In 2018 I became a certified group fitness instructor.
I’ve completed four marathons, several half marathons, and even more 5k races.
I exercise almost every day, eat moderately well, and never stop working to instill the importance of both in my children.
I do not have a six pack and probably never will; I’ve given birth twice, I’ve softened, but I’m strong. I am only now, on the cusp of 33, beginning to learn that the shape of my body does not define me. That strength lies in all shapes and sizes. Like so many others I spent most of my life believing that these things were mutually exclusive; to be strong you must be thin.
To be thin is to be
Times I felt I wasn’t enough:
- Ten years old, shopping for a one-piece bathing suit in the women’s section with my mother. All of my friends were wearing bikinis, but in the fifth grade I already knew I shouldn’t be.
- Fourteen years old, going through a growth spurt where I was thin for the first time in years and my grandmother asked me if I was anorexic.
- Nineteen, when a boy I was dating questioned the single pink stretch mark across my stomach.
- Nineteen, when a drunk girl at a college party yelled, “you’re too fat for that outfit” from a car window.
- Twenty, when a boy I was dating commented on the folds of skin under my arms.
- Twenty-one, when a boy I didn’t know told me “you’d be really hot if you worked out”.
- Twenty-one, when a customer asked me if I was pregnant (I was not).
- Thirty, when a coworker told me I was gaining weight.
- Any time I’ve been told I look “so skinny!” within weeks after giving birth. (The “bounce back” culture has to burn; also, stretch pants and a good camera angle can tell beautiful lies.)
But then there’s all the times I felt I was more than enough:
- All four times I ran 26.2 miles (NJ Marathon, Ocean Drive Marathon, Philadelphia Marathon 2x)
- Twenty-six, when I gave birth to my first son.
- Thirty-two, when I gave birth to my second son.
- The entire 14 months I breastfed my first son; the current journey of breastfeeding my second.
- 2018, when I received my instructor certification; shortly after, when I taught my first class.
- Every single time I teach a fitness class and am able to make others feel powerful.
You are enough. As you are. Right now. More than enough. We are all bags of bones, we stretch with the times, with the phases of our lives. Eat the pizza, drink the wine, drink the shakes and cook the veggies too – everything in moderation. We should move to feel good, to take care of our bodies and our brains, but not because a flat stomach somehow makes our voices louder, makes us smarter, more desirable.
Let’s stop making other peoples bodies our business.
I still look in the mirror and frown. It’s damn near impossible to unlearn years of unworthiness in your appearance, but never stop trying.