My legs propel me forward. Faster and faster I glide over the pavement in the cool gentle rain. My heart is pounding steadily, a mixture of sweat and water dripping from my chin. I feel alive as ever – strong, solid, impenetrable. I repeat my mantra, “You can’t stop me!” over and over again (Andy Mineo, “You Can’t Stop Me” is great to run to). My adrenaline spikes and I press forward, even faster. Nothing can stop me…
Exercise has always been as much mental for me as physical. It’s a way I can push myself to another level. One beyond what the world, and myself, has told me I am capable of. Every time I run, or jump, or lift I convince myself that nothing can stop me. For “greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). I will be better than I was yesterday, stronger than ever before.
Much of my story involves a girl fighting herself and the body she was born with. I’ve struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. It still feels like yesterday that I was sitting around the table with my skinny, blonde haired cousins who consumed as much greasy pizza as they wanted. Weighing maybe eighty pounds, they each ate well over two or three slices. But when I asked for seconds, my mother cut me a half of slice and said, “that is all honey”.
I hated it. Shopping as a pre-teen with my best girlfriends. They picked out the cute little size four stylish jeans while I had to grab an 11. Nothing ever looked quite as cute in “my size”. And I often cried to my mom at night about my disdain for the body I “was given”.
The summer following eighth grade she was desperate to help me. No mother wants to see her daughter struggle or not like herself. To her, I was always beautiful. But unfortunately, my mother’s affection just wasn’t enough. The nickname “thunder thighs” that a fellow eighth grade student had recently given me resounded louder in my head. So she took me to a weight loss center. There, for the next three months, I attended weekly sessions and weigh ins. I was given a strict diet to follow – one that included balanced macros and small meals all throughout the day.
During that summer, I lost 35 pounds. I went from a size 13 to a size four. It was life changing for me. I not only learned how to fuel my body in a healthy way, but for the first time in my life, I felt some love for myself. I entered high school confident and in some cute clothes!
Fast forward, twenty years and my weight is still part of my journey. In fact, it became a big part of my story for a while. I went on to become a personal trainer and have been given the opportunity to help others learn a healthy lifestyle. Friends still call on me when they need advice or a workout buddy to lose unwanted pounds. But despite my healthy lifestyle and diligent self-control, the battle in my mind rages on…
It may be something only someone who has struggled with their weight would understand, but no matter how thin I get, I am never happy. I scrutinize my body and pick apart my imperfections. When I stop and think about what I am doing, I feel vain and sad. I tell myself I am lucky to be healthy – and I am! But for some reason, the feelings of inadequacy and the cruel remarks of other kids can so quickly come flooding back.
This inner battle has helped me [quickly] lose the baby weight after both pregnancies but has also propelled eating issues in my life. Through part of my twenties I barely ate a thousand calories a day and would run miles at a time. Living on my own, I couldn’t afford to eat well, and getting chubby on raman noodles was not an option. I would have to pump myself with milk of magnesia and other laxatives to use the bathroom due to my severe caloric deficit and dehydration. On the outside, however, I received more compliments than ever. How beautiful I was! How did I do it?! The chubby girl gone thin! It felt better to starve and “look good” than feel fat again.
Since having children and finding my faith, my priorities have drastically changed. I want to be healthy for my kids; an example of good eating habits and solid physical fitness. More importantly however, I want to teach them that they were made in God’s image and he did not make a mistake. For we are each, “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalms 139:14). To teach them this, I must wholeheartedly believe it myself.
I don’t believe God created me in this image to make me vain, self-absorbed and to propel me into a life of unhealthy habits. But rather, he created me to be an example of determination, perseverance, self-control and grace. I must embrace my greater purpose and let the beauty that is within me shine bright.
I will always strive to be the best I can be physically. I take pride in my ethic and it feels good to break a good sweat! But I am determined to not compare myself to another. I will not rate myself and my value on the standards of society. And, most importantly I will focus my energy on the good I can do with the life I am given (not so much the body I am doing it in!).
You see, winning the battle for me is not being a size four again, but rather, loving the body I am in.