How Strong Became My New Skinny

A little over a year ago I scrutinized my reflection in the cheap floor-length mirror that hung over our closet door. The act itself was nothing peculiar – after all, I’d been engaging in such activities since adolescence but that day, I remember my reaction to the thirty-something woman wearing a sports bra and compression shorts from Target being slightly different from my routine mirror-related internal dialogue. You see, up until that point, I was completely unable to vocalize my desire for a more toned reflection without absolutely destroying my current state – “you’re weak, you’re lazy, you’re repugnant, you’re disgusting…

The first year with my son and then {almost four years later} my daughter were difficult for a myriad of reasons that are familiar to many women. What is sad is that I often hurled the above insults at my body while nursing an infant. I shamed myself for carrying an extra 10-15 pounds and not having a ‘fitspirational’ body while participating in what could be considered the ultimate physical performance – feeding and sustaining a young life.

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But that moment a little over a year ago, something changed. I was kind to my reflection. And surprisingly enough, when I started vocalizing respect for my body, I became motivated to take better care of it. I no longer wished to be thinner, I wished to be stronger. I re-examined my eating habits and began running 15-20 miles a week – determined to experience the ever-elusive-to-me-runners-high. Spoiler alert – didn’t really happen but I do enjoy running now.

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April 2015

And when we moved from the Washington D.C. area to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas this past summer, I joined a fitness group of like-minded women and discovered my love for functional-fitness, weight-training, and PIYO. And the power of squats.

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September 2015

It is impossible to ignore the media campaigns promoting a healthy body image. Every magazine with air-brushed models has at least one advertisement calling for us to ‘love ourselves’ and purchase products that will hide our flaws and highlights our strengths. With it being a couple of months into the new year, we’re privy to declarations of weight-loss and fitness goals and we tell ourselves that this year will be different. Like many others, I am not immune to the constant bombardment of images and text advocating the ideal woman’s body (thin but not too thin, muscular but not too muscular, etc…), face (symmetrical and clear of blemishes), and attitude (“Now don’t go being a bitch…”). But my suit of armor is thicker – perhaps it is because my focused shifted to strength and not the number on the scale.

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March 2016

In fact, the number of the scale now is about 15 pounds heavier than when I was at my smallest size (early-20s after Clay’s first deployment). But I am so much stronger and my endurance is through the roof compared to those days when I would eat only 1200 calories a day just to be able to fit into a smaller size. And I am much happier with my body and myself than I’ve ever been. Although I am a big proponent of the ‘fake it ’till you make it’ philosophy and my suit of armor is thicker, there are times that I can’t seem to brush off self-loathing thoughts about my appearance.  And when I look at my daughter, it absolutely breaks my heart that she could be thinking the same way herself one day.

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3 thoughts on “How Strong Became My New Skinny

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