I grew up “fat.”
And I was SO convinced I was fat that I spent most of the time I was in college dieting and running; getting down to 103 lbs. on my 5’4” body and STILL thinking I was fat!
I know many of you can relate to this.
We’re conditioned, as women.
You must look right. Not too fat. Not too thin. You mustn’t have an ass.
Oh, yeah, and your boobs. . .they’re for men’s pleasure, not their intended natural purpose.
You must be thin but you must have SOME curves. Huh?
Above all, you must look good to men!
Bullshit! To put it bluntly.
How about: It’s not about what you look like!
How about this: a healthy body attitude is about having a body that you can use as an instrument to do what you choose to do . . . throughout life.
An idea that’s easily lost in our society. Lost amid the skinny models, the multi-million dollar diet industry, and the contrast and contradiction between what “they” (men and corporate culture) say we “should” look like and what’s healthy.
Back to the ‘story.’ . .
Somewhere, somehow amidst all the BS, I developed a love of bicycling.
Truth be told, a lot of it was originally to spend time with a boy I had a crush on.
A boy, who, looking back now, I think may actually have been gay!
But then I found the exhilaration of propelling down a hill on a bike and I was hooked.
The faster the better.
That was my turning point. The point at which I stopped worrying about “fat Leslie” and learned a healthy respect for fueling my body with nutritious food and staying fit enough to do what I want to do.
Now “being in shape” became about having the strength and endurance to get up that hill.
Later, it even became about having the strength and endurance to carry everything I needed (indeed almost everything I owned) on a 3 month long 3,000 mile bicycle tour from Billings, Montana to the Oregon Coast and then south to the Mexican Border.
Circling back around to the years of body shaming:
Some years later, I found a picture of myself. You know, one of those pictures that Mom & Dad took on the front steps on the first day of school. I was shocked!
I saw a little girl who definitely was NOT overweight, let alone “fat.”
Yet all these years later. I STILL constantly have to reframe it ALL THE TIME!
The idea that my body is my own. . . that women’s bodies are their own.
That our bodies are for OUR use and pleasure; for how we choose.
And then we need to fuel them in a way that’s consistent with allowing us to continue to do the things we want to do till the day we die.
So what kinds of things do you want to be able to do?
It might be as simple as going for a walk on the beach with your family. It could be as complex as taking an extended bicycle tour, hiking the Appalachian Trail, or mountain climbing.
Whatever it is, it’s essential to both fuel your body and strengthen your muscles in a way that’s consistent with your goals, both short and long-term.
So when you look in the mirror and you’re not pleased with what you see, choose to reframe it.
Ask yourself, “How can I fuel my body (nutrition) and what actions (exercise) can I take today to make all my tomorrows days when my body can support the things I choose to do?”
A healthy body attitude is about having a body that you can use as an instrument to do what you choose to do.
It’s a life-long process. Let me know if I can help.