A marathon-training Denver mom’s body-image breakthrough
While I was recently plugging along on an 18-mile training run, I played a lot of mind games with myself to help push me through. I’ve done this a lot since I started running six or seven years ago, and it’s one of my favorite things to talk about with other runners. In part, because I like to gather new ideas for future runs but also because sometimes it makes me laugh:
-”If you make it to that tree, you can walk a bit”, “If you make it to that lamppost, you can walk a bit” etc….
-While doing loops, I threaten the road I’m headed towards: “Alright Broadway, I’m coming for you” or if there is a particularly difficult hill: “You think you’re better than me?”
-My absolute favorite from a friend: “Speed Limit 35? Woah, you better slow down buddy, or you’ll get a ticket!”
-This morning I included a local trail as part of my course and as the sun was coming up, found myself running through clusters of sunflowers. They were all facing the rising sun behind me, waiting to greet it and I pretended they had been waiting to say hello to me, so I waved.
I’ve tried similar mind tricks when it comes to accepting my post baby body:
-I imagine myself on my death bed, thinking about my life as a whole. If in that moment, I decide over 50 percent of my life was spent worrying about my body I’m going to be seriously pissed at myself. I know I am.
-I try and picture my 5-year-old daughter as a teenager. I know her best ammo against the “skinny agenda” will be the messages she gets at home. I’m determined to embody the “everyone is different and beautiful in their own way” and “some people have a baby and their stomach flattens out again, and some people’s stomachs just stay stretched out” agenda. Man, that’s easier said than done sometimes though.
So, as I was getting ready for the day ahead after my run and still in visualization mode, I took a moment to look at myself in the mirror before getting dressed. I looked at my belly and didn’t let myself look away. I looked and looked…. I don’t know where the thought came from, but I started to imagine my body as an under-appreciated partner in a relationship.
I imagined it saying: “I’m allowing you to live a full, healthy life. I grew the children you adore. You used to smoke, drink and take drugs and I stuck around and stayed strong. You are 36 years old and you don’t have back or knee problems. I withstood 18 MILES this morning, and you STILL don’t find me beautiful? Come ON wake up! What more do you want from me?”
I was shocked at the clarity and truthfulness of my next thought: “I’m sorry, you’re right–thank you. Thank you. Oh my gosh, THANK YOU!!”
Sarah Stith lives in Boulder with her husband and 2 children (2.5 and 5.5) while her husband attends grad school. Before moving to Colorado, the family lived in Brooklyn, NY where Sarah worked as a dresser at The Lion King on Broadway. She now works from home and manages to find time between diaper changes to build her organization, “Raising Little Heroes” (http://raisinglittleheroes.