Thursday, May 10, 2012

I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it people like me

Unlike Stewart Smalley I don't do a daily affirmation, but maybe I should. Who knows - maybe we all should. I have a lot of blessings in my life, but that doesn't mean that there aren't things I wouldn't change. Like many women, I suspect, I have body image issues. I know - hear me out. When I say that I get a few things. One is "No way - you look great". While I appreciate the vote of confidence, it doesn't mean I see myself that way. The other thing I hear (generally from women who weigh more than me) is: "If you feel like you're fat what do you think about me." What they don't realize is my view of myself has absolutely nothing to do with them and absolutely everything to do with my image of myself.

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.


  1. Gun show, indeed. You go, girl! I know what you mean. But when I turned 30, its like a switch just went off. I don't care about it anymore--but I'm not gonna "let myself go." I work out 4ish times a week and watch every calorie that goes in my mouth. I know that I'll never be as skinny as I was in high school (when I totally thought I was fat!!!) but I look good in my clothes (I think) and I feel good, too.

  2. You look incredible, and for me just mentally being active and keeping up with it makes a huge difference!

  3. Bad ass is right! Go Sam! You are an inspiration!

  4. Thanks Loren! And happy anniversary! xoxo