I remember being 12 years old, the summer of 1991. I ordered this fabulous lime green ruffled bikini from JCPenney (the catalog - long before internet). It arrived, and as I excitedly tried it on I remember thinking, "Wow - I look fat." 12 YEARS OLD! That's insane. When I look back at that time I can't believe how tiny I was.
I've never thought of myself as an athlete really, but I was a cheerleader and ran track in high school. I tend to be very muscular, leading me to get asked regularly in college if I was a gymnast. Nope, I'm not a gymnast, but I have been blessed with muscular, gymnast-like thighs. When I was a freshman in college I tried out for cheerleader at West Virginia University. I worked my tail off, and I felt great about it. The squad had a weight limit of 120 pounds, and I had starved myself down to 121 pounds by living on salads with fat free dressing and low fat frozen yogurt. After tryouts, when I didn't make it, I was told it was because my weight was over the limit. Talk about a blow to the ego and the self image.
|My senior high school track photo|
I was a gym rat in college, and looking back, I looked fantastic. But I never felt thin enough. Then my junior year I got sick with Crohn's. All of the health issues wreaked havoc on my body image. After I had surgery to remove my colon in 2000, I weighed 95 pounds. I was so skinny that people did a double take as if to note that I clearly had an eating disorder. I felt self-conscious, and I realized that apparently you can be too thin. Then that was my new problem.
|Just a few weeks after surgery. I weighed less than 100 pounds.|
For several years I didn't put on weight. I was so small - wearing jeans in a size 0. I ate double quarter pounders from McDonald's every single day my first year of law school. And I didn't gain an ounce. After I started IV infusions in 2002, I gained a little weight - settling into a size 2 or 4. This is the size I remained until I started running.
|With my niece in March 2005. Holy size 2 jeans.|
When I started running in 2006, I started gaining weight. I gained about 6 pounds which doesn't sound like a lot, but it felt like it. I thought what in the world?!? I am running and now I'm gaining weight? How does that work? My pants became tight in one place - my quads. I had to go up a size in jeans and pencil skirts. I was told "You've got runner's legs. You're gaining muscle." And it took me about six years to buy it.
|Fall of 2006 in San Francisco, the day before my first half marathon. Check out those quads (and bad hair)!|
Last week during a 5k, my husband took a photo of me that I loved. I look muscular, strong, and kind of bad ass if I'm being honest. I'm no longer a size 2. I am a 33 year old woman who wears a size 4 skirt/6 pants. I am 5'4" and weigh about 131 pounds (give or take a few). I'm not perfect, but I'm strong. I am a runner. And that is my daily affirmation.
|Welcome to the gun show.|