(You had to be there)
Now take a deep breath.
This past weekend I had the most amazing experience fall into my lap, or as was repeated many times this weekend, nothing happens in life by coincidence. I was able to attend a women’s empowerment conference (I know, right? More on that in a sec) and leap LIGHT YEARS out of my comfort zone and spend a little bit of time to help film some promotional material for the company hosting the event (okay, after experiencing this weekend, I almost hate to call it a company, as their passion truly is a bigger movement–but, at the end of the day, it is a company). Oh, and probably worth saying at some point, this blog is all my personal opinion–while I voluntarily helped them tape some promo stuff this weekend, I am not in any way bound to this company or sponsored by them thereof…but hey, willing to consider offers–this girl goes through running tights and sports bras like no tomorrow and lives on a budget!
The company: Grrrl. Full disclosure–I didn’t know a lot about them until a few months ago, and as those that know me, I do my homework before diving in. The tagline on their website is “our clothes won’t change the world the women who wear them will.” I encourage you to read their “about us” (the WHOLE) thing at https://www.grrrl.com/about-us/. It’s a good read. They’re also an open book and very easy to talk to. Now, some of y’all that know me know that I struggle with different “women’s empowerment” movements because they do it at the expense of alienating another group of people (ie: my biggest pet peeve, those groups that bastardize men in order to further a women’s agenda…c’mon, stop and think for a half a second how many men are allies for women too…let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water). Grrrl gets it. When Grrrl says inclusive, they mean INCLUSIVE–and they show it in every action they take through their education, online communities, and how they are interacting with the world. I felt comfortable giving this opportunity a chance (well, as comfortable as the world’s biggest introvert can be showing up to face a few hundred strangers and be asked to place themselves in many vulnerable positions through the teachings and workshops), and I’m glad I did. It may take me until the next go-round of this event in 2021 to process everything I’ve taken away from the weekend.
This conference was jam packed from early morning until evening with so much information that even after coming home and sleeping in my own bed, I feel like my brain is still on overload. Each morning started with an optional workout class, I opted for the yoga class both days. I’m not a super fan of live yoga classes (love my Sufferfest!), but hands down this was the best live yoga I’ve ever attended. If I ever have the opportunity, I would attend this instructor’s class in Vegas when I was in the area. She was amazing. Even had a yoga breakthrough in class! My upper body strength is awful, and I usually I end up modifying positions that place weight or weight and movement on that part of the body. I was really was really into it, and all of a sudden, I realized I had walked my arms back from downward dog into forward fold when my hands were just lying there on my feet! OMG! There was almost cheering from the back corner of the room–I was really proud of myself. So, maybe all that swimming and Suf Strength is paying off…I love my shoulders, and I have biceps and triceps now (the triceps are there if you feel them, they’re just in the padding protection program thanks to all the weight loss saggy baggy skin, cue eyeroll)…the rest of my upper body, well, it needs to catch up. (now will my swim splits please start to reflect this?)
The speakers…Oh, I could talk about the speakers all day long. The weekend was filled with speakers that spoke about honesty, perspective, service, gratitude, laughter, nutrition (mindful eating–Praise sweet Baby Jesus there wasn’t a single word mentioned about diets/dieting/harmful diet culture crap, I might have started a riot, and this was probably the audience I’d have a few to back me up, LOL), stress, personal development, self defense, human trafficking and exploitation, learning to love your body, public speaking/presenting workshops (oohhh…I’m following up with that presenter, I even went to her breakout session), awareness and acceptance, assertiveness, balance, self belief, action….oh my goodness, there was even more than that if I had my program in front of me. There was even several workshops on things like powerlifting, Highland Games, thyroid imbalance, etc….but I tried to choose the ones that would be most beneficial not only to my personal journey, but to the ministry and programs I lead too–oh, I have enough in my head now for the next century to go off in the weeds with!
Right now, it’s time for me to catch my breath and unpack everything my brain sponged up this weekend–so much content in a short amount of time, so many people, so much vulnerability around many of the topics. I’m toasted. Introversion aside, just my social anxiety and the sheer enormity of it all kept me away from some of the evening parties. It might of been easier had I had at least one person I knew there to suction cup myself to, but I was grateful to stay off-site in a space all my own, and even at lunch to have the freedom to get away and leave the casino to decompress from the crowds in a quiet place.
Nothing happens in life by coincidence…I was right where I needed to be this weekend for a reason. I’ve talked about it before not only in this blog, but on countless social media posts the insecurities I have about a lot of different things–my body as it has changed as I’ve lost weight, understanding and accepting my potential and capabilities as an athlete, even the very basics of my worth as a human being and a child of God.
I’ve talked before when giving my testimony on how I felt at the very beginning of this journey that I was a hypocrite, that I would counsel others in what they could/should do, but I wasn’t living my life that way, so I made changes. Here we are over four years later and I’m a completely different person inside and out that I’m still getting to know. I’m literally physically, mentally, and spiritually healthier, fitter, and smaller than I’ve ever been post-puberty and I find myself back in that same position of feeling that hypocrisy. Sure, I can affirm facts–I’m strong, I’m this, I’m that…but do I honestly and truly believe in myself? Do I love myself (and not in the hokey kind of way)? No. No, I do not….but yet I can stand up and tell everyone else that they need to. (case and point, my last workshop presentation–see last post and my awful cell phone video) Hypocrite.
I don’t say this to flog myself, to shame myself, but it is to admit a reality the the work that still needs to be done. Goals. I’ll get there. But it’s not an overnight job. Spiritual, physical, and mental/emotional goals–working on myself holistically. It’s a never ending process, but as I’ve learned over the last four years…the expanse of resources, accountability, help, and just the right people at just the right time are exactly where they have needed to be. #igotgoals
(And apparently that is my mean face when my glasses are taken from me and I’m desperately trying to figure out where the camera lens is, LOL. My RX sunglasses that I ran in for the taping were a little too branded for the up-close shots)
Hey, long time no post! Yeah…we’ll get there. Site updates/upgrades still under construction too (no pun intended…seriously), because I have all the time and patience in the world–HA! You can pretty well keep up with my life and the goings-on over in instagram world @futureformerfatpaster (www.instagram.com/futureformerfatpastor). I have made some changes and my Facebook is private now and I am screening requests differently. If you have questions regarding FB, send me a message privately and we can chat.
I did promise I would upload the accompanying PowerPoint from a women’s ministry workshop I presented this last weekend, and well, this is the best platform I can think of to do so. *Assuming* I did it correctly, I’ve uploaded the PowerPoint and you can download it by clicking here:
If you would like to watch the god-awful cell phone video shot at the most unflattering angle, completely amateur trimmed and edited to remove certain comments/questions to preserve the anonymity of the group, you can view it here:
Yes…it’s time to up my tech game. Tell me something I don’t know.
“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” Psalm 86:11 NRSV
Some Christians call it a life verse, but this is my very favorite verse of Scripture that I have carried close to my heart since I came back to the Lord after I had walked away from the church in my late teens after a series of events of my own doing–and ultimately what I realized in hindsight was probably not a solid relationship with Christ in the first place, but that’s a different story for a different day. I used this as my choice verse of Scripture spoken over me during my commissioning and ordination–it has very deep meaning to me.
It came to mind last week and brought me to tears as I was driving to the office on the way to a particularly busy day last week. I never cease to be amazed to where God has brought me over the last few years. I never could have imagined it. Not even a little bit. It started with a prayer. A simple, frustration and temper filled prayer at the end of my rope where I had exhausted all my human options, so I was ready to submit to God and see what He had to offer. Humbling place to be when you’ve committed your life to be in a position where it’s God first. A good reminder I’m human too.
But, in true God-fashion, He’s always on time. And works miracles in our lives if we stand aside and let Him. I’m pretty speechless when I sit back and try to praise God for the wonder of how He has worked in my life over the last few years in all areas…deepening my relationship with Him to places I’ve never experienced with God, dynamically changing my mental health and emotional disposition, and physically taking me to a place I’ve never been before. Is there still room to change in every one of these areas? Absolutely. I will continue to grow and change and improve until the day that I meet Jesus face to face or He comes again.
I’ve shared this quote here and so many other places, but it sums up so beautifully what I can’t put into words for myself, “I’m not on a diet. I’m on a journey with Jesus to learn the fine art of self-discipline for the purpose of holiness.” (Lysa TerKeurst) It’s not about me. It’s not about the physical. It’s about God’s will being carried out through me. It’s about God.
The last few days have been surreal. I boarded a plane and for the first time in at least a decade didn’t have to hang my head in shame and humiliatingly ask the flight attendant for a seat belt extender–not only that, but there was plenty of room to cinch that sucker tight, I was able to sit in an airplane seat with the arm rest down, and comfortably enjoy the flight with no worries because of my size. I don’t think I’ve EVER done that as an adult. Yeah, I cried. And my husband laughed (and that’s okay).
We have had a couple days bumming around Chicago, had some amazing meals, took in a great musical, and yesterday hit the race expo and packet pickup where the enormity of this kinda hit me…tomorrow morning I’m crossing the line with a mere 44,000ish of my closest friends. And Friday was the “light” day at the expo…to say I’m on people overload already is an understatement. This is a once in a lifetime experience for a lot of reasons, and truly Chicago is the only world major I have a desire to tackle…it’s worth the anxiety and the emotional exhaustion to wade through crowds to make these memories, but to say that I’ll sleep well for the next several days is definitely an understatement, LOL. I’m looking forward to what hubby has planned here in Chicago on Monday to recover and decompress.
But in the meantime, have you heard? I’M RUNNING THE CHICAGO MARATHON TOMORROW!!! I’m as ready as I’ll ever be, prepared for every weather contingency–cool and windy is pretty much given, rain is the variable here. But regardless of what happens out there, every step, from the start line to mile 26.2 is joy-filled and a gift from God. He brought me to this point. This was all Him–let’s not forget I turned it all over to Him in obedience when I said I was done, that I didn’t know what to do anymore, that I was just spinning my wheels in all areas of life. The Lord intervened in a mighty way that I could never have imagined, showing me how I was not honoring His creation (His image) and carrying out His will as such…I couldn’t be more grateful for such a reality check. He gets all the glory. Period.
So, if you see me on the ground tomorrow, drag me over the finish line line, because…Strava.
Ugh…I don’t play unknowns well, and I fully own the fact that I just need to get past my head, but while I can read books and articles until my eyes bleed and argue with my coach until he wants to bang his head against the wall, I think I’m just grasping at anything to crack this confidence barrier I seem to have hit. (how’s that for a run-on sentence?)
I guess I should back up a bit and explain what I’m even talking about. Several big things coming up. Chicago Marathon–I’m surprising okay with this prospect now that the actual details of the trip are in place. I understand the training methodology my coach uses for marathon and longer distance running because I’ve been through this cycle once–and while it’s very different than say, prepping for a half marathon, and it looks and feels so bizarre to me to not climb in distance as high pre-race and long runs are at lower RPE, but strength, flexibility, and speed training feed into the endurance. The only variable that I don’t necessarily like playing with is that my coach factors in my adrenaline level when racing–which in my mind is never a guarantee, but I just keep telling myself he’s the pro, just go with it (we all know my trust issues! LOL). The one that’s been stressing me is the century ride, and this is where I start sounding completely insane. I know I CAN do it and I WANT to do it (probably a little too much), but I’ve had so much that has shaken my confidence on the long rides recently that are all overcomeable (I know, not a word), but the frustration compounds every time I hit the proverbial wall. I just want one good long ride that “feels” good (but not necessarily feels good, if that makes sense, it is work after all)…and time is ticking, as pretty much this Saturday and one in October will be my only opportunities (when I’ll be riding completely foreign territory) to lay down that kind of time because of racing next weekend (an oly is totally appropriate marathon prep, yes?) and the next is Chicago…then the one week in between it looks as if I’ll be riding a portion of the IMAZ course because of some travel…and then comes century day…staring down 100 miles. On a bike. (Still baffles me too…) I’m also curious to see the modified cycling training calendar post-marathon, so far it’s only been alluded to and likely cementing my nickname for my coach.
I had a bit of a meltdown yesterday (well, I’ve had a few over the last couple weeks with my coach) and really pinpointed my number one fear dead on…I’ve danced with this fear a little bit recently, but I think I came into a full understanding of it, and it doesn’t make me super happy. Being alone. And it sounds completely ridiculous admitting this to myself, because when you look at the idea, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. In running, it’s not a fear…it’s different. Running does things in my head that are indescribable in terms of passing time, pushing further, gaining clarity. I savor that time alone. Cycling…for 100 miles…alone…that messes with my head. Sure, there’s aid stations and all, and let’s face it, people passing me. On the bike there’s so many more things to be conscious of, many of which aren’t just automatic or second nature to me (yet? ever?) so I don’t really reach that “zone out” point like I do in running. I’m very present, which leaves that laser focus on how I feel and giving myself way too much time to concentrate on the little things that add up to putting me in a negative headspace. There’s no distraction like if you’re having a conversation with someone or having your mind taken off how much your legs are burning or how much further it is to a particular point in some manner. I voiced this to a group of cyclists/triathletes yesterday where the point of our discussions are about just this–mental toughness–there were some interesting recommendations on how to pass the time it takes for this ride, but nothing really to alleviate that underlying fear. I’m still at a loss, and it’s really bugging me.
So, after my almost four hours of sleep I hauled my rear to today’s workout and put in a decent (but undernourished) ride on the trainer (pro tip: don’t eat almonds for dinner at 9:30pm, it doesn’t make for breakfast being palatable). Also spent some extra time just stretching and moving my body around, and did some yoga that also satisfied a challenge I’m participating in (because, Suf badges…). I feel good with the exception of that nagging idea at the back of my mind. I’m not sure what the answer is, but I pray (hard!) it comes quickly. Just one good ride, that’s all I want to crack this before event day. Just needed to whine and rant a bit today…
In other news, my pigeon pose (my fave) is getting even better–on the other side my head lies on the floor now! (pardon the disgusting arms, can’t change that part)
…and yes, I’ll report on Rev3 Williamsburg one of these days, like before my next race comes round, LOL.
Still plugging along, just easier to go on radio silence when life gets a bit tossed about than try to hash it out sometimes, we all know my head isn’t the most sane place to be. There’s been a few ideas that have been rolling around in the noggin that I’ve been wrestling with that I think easily get summed up in perception, peace, and perseverance. (Ohh…alliteration!)
Perception. This has been an interesting one for me over the last couple months. Myself included, it’s fascinating to me how people just see what they want to see and close their mind to possibilities. I get knocked from time to time that all people see is one version of me based on what I outwardly share on social media or in other arenas. I get it, it’s easy to draw a conclusion if you don’t take the time to engage with me personally. I also value the precious and personal nature of our ministry, the more we engage with people on a deeper level over the years, the more I shy away from plastering those things on my sleeve or in a public post. Therefore, what’s not seen can be considered something ‘less than’ in my life. It’s a decision I make based on real people served and the connections made with them, it’s not a news story or something you can really put in a box. I understand where those judgments come from, but at the end of the day, I serve a real and living God that has called me to the work that I do, there is a mission under the banner of the ministry that I serve, and I have been equipped to carry out my responsibilities to fulfill that mission. I wake up each morning and turn the day over to the Lord and what He would have for it–and each day looks is completely different, full of different activities, community engagement, responsibilities, activities, programs, etc. You wanna know where the bulk of my time is spent? Right there. It’s sleepless nights, tears shed, frustrations vented when in the times we are unable to meet the needs of every single soul that steps over out threshold for one reason or another. It’s visioning, thinking out of the box, being creative, and seeking every opportunity to serve people in Christ’s name and lead them to a relationship with Him. It’s mission that will never end until the day Jesus comes again, and I wouldn’t do anything else in this world. But I am also a whole and unique person too, created by God, and in order for me to fulfill His will, I need to remain whole too, and that’s carrying out some of the things that He wills in my life too. Balance. Holistic goals–it’s not solely physical change, it’s emotional and spiritual growth too. And I can say this until I’m blue in the face and I think there’s only a small handful of people that know me really well that “get” this: the work that I put in on those emotional and spiritual goals outweigh anything that I’ve possibly done in the area of physical achievement, and the physical change I’ve experienced is simply a by-product of the holistic journey, not a singular focus.
But, again, you’ll never convince people of things they aren’t willing to see or hear…so, peace.
Peace. Let go and let God. I’ll be the first to admit this is a huge struggle for an eternal people-pleaser. There are people in life that I’m simply never going to make happy. I’ve come to a place where I’m exhausted trying to meet such an impossible concept. Over the last few months, I’ve been in several situations in different areas of my life where I’ve been beating my head against the wall because I’ve met my human limits in trying to accommodate some (real or perceived…?) unrealistic expectations and I’ll never gain that understanding that I mentioned above. In the end, the only person it’s hurting is me. It’s stacking needless pressure, extra work, and halfhearted efforts on my plate with no return. Boundaries are hard sometimes, especially in my professional life, and in the realization that I won’t make everyone happy, I’ve had to figure out what those boundaries are and when to say no for the greater good and my sake. One of the hardest things ever. I’m so grateful that I have people in my life that serve in so many different ways (and I pray I do them as well)–from those that are there to listen to me vent or bounce ideas off of, that I can call into action in prayer for different situations, and even those that hold me accountable in so many different ways. I’ve talked about this before, but accountability is huge for me–it’s also very intentional. I have people and groups in my life that are there to hold me accountable in many different facets of personal and professional life. Some are friends, some are colleagues, some even are our leaders when we have to reach out for guidance, and some are even people I’ve met along the way that aren’t just friends–but good, honest, and trustworthy friends. I’m not sure what I would do without any of them–they’re all necessary. I am of course accountable to God, but by having these deliberate relationships in my life, I have the appropriate people to remind me of the “noise” in life is just noise, what’s really important, when to simmer down, when to charge like a bull, and when to just sit back and let the games play around me, because it’s not about me or anything I have done. Grateful probably isn’t strong enough of a word for many of these people, I love them, the peace and counsel they provide, and aim to be the reciprocal for them when necessary.
Perseverance. Boy, this one shows me just how hard-headed I am. There was a time in life when things get hard that I’d just quit, it wasn’t worth the effort. This is probably my biggest area of growth. How do I know? Accountability. Those that have my trust that can call me out. I don’t like admitting some things, but for the sake of discussion, in trying to control some of the things that I can’t control, it’s flared up a good cycle of depression and insomnia over the last six or seven months (this too shall pass…per usual, no frets). Part of it is a biochemical process from a larger issue I deal with that I absolutely have no control over, but part of it too is letting all those little things get to me. As the joke goes, “you can’t please everyone, you’re not bacon.” (or chocolate…man, I just need to go buy a stupid chocolate bar already, this is like a week of craving it already, LOL) Takes me a little longer to realize that…or at least let it sink in. There was a point recently where I just imploded, there was a wall of stressors that wasn’t going to budge and reached out for help. I’m grateful for the help that was received because it brought me back to a place that we are all human, I’m really doing okay even though I beat myself up over the things that aren’t worth getting upset over, and some practical advice in moving forward and the work to be done to get there. At the same time, when I confided in another one of those trustworthy people I mentioned, I was told to look back. How would I have handled the scope of things even just a few years ago? The answer is humbling, and a true testament to God’s work in me. It would look very different. And it wouldn’t look as good. The goals, the growth, the changes, in all areas of my life have equipped me for just this. I still have to walk through the tough stuff of life, we all do, but I have a much better grasp on the care it takes to do so–because honestly, without the changes I’ve made, life simply wouldn’t be manageable. As the quote goes, “with great power (knowledge) comes great responsibility.” I absolutely have to rise every single morning and before my feet even hit the floor praise God for the lessons I’ve learned along the way…and rest that He’ll see me through it, and in the end–good, bad, indifferent, it WILL be worked for HIS glory, and rest in the peace of turning it to Him.
So, in that, I move forward. One day at a time, one hour at a time, and depending on what’s up, it might just be a minute at a time. There’s goals to be conquered for good, and a few fun things too. On the fun side of things, I’ve got an interesting trifecta to close out the race season…an olympic distance tri to taper into the Chicago marathon followed a couple weeks later by my first century ride. Go big or go home, right? Thank God for smart people and those that kick me in the rear that believe I can do it–sometimes I have to ride on their confidence until I see it for myself. It’s even in the fun times that I learn so many lessons too (and vent, and laugh, take instruction, and ponder the crazy things that go on in this big world). How to go the distance, how to overcome, how to sustain myself for the journey. I make a lot of mistakes in these things, and in life, but I do know one thing undoubtedly–it’s all for the glory of God. He makes the way in all things. Just maybe I’m not as bad off as I call it in my head…
So, in my avoidance of focusing on business work on Sunday and procrastination from reviewing my knowledge of intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation and understanding the scapular plane and medial epicondylitis among other random parts and conditions to name a few thousand pages…I’m back on a rather random topic that I ranted on about a year ago…
Global Sports Bra Squad Day.
Yep. That crazy movement #sportsbrasquad got back in my head.
So if you have no idea who Kelly Roberts is or what the whole deal is, check it out here–she wrote a blog a few weeks ago summing the movement and its history up pretty well: http://shecanandshedid.com/blog/june-24th-global-sports-bra-squad-day
Now, I still hold firm to my original position that I’m not likely to be chucking my shirt and running in said sports bra…but…let’s just say there’s an evolution of thought afoot.
As I get deeper into exploring body positivity and health at every size (HAES), there’s a lot of values within myself that I am faced with and need to explore their basis and truth. I will be very honest in that my personal exploration and study into this area errs more on the body positivity side of the spectrum, as there’s much with HAES that doesn’t jive with my value system (and that’s okay–I don’t have to agree with everyone to still respect them) and it also marries into some political platforms and stances that I wouldn’t approach no matter how well-armed statistically or mentally strong I become because they absolutely don’t align with my beliefs or values.
But let’s back up and take this on a much lighter note…
I’m not even a fan of the term body positivity, because of a lot of the connotations it holds. I much prefer body kindness, and author of the book titled Body Kindness, Rebecca Scritchfield, defines the concept as an approach to well-being from a place of love–that we fully commit to ourselves and respond to our needs accordingly. Sounds easy, right?
Well, sure…if you haven’t spent your entire life on and off diets, gaining and losing hundreds of pounds, coping with an eating disorder, hating your own reflection in the mirror no matter what you dressed it in or painted on it to try to make the view more palatable, engaging in particular relationships because they were all you felt you were worthy of, and speaking to yourself in such vicious and vile ways that have destroyed your worth more than anyone else ever could. It’s WORK to just get to a place to take a deep breath and cut yourself some slack once in a while!
Am I there? Heck no. Not even close. Have I chipped into the stone…a bit. It’s always going to be a work in progress. God has a bigggggg mess to help me clean out because I sure can’t do this one alone, I worked myself into a good one here. But that’s okay. I’m not in a hurry. Took me how long to get to the point to see the issues clearly? It’s not going to clear up overnight. It’s like we talk about over, and over, and over again–we confess our sin and are forgiven, but it doesn’t cancel out the consequences that come along sometimes. This is life. Yes, we are forgiven and made clean in the eyes of God (cue “Whiter than Snow” lol), but there is earthly restitution sometimes that still has to take place–and we own it, it’s our responsibility.
So, my restitution is my re-learning. Backing up and learning the truth that overshadowed so much joy, understanding, and acceptance of who I am–not only as a person, a woman, a professional, but as a child of God. It’s painful some days, it’s awe-filled almost every day, it’s full of hilarity as I learn to laugh at myself, and I wouldn’t trade any of this journey as I come to understand fully this crazy being that God placed on the planet that is me.
As I rolled my eyes at the #sportsbrasquad this morning, I stopped for a second…I had to look a little bit deeper and understand what bugged me about it, what’s changed over time in my assessment of the movement, how do I feel about it now, and is it really a bad thing….and in this whole thought process, I realized that I was wandering through the house–in my sports bra and cycling shorts. Eye roll at self. Followed by a laugh and a face palm (no joke).
Hide your children…and I promise, this will NEVER happen again, but for the sake of the Stephanie head game experiment to see if I can make my head explode in anxiety:
Okay, so you don’t get it in all glory because…well, I have *some* standards and um, I’ll let my husband tell you about the rest (HAHAHAHAHA!!!! Because that’ll happen!!!!). I look at this in two ways–I see all the things I don’t like, like the weight still to lose or the sagging skin on my lower back from the 200lbs I’ve already lost, my nasty sagging skin arms….I could go on. BUT–I can also see how my eyes don’t look dead anymore, my face has a shape, I actually have collarbones, I have mad-strong shoulders, my body has a shape other than circus-tent round. I even sport the scars on my chest from surviving melanoma ten years ago and on my back from having a large portion of deep skin cancer removed last year. (dude, sun protection…). And yes, my rear end says, “No cupcake left behind.” Never joke about a cupcake…there’s an international cartel of triathletes that take our cupcakes very seriously!
So, while I may not be on the same wavelength as Kelly Roberts in embracing the whole #sportbrasquad and focusing on the portrayal of all-sized athletes in media, I think there’s something to taking a good hard look in the mirror sometimes and trying to figure it all out. And now my brain hurts. I think I’ll go back to studying about ghrelin now.
(This is my response to a forum post…so some references may sound a bit off, but you’ll catch on to theme well enough.)
Big shock, Stephanie’s long-winded, so this is going to be a blog post instead of just a reply for the masses to have to suffer scrolling through (unless there’s a badge for that?). I’ve been stewing on this topic for several days now since I listened to this module on Monday. Self-image is one of my biggest bones of contention, even beyond endurance sports.
I have a lot of trouble seeing myself as I am in the present moment. There’s the exercise of narcissistic encouragement of documenting the journey with a lot of photographs to visually compare the changes in myself. Sure, I can intellectually see the physical changes–I couldn’t for a very long time, but when you’ve dropped creepily close to almost half your obscene body weight and are still losing, eventually one would hope that you can see the change with your eyes. Yeah, got that part. I think sometimes the difficulty lies in that the majority of the journey is so far beyond the physical, rooted so much in the spiritual and emotional change, that trying to process the physical is just stunting to me. That’s my working theory at least, and I’m running with it. That whole learning to be comfortable in my own skin thing, it will come, in God’s time.
I think that the endurance community has helped me in a lot of ways move forward in my journey of self acceptance and self image. Take the MTP group for example–we are people with an incredible wide range of abilities and goals, but I have yet to see one instance of where someone hasn’t been cheered for, encouraged, given advice, or supported for right where they are not regardless of what level they are at in sport. This is one of the reasons I think I haven’t been a super fan or had the greatest experiences at recreational or short distance races (ie: a community 5k) but have walked away from endurance, multisport, and long distance event (some even DFL) and felt like I was the first across the finish line.
Here’s where I see the difference–at the recreational events, it’s just that, recreation and fun (and there’s totally a place for that, I’m not knocking it), but when the fat girl shows up, it’s not an inclusive place. It’s a place of judgment, like I woke up that morning and just decided I would take steps in my life for fitness, health, etc. Not cool. But…endurance sports, that’s a different ballgame. (sans the occasional *coughdouchebagcough*) You show up at the start line, you get a little bit of respect (and it’s still totally fun!!!)–people understand you gave it more than two seconds thought to show up and put in the work to get to that point. Size doesn’t equate ability, it’s a lesson I fight in my own head daily, nevertheless trying to educate the masses too (the latter, an exhausting effort and a fight I’m not sure I’m up for as it’s rather political in nature).
I think that’s also the benefit of the MTP. My coach can assign me all the books in the world (and has), and we discuss them ad infinitum, but him saying, “hey, perhaps consider the MTP approach for a cycle or two with the group,” has been a unique experience–it’s brought the endurance race day experience down to a real life place, to see how all of us at every level of cycling and triathlon are working out some of these things on our own lives to conquer some pretty incredible things from simply living and training through cancer treatment to literally climbing some of the most incredible courses in the world on bikes.
I have a TON to still learn…I will shake how I currently see myself (which is my former self), and eventually see the reality of the present moment. The weird thing in the picture is the future: I can see the accomplishments. I know what they are–70.3, 140.6, varying ultra marathon distances up to 100 mile (who knows, maybe more? I swore at one point I’d never run a marathon…). Do I know what I actually look like conquering those Mt. Sufferlandrias? Not a clue. But I know I’m going to do it. I’ve come too far not to.
Looks aren’t everything. Sure, it would be great to look in the mirror and just see myself. Just see a whole person. Not focus in on the weight left to lose, the sagging skin on my upper arms and thighs that pulls and causes soreness (oh, thank heavens for lycra and compression running tights!), and all the other things I don’t like about myself. Yeah, I could also get a lot of those things corrected too–crash diets (but I don’t diet and seem to still be doing a fantastic job, so I’ll stick with what works without the crazy head games), excess skin removal (yes, technically medically necessary, but I’m not entertaining it until I’ve lost all the weight I’m going to lose and have maintained it for a time–and even then, there’s a whole place of self acceptance that I need to get to first before I would consider hacking into my physical appearance. That’s only responsible).
So, there’s the long-winded answer to a simple question–is my self-image limiting? You bet. I believe though having the goals that I have in play (beyond the physical ones I have expressed publicly) are going to continue to take me to that next level to break past it. When? How? That part isn’t so easy…but the WHY is solid and unwavering, and I’m not going anywhere.