One of my favorite running blogs is Mile Posts by Dorothy Beal. After reading her latest post,
A Runner's Body, I realize how my story is similar to hers.
I encourage you to read her blog, especially if you are a female runner. She has a lot of great insight. She talks about how she lost 30 pounds when she started running and what a challenge it was to gain the weight back until she was healthy again. I love the last line of her most recent post:
In plain clothing I don’t get told I look like a runner anymore but I don’t care: a. cause I am a runner and b. because I no longer define my self-worth by what I look like.
I want to be able to say that I do not define my self-worth by what I look like. It is something that I still struggle with. Here is an example:
About three years ago, when I was in the best shape of my life (also at my lowest weight), people who didn't know me would ask if I was a runner, even when I was "in plain clothing" as Dorothy put it. One time in particular stands out in my mind when a person I had never met before asked if I was a runner. Am I a runner? This was a hard question to answer. Many thoughts ran through my head as I thought about what to answer. My first thought was, I must look fit, and that made me proud. After all, I had worked for my body, right? This thought didn't last long as the second thought plowed through- Does he think I'm too skinny? Is he going to suggest I stop running so much? Of course, I don't think this was what he meant at all. He was simply trying to make conversation and maybe give me a complement. The final thought that went through my head was, no, I'm not a runner because I'm not fast. This was the dumbest thought of all. I was faster than I had ever been, but I was still not satisfied. So many other girls were running several minutes faster than me, and I always felt like I was running at the back of the pack. The truth is, I improved dramatically in the three years I ran in college, and now I would do anything to run the times I was running back then.
So all those thoughts went through my head in about a millisecond and all I answered was, "Yes." I tell that story to show how concerned I was with how other people viewed me. I didn't want to be too skinny or too fat in the eyes of the world. At this time in my life, I was very concerned with my body and what I looked like. I was also beginning to find my identity in running. I wanted people to see me as a runner, and I wanted to get faster. These two goals influenced almost everything that I did.
Skip ahead three years. I am now 30 pounds heavier, and I agree with Dorothy, that it was one of the hardest things to do, much harder than losing the weight. I no longer get asked if I'm a runner, but unlike Dorothy, I do care. I wish I didn't, and it is something I'm working on because my identity is not in running or what I look like. I know many girls struggle with body image and self-confidence. It is a battle that we face, but we must remember that we are made in the image of God and He made us who He wants us to be. Our job is to keep our bodies healthy, so we can glorify Him to the best of our ability. This will look different for every person. I encourage you to find out how you can do that by looking to Christ, instead of looking at the world.
The pic on top is when I went back to North Greenville after spending a year at home and gaining back the 25 pounds I had lost. The pic on the bottom was a year and half earlier.