Thursday, November 13, 2014

I'm looking at the man in the mirror

Body image.

Two words that can cause a universal cringe.

I'm too skinny.

I'm too fat.

My thighs are huge.

I just want to lose 3 pounds.

I hate my arm jiggle.

I would be so much happier if I looked like....

If I had a penny for every time I heard those words (and have occasionally said them- I'll admit) I wouldn't need to be doing this whole grad school thing.  As women especially we are constantly programmed to think about how we think our bodies are supposed to look instead of how they actually look.  The media has constantly shifted from describing that "perfect women" as super model thin but still has her curves and has muscles to boot.  The brain washing from society starts the second they pick up that Barbie with the most outrageous proportions known to man.  That "perfect women" has given all women something to think that they have to look like.  Luckily my growing up was surrounded by real women with realistic proportions.

Am I saying we shouldn't strive for what we want our bodies to look like? Of course not! You have the chance and the capability to make anything happen as long as you put in the hard work. Throughout my journey to a healthier lifestyle I've struggled with the image of what my body should look like.  Looking back on pictures from just a year ago I can't believe that's what I used to look like.  I started off this journey wanting to be a certain weight and assuming that my body would look exactly how I wanted it at this point.  At this point, I've stopped stepping on the scale.  I'm fueling my body with healthy foods that power me through whatever workout I have planned.  I don't feel horrible about an occasional treat (I mean dark chocolate Reese's call my name...).  Those huge thighs I'm still not crazy about? They help me run my distance goals every week even when I don't think I can make it.  They give me the energy to put all the resistance on that final hill of every spin class.  They power me through so much more than I could have ever imagined.

Whenever I first started exercising I had my go to machines at the gym.  A cold and sleety day today brought my run into my school's gym (trying so hard to love the treadmill since I'm a genius and the bulk of my half training is during the winter...) and I decided to rock some machines after my run.  Back in 2011 (really feels like yesterday) my thunder thighs could barely push and pull 20-30 pounds together on the hip adductor and hip abductor.  Today I did 70-80 like no one's business.  On the leg press I used to struggle with 90.  Today I shocked myself and pushed 175.  What's even more shocking is the fact that I used to weigh more than that.  The changes over the last year have been not only physical but mental.  I now crave a really good lift session.  I love the days where I put in Uncle Tony and have him push me just a little bit further.  When it comes to cardio I can be my own cheerleader, but I usually need a set routine with my weights.  I love when my muscles are sore and achy because then I know I earned it.  That soreness is a reminder of how far I've come and how capable I am of going further.  I love pushing myself just past that limit where I didn't even know I could do it.  I love when a new muscle starts to pop.  My friends are probably tired of me getting really excited when my biceps or abs start popping (sorry you're still getting pictures!).  Even though it's not where I want it, my body is able to physically do so much more than I could ever imagine.  This fitness journey to the best me will never be over and I'm still so in love with the process.

Am I perfect? Of course not! Do I still have goals about how I want my body to look? Naturally.    When it comes down to it only you can see the imperfections that exist.  I know I am my harshest critic and I always feel better if I cut myself some slack.  Do I feel stronger than ever? Absolutely.

Next time you're going hating on your body, think of all it can do and reward it with a bubble bath.  Your body works just as hard as you.  Take care of it.   Feed it the good stuff that gives you energy to face the next day that's full of endless possibilities.

You are strong and incredible, even if you don't know it yet!

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