Victims of my incessant running-related tweets and occasional blog post centred around running will know that this activity is a focal point of my life lately. When in optimal health (which is rare thanks to my oft disease-ridden offspring), I try to run 4-5 times a week, averaging 20-25 kilometres. At the moment, I'm also doing Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred, because I want to beat my body into merciless submission for the hell of it.

Almost a year ago I started running because I was weary of feeling like a thin person stuck in a chubby body. I'm aware that I wasn't "fat" in the traditional sense of the word, but I wasn't toned at all and extra weight does not sit right no my frame at all. You know those women who are 190 lbs but you'd swear they are about 140? That's not me - in fact, quite the reverse. Even before I had P and was a UK 12/US 8, people implied that I was larger than I was. My post-pregnancy 150-155lbs (this is all a complete estimation as I shun scales)must have made me look 180.

I may be exaggerating slightly, though it is true that my excess weight never distributes evenly. It instead chooses to linger around my upper thighs, stomach, face and boobs in a most obtrusive, obvious way. Even now I'm trying and failing to get rid of the flab on my inner thighs and it is stubbornly refusing to shift. Whenever I hear reference to "kissing thighs" I think of the amount of dreadful rubbing the tops of my thighs have done for years now, thus preferring to call them "fucking thighs" for more than one reason.

So yes, the primary impetus behind me running was to lose weight. I would give lip service to the notion that I wanted to be healthier, which is of course a beneficial byproduct of exercise, but I would be lying if I said this was the main reason. I want to have and pass on a healthy body image to P, and losing weight is the only way I would be able to do this with any level of sincerity. I know this makes my good friend Molly very sad indeed, as she's completely on board with the body acceptance movement championed by Kate Harding. It does make me a bit sad and sorry for myself too, as I know that there is no feasible way I would ever be happy with myself not being thin. Admittedly, when I was under 120 lbs (which was until my early 20s), I hated myself then too, but for other reasons. How delightfully femme moderne of me.

Weight fixation is far too much of a presence in my life, which is why I'm bringing this up. I stare at my face in the mirror constantly, curious as to how someone getting this much exercise can have a visage which still resembles the moon. I push my work chair in as close to my desk as I can possibly sit in order to not have to view my thighs and stomach. I nearly had a panic attack at the hair salon the other day viewing my appearance in the full length mirror because I could only see my boobs as massive pillows of fat steadfastly obscuring the weight I have lost. I occasionally find myself lurking dangerously close to exercise-like-hell-and-eat-nothing-but-one-matzo-cracker-per-day territory, and I hate that feeling. I know it would negate all of this positive body image stuff that I'm hoping P will glean from me subconciously, but the voice tells me that at least I would be thin and again be told regularly, "...but there's not an ounce of fat on you!"

That's my mental state of being, which I acknowledge is less than stable. However, despite these conservative, hardline views on my on weight, I never feel that way regarding the weight of others. Just this week a Twitter/blogging friend who shall remain nameless mentioned a weight loss goal of hers - x lost kilos in a certain amount of time. When I first read of it, I felt the sadness that Molly must feel when I'm being all Debbie Downer. This woman is gorgeous, and I would never call her anything but slender and fit looking. However, she obviously feels the need to change, and of course, who am I to question this given my own issues with the same subject? It's a shame that so many of us feel this way, and even more tragic that a lot of women are like me and will probably never be properly happy with what they look like regardless of the effort put forth.

It's always easier to make suggestions or provide encouragement to others and not be able to heed your own advice. I've never been able to work out why that is. Intellectually, I am aware of my hypocrisy, but somehow that's not enough to see things from that perspective as it pertains to me.

So, for as long as I continue to inter on this net, I will shake my head at my screen when you talk about needing to lose weight, because no doubt, you are beautiful as you are and all that trite rubbish people spout. I will believe that to be true about you, genuinely and without pause. Just don't ask me to love my fucking thighs.


Rachel said...

Oh, how I struggle with this. I am one of those women who weighs 215 pounds and people expire with shock when I tell them this, because apparently I appear to be a mere slip of a thing to them. I do adore those people.

While I am all for 'rah rah love your body the way it is,' the way my body is does not happen to be a healthy state. So I am doing something about that. I had chronic knee pain and got winded going up the basement stairs (never mind how I felt with a load of laundry in my hands) and I wasn't able to chase The Jillian as much as I'd like. Oh, and I hate hate hate every single stitch of clothing I own except for two pairs of socks that I knitted.

So, for my 34th birthday, I asked for a series of personal training sessions. At $40 a session, I must say, I am looking and feeling pretty bad-ass. I'm still um, fat, but I am feeling so much better. I still have boobs and a huge ass and thighs that rub and those crazy bingo-lady arm flapping things and a jelly belly, but I have the tools and the motivation to make them smaller.

I know I'm never going to be as thin as I was when I was 20 and poor with no drivers' licence so I had to walk everywhere and eat almost nothing. But I do know that my clothes will fit better (and I will eventually drift back into 'normal' sizing and not 'plus-size' gag, barf, puke). I feel better, I have more stamina to chase my insane child, and write blog-post-length comments. :-)

Anonymous said...

what a fabulously honest post

Beautiful Mess said...

After many years of taking horrible care of my body and hating it, I think I have come to a kind of middle ground with it. As much as I don't LOVE my body the way it is, I realize that I never will LOVE my body. I will always be able to pick something out that I dislike about it. Since I stared running more, I've decided that I don't care for the effects running gives me. Maybe I'm not doing it enough? Or right? But it seems as if my thighs have bulked up more then I thought they would. Although, everything else has stayed the same. I assumed my thighs and legs in general, would bulk up a bit, but not like this. I feel uncomfortable wearing shorts now. The riding of the shorts, is less then hot. It looks as thought my vagina is hungry and it's eating my shorts. GROSS!!! Lovely mental picture, yes, and I am sorry to give that to you. But if you have an advice I would GREATLY appreciate it! As would anyone who must see me in said shorts...

elizasmom said...

Yeah, I hear you!
I keep a scale in my bathroom, which is totally not feminist blah blah blah, but I feel better when I am in a certain range and seeing the number helps keep me there, or I slack off and then I feel icky. Now Eliza likes to get on the scale, though, and I tell her "you weigh just right for a big girl, good job!" and I hope I have a while before she starts associating low numbers with her self-worth.

Nico said...

I think it is a sad fact of our society today that we are constantly presented with images of perfection that there is no way real people can measure up to. I bet even the celebs themselves have body parts they dislike (hence all the plastic surgery!). Lots of people have told me recently how great I look - yet all I see when I look in the mirror is my baby belly, and all I see when I look down are my huge cottage cheesy thighs. I try and ignore them both most of the time though...so much so that I actually broke our full length mirror. (Actually it was an accident - but I have no desire to replace it!)

Kristi said...

And this is why I love your blog. You are unflinchingly honest, without a phony bone in your gorgeous body.

Our bodies change after childbirth. Even though I still run (although no where near the 30 miles/week I was averaging before Isabella) I am less fit, less toned, and a whole lot more "jiggly" than I was before. I suspect that even if I did run as much as I once did, I wouldn't have my pre-baby body back.

So, what's my message after my blathering...you have company-and a lot of it-when you write of body image issues. While I'm fairly content with my current body (frankly, I have no time not to be. In fact, I shouldn't even be online right now writing this, as both twins are screaming) I will never be totally satisfied. Is this hard-wired into most women? I happen to think it is.

Here's to faking a 100% positive body image for the sake of our little girls, and to hoping they never see through our white lies.

Betty M said...

I know that the issue is important as the 5yr old has come back from school already with tales that some other girl said she was (the other girl not my daughter) was fat. So i try and hide my current dissatisfaction with my body. I am still roughly the same clothes size (actual weight way heavier) I was before I was pregnant but I am so much less fit it doesn't look good - at least not to me. I have not yet got motivated to do anything about it. Just bitch and moan to myself and flinch when I find myself next to some 18 year old at the swimming pool.

You do what you have to do. Being honest about it is far better though than pretending it isn't an issue for you.

kate said...

Oh, I am so the same way. Being over on your side of the planet is killing me (total shit weather for running, no treadmill in sight, no SCALE in sight either). I hate to say it, but I need a scale to keep me on track. I really couldn't say exactly why, but I don't lose weight when I don't weigh myself. It's like without the constant subconcious reminder of how fat I can get (and boy-howdy can I get fat, fat, fat), I just go all wonky and eat stupid stuff and let my body go to hell.

I am trying to remind myself that I am at least maintaining some physical activity (a fuckload of walking, with some biking and a single run thrown in for good measure), and am eating pretty reasonably. But the fact is that I'm not cooking for myself so I don't know exactly what I'm eating.

And sadly, I know I'm getting fatter while here. And it pisses me off incredibly. Even though my stamina for exercise is still pretty good (I kicked my husband's ass bike racing him uphill on a steep incline, even though he rides all the time), and I know I'll slide right back in to running regularly once I'm home, I still feel guilty and shitty about the way I'm treating my body, and downright FAT.

And that sucks. I love vacationing, and I'm having a total blast over here, but I can't wait to get home and get back to real life and real exercise.

Kerri Anne said...

I very much get this. And I very much like you. And I know I've said it before via other online channels, but your running has definitely inspired me to keep up my own. So thanks! for that, babe.