Look in the Mirror and Love What Your Body Can Do

I recently listened to a Running For Real podcast episode with Meg Steffy-Schrier and Jessi Haggerty called “Look in the Mirror and Love What Your Body Can Do”. What perfect advice, and this title just about sums up what I’m trying so hard to teach my daughters – and learn for myself.

Earlier this year, I read and began to practice “Intuitive Eating”, a topic sufficiently covered on this podcast. Both guests stated that it is really hard to eat intuitively when you are training at a high caliber. I never really thought about this. After reading Intuitive Eating, I really believed that my body would send me hunger signals and let me know what it needed. Throughout 2018, I tried hard to get away from following a fairly restrictive meal plan and get on board with the intuitive eating. But these women believe you need EVEN MORE when training at a high caliber. Wow. Wait a minute. Is this really true?

These women shared many things about diet and exercise that we already know but I know I find hard to actually put into practice. For example, they said when you are training for a marathon you need to be concerned about properly fueling your body and not to be concerned about body image. They are incompatible. This I know and pretend to practice, but consistently fall short. When I am properly fueling my body and training hard, I feel great – like a machine. Why do I even allow myself to become concerned about this? Such food for thought.

With much shame, I admit I have never gone through a training cycle and NOT been concerned about how my body looked. I have been overly concerned with how what I ate or the amount of strength training (or lack thereof) impacted my body. I’ve prioritized this over getting adequate nutrition to fuel my training and performance, causing lackluster results for me in a few big races. Haggerty and Steffy-Schrier believe it’s how you eat consistently during your training cycle that will make or break your race. Again, this I know to be true, but why is it so hard to put into practice?

Why is it so easy to prioritize aesthetics over function? Our bodies are strong and can do some pretty impressive things, like lift heavy weights, run far and fast, and pedal bikes. They can grow and birth and nurse babies (and for some of us, 2 at a time!). It’s amazing what our bodies can do. Take care of them, yes. But let’s also learn to love what they can do!

Perhaps this will become my running resolution for 2019: look in the mirror, and instead of seeing everything that I don’t like, being proud of what my body can do.

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