Why do you sweat?
Why do you make the sacrifices you make to run further than most people will drive to get dinner with a friend?
Why do you wake up before the sun to workout?
Why do you put yourself through the pain and discomfort that comes with chasing after intimidating goals?
Why the sore muscles?
And the chafing?
And the doubts and fears?
Why the tears when you fall short and the frustration of a terrible, awful, not so good run?
Why do you do it?
I can tell you why I do it, because it's the only thing that helps me believe in myself. For most of my life, I prescribed to the belief that you work out to look the way society tells you to look, skinny. So I set unhealthy goal weights and dreaded stepping foot in the gym. I wasn't athletic, had never enjoyed getting sweaty, and I didn't understand that working out or getting sweaty is so much more than a way to get skinny.
I was just desperate enough when I started running. My life fell apart. I was struggling to grieve the loss of my younger brother, I had gained and then fought to lose over 75 pounds, was rejected by the guy I was seeing, and then graduated from college and didn't know what to do with my life. The day I started running, I couldn't run to the end of my block without having to stop to walk. It took me over an hour to go 3 miles and the next day, I was more sore than I was after I ran my first marathon. But I kept going because running felt like my only hope. There was something about physically putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward that made me feel like I was doing something with my life. So I kept running and three years, over a dozen half marathons and five marathons later, I'm still running. The only difference is that today, I'm not running from my problems, I run at them.
When I decided to run my first marathon, secretly I thought it would help me lose the final 20 pounds I had convinced myself I needed to lose to be happy and confident with my body. I had always wanted to be able to run in my sports bra but I was self conscious about how I looked. I didn't have a six pack. I wasn't toned or lean. But recently, it dawned on me that even though I love what I see when I look in the mirror, I'm still holding onto this idea that my body isn't worthy of being seen in a sports bra.
The day it happened, it was hot and I couldn't fathom running 13 miles in a sweaty shirt. I was convinced that someone would judge me, so I turned my music off, and listened carefully for anyone who dared comment on the fact that I was running 13 miles in a sports bra. Not only did no one say a thing, they didn't even acknowledge my existence. To my disbelief and astonishment, it turns out that the world doesn't revolve around me and my insecurities!
I have since realized that the things I say to myself are infinitely worse than anything a stranger could possibly say to my face. If only we talked to ourselves the way we talk to the people we love and respect. Why do we look in the mirror and see our flaws and imperfections and think they make us less beautiful? Why are we incapable of loving what we see staring back at us? Why do we convince ourselves that we aren't enough because we aren't just enough, we're more than enough! And that is why I sweat.
When New Balance approached me to share my #WhyWeSweat story, I immediately thought of what had happened to me that very morning. I put on a pair of shorts that I was too self conscious to wear along with a sports bra, looked at my reflection, and felt disappointed that I didn't look like the model I saw wearing the exact same outfit in an Instagram post. I sat there comparing my appearance, not my abilities, to a total stranger and for a split second, I felt sorry for myself. After the pity party, I felt disappointed in how I was talking to myself. Instead of celebrating the fact that I was about to take off for a tempo run at a pace I recently thought was impossible, I was hyper focusing on the fact that I didn't look like a super model.
I'm ashamed to admit that I compared myself to someone else and that I let it make me feel inferior. I am nothing but proud of my body because this is the one I kick my ass, day in and day out, for. I've never been stronger or prouder of what I am working for in my entire life. So what if I love stretch marks and love handles? So what if I don't have a six pack or a thigh gap? I work too damn hard not to feel sexy, strong, and confident in my sports bra and that's all that matters.
From here on out, I promise to wear my heart and my insecurities on my sports bra. And that is why I sweat. What about you? Whether you're running in shorts for the first time or joining the #SportsBraSquad, post a picture to Instagram along with the #WhyWeSweat hashtag and let me know why you do what you do!
Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.
#WhyWeSweat is sponsored with pride by New Balance.