My struggles with body image and my fitness challenge

Once I hit puberty, I was never a ‘skinny’ girl. I always had curves, but not always in the places I thought were the right places. It didn’t bother me so much when I was younger because I always wore a size 8, and was very small on top. It gave me the advantage of an optical illusion of being smaller than I was. Plus, I had a smaller than average waistline.

Fast forward to my thirties and my midline started to fill out, as well as the size of my saddle bags. It started slowly, and I did modify my diet. However, unlike my twenties, diet modification did not make the changes that used to come so easily. Weight loss became a real struggle.

I joined the gym on several occasions, but progress was slow, nearly non-existant compared to the effort I put out there. So I would eventually get busy, and then lose motivation.

After my daughter was born, my perspective changed a lot. I gained a ton of weight very easily during my pregancy. I longed for the body that I had pre-pregnancy, that was not my ideal, but was a lot better than my post-partum body where I was wearing clothes much larger than I was used to. At one point, I got down to 20 lbs below my prepregnancy weight. I chalk that up to stress and lots of breast feeding because I certainly was not dieting or exercising. Unfortunately, that didn’t last very long, and I gained the weight right back. After a few negative medical reports (unrelated to weight), I decided to renew a fitness regiment.

Exercise is something I never enjoyed for the sake of it. I need more motivation and structure and just don’t have the discipline to do it on my own. I joined the gym last summer and found myself struggling with those issues. I went diligently for a few months, but again, saw little progress and got discouraged. So when the new year came around, I decided the only way I was going to catch the fitness bug was to give myself a tangible goal… to run my first 5K. It was a two parter for me. One, I want the physique of a runner. Two, I know that I need to do something different than I have in the past, in order to start a lifelong fitness ‘habit’.

I started out enthusiastically and went out for a few runs. It only took a little bit of training before I ended up with shin splints which are very painful, and something you don’t want to ignore. This really depressed me because it was the first time I ever thought about doing anything like this, but my body rejected the idea.

A few people suggested I try bike riding while my shins were healing. The big deterrant is my lack of general skill on the bike, and fear of sharing the road with cars. But I pushed myself and I’m slowly making gains. A friend suggested that I try out the TD 5 Boro Bike Tour this coming May. The idea sounded great. Something I can do with my family. This bike ride is 42 miles.

I’ve become very excited for this tour because it means so much more to me than just getting to see my city via bike, or even completing a long ride. It means pushing myself to reach a goal, continuing to improve my overall fitness. It means setting my mind and body on a course that hopefully will stick. Good fitness and an inspiration to my daughter to always be physically active.

I look at my body now, and there are many things I would like to improve. There are parts that jiggle and wiggle and are not as firm as I would like. There are proportions that I would like to change. But something has changed. I don’t hate my body. I think I look pretty damn good. I feel hot, and sexy even when I’m wearing a size range from 8-12 (Those darn manufactures have no standards). I know I’m reasonably fit and more importantly, improving. I think I have come a long way in body self image. Most of all, I think I’m a good role model for my daughter.