Beginner Body Image: My Body, My Body, My Body and Me

Nutmeg

Meg has written 31 posts on Salty Running.

I'm a married, step-mother, the 4th of 5 kids. I'm livin' the dream as a manager in retail, putting that English degree to great use. Oh, and I'm sarcastic.

In all my sweaty glory.

I know some of the Salties have taken the challenge and run this summer sansashirt.  I’m not at that place.  Partly for the safety of other runners who could have their retinas burned from the bright whiteness of my skin; I’d be afraid that all of the many seniors I pass along the way would mistake my belly for the light they’ve been trying to hold off from seeing as long as possible.  But, it probably has more to do with complete self-consciousness of the fatness and jiggles that brings.

Now, I’m not a total hater when it comes to my body.  My lips are okay and my teeth are pretty straight for never having had braces.  I’m trying to appreciate my body for what it does and not focus so much on what i perceive to be aesthetic flaws, but boy is it hard! Baby-steps, baby-steps.

Sweaty and red-kneed, but still proud.

Seriously (or my best attempt at being serious on the subject of body image), I’m pretty proud of my legs.  If you don’t count the upper thighs, I think of done a good job with the rest of them.  They’ve been able to carry me this far in my life.  And, despite years of being apathetic toward exercise, they have maintained a certain amount of the muscle I developed from playing soccer and some ice skating.  My husband thinks they are pretty nicely shaped, as well.  I’ve even accepted some of the evidence of my tomboy-hood that I never completely outgrew.  I’ve had my share of bruises, cuts, and scrapes with the scars to show for them.  But, those scars are reminders of the good, the bad, and the ugly experiences along this journey of life. See, I’m getting there!

So glad it is dimly lit.

When it comes to my arms, I have a much harder time seeing the good they’ve done for me and not focus on what I’d like to change.  I like my freckles, but if I could get them to blend together, they’d give me a nice tan. But what is the deal with my upper arms?  What is that flapper all about?  My work in retail started out with A LOT of heavy lifting, but the flab happened anyway.  Don’t even get me started on stretch-marks with which the wings are decorated.  UGH!  WHY?  I don’t like it; I don’t want it. Yeah, I’m going to have to work harder to appreciate these arms.

I wasn’t brave enough to take a profile shot.

I guess I can’t avoid it any longer…the part I’d prefer not to see and would prefer for no one else to, either.  This is the part that is always going to be hardest for me to accept. It’s the dreaded torso area as a whole.  It could be worse, I could still have my horrifically gigantic boobs.  The reductionwas a great decision and the scars from the initial, post-op Franken-boobies aren’t so bad.  Below the ta-tas is bad news for me.  When I look at myself in this area, I see lumpy, dumpy, and plumpy.  Those are my names for each layer and roll.  The jiggling and feeling the need to suck in the belly are the worst to me.  I hate to think about what others have to witness as I run by them on the trails.  When I pass toned and svelte people, I judge them as judging me.  Sometimes, I think that they are thinking, “Ugh, why does she even bother?”  I know, that for most of them, I’m just putting my thoughts out there as if those were their thoughts. It’s a struggle, not going to lie!

But I’m trying and running is definitely helping. I’m a work in progress, putting one foot in front of the other.  Starting to run is part of becoming a healthier me.  Each day brings new lessons, new challenges, and maybe even a little self-acceptance and appreciation for where my body, lumpy and bumpy included, takes me…while I keep my shirt on…for now.

 

11 Responses to “Beginner Body Image: My Body, My Body, My Body and Me”

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  1. Pepper Pepper says:

    I feel ya girl on that upper arm flab, it doesn’t matter what weight I am at that darn wobble won’t go away! Darn genetics!

    I prefer to focus on my assets and legs instead :)

    Keep up the running and hopefully your self image will be one you are happier with and more accepting of!

  2. eep says:

    This is going to sound really super-corny, but it’s something that I have been working on and I have found it helpful. When I look at other people, I take special note of things about them that look really wonderful. I find that if I am in the habit of seeing the good in others, it is easier to see what is wonderful about my body. When I try really hard to break the habit of judging other people, I am less judgmental about myself. Corny, yes, but it does make a difference for me. (And I am not saying that you are judging others. But we all have an inner script and we tend to notice in others what we are most self-conscious about.)

    • Rachel says:

      I LOVE this idea!!

    • Mint says:

      I love this too! Doesn’t sound corny at all to me. Nope, it sounds super smart. In my experience being nicer to others (even if mentally) is always good for our own well being.

    • Salty Salty says:

      I gotta agree with Rachel and Mint. You’re right on with this (non-cheesy!) idea! A few years back I was struggling with a bout of depression. I found myself so stuck in cranky negative-thought land. I tried an experiment: I was going to fake it until I made it – being happy and positive, that is. I remember one instance in particular that was a turning point for me, my “aha moment” if we must Oprahcize it. I was running around the Central Park Reservoir and surrounded by loads of people. I found myself irritated that a father and son “cut me off.” But then I pinched myself and reminded myself to say something positive instead and instead of perceiving being cut-off I CHOSE to see it differently. I was graced by the beautiful presence of a father and son running together in a beautiful place on a beautiful spring day. It was the SAME EVENT. I chose to view it one way over the other.

      We can do the same thing with anything, including our bodies. We can focus on the arm flaps (which I swear all of us have no matter our weight or how much we run!) or we can see the beautiful amazing body we have that takes us miles around our neighborhoods and pumps blood to our brains so we can have great conversations with those we love and to our hearts so we can actually feel that love. It’s an amazing thing, no matter what it looks like. And we are not victims of it. We can make it stronger than it is today. But it won’t happen if we choose to see it as ugly or less than or flabby or whatever. Choose to see the beauty and your body will be what you see.

      Ok, now out-cheese that! :)

      • Salty Salty says:

        PS I want to add that it sounds easy to change our perception of events like that, but it’s not. It feels so cheesy (word of the day?) or fake or contrived or lame or whatever. It does. But if you can suck it up and go against every self-deprecating, pessimistic, depressed fiber of your being and do it, you WILL see change. You will. I pulled myself out of a depression doing this and I often felt like a turd, but it worked. A rubber band around my wrist helped – I snapped it when I was found myself being my usual negative self to remind myself to reframe whatever it was I was judging.

        • Nutmeg says:

          My sister is a junior high teacher. She has a policy with her students that if she hears a negative comment from one student made about/to another, that student has to list five positive aspects about the other. Maybe I/we can do this to myself/ourselves.

  3. Nutmeg says:

    Oh, and in case you didn’t catch it, this was the inspiration for the title:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdximU6Ao00

    Now get that song out of your head. ;-)

  4. Cinnamon says:

    Oh man, have I been there too, Meg! But I think opening up about it was a really important step on my way. Congratulations on taking that step–it’s easier and easier from here out!

  5. tea_austen says:

    There are many of us who have very similar internal monologues about body image. Kudos to you for voicing it.

    And for what it’s worth, when I see someone out exercising who is less fit I think “Good for them!” (I am always tempted to say that, but I fear it will come off as patronizing).

    Getting into shape is MUCH harder than maintaining it once you’re where you want to be. I say pat yourself on the back and be proud. You’re doing it!

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