A few weeks ago, something happened to me. Something unexpected. Not something goofy or crazy but for once, something good. Something really good. I realized my weight does not define my self worth.
One morning when I was lifting weights at the gym, a guy I’ve seen there everyday for two years approached me, introduced himself to me and told me how good, lean and fit I look. In my head, I call him soccer man. I nickname the people at my gym. You may remember crazy lifting guy and the mayor. Well this guy looks like a soccer player. Turns out he is a soccer player. Did I ever call that. He’s ripped too, but not overly beefy in a gross way. We chatted a bit and discovered we’re both into photography. He’s actually a professional and was curious about my skills which I’m always reluctant to tell people because I don’t have a lot of confidence in my amateur picture taking. Still it’s always good to know someone in the biz. But I digress…
A few days later, he corned me planking doing floor work after my swim. He asked if we could workout together. I looked around curiously thinking “why?” I mean this guy is uber buff why would he want to workout with me? Now I’ve been out of the dating scene for awhile, but I’m fairly sure he’s feeling me out, if you know what I mean (don’t get excited Mom, remember the teenage Valentine boy).
He read the question in my head and went on to tell me how he sees me there everyday, seeing how hard I work, pushing myself to be better and the impressive amount of determination and focus I have for fitness. He told me “you’re such an inspiration to everyone here.” Even though I know he has ulterior motives, I know he’s right. In fact, he’s not the first person who’s told me this. A woman on the elliptical next to me said the same exact thing two months ago.
How I look now
You know what my lame response was? “Thank you, but I’m not exactly where I want to be. I used to be skinny” as I pointed to a girl on the squat press & explained how I used to be her size before I was injured last year. I really need “to lose 10 pounds” I said. He looked at her then looked at me shaking his head like I was crazy. He said “that is so unattractive.” “Someone who looks fit and healthy like you is so much more attractive. Your size is perfect.”
The biggest challenge I’ve faced since the beginning of my cycle of injuries and hormone problems has been accepting the physical changes to my body while it’s healing. I can’t say I love my new shape, but I always have to remind myself I’m in a much healthier place. The last two months before the car accident I’ve finally been able to get results reshaping my body to how I want it to look with strength training. Something you can’t do with running or walking. I know I will get to the version of my body I want to achieve but as Jody says, it takes time.
How I looked two years ago
Talking to soccer man, made me see myself through someone else’s eyes. After talking to him, I looked at old pictures of myself. I was stunned at how thin I was. My ex boyfriend always told me I was too frail and frequently asked me to eat more. I always thought it was his thing to nag me about and never believed it were true. My friend Kevin also admitted to me when I was in Tucson visiting that he always felt I was too thin and that he thought I looked much healthier now. What soccer man said to me didn’t change the way I feel about the shape of my body, rather it made me appreciate I wasn’t the rail thin person in these pictures anymore.
The thing about that girl at the gym I pointed to is she is me. She is me two years ago. She looks exactly like I did in these pictures. I’ve watched her body change this year. She’s become scary thin. I’ve thought to myself many times how awful she looks and wondered is she getting a period? I see her admire her rail thin arms in pride all the while I’m fearing for her because I know what a dangerous place she’s in.
I desperately want to tell her my story, explain how she is damaging her body restricting too many calories or working out too much, shake her by the shoulders and shout “YOU ARE WORTH SO MUCH MORE THAN THIS.” It wasn’t until I looked at these old pictures of myself that I realized. I used to look like that girl. All this time I’ve been chasing to get my lean physique back believing I’m not worth anything unless I look this way again. I can’t go on a date, can’t go on vacation, can’t live my life unless I look good again. I didn’t look good. I didn’t even look strong or fit. How very wrong I’ve been.
How I looked two years ago
Since talking with soccer man, I’ve been thinking a lot about my weight and self worth. I think it’s easy to correlate an insecurity with our bodies to how much we value ourselves. Too often we confuse our self worth with our weight, the pictures we see, the messages we read or the words we hear others say regarding our appearance. I hate how these things influence how we value ourselves and that we, in turn, put unnecessary pressure on ourselves.
It doesn’t seem fair. Last year at this time I felt so much resentment toward my body for being injured. Now I’ve been feeling a lot more gratitude for it. It may not look exactly how I want it to look or be what social media says it should be, but it’s my body. I’ve accomplished a lot with this body. I lost 80 pounds with this body and while I may have gained 10 much needed pounds while I was injured, I’m certainly not overweight or out of shape. Despite my current injuries, I’m the fittest I’ve ever been. I feel grateful I’m able to move & experience life with this body. I may not be thin but I’m strong, I’m fit and I’m determined.
How I look now
The message for you is…be grateful for you. Everyday. Be grateful for who you are, what YOU can do & always work to be better. Work for YOURSELF & cheer for yourself as well as others for their accomplishments. Appreciate what YOU CAN do & push yourself to do more. Don’t compare. Don’t base your worth on worldly measures or insecurities. Realize how WORTH IT YOU ARE & choose to be the BEST & HEALTHIEST version of you because YOU are WORTH it. Your weight does not define your self worth. You do.
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What defines your self worth?