If you follow the sport of running, you might notice the trend of the faster you get, the more naked you become. Whether it has to do with aerodynamics or just feeling more free, inevitably, the shirt is going to come off.
For me, weight was always just a number. I’ve never been one to care about what’s on the scale. If I was in shorts and a t-shirt, I admired my calves and veiny forearms. The clothes did their job in covering up my round hips, squishy stomach, and stick-thin shoulders. In the shorts and t-shirt, I was able to pass for a runner.
Despite not caring about the LBs, I’ve always been self conscious of my stomach for some reason. I never wore a two piece bathing suit as a teenager. In high school, I suffered from disordered eating when I really started to catch the running bug. I became obsessive with counting calories. In my magazines, it said that if you wanted a six pack, you would have to eat 1000-1200 calories a day. So, I took complete control of my food intake, versus eating what my mom packed for lunch or what my grandma made for dinner. At one point, I even dipped into 800 calories a day. My period disappeared for about a year and my once thick, brown hair became brittle and flat. I had missed the memo about putting in what you put out. Maybe a seventeen year-old should stay away from magazines geared toward a 30 something working woman.
Eventually, I started to notice that I wasn’t getting any faster and becoming more crabby. “Someone just give me a freakin donut, already!”, I remember thinking to myself as I approached graduation. Thankfully, I grew out of this unhealthy pattern once I began college. All-you-can-eat dining halls were a blessing in disguise. I still refused to expose my stomach, though. In fact, when I looked into the mirror, holding up my shirt, I couldn’t see clearly. I saw a flabby, muffin top looking thingy. So I put the shirt down and moved along with my age-old slouch that concealed the real me.
But as I started to focus on getting faster, I became more tempted to take off my shirt. I flirted with running in a sports bra late at night so that no one could see me. More recently, I took the shirt off during an indoor track workout, surrounded by those with ripped abs and toned arms. I did the workout and felt amazingly fast and free. Immediately afterward, I ran for my shirt, thinking they were looking at my stomach and saying things like I shouldn’t be running in a sports bra. Most likely, they were more focused on their splits and that nagging knee pain than the shape of my hips or the little pudge to my belly.
And so, the struggle is still there for me to be confident in my 29 year-old skin. Though, whether due to increased mileage or getting older, it gets easier everyday to not give a what and just run.