A crazy thing happened to me last week. After a particularly cathartic (and painful-thank you IT band) Tuesday run with my gal pals Chloe and Stephanie, Stephanie and I shared an Uber ride home. We were talking about smoothies when Stephanie shared a story about this time she ended up in a Celebrity trainer's home sampling their new "protein" powder collection. She made a hilarious joke about drinking enough chemicals to be a walking bomb when our Uber driver couldn't help but laugh with us. He jumped into our conversation and we started talking.
Eventually we got on the topic of body weight and he told us that he had recently lost a significant amount of weight by cutting out sugar and processed foods, eating healthy and walking regularly. "Wonderful!" Stephanie and I proclaimed from the backseat, "What an accomplishment." Because it is. I know because I've been there. I had to work really hard to lose the 75+ pounds I gained after my brother passed away and I had to work even harder to overcome my issues with the way I looked. So I know it's not easy. The experience changes who you are as a human being and how you think about yourself and food.
But then he asked me about my weight since I ran marathons. He asked me how much I weighed and I told him that I had no clue. That I hadn't weighed myself since March when I got my yearly physical. So he goes, "You can't weigh more than 130 if you run marathons." And I started laughing because the last time I stepped on a scale, I weighed 160 pounds. He goes, "Impossible. How could you run a marathon in under 4 hours and weigh 160 pounds." And instantly, despite the fact that I am very confident with my incredibly strong body, his comment made me feel ashamed of my weight WHICH MAKES ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE. I ran three marathons this year and I was on my way back from a run...why was I feeling self conscious?
All it took was one comment and in an instant, I remembered how uncomfortable I used to feel in my own skin. My weight was never the issue, it was the way I felt about myself. I didn't respect myself or believe that I was desirable and beautiful. So I treated myself that way and my problems snowballed from there. It's incredible how quickly you can self destruct when you have a fragile self esteem.
Four years ago, I would have gone upstairs and tried to convince myself that my weight didn't bother me as I cried myself to sleep. This time, I admitted that I felt uncomfortable and self conscious. And with that truth, I immediately felt better because I know how important it is to remove shame by being honest about feeling self conscious. Then I close my eyes and remember what I felt like when I crossed the finish line of the New York City Marathon. That helps me shake off any lingering doubts and remind myself that I have a body and a weight I am really very proud of.
It still baffles my brain that people spend so much time worrying about a number on the scale. But I don't care about what I weigh because a number on a scale doesn't motivate me. It does the opposite, it discourages me. I'm motivated by a sense of accomplishment and the feeling I get when I reach a goal like running a half marathon or feeling unstoppable during an intense track or hill session. I spent years trying to hit a goal weight and it made me feel like shit. Now I know the difference between feeling strong and feeling skinny and strong wins every, single, time.
I also eat incredibly healthy. I take care of myself and reach for lean proteins and vegetables on a regular basis. But I also allow myself to have a guilt free piece of chocolate or a cookie here and there because it's not worth it to me to feel the need to restrict myself. My weight isn't an issue anymore. I'm stronger and healthier than I've ever been and I couldn't feel more proud or confident about this body that I've worked so incredibly hard for.
You only get one body. You only get one life. Every second you waste telling yourself you're fat or undesirable is a waste of your time and energy. If you are unhappy, if you know that you're not doing everything you can to put your strongest foot forward, start with a small change. Don't make a change because you want to look a certain way, do it to feel a certain way -- strong, empowered and unstoppable. Prove to yourself that you can do anything you put your mind to. Change takes time and patience but it starts with the decision to love yourself regardless of your weight or dress size. If you don't love yourself now, you'll be heartbroken to find that you still won't be happy when you've reached your goal weight.
Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.