Close your eyes and imagine someone who is in the best shape of their lives. Alright now imagine an "average" person who is realistically in the best shape of their lives. What do you see? Is there a difference between the two? For some crazy reason we have this perceived image of how someone who is "in shape" is supposed to look. They have visible muscles that can cut glass, a thigh gap, toned everything, zero cellulite and a tan. (Why are they always tan?) Well excuse me while I hop up on my soap box and throw my two cents in the mix.
The Way You Feel About Your Body > How Anyone Else Feels About Your Body.
Strength and healthy bodies come in all different shapes and sizes! There are tons of different body types and you don't have to have an impressive body fat percentage to be strong. A six pack doesn't prove that you're healthy, it just shows that you're working really hard for a six pack.
I learned a huge lesson after my first marathon, that strength comes in all different shapes and sizes. When I started running I was salivating over the prospect of obtaining a tiny waist and a thigh gap. I'll admit it! I've always wanted to be a sample size because in my mind, everything would make sense if I was a sample size! Life would just be more magical and easier. Well 3,000 miles later I wear the exact same pants size that I did before I started running but I can tell you I look and feel very different. I have endless amounts of energy and these huge calves and thighs that have muscle definition when I flex. I wouldn't trade this strong body I've worked on and built to fit into sample sizes.
Weight loss is 100% diet and exercise. I definitely make more healthy choices than unhealthy choices but I love to eat. I say yes to cupcakes, chocolate, fried chicken, steak and carbs (in moderation) because I'm running and cycling an average of 60-80 miles a week. I feel best when I'm eating healthier foods so my diet is mostly made up of them. But more importantly, I enjoy eating them. I think they taste good. And I feel equally happy when I eat a cheeseburger! You really can have it all when you lead an active lifestyle!
It kills me to see women post pictures of donuts or some "cheat" food explaining why they can eat it. It's a f*cking donut. If you want a donut, have a donut! Should you eat a dozen donuts? Probably not. Should you eat a donut every day? Again, probably not the healthiest choice. But it's all about moderation and if you feel the need to explain why you are having some delicious treat, that's a problem. Guilt isn't something that should be served with food. Food is fuel, you need it to survive! Food is also fun and social and is meant to be enjoyed.
I had a huge "AHA!" moment when I was visiting my hometown recently. It was 80 degrees outside and my friends and I were headed to the beach. ALL I wanted was to be in a bathing suit. I can't remember a time that I didn't put my bathing suit on, look in the mirror and immediately feel self-conscious and defeated. But this time around, I put my bathing suit on, looked in the mirror, felt confident, and took off for the beach in nothing but a bikini and a smile. I didn't feel the need to compare what I looked like to anyone else around me because I just didn't care.
I am stronger than most people I know and I still have cellulite and love handles! Does it bother me? Yeah, a tiny bit! I'm only human! But now instead of thinking, "What if someone judges me" I don't give a single f*ck! I actually had to run a marathon to defeat once and for all the self conscious bullshit that played on a loop in my head 24 hours a day. I had to push myself to my breaking point and run 26.2 miles to realize that strength doesn't look the way I had always imagined.
I want to share this photo that has gone viral of Rachel Hollis, creator of The Chic Site, in a bikini because this woman is a BEAST! She's a marathoner and a mother with a banging body and has every right to feel proud in a bathing suit. It kills me when I hear people critique their own or anyone else's body. Why do we do it!?? Why do we feel compelled to tell ourselves or someone else to look a certain way? Life would be so much easier if every time we had to be in a bathing suit we weren't overcome with dread. Love where you're at and work for what you want. It's that simple because anyone who's judging or throwing shade your way? They're not worth your time and their opinions don't deserve to be heard.
With bathing suit season right around the corner stop and ask yourself,
"WHAT DO I REALLY WANT?"
Do you want to look a certain way or feel a certain way? Maybe you want both! YOU CAN HAVE BOTH! Here's the best part about running, the body comes with the work! I look toned and healthy thanks to running and cycling and I am having fun doing it! Set a realistic goal that is more than just weight loss or a pants size because losing weight is so much more rewarding when it's married with something bigger like strength. But start with what you have and start by loving where you're at. Do something incredible and acquire that body and confidence along the way. All you have to do is take the first step and put one foot in front of the other. Until tomorrow, #RunSelfieRepeat.