Hey everybody, this is Christine here for Sweet-Tooth Friday. I was working on a healthy dessert recipe for this week, but I couldn’t stop thinking about a weird experience I had concerning body image issues…it all started off with the simple phrase:
Let’s plan a weekend and go to the beach!
A trip to the beach sounds innocent enough, but the words brought fear to my heart, followed by a wave of embarrassment.
Fear, because the idea of wearing a bikini in public makes me want to move to Iceland. And embarrassment, well, because I can’t believe I’ve fallen into that female stereotype of feeling embarrassed about my body.
I guess that’s embarrassed times two.
I don’t want to be lumped in with the skinny girls eating their diet-chocolate-meal-bars and whining about how fat they are. In fact, I’m not interested in losing weight at all; I love that my diet is filled with the steady nutrition of clean whole foods, and that I am never “on” a diet. I love seeing the results in my running ability and endurance from week to week.
Yet here I am, feeling ashamed of a body that from every other angle I am proud.
So what gives? This gut feeling of panic is annoying, because I like to believe I have a good head on my shoulders. It’s not like I look at pictures of Heidi Montag and think “Yes, that is how I should look.”
There’s the phrase that bothers me—how I should look. The focus of this blog, how I fuel my body, and how I exercise are otherwise focused on how I feel; the looking great is just an added bonus.
It’s funny, because two years ago I probably was the unhealthiest I’ve ever been, supplementing a diet of cigarettes and coffee with the occasional delivery pizza and gin martini. Even though mentally and physically I felt like crap, I had no problem bearing all in a bikini then. Looking back, I realize that my ultra-thin figure tricked me into believing that I must be taking okay care of myself.
But now, fifteen happy pounds later, I am a cigarette-free vegetarian future-law-studying bona-fide-runner, a title that should bring me all the confidence in the world.
Yet here I am, uncomfortable in my new skin. I guess I figured feeling so healthy would naturally bring about looking like someone on the cover of Shape Magazine, instant abs and all.
Confidence in three easy payments of $33.33
In a low moment while watching an infomercial (when most low moments are bound to occur) I considered springing the $100 for an AbRocket. The idea of pumping up and down on shoddy brightly colored metal goes against all the themes of balance in my life.
Could the AbRocket ever bring that zen-like running trance I’ve come to rely on? Could I be motivated to do crunches on this thing out of pure vanity?
Of course, I could tell myself the real motivation to tone my “core” (oh, that dreaded buzzword!) would be to improve my running, prevent injury by relieving my other muscles and joints as the sole workhorses, and possibly improve my strength as a camogie player.
But I would know the real reason I’d be doing it, and somehow directing exercise towards a superficial goal makes me feel ashamed. It’s as if I’d be admitting that I am not above the crappy Cosmopolitan-Slimfast marketing.
In other words, I drank the girly kool-aid.
I like to imagine yoga as an ideal solution for my slightly irrational woes. The ancient postures that move the body’s muscles together in meditation seem directly opposed to violently crunching six muscles into some sort of sexy pack.
The trouble is, I’ve never been able to get into yoga. I find the positions confusing and always wondering if I’m hurting in a good way or just doing it incorrectly. I would whole-heartedly welcome a recommendation for a good book or video to help me get over my beginners hump.
Does anyone else have nagging insecurities about an otherwise healthy body? Do you other runners (male or female) grapple with perceptions of fitness?
I would really appreciate your thoughts on this. The point here is not to fish for compliments or just beach and moan– I really would like to turn this anxiety into something productive instead of a pseudo-pity-party. It’s just so frustrating to see my happy, well-reasoned, healthy lifestyle get rattled by something so silly as a bikini.
Thanks, and don’t worry—I’ll be back next week with some vegan cookies!