Welcome back to our Ask-A-Salty feature, where you ask us questions and we give you the answers. If you have a question for us you can send it to us by clicking on “Ask-A-Salty” above the banner or by clicking here.
Today’s question comes from Katie:
I am a 16 year old girl and I love to run. I’m on my school’s cross-country team and I’ve been in the sport since 7th grade. I
usually run 4-5 miles a day. I’ve been feeling really upset lately because I feel like I’m grossly heavy compared to the other girls on my team. I am 5’6″ and 128 pounds. I just went for my yearly checkup at the doctor and I know my BMI is 20.7, and I know that’s healthy and good. But I can’t get a flat stomach to save my life. I don’t have much body fat anywhere but my stomach. I don’t know if it’s actually fat or just bloat, or what. I just look like I’m 5 months pregnant all the time unless I suck in my stomach, but I’m lean everywhere else.
I’m not always the healthiest eater but it’s really hard when my diet consists of school lunches and my mom’s dinners (our veggies are usually potatoes with lots of butter). I’ve been trying to make healthier choices and drink lots of water. I’ve lost weight but my stomach hasn’t flattened out at all. It’s been like this for at least two years. I’m mortified to take my shirt off at practices even in August because I look so different from all the other girls with their perfect runners’ bodies.
Do you have any suggestions, advice… anything? Am I not doing enough core workouts, am I not drinking enough water? I don’t know what the problem is and I just want to be able to go for a run for once and enjoy it and not worry the entire time about how much my stomach is shaking.
Girl, I so hear you. First, I think BMI is a crock of you-know-what since it doesn’t take into consideration those of us with dense muscle tissue (my “scientific” way of putting it), but the best way I’ve talked myself down that ledge of despair is by reminding myself that weight is nothing more than a measure of gravity pulling upon us. A number doesn’t determine our self-worth, our athletic ability, our future. It’s just that: a number.
As far as the “flabby stomach,” I feel the same way about my “child-bearing” hips. As Type A Runners, we tend to be incredibly critical of at least one part of our bodies. Instead of focusing on what I don’t like, I focus on what I do like. I like my big brown eyes and long-eyelashes. I like my long legs and smile. I challenge you to think about parts of your body that you do appreciate, rather than focusing on that one part that you don’t.
My downfall is comparing myself to others. She has the best abs, and she has the best looking calves. I’ve found the technique of the Three C’s my saving grace: Catch it, Challenge it, Change it.
First, catch that negative thought in its tracks.
Next, challenge that negative thought by bringing yourself back to reality.
Finally, change your thought process and focus on something positive that you’ve accomplished over the last couple of hours.
Remember that a body part is nothing more than a body part, and no matter how much we obsess about it, chances are we aren’t going to be able to change it all that much. Genetics play a big factor whether we like it or not. Accepting ourselves as we are, as a whole person who is beautiful and capable and strong is the way to loving yourself, not by changing that one part that drives us crazy (and believe me when I say, just about all of us have at least one of those!)
Also, it might help you to focus more on strengthening your body and making it as strong and healthy as you can make it, rather than focusing on making it look a certain way. Do core exercises to make your core strong and to be a more injury-resistant powerful runner! It might not give you a visible six-pack, but you’ll have the best abs for you because they will work their best for you.
The last thing I wanted to share today is this snippet that I found going viral on some social media outlets these last couple of days. We compare ourselves to that “perfect supermodel body,” when, in reality, that doesn’t even exist. Photoshop and technology lead us to false images that, in turn, affect the way we feel about our own bodies. Don’t be fooled, and stop being so critical of your beautiful self.