I only like my body in the morning.
When I wake up and prepare for the morning’s training, I’ve started doing a double take at my body— that trusty machine of flesh, blood, bones, and various necessary organs— and taking a half-second to admire it. The curves are nice, hips are slim, arms look powerful, and is that a hint of a six pack peeking through? Lovely.
But as the day goes on, all that goodwill and admiration quickly goes out the window. I eat food— I’ve never been able to properly deprive myself (especially now that I’ve officially committed to training for Rio 2016) and I know I have to fuel. Fuel equals food. Success is earned not just by the number of miles I run or the hours put in the gym, but in what I put in my body as well. Food is my friend… right? Right.
But that friendly fuel confuses me. Because by the time the evening comes around, that same body that garnered a hesitant compliment that morning is a burden. I nitpick, I poke and prod. I sigh. Why can’t I just appreciate how I look? This fitness phase won’t last forever and then I’ll be really upset when I have to face my body in the mirror.
“What would you change about your body?”
“Um… Just one thing? Well…”
“Okay, three things.”
“Well… I just feel so wide.”
“Wide? Like you think your stomach sticks out?”
“No, like… from my waist down to my hips… I’m just too wide across. I want that all to be tighter, more compact.”
A list of three things turns to five, then ten, then eighteen. The only places free of my wrath are my feet, my calves, my butt. My face is fine, and besides, you can’t change your face anyway. I’d never go under the knife.
It’s late and I’m heading to bed. I frown, scrunch up my nose at my reflection. Every woman goes through this, on a daily basis even… right? Thoughts of those super self-assured, healthy and strong women enter my head. You know those women— you see them in the grocery store, in the fitting room, out and about with their partner, their friends, their family, wearing their body confidence on their sleeve and exuding beauty from every imperfectly perfect pore. Those girls are the exception, not the rule— at least that’s what I tell myself.
Any chance I had for a healthy self-image was dashed when I became a long distance runner— we’re all crazy and the source of our insecurities lies in the real estate between our brain and the tips of our toenails. But it started long before all that. A little Hispanic, Texas-born-and-raised girl— with dreams of being a big-boobed, blonde cheerleader— got her first pair of glasses in first grade, followed shortly by a retainer and braces, both of which clashed with her gangly body and long, frizzy dark hair. Tonight, a short-haired Hispanic girl in hip, thick-rimmed glasses and a runner’s body (read: no boobs), stares back at me. What would fifth-grade Stephanie think of me, if she saw me on the street?
I smile. Let’s wait for the morning to think about that.