’s be honest, how does the size of my arms really effect any of that?
Hint: It doesn’t.
Anyway, this past Saturday I got up bright and early to run with my friend Jimmy. The same Jimmy who ran the Tough Mudder double header with me.
This deserves a post of its own, but Jimmy decided to tackle 32 miles to celebrate his 32nd birthday. He’s crazy, we all know it, especially his wife, Carrie, who helped him organize the running event.
The idea was for all his friends to run part of the 32 miles with him. I got the first 5-mile leg and met him at his house at 5 a.m. Saturday. The run was great and I was ecstatic he let me be a part of his amazing birthday challenge. When we finished I asked Carrie to take our picture.
At first I didn’t think anything of it. I shot the photo up on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, but within minutes people started to comment, pointing out my arms.
I looked closer at the photo and… holy crap I have MAN ARMS!
All the comments were very complimentary, but I have to admit, it brought back a lot of old feelings. I’ve always felt big, broad and well, like a man. I think that’s why I so longed for a petite female body as a child. My desire to be super thin really set off a chain of events that led to more and more weight gain.
Regardless, the whole arm photo experience cemented my position on diet and exercise — I can’t worry about how my body is going to look. I just need to focus on the life I want to lead and be happy with the body that life creates. I’ve learned that’s really the only way for me to have a healthy relationship with food and exercise.
Changing gears, as I said, the second event really has nothing to do with the first. It’s not even related to my body, but it is something I’m also very self-conscious about.
A few days ago someone unsubscribed to my site and left this message:
I think you are going way too far with the exercise. It is bordering on obsessive and just as unhealthy as excessive dieting. I don’t relate at all, and I don’t understand how any working mother with a traditional job could ever find time to do CrossFit, Mudder training, Bikram yoga, marathon running, and take multiple vacations without the family. I use to LOVE your site, but as I said, I don’t relate anymore.
I replied — kind of hastily — and said:
I’m sorry to hear that, but I’m doing what’s best for me and make no apologies for that.
Just for the record…
I haven’t been able to go yoga for 2 months — my schedule isn’t allowing it, Mudder training is CrossFit so they are one and the same, I don’t “marathon” run, I challenged myself to run 1 mile a day — it takes 10 minutes, and my last “vacation” was a business trip to a conference.
Thanks for reading and I hope you find what you are looking for in another blogger.
I’ve blogged about this MANY times before, most recently in a post called It’s Hard Giving Up Being a Caterpillar.
I replied to the unsubscriber so defensively because, honestly, I am self-conscious about not being relatable anymore. If I wasn’t I would have just deleted her email and moved on, but like my arms in the photo, there’s something that still bothers me, and you know what, I think there will ALWAYS be something there that bothers me. I will always be aware of my arms, I will always worry that people don’t want to read anymore. I will always revert to feeling “thick" when I’m depressed. I will always look first at my stomach in the mirror — another childhood insecurity. And, for as much as I don’t want to admit it, I will always worry what people think of me.
These things are threaded in the fiber of my being and many of them, or at least the experience that made them, make me who I am today.
I’m going to bet you have insecurities, too, and those insecurities probably help shape who you are as a person as well.
Do we really need to be ashamed of that? Does it make you less of a person to admit something you are self-conscious about?
I don’t think so, and I’m not saying that because I just did it. I swear! I really think admitting our insecurities helps to overcome some of the fear that may be holding us back from reaching our goals.
Specifically weight loss-related goals too. How many times have you given up when one of your self-conscious issues surfaced or resurfaced? I did it often, hence the 15 years I was stuck in the yo-yo dieting cycle of hell.
If you want to participate this week, let’s explore some of your self-conscious issues in the comments. I’m going to bet we all share some similar ones.