I wasn’t always fit and active. In fact – I used to be a very different person that I am now. All throughout high school, college, and my 20’s, I was sedentary. I tried running with a friend in college, and my take-away from the experience was that running was horrible… I was out of breath, my legs hurt, my lungs hurt, and there was nothing pleasant about it. Now, of course, I’m not happy unless I get my weekly runs and workouts in 🙂
When I started to think about getting in shape or becoming more active, I had strong negative thoughts that held me back. I am aware now that many people feel the same way, but at that time – I felt alone with my thoughts. I felt sure that I couldn’t run, and there was no way I could get in shape. I imagined that everyone would look right at me, and know that I didn’t know what I was doing. “Look at that ridiculous woman – clearly, she has no clue how to run!” or “She’s doing that wrong!! (followed by peals of laughter and pointing)”. I thought that people would notice when I stopped running to walk and catch my breath (“Silly woman, she can’t really run…”) I was sure that people would think I was wearing the wrong type of clothes, or that I was wearing the wrong type of sports bra.
But there came a particular day when I just laced up some shoes and ran right out the door. On that day, the negative thoughts were meaningless. That day changed my life.
I think back to the woman I was on the day I started running. I was 28 years old, I had a 6 month old baby (nursing exclusively) and a high-needs toddler. I felt like I didn’t have any power in my life – not because I truly didn’t have power, but because I hadn’t grabbed the reigns of my life yet.
That’s me on the left, 10 years ago…? I wish I could tell myself a few things….. and if YOU, whoever you are out there, are in the same place I was 10 years ago, I hope you will listen.
You are beautiful, smart, and powerful *just as you are*, right now.
Your children idolize you and think you are beautiful. In fact, they will want to be like you. They see themselves in your eyes, and they will develop their self-image from your self-image. So stop speaking negatively about yourself and your body – period. And don’t just stop the speech, learn to stop the thoughts too. If you want them to think strong, positive thoughts – think those strong, positive thoughts. Turn the negative thoughts away at the door. This has nothing to do with your weight or how you look, and everything to do with how you view yourself.
No one will be watching you run, or noticing your clothes. They are too busy in their own lives to worry about yours. People are mostly thinking about themselves and their own lives. And if you need to, you could always ask for advice from an experienced runner or weight lifter – you can ask for help about how to run, what to do at the gym, or what to wear.
Your relationship with food will change. Rather than thinking of food in terms of “treats”, convenience, guilt, and the fear of getting fat, you will come to view food as fuel for your body. Some foods are better fuel than others, and your body is a temple – feed it well.
You can’t envision it now, but your body and your mind will one day be strong. You will be able to do things like hiking up mountains with a preschooler on your shoulders, running marathons, biking 40 miles, completing a triathlon with an open water swim, doing pull-ups, and moving impressive amounts of weight. You will jump out of an airplane, learn to drive a motorcycle, jump over fire, speak in front of large groups of people. The journey starts with one step. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen… one. step. at. a. time.
You will make mistakes. You will get injured. But every mistake or injury will be a training tool. You will learn to be mentally tougher than nails, even during training lay-offs. You will learn how to listen to your body and you will learn what works best for you. And in the long run, every mistake will be exactly what you needed to grow.
About Molly Beth, BA
Molly has been a runner for 10 years who likes to run long distances, lifts heavy weights, and lives for adventures. She is a volunteer breastfeeding counselor and a writer. She is passionate about community – supporting and helping each other to achieve all of our goals. She enjoys writing about the everyday things that inspire her. She runs because it’s her “room of my own” – something that is just hers.