Weight has always been a 5 pound topic with me. Regardless of if I weigh 120 or 135, I will continuously say I want to lose 5 pounds. I’ve never been comfortable with my body. My butt is too big, my inner thighs rub together, my belly seems to be forming a kangaroo pouch, and my arms look like they belong on a man’s body. A couple of months ago I told myself I could buy the jeans I’d been relishing over if I lost 5 pounds. At the time I had no idea how much I weighed. A crazy objective seeing how I’d never know if I lost the weight. But, that was my sound logic – if I were thinner I’d be worthy of a new addition to my overflowing closet.
At the end of May in 2012 I blogged about dead weight – a post where I described my desire to remove the figurative and literal excess I was carrying around. My exact quote was:
“last week I used the bod pod for the second time. The results were an improvement, but my 18.6% body fat is still pretty high for an elite distance runner. With the trials in a month I’ve got to be careful and cautious in my quest to lose a couple more pounds.”
At that point I had lost 2% body fat and a few pounds since winning the Mountain to Fountain 15K, a race where I beat Stephanie Rothstein’s course record by over a minute. A race where the team prize is one person from the winning teams weight in beer. The person going to be weighed was me, I knew that when I registered. I had a good team and I was, likely, the heaviest person on it. After such a dominating performance you’d think weight was at the back of my mind. But, that was not the case. An hour after crossing the line victorious I was, embarrassed and ashamed, on stage on a scale of beer, in front of everyone. I did the race again the following year (actually the last time I’ve raced), and again my team won, but I left before the celebration so I didn’t have to be put on the scale again.
When I dream of Olympic berths and National Championships my fear is not that I’ll be injured or incapable. My fear is that I’ll make it, but look like a Warthog amongst Antelopes. Because trying and failing doesn’t scare me, but constantly feeling like the one that doesn’t fit haunts me. It’s the same fear that keeps me away from the racing scene now. I don’t mind being slower than when I’ve trained more consistently, but I do mind someone taking my picture at an imperfect angel, or my second butt popping out of my booty shorts. I mind. I’m embarrassed. And I run from the idea of it. Because I don’t fit in. Even at my leanest I don’t fit in.
The ridiculous standard that distance runners are held to:
Here is my bod pod reading from after Mountain to Fountain:
Maybe I don’t fit the standard. Maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe, just maybe, we shouldn’t hold ourselves to such standards. Maybe I’m the exception. Maybe you are too. Maybe we should create our own standard – being happy with the skin we’re in – because I’m not a fan of the one I’ve been attempting to conform to.
“Being lean and light is as much a culturally imposed aesthetic expectation for young female runners as a matter of performance.” – Racing Weight
I’m not going to play the blame game, because no model or magazine has ever told me I’m not beautiful or can’t make it as a professional runner – only the voice inside my head has. And yea, social media has played a role in shaping my views, but so do the streets I walk each day. So do the books I read and the people I’m friends with. It’s time to create a standard that we want to conform to!