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Girl Talk: Body Image Chat

 

Note: Today’s post discusses body image. If this isn’t what you feel like reading today, no hard feelings! See you tomorrow ūüôā

A few weeks ago I had a crazy yet enlightening realization. I was getting dressed in my real clothes which involved my favorite pair of black high boots. As I was zipping the boots up, I noticed they were taking some extra time to pull up over my calves.

I laughed. Ha, look at me with the calf muscles! They are making my boots tight! Maybe by next winter¬†these very¬†boots won’t even zip up at all!

I literally just laughed, smiled….and moved on.

And then I realized — If it were my jeans or black pants being pulled up and taking too long to get over my thighs, feeling snug up top¬†or heaven for bid, not getting up at all, there’s a chance I would have started to freak with thoughts that would look something like this:

What did I do? What did I not do?

Did I gain weight? Am I eating too much?

Is it PMS? Am I bloated?

Am I not running enough? Am I running too much?

What happened? How did this happen?

Is it Pure Barre? Am I building too much leg muscle? Am I not targeting my thighs the right way with my workouts?

Do you see what I am saying? My calves do not phase me but higher up in the leg has the potential to send me into a frenzy.

If I need a¬†larger size in shirts, that’s cool. I need room to move my arms¬†and like to¬†be comfortable.

Need the next size in shoes? Sure thing, bring them out. No big deal.

But jeans? Because the thigh area¬†isn’t fitting right? Cue¬†freak out, call my mother.

I am not a fool, I absolutely know I am thin. And I also know that if I needed a bigger size in my jeans, I would still be a healthy size for my body.

However, I think that the brainwashing effect of living in a society that praises weight loss and small sizes combined with knowing I was once chubby and that chub was in my thighs still has the potential to play an initial role in my thought process if I allow it.

I try to replace the thought process with something like this:

You are insane, you know that? You look awesome and you feel awesome, so stop it.

Like hello, you are a runner. Those legs and muscles continue to carry you across finish lines, faster and faster.

You love Pure Barre. It is a wonderful cross-training workout that has absolutely changed your shape for the better.

You couldn’t eat less even if¬†you wanted to! What would you do, genius, what would you even do? Skip an apple? Not eat sweet potatoes? Start measuring out your servings of vegetables instead just eating the amount that¬†you actually want? Nonsense.

And, eating any less than you do right now would wreak havoc on your body and you know that! You would lose your period, slow your metabolism (and then gain weight for real rather than the fake weight you are imagining right now) and increase your risk of injury.

You realize you are able to run injury free right? I do not bring this up as to not jinx myself but I increase mileage and run 6 days a week for years without issue. I continually thank my body (and how I fuel it) for this.

And heck no,¬†you will never give up dessert. You love dessert and also know that those occasional favorite treats are not what’s going to do¬†you in but giving them up, most certainly will destroy¬†your soul.

cold stone sundae

I receive so many emails from readers each week¬†looking to me for guidance¬†regarding their own body image struggles and for answers to their¬†disordered eating recovery questions¬†that I think it’s important for me to share my own thoughts and experiences. Realizing we all have the potential to experience these moments¬†about our bodies¬†can help¬†us to see that our initial thought¬†processes¬†aren’t any different from the next girl.

The trick (and probably the most difficult part) is not only realizing that these types of thoughts will pop up from time to time but how important it is to take those body image thoughts and learn how to put them into perspective in order to keep a healthy mindset.

As fitness enthusiasts, I do believe we are most in tuned with our bodies and more likely to notice the little changes that may or may not occur in our muscles and structure.

But see, we are actually the girls who have the wiggle room. The room to eat more because we are always exercising, to skip a workout because we are so routine that hey, it’s okay to rest today! and the room to bounce between sizes because, more than likely, we changed sizes because our shapes changed for the better from our workouts, not because we were inactive and gained weight. Let’s remember this, okay?

Post of Interest:

Achieving a Balanced Attitude Towards Your Weight

Finding Balance Part One РHow many calories do you really need?

Finding Balance Part Two РHow what and why should we eat for our workouts?

Finding Balance/NEDA Week РFemale Athlete Triad chat

Do You Really Need To Lose 5 Pounds? РProbably not!

Jeans Can Lie

body image chat #girltalk #bodyimage #disorderedeating #running #coldstone #fitfluential Click To Tweet

Has running changed your calf muscles and do you notice them in your boots?

How do you handle the thoughts that pop up when you think your clothes don’t fit right?

 

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{ 27 comments… add one }
  • Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine May 17, 2016, 5:16 am

    I use a lot of similar thoughts to you when I have any of those feelings. In general I have become alot more appreciative of my body over the last few years and don’t get upset over a few pounds. However, last month I went in for a physical and it was the day before my period. Apparently I weighed 6 pounds more than last year and my doctor said some things that could have really put me over the edge if I had any issues with my eating or body image. I knew it was because of bloating and maybe a few other factors, but I was still in a healthy weight range and I had just told her about my workout routine and healthy eating habits! I don’t weigh myself and have no desire to start doing that, and it just seems like such a ridiculous way to monitor health (at least when it comes to a few pounds). So while I generally like my doctor, that really rubbed me the wrong way and got me thinking about how even professionals should approach this topic carefully. Whew- sorry for the rant!
    Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine recently posted…Repeat Races: Sometimes I Am Too ConsistentMy Profile

    • The Cookie ChRUNicles May 17, 2016, 5:29 am

      omg I would not have liked that doctor on that day! no need to apologize for this rant! when I was pregnant, one of the doctors in my dr team said something about my weight gain one month and I freaked. it was in my file to not mention weight and she ignored that. needless to say, I called the main doctor and complained and that dr apologized to me lol…so even though my story is from when I was pregnant, I definitely understand and would definitely get annoyed now if a dr had the nerve to comment. I mean, can’t they just look at us rather than the scale? she should have seen by looking at you how healthy you are!

  • Andrea May 17, 2016, 6:19 am

    I love this: “we changed sizes because our shapes changed for the better from our workouts, not because we were inactive and gained weight. Let‚Äôs remember this, okay?” So true! My body has definitely changed this past year, lifting more weights, spinning more, and continuing to fuel my body and honor my cravings. My pants fit differently and there have been times when I beat myself up over it. But I have to stop and tell those thoughts to go away and realize that my shape has changed from exactly what you said, from my great workouts and eating right! Thanks for a great post!
    Andrea recently posted…Weekly Workouts: Planking, Cycling and RunningMy Profile

  • Susie @ SuzLyfe May 17, 2016, 6:26 am

    Something that, for better or worse, has helped me get over any sizing issues I might have is the fact that vanity sizing has had such a huge impact on clothing–no two brands are the same! So I might be an 8 in some and a 2 in others. As long as the clothes fit, I’m ok.
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  • Michele @ paleorunningmomma May 17, 2016, 6:58 am

    I randomly seem to get these thoughts and then realize afterwards it’s PMS stuff, so it winds up not being random! Even still, I don’t recognize it at the time so I use the same sort of “put it in perspective” tactics that you do – tell myself to stop, and remind myself of all the good things, and move on. Yes, thoughts come back, but I have to say with age they just do not bother me. So many other things to worry about now!
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  • Deb May 17, 2016, 8:32 am

    I needed this today – thanks for writing. I’m 5’1″, weigh 110 pounds because I lift and compete in figure competitions. My husband told me I was fat yesterday and it CRUSHED me.

    • The Cookie ChRUNicles May 17, 2016, 9:54 am

      I am sorry to hear this. Unfortunately sometimes, people say things not fully realizing how hurtful those words can be. Keep up the good work (and workouts!)

  • Alyssa @ renaissancerunnergirl May 17, 2016, 9:35 am

    I loved reading this because I have to remind myself of the same thing sometimes. I have some outfits that I was wearing when I spent my first summer at my current job as an intern, that I haven’t touched since then (2 yrs ago) since last summer I spent in shorts studying for the bar. I finally, finally got into a good place with eating and exercising over the year that followed that summer, and now, I’m at a weight that’s healthy for me, means I get my cycle and feel good, and it’s probably about 5 lbs higher than where I was then – and some of those dresses and skirts feel pretty snug. What does that mean? Some I can still wear. But some, that feel just a little too uncomfortable, I need to donate, and maybe make myself go shopping (which I dislike if it’s for work clothes haha, but I can do it!) Because I’m not going to wear them again. It wouldn’t be a good thing to be that size or shape. It isn’t my happy weight.
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    • The Cookie ChRUNicles May 17, 2016, 9:53 am

      I know exactly what you mean. I have one pair of pants like that . I know I need to just get rid of them!

  • Lauren May 17, 2016, 9:40 am

    Great post and totally accurate for me how anything is fine except feeling or being bigger in my thigh or waist area. Also heck noooo to giving up dessert. Thanks for keeping it real.

  • Shannon May 17, 2016, 9:43 am

    I love this! It is so important to recognize these thoughts in our heads so that we can dismiss them without having them affect the day!
    Shannon recently posted…Steel Cut Oatmeal Cranberry CookiesMy Profile

  • Sarah @pickyrunner May 17, 2016, 9:46 am

    Yep yep yep. There’s something about pants/jeans that are different from the rest of clothes. With time, I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter. Some days they’ll fit better than others and if I’m not feeling it, leggings will do. I think it takes years to get to a point where we’re comfortable and I don’t think many people will ever live their entire life without getting sucked in to some of society’s pressures. It’s the worst. I owe you an email!
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  • Laura @ This Runner's Recipes May 17, 2016, 10:01 am

    So so so true. I donated a bunch of skirts from my grad school years because I’m simply more muscular now and they fit my butt and legs differently. But back then I couldn’t run as far or as fast! Why trade abilities, accomplishments, and experiences for an article of clothing with a certain number on the tag?
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  • Suzy May 17, 2016, 10:47 am

    Ha ha ha I loved it when you wrote, “What would you even do, Genius, like skip an apple?” It’s SO TRUE. We all have weird stupid not healthy thoughts in our heads, but luckily we’re able to manage them so that we don’t end up skipping apples.

    Great post, Meredith. You’re a rock star for talking about this stuff. xo
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  • Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 17, 2016, 11:11 am

    Love this post and can most definitely relate. I find that the older I get, the less I seem to care even if I do notice something fitting differently, but it still kind of makes you stop and wonder if you’re doing something wrong. I find that I tend to put muscle on pretty easy in my legs especially, so pants are always fitting me goofy depending on how much snowboarding (and now biking) I’m doing. That being said, there’s no way I’d ever be willing to go back to restricting and doing all the crazy stuff that I did back in the day. Just not worth it.
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    • The Cookie ChRUNicles May 18, 2016, 2:12 pm

      right? no way could you go back to restricting and the crazy stuff or letting yourself be hungry. so true that the older we get, we sort of get over the caring as much as we might have in the years before. we think much more rationally now!

  • Caroline M May 17, 2016, 1:25 pm

    Yes yes yes to everything. It’s so true, I and many others might freak out if our thighs seem a little bigger while a new bra size is celebrated. Our bodies are constantly in flux and changing, and that was so hard for me to accept especially as I was going from awkward teenager body to a woman’s body. Now, I can honestly say that my body is AWESOME. Not because it looks like a model’s but because I fill it with nourishing foods, it can run long distances, and it is strong. Yesterday I weighed myself for the first time in months, and it was great because I felt absolutely nothing. No happiness, no sadness, no anxiety. It’s a great point to be at because weight is weight and what we are doing to nourish and love our bodies matters 10385382x more than whatever number appears on the scale!
    Caroline M recently posted…25 (Random) Things to Be Thankful For Right NowMy Profile

  • Emily May 18, 2016, 1:15 pm

    This is so true, and I really loved how you emphasized that one has to change the way they are thinking and looking at their body. It’s okay to give your body wiggle room, because that’s life. Life changes so much, and we weren’t made to be robots. I think I kind of had this thinking of ‘fitting every girl’ into a box (when it comes to body image), and it just wasn’t helpful. Again, Meredith, you always hit the nail STRAIGHT on when it comes to this body image discussions!
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  • Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets May 18, 2016, 7:52 pm

    This is a fantastic post. I absolutely loved it, and I can relate whole heartedly. I have had these same thoughts before (cue dressing rooms or bathing suit shopping), and I always come back to the same thing, “You’re healthy and you’re what most people would consider petit so get over it kid.” Yep, this is my pep talk, and it usually works too. It’s all about perspective.
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