I was never an athletic child, I hated doing PE, never went in for sports and in fact the idea of going outside even filled me with dread.
Then we hosted the 2012 Olympics and all of a sudden I became interested – to the point in which I started running. Let’s be honest, I wanted the shiny medals, but I also wanted to see how far I could push my body and what I could get it to achieve.
My affair with running ended abruptly after a series of running injuries that I managed to stretch and yoga out and ultimately ignore until I couldn’t ignore them any more. But this isn’t about that (and if you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll already know the back story). This is about how I now realise how much impact running and fitness had on the way I perceive my body and how I still feel about it.
I’ll start with how it affected my relationship with food. Before I started running I had never really considered food as fuel. Of course I knew it was, but I didn’t ever look at it in a clinical way. I feel like I began to see how different foods would benefit me in different ways, partially in how it would enable me to endure whichever activity I was participating in that day, but also how it could help me recover from those activities too. Once I started thinking this way, I was able to adapt this into creating healthy and useful meals so that it wasn’t all boring ‘healthy’ foods, but also things I looked forward to eating.
I posted in a recent article about how wearing sports bras affected how I felt about my small chest size, but wearing sports clothing also affected how I felt about my body all over. I had never liked the way my stomach looked when I sat down – blobby and rolly and much better if I was standing – and sure, eating well and working out makes a difference to that, but in turn because I knew I was working hard to be healthy and fit my opinion of how my body looked changed. All of a sudden I was proud of each part of my body for enduring what I was putting it through. Because my muscles, for the most part, were keeping up with the demand I was asking of it, I didn’t see my body in a negative light any more – my bum wasn’t shaped any better, my legs weren’t more shapely, my stomach wasn’t more toned – BUT I knew everything was doing its job. I was happy.
Even though I have stopped being active in the same ways I was back then, due to injury, I still have most of that mentality. Yes I get a bit fed up if I start to feel bloated, but I know weight is relative, I know my body is strong and relatively healthy – and I know it’s working for me.
I’d never felt this way about my body until I started being regularly active, and I really enjoyed the way it made me feel about myself. This isn’t something I’ve forgotten since I’ve become more sedentary, either. I remember how I felt and I don’t lament over it. I’m so pleased I went through this phase, and who knows, it might rear its head again – but until then I’m delighted with the mindset it brought with it.
Here’s to feeling fit, healthy and happy with myself.