Ginger With a J: Walk a mile in my sports bra

A bunch of half-naked women at the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials. Photo courtesy of

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.

This is me, unedited, after a 10 mile long run. I first made it black and white to hide the imperfections that I saw. And then I said, "screw it."

I write about mindfulness, mental health, and the professional sport of running with the occasional poking fun at the sport. When I am not running, I'm either helping people as a counselor or trying to make them laugh as an amateur open mic comedian.

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  1. You are so not alone! I NEVER took my shirt off for the first few years I ran and then only when it was really hot and then I also said “screw it” and started to take it off any chance I got! Ha! It is so freeing to run in just shorts and a bra. I am a little paunchy since I’ve been injured but I took off the shirt last night in your honor and let my little gleaming white flab bounce around the track for all the jogging families to see. If they didn’t like it, too bad!

  2. Love this post Jinger! I used to be vary wary of running in just a sports bra, which sucks because we all know how Hot I run! 🙂 So glad I am proud of my abs now, flaws and all!

    Ps you look FAB!!!

  3. What poofy stomach? Are you nuts !! You wanna see a poofy stomach?…take a look at mine !!…LOL. I enjoyed reading this. Almost had me reliving that period in your life. That was not healthy for you and glad you realized it. Now show off all the hard work you have done. Unless you have children, you have no poofy stomach. Just be glad you don’t have a poofy pouch like me !!!! Great job, Jinger ! Love, Mom

  4. Love you, too, Mom. Hopefully this warmer weather is helping your fitness program! I read that you walked two miles the other night, great job!