Half-Marathon; Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love My Body

I’ve never told anyone these things. My parents, my sister, my friends – no one. So heads up. You’re the first to know.

For the last few years, I have grown, slowly but steadily, to despise the way my body looks.

When I was a kid, I was always told how skinny I was. I didn’t break fifty pounds until I was eight years old. In high school I was always the smallest – height and weight – of my friends. I grew up knowing, somehow, intuitively, that ‘being skinny’ was something good, that it was something I should maintain. In high school, that belief was confirmed and reinforced by magazines, friends who were constantly ‘dieting’, and my school’s insistence on athletic rigor and social ostracism of students who didn’t fit the body ideal. But I was always warned that, as a woman, ‘my time would come’, I would have kids or reach a certain age and it would be impossible to ‘keep the weight off’, that my ‘body will change’ and I, too, would become one of them – the women who were constantly on diets, sneaking candy when they could and irresponsibly forgetting to account for the cream in their coffee when they added up their daily calorie totals.

I dreaded that day.

I dreaded it, partly because I love to eat, because I never wanted to abandon my ability to eat wantonly and without fear of gaining weight, because I wanted to continue to jam as much food into my mouth as I pleased whenever and however I chose. But I also dreaded it because of the stigma, the association of being ‘weak’ or ‘losing the battle against your body’, because of the terrible association with them. Those people. And finally, I dreaded it because I knew that being young and svelte was ‘hot’, that it made me physically desirable, and that to not be that implied some kind of dowager or old maid status, that you were no longer in the prime of your youth, that the freedom of adolescence was gone forever. Being ‘not thin’, to me, also meant ‘being old.’

So when the scale started creeping up on me and last year I finally crossed into the 120-pounds territory (I know, I know, you’re reading this and saying: this girl is seriously worried about weighing one hundred and twenty pounds? Seriously? – – well that’s what negative body image will do for you), things got dire. I couldn’t fit into some of my clothes from college anymore and that scared the shit out of me. I’ve never been on a diet in my life, but I started counting calories, finding ways to cut down, skipping meals, or drinking instead of eating my food.

This is what I look like when I’m at that body weight. The scary body weight.

2014 230

 

What do you see?

I see someone who thought that wasn’t good enough. I see someone who thought she needed to be skinnier in order to be attractive. I see someone who looked at herself in the mirror and thought “Ugh.” I see someone who bought into everything the media and American pop culture tells us about the way women’s bodies should look.

But that was months ago. In between then and now, I did something that changed the way I feel about myself: I trained for a half marathon. I ran every other day for two months and I ran long distances – seven, eight, nine miles – on weekends. I grew accustomed to a sense of strength that came from running hour after hour in the heat of the day. It was exhilarating. And you know what happened to my body?

Nothing.

I haven’t lost a single pound. The fat on my body hasn’t magically shifted into muscle, and I still have a hard time fitting into those jeans from college. I am the same girl in that photo, except that now I see that photo in a totally different light.

But something did happen to my perception. I went from seeing my body as a drag, a weight – literally – a stigma, a something-that-wasn’t-good-enough, to seeing it as a vessel of physical power. This body can carry me places. It can do amazing things. Yesterday, it ran 13 miles as the sun rose through a beautiful valley. It carried me across the finish line. It can do it again. And again.

And that’s all it needs to do.

At the half yesterday, I was astounded by the variety of body types, male and female, who ran strong and ran hard to the finish line. Yes, the elite marathoners were wiry and thin, but there were plenty of runners in my pace group who were not, at first glance, what you might consider “athletic”. But you know what? They crossed that fucking finish line the same as I did, the same as those skinny elite runners did. And there’s nothing better or worse about their bodies than those of the thin girls who grace the magazine covers at the checkout lane. (Then again, I wonder how many models could run thirteen miles.)

So I have this to say to tabloid magazines, fat-loss adverts, and ‘the thigh gap’: Fuck off. I have this to say to every interviewer who’s ever asked a female (celebrity or not) how she stays thin: Fuck off. I have this to say to every photographer or photo editor who’s tucked in a subject’s stomach and smoothed the lines on her body to create impossible standards of beauty: Fuck. Off. I have this to say to the modeling industry, which encourages (and even promotes as socially beautiful) anorexia and other debilitating diseases: go right the fuck to hell, please, and take the vast majority of the fashion industry with you. Please and thank you.

Of course, this is a happy ending for one young woman, but not unilaterally so. Body image for young women (and men!) is a constant problem in our society, and it will be a swim against the current until the media begins to reimagine women’s bodies in plausible, real ways. Until then, the only way to fight back is individually, with small steps: with confidence in ourselves and in each other.

Marathon

 

421 thoughts on “Half-Marathon; Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love My Body

  1. Yay! I loved this Amira! (especially the F*** offs to all the various groups!) It doesn’t matter what shape or size we are these days, most people spend a disproportionate amount of time trying to live up to some air-brushed Hollywood media touted ‘truth’. I remember when I was 22 and started to gain weight, thinking I was fat. (I wasn’t) 16 years later and another 2 dress sizes from then, I wish I was back to where I was! But you know what? I wouldn’t be any happier for it I don’t think. I’m happiest when I accept what I look like regardless. I’m not a great exerciser, never have been but I don’t eat heaps so I maintain a certain weight. My choices. Some days I’m happier with my body than other days. I just try to ficus on the good parts!

    And yes, what a wonderful way to look at yourself, in terms o what your body is capable of achieving. My unfit, overweight carcass has climbed mountains. I still don’t know how!
    Well done on the 13 miles! That’s awesome. Really admire that. :)

    1. Exactly as you said, Joanne – “Your choices”. That’s what’s most important. It should be our choice and our idea of what we want to look like that determines beauty, not, as you said, some air-brushed hollywood touted image. And you couldn’t have been more right when you said “I’m happiest when I accept what I look like, regardless.” That’s what’s critical, and what I’d been lacking the last few years, is a self-acceptance of a new body I wasn’t familiar or comfortable with. But now that I know what this body can do, I’m so much more confident in it. I don’t think I would have been able to run 13 miles on my tweeny little high school girl body!

    1. Thank you, Lynne! I’ll admit that the first part was hard to write. It’s a part of me I’ve never shared. But the second part was easy! and it felt great to get that out, that confessional, and especially to come out and say “to hell with” all those in the media who have created such negative images of beauty.

  2. Oh sweetheart. Your story is so similar to mine.

    I grew up in a slim/skinny family. Birdbone wrists, petite height/frames. The thought of growing larger – of not conforming to that norm, especially when puberty hit – was absolutely terrifying. I cared far more about ‘fitting in’ back then, in more ways than one, while desperately seeking some kind of individuality. Same old story, huh.

    I’ve never wanted to be skinny, in the frail-waif sense. That, to me, denotes helplessness. I’ve only ever wanted to present a strong image, the ability to cope and be independent of others. Above all, to be able to take care of myself and those I love, so no one could ever hurt me or my family again.

    Alas, anorexia took full advantage of that need for control. I ended up being the helpless one after all. This is still something I’m coming to terms with.

    But these days, I don’t weigh myself. I daren’t, especially recently. I exercise a lot, eat a fair bit *and drink* and to be honest, have probably never felt better. I look ok. Certainly healthier. The main point is, as you succinctly pointed out, this body carries me places; it finally does what I want it to (most of the time.) It’s stronger.

    The pain/joy I felt, reading this post, is indescribable. All I can add really is, I understand. And I’m so bloody proud of you.
    X

    1. Ahhh – I hoped and wished you’d read this; I knew you of all people would relate to this post. I have felt your pain these last years, in my own struggle for control and desire to change what I was becoming. That too-thin teenage body is so apart from what a mature woman ought to look like, but still I bought into that ideal, hook, line, and sinker. Never having wanted children, the developing body of a full-fledged woman was as foreign and unwanted to me as if I’d changed genders. I imagine you know that feeling.

      But indeed, this body, this woman’s body, is strong, whereas my childish figure was too thin, too undeveloped, to carry me places. And that’s the realization I’ve come to. As you said, this body is stronger. And all I needed to do was accept and understand that strength.

      I’m proud of you too. Every day. And thank you, dear, for sharing your thoughts, both here and on your own blog. In large part, your words gave me the courage to write this post.

  3. P.S What do I see?
    Well, I’ve taught myself over the years to avoid giving/receiving physical assessments. But in this case, I have to say, I see a very beautiful, fit and healthy young woman. In both pictures. X

    1. Ahhh, somehow I’d missed this comment. Thanks for saying so – makes me very, very happy to hear :) I think you’re wise to avoid giving such assessments, though I often find myself wishing I could hand out compliments like coins. Cheers, darling Raish.

  4. As you know, I am an exercise fanatic. I also believe in maintaining a healthy weight. What I learned over four decades? Whether I gain or lose, my body’s proportions don’t change. That is, the slightly (well, who knows what word I should use here) protruding “gut” I’ve had since college (and maybe before, I don’;t really remember) that I’ve always wanted to get rid of doesn’t go away – it remains in the same proportion to the rest of my body. The other thing I’ve learned over that time is the only person who really cares about this protrusion I feel every minute is, you guessed it…me.

    1. Amazing how hard we are on ourselves! So much pressure to look a certain way comes from inside; but at the same time not inside. It’s not from us that this idealized ideal of figure, whether male or female, is drawn. That’s the image imposed on us. But whether we allow ourselves to buy into it – that’s the decision. And sometimes it takes years – in my case – to learn what strength comes from not buying into that ideal.

      Love you, dad.

  5. I’m glad you’ve made progress/overcome your body image issues. It’s sad that there is so much hidden pressure out there to be thin/muscular. Nobody has to explicitly tell you that you “should” have a completely flat stomach because that’s pretty much all you see on TV, movies, and in print media. I have the same concerns about my own body image, but to be honest I don’t even want six-pack abs, and I don’t need to look like something Michelangelo carved out of rock. Congrats on the half-marathon, too :)

    1. Thank you, David. Yes, it is sad, and not just sad but pretty immensely fucked up. It’s good that you know what you want and what you don’t want – that’s critical. For so long I thought I wanted to look a certain way when I realized that being able to do certain things is so much more important. I wouldn’t mind looking like something Michelangelo carved, but if it came down to it, I’d rather be strong and fit and capable.

      And, thanks :) it was a blast. Seriously one of the most fun things I’ve ever done. I had a great time.

      1. Ooh, you’re not lying, that is scary. Thanks very much for bringing this to my attention, as it’s critical to remember that women aren’t the only ones who suffer from being stuffed into image stereotypes imposed by the media. This is a great reminder of the absurd transitions happening in the men’s world as well.

  6. Congrats on your race and awesome attitude! I made the decision to stop weighing myself this year while training and it was a great decision. I like to eat and I definitely build some muscle while running and it has been so nice to focus on my accomplishments and not just the fluctuation of the scale.

    I hope that you always remember how your training and race made you feel about your body!

    1. Thank you, Andrea! That’s was a fantastic decision you made! I only made that same decision in the last month or so of training, when I realized my weight wasn’t affecting my running. Then I was like “wait, this is a totally socially-imposed construct! I don’t need this scale at all!”

      I’m glad to meet a fellow runner and I hope you had as wonderful a race experience as I did – I will definitely remember this experience, and will probably continue to train for events like these, in search of that euphoric finish-line-high!

  7. I loved this! I started out running because I felt uncomfortable in my skin but here I am, 2 years on, still running and for completely different reason. I absolutely agree that instead of pursuing that unrealistic six-pack ab, thigh gap wielding body we should measure our bodies by what they’re capable of. Congrats on the half marathon! It’s something I’m working towards too!

    1. We have much in common, it seems. Cheers! I’m glad you’ve found a better reason to run than pursuing that magazine body type – not only is it unhealthy, but running is so fulfilling for so many other reasons. I hope you get to run your first half soon – mine was one of the best things I’ve ever done. Cheers, and thanks for stopping by!

  8. This is such a powerful message. Thank you for your boldness. For your courage. For your energy.

    This is something I constantly wage war with in my mind and I’m so glad I stumbled across this post right now. You have no idea…..

    Know You, Stay True.

    Catrina Sophia x

    1. It’s a real battle to wage every day, and I know firsthand how tough it can be. Be strong, Catrina! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Cheers.

  9. As I was reading I was saying “yes” almost on every sentence. I had body image problems too, and even though they were quite different from yours I can relate to everything written. Great post! Thank you, Amira!

    1. And it sounds by your use of past tense verbs that you too have overcome your body image problems, so to that I say congratulations! Cheers, Elena – and that’s a beautiful name, my sister’s name is Elena as well. Thank you for commenting!

  10. What you wrote here took courage and I applaud you on it. As both a Marathon runner and someone that has experienced similar body image emotions, I felt this article strike a nerve with me. Keep up the great work!

    1. Thank you so much! As someone who can only aspire to running a full marathon, congratulations, I can only imagine the power that comes from running a race like that. Cheers, and thanks again.

  11. Great post! Glad to hear that your perspective changed. I LOVE running. And my perspective on and reasons for running have certainly shifted over the last ten years. I started running because I thought it would help me stay thin as my body changed in high school, and while I run still to stay in shape, I actually enjoy it now. It gives me peace of mind and much-needed endorphins! :)

    1. “Much-needed endorphins”, indeed! What a mood-booster and a great experience, that rush after a run’s done. I’m glad you’ve come to enjoy running for its own sake. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  12. I often wonder what our world would be like if we all dispensed with the glamor of looks body and cosmetic. I am just as bad as the next person with the dying and styling of my hair and trying to find the right clothes to face the public. Deep inside I want to give that up because it is a time suck. So what am I afraid of? I miss the mantra that was part of my generation during college which was to the emphasis on everything being natural.

    1. It would be great if we didn’t have to “prepare a face to meet the faces that we meet” to quote T.S. Eliot, it would be such a different thing if we could all approach each other honestly and bravely. But it’s so hard to do that in a world where we are constantly being told we’re not good enough. Swimming against the tide is exhausting, but so necessary in this case.

      1. Weight shouldn’t have been an issue to be addressed, as far as my knowledge as a Doctor is concerned.
        You have an appropriate BMI ( Body Mass Index) as it seems looking at your pic.

  13. Reblogged this on Fictitiously Easy and commented:
    My experiences with weight problems have been different from @akmakansi’s, (which I haven’t yet shared) but her words connected with me. There’s something brilliant about the line (that I’m paraphrasing): “…I never wanted to abandon my ability to eat wantonly and without fear…” Continue running towards you happiness, @akmakansi!

    1. Thank you so much, I shall! And I hope you have been able to overcome your own weight problems. Thank you for reblogging and sharing my post, and I wish you best of luck on your own personal journey.

  14. Loved it. I worry about the messages I send to my kids about their bodies. With a wonderful and insightful cousin like you they should do okay. Wish we could spend more time with you.

    1. I would love that! You have such great kids. I worry about the messages the entire world sends to children about their bodies, and what they ‘should’ look like or be like. But your children will grown up with great role models from their parents and strong hearts. They’ll do well.

  15. Reblogged this on shedevil1279's Blog and commented:
    After reading this I thought about my own life and how this could correlate to someone overweight as well. I love how candid you were about your prior perception of yourself. I am going to remember this as I continue on my journey to a healthier me, healthier weight. Remembering not to buy into our media and celebrity view of healthy, but mine. Thanks again.

  16. After reading this I thought about my own life and how this could correlate to someone overweight as well. I love how candid you were about your prior perception of yourself. I am going to remember this as I continue on my journey to a healthier me, healthier weight. Remembering not to buy into our media and celebrity view of healthy, but mine. Thanks again.

    1. Very good line “remembering not to buy into our media and celebrity view of healthy, but mine.” Keep that line in your head, and remember it’s you who determines your own beauty and self-worth, not them. Best of luck!

    1. Absolutely true! And we can only do it bit by bit, by changing our own perceptions and refusing to buy into false standards of beauty. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    1. Aye, especially when there’s so much pressure from outside to look a certain way. Best of luck with your own journey, and I hope you’re able to come to terms with how you look and feel!

  17. Oh, mehn! I love you already. I admit on some days I’m like, “awww!” when I look at my tummy slowly protruding. But I’m learning to appreciate my body and love it even if it can’t take me 13 miles.

    1. I feel you there! And yes, it’s important to remember that “even if it can’t take me thirteen miles” doesn’t mean we shouldn’t love our bodies. 13.1 is just a number, the same as a number on the scale. All it meant for me was power, strength, and overcoming my own image problems. But everyone should find their own ways to appreciate their bodies, and it doesn’t have to be anything to do with running!

  18. Not to be shallow… but the first thought in this 40 year old’s mind was “yeahhh!!!” with your photo. Do you want a descriptive take? Yes? Well that was easy. C’mere. You’re a special person.

    That picture of the girl with the dirt on top just says you is it.

    As for top… lovelt shade of blue. Let me intro. I am Syntax of the Syntax Sinner blog. Yeah… we are going to build a fortress temple of doom surrounded by hotties.

    Just kid’n. Hey I think the lily, lilac and bird of paradise will make the approriate flowers for the wedding of the girl who saw herself twice… once in the lowlands, but lifted up nice.

    I love it when a girl ‘shows off’ her bod. It makes me feel warmer than a pose or modeling or the adult thing.

    You are a perfect flasher dancer sister.

    Hey. I am on tour with chemo and the gang… you can’t get down with me, but I will tell the truth… to you darlin’.

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Good luck with ‘chemo and the gang’, I hope you successfully slay your demons, and thank you for the kind words of encouragement.

  19. More important than how are you physically but how are you sensual-istically with your feeling? When you feel good…

    A liitle lesson:

    When you feel good about
    Something beautiful
    Don’t deny it…
    Feeling is a real thing…
    Try it!

    If you feel a bit like you are odd
    Tell yourself to think about God

    He
    Made you
    And men will be kind
    He
    Made you, lil sis across the world web
    And I
    Am the gentlemen
    Who will say I
    Understand…
    I have a wife… no kids
    If a daughter…
    She’d be your age

    Sensitivity
    It what you need
    In my mind I sing
    And transliterate the
    Song
    Via blog replay
    I am not shy
    But maybe coy

    Thats my impromptu encouragement

    1. Thank you for sharing this in verse! What a sweet thing. Thank you for your impromptu encouragement and it was a pleasure to read your words “If I had a daughter, she’d be your age.” Always a powerful thing to think of the connections we share across the world.

  20. Very inspirational. I’ve recently started to feel the way you were and it’s great to read about how you overcame it. Great post. Thanks!

  21. Not sure how I missed this post Amira. Very late to the party. Fabulous article. My aunt has been anorexic since she was 16 and she is now nearing 50. We have seen first hand the toll body image and eating disorders can take, yet still when my girl cousins enter the house everyone gushes immediately about how beautiful they look. So. Not. Important. We reinforce the values other set for us l. Meaningless f-ed up values.

    You nailed it in that post. Self-acceptance is important. Strength is important. And truth. Good for you chick. You are wonderful in so many ways. Well done on being FPed too and esp for being able to run that far.

    1. Thank you, Nillu, and I think you hit it on the nail when you said “when my girl cousins enter the house everyone gushes immediately about how beautiful they look.” It’s astonishing how we teach women to value good looks over intelligence, spirit, courage, and strength. I wish every time I had walked into a family gathering, my relatives had said “My, how strong you’re getting!” instead of “How beautiful you are!”

      Cheers, and congrats on your own Freshly Pressed article! I’m so honored to have my name alongside yours today. What a pleasure!

  22. Thank you so much for this. I’m at that point in my self-esteem journey right now, only I’ve just started training for a 5k. What a great booster, and I admire your newfound love for yourself. I hope I can get there someday! Keep it up!

    1. Cheers, lady, and best of luck with your own training! It’s so lovely to see how running strong and hard can empower and strengthen you mentally as well as physically. Good luck!

  23. Amen girl!! I grew up the largest person in my immediate family and developed a very unhealthy body image for a really very Normal body type. I’m 5’6″ and wear size 6/8… That’s a medium in all worlds but my head. And now as a technically overweight (per the freaking BMI) 44 year old mom with four teenagers I have continued to struggle with that image….except when I’m training and completing half marathons!!! Then I feel powerful, confidant, and freaking proud of this body of mine! And it’s awesome to see how proud my husband and kids are too! 😉 You keep up the great work!

    1. Congratulations on your own achievements! Training for a run or a long-form athletic event really is a great way to appreciate what our bodies can do for us, and to kick those negative ideas about conforming to a certain body norm. I’m proud of you for coming as far as you have. Best of luck with your training in the future!

  24. Very well said. Congratulations on your half , well done. As what I had said to myself when completing my first “I now earned my bragging right as a half Marathon runner, no matter how hard/difficult and how long in crossing that finish line, but I did it”. And most of all. Congratulations on changing your perspective of how beauty should be appreciated.

    1. Congratulations on your own half marathon experience. Having joined your ranks I know how amazing it feels! If you’re still training and running other races, that’s awesome, and good luck in the future. Thank you for stopping by.

  25. It is essential for a person or most particularly a woman to love her body so that no one can impose their advises and opinions on her. Loving and accepting one’s body will incorporate a sense of security and reality of one’s practical situation and help them to further his/her life goals.

    1. Well said! “…so that no one can impose their advises and opinions on her” – I really like that line. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  26. I have a very similar story to yours, although, I am still sruggling to shift my attitude and concentrate on the things that really matter. Your post has given me a little push in the right direction. Thank you for the inspiration!!

    1. Good luck! I think we’ll all struggle to shift our attitudes, until the media stops fixating on the needless and harmful body image stereotypes. I wish you luck in your journey. Thanks for visiting!

  27. God, now I wish “met” you earlier!

    You reminded me of what I’ve been feeling sometimes regarding my body, and how the messed-up-ness of that relationship can creep up on me every now and then. It’s one of the hardest things to talk about. Kudos to you for speaking up and sharing that vulnerability. It’s super courageous, and, since you asked, that’s what I see: a courageous woman in those two photos, and in those words. And yeah, there’s almost nothing more beautiful than courageous.

    I congratulated you on being freshly pressed on twitter, but I want to actually congratulate you on empowering yourself and on your accomplishments. At least you know that no matter what, that’s what it’s about–treating our bodies well and appreciating what we have, as is. Thank you so much for reminding me of this.

    Oh, and I love how you told the media off.. smiles.. priceless!

    Your “accidentally-depressing-poetry-writers Anonymous” comrade,

    Lila

    1. Lila!

      Thanks for reading my post, my accidentally-depressing-poetry comrade! “There’s almost nothing more beautiful than courageous” – thank you so much for saying that, it means so much. I think it’s impossible in our modern society not to have body image issues, since we’re taught so constantly how wrong and out of sorts bodies are, as the media and doctors and journalists try to tell us what we ‘should’ look like. Hence my fuck-yous! Haha.

      What you said about treating our bodies well and appreciating what we have is so true. It’s incredibly important to remember that our bodies are physical, and they are nothing more than vessels.

      Cheers, Lila. I’m thrilled to have met you, too :)

  28. It’s such a great post I used to be a hundred twenty pounds and I’m 5’7 as before I got pregnant in everything up about life happened. I was always the skinny one in my group of friends and while I’m still the fit when I’m no longer the really skinny one and it bothers me. I took a really honest look at my lifestyle and I realize that in order for me to lose the weight that I desire I need to be more active and work out a little bit more than what I’ve convinced myself that I do. The pressures from social media and the celebrity lifestyles is very much real and it’s actually quite dangerous. I have done what I can to make sure that it is not influencing the reason that I want to lose the weight. I plan on doing a post about my weight struggle and chronicling it on Fitty Duck. I just need to get the nerve to bare it all to the Internet. How did you do it?

    1. I got the nerve because I realized I needed to post my thoughts to make them ‘official’ in my own head, so to speak. Thinking about this post gave me strength; writing it gave me strength; publishing it gave me strength to fully appreciate the change in mindset I’d experienced. I definitely needed to write this, to make it public, to say that mantra of “Fuck you’s” to remind myself of my new strength. It was very empowering. I think if you write about your experiences, and if they were positive experiences, you’ll find it to be a very courageous thing, and that will make you feel strong.

  29. ….we are what we think Amira, as a man once obsessed about the way I looked I to decided to stop and say fuck it, at that point I began to look within, then found this perfect person. Others describe me as a rough diomand, all I need is to be polished up a bit, I say I love my roughness and my roughness is polished, what’s important to me is now understanding the universal attraction in we are what we think, if I think I’m poor ill be poor if I think I’m rich and believe and feel this ill be rich, today I’m rich …. happy blogging

    1. I’m very proud that you were able to stand up to a man who told you you didn’t look good enough to meet his standards and found out who you really were. I love what you said “I love my roughness and my roughness is polished.” Very poetic, and very real to me. I’m happy you found strength in your mindset and your identity rather than appearance.

  30. Dear Amira,
    Kudos to all you shared and posted. I love that you are a thinking woman, taking the time for self reflection is something we all need to do to be present and real! Recently I have been thinking much about finding the serenity to accept the things I cannot change and the courage to change the things I can. I came across a writer who expressed how knowing the difference is the key to happiness.

    He went on to say, you can’t change your weight. That goes in the “can’t change” category. That blew me away… aren’t we taught we can change our weight? But what we can change is what we eat today… what we do today to get stronger or healthy. He says, if you don’t see that, then just stand on a scale and “try” to change the reading. You can’t change it by will power, or thinking about it. Ok… that’s true… it is what it is.

    What you CAN change or control is the thing you DO today. That is the only thing in your control. You don’t control your weight, you control what you put in your mouth and swallow. You don’t control your strength, you control the exercise and activity. Weight is just a number and thinking numbers are in our control is like swimming against the tide. It’s exhausting and a waste of energy.

    When we free up our energy to focus on what we can change instead of what we can’t is liberating! Eat less, move more is within the realm of normal, healthy people to control. Your weight is just a number… who is to say what number is good or bad? And why on earth are we so worried about these subjective numbers??!!

    You are a lovely young woman with a REAL body! Enjoy every curve, embrace your strength and run your miles because you love it. Fuck the fashion trends, the weight trends and the dictates of society. Be your own true self… she’s wonderful!

    1. As always full of wisdom, Sky, and thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts. It’s definitely critical to remember that, as you said, weight is just a number. It is no more or less a part of our identity than our age or our shoe size. What matters is what we do on a daily basis, how we choose to act, how we opt to make ourselves better. And thank you for some great words to live by!

  31. You look fucking amazing, even if that is not what you are looking to hear, as I realize it is contradictory to your point. However, I am very grateful for your post and you empower me to continue my own journey. Thank you.

    1. I’m glad you got something empowering out of my story and I hope you continue to find motivation in strength rather than in looks. Good luck!

  32. I literally smiled at the whole “fuck off” section, lol. But this was a really cool read. Inspirational and real.

    1. Haha, I’m glad you got a kick out of the “fuck-off” bit. It was very satisfying to write. And I’m glad you enjoyed the post, thank you for sharing.

  33. Fuck off to all those things. My g/f is the same; she actually is extraordinarily thin (healthily so – she just has a small frame), but believes she’s huge. And, alas, I’m not much different – probably considered thin by most people’s standards, but consider my own self chubby. The same thing applies to men now, more than ever. Did you know that baldness is now considered a medical disease? That’s how they advertise all those Fight Male Pattern Baldness clinics – it’s a medical disease; if you go bald, you are sick. ET, phone home, and take me with you – please. I’m ah sick a this place.

  34. The second last paragraph was fantastic.
    Congratulations on reaching such a healthy view on your body on your own! It is such a hard thing to do and something I struggle with daily. I hope to find the love for my body that you have found for yours :)

  35. Good for you! My passion is helping people realize that they are SK much more than what they think they look like. Weight does NOT define us as individuals – how we treat ourselves and others does. I am so happy you figured this out on your own. I started truly losing my extra weight when I decided to love myself enough to believe I deserved to be healthy. Great job on the running , too! Most people can’t do what you did.

    1. Thank you so much! You’re absolutely right that weight has no bearing on our identity as individuals – unless we let it. It’s so powerful to be able to let that number go. Cheers!

  36. Congratulations on your race and setting your own standard. I admire your kick-butt boldness. You are definitely inspiring. I will be sharing this.

  37. A wonderfully written piece. Raw and genuine. I’ve been labelled a skinny guy ever since God knows when. But like what you wrote, does that really matter when this body can do so many great stuff? I’ve not reached a half marathon but just did a quarter. I’m even more convinced now that taking up running was the best decision that I have ever made. Thanks for the inspiring article.

  38. Most say this is a very impressive thing to hear from someone. I’ve notice many of the things you’ve said all over the place and it even hits close to home. I having two sisters one that is skinny and eats all day long and everything and another that is a bit on the chubby side. And thought out the years it was hard for both as I look back now. The skinny because everyone was jealous but also just seemed she tried to stay skinny at times by not eating maybe she thought she was getting day or something. While the one with more curves tried to loose weight and never really could. I myself being a male am considered to be on larger size for my height and age. It’s something that people really just need to learn that they are who they are and try and love themselves. I’ve met plenty of people and being a certain size or shape doesn’t determine how you are, may it be nice or mean.
    Even more recently I was out shopping with my sister she is about 5’5 and less then 100lbs and she gets mad because she is like the “ideal” girl from magazines and yet she can never find any clothes that fit her correctly. Just like the more well curved people have problems finding cloths some skinny people do also and that’s something others don’t always see. Just because they wish they could be them. Sure you can go pay outrageousness prices for cloths that fit you right but why should you if you are the “main stream” idea of perfect or imperfect. At the end of the day you just don’t know who really is the happier person.

  39. No matter how many times I hear the saying, “It’s what’s inside that counts,” I can’t deny that physical beauty counts for something too. God made us to be beautiful. The difference is that He sees everyone as beautiful, while people typically look for their “ideal” physical image. Fulfilment comes from knowing God’s love, straight-up.

  40. Fantastic post! I think that athletic pursuits are important for young women for exactly this reason. I had a very similar experience, where training for performance changed my view of my body: I went from seeing it as an object (somewhat removed from my Self) that needed to be pleasing to other people, to seeing it as my vehicle for physical – and later sexual and psychological – power and pleasure. You’ve highlighted the power that performance-based sports have to help girls and women to disconnect from the patriarchal messages which we receive which tell us constantly that our worth depends on our ability to meet the needs of male heterosexuality. Thanks for sharing your story!

  41. Thanks amira very inspiring it is true as women we suffer from body image issues it’s good to know wr not alone in this and as women we will stand together to fight all these publicity stunts that promote unachievable,unhealthy standards. I felt blessed reading this x

  42. Great post! You’ve summed up what so many of us women feel so eloquently, with just enough fire to send it all the way home. I’ve also noticed a change in my body since college, despite consistent exercise and a healthy diet. The bottom line is that a woman’s body is curvy, and that’s ok! It’s hard to accept sometimes. Thanks for sharing!

  43. You know, Amira, I’m exactly at the other side of the story. Allthough it might sound crazy, i do exactly the opposit as you used to do: i try to gain as much weight i possibly can, because of the fear of beïng attractive to sertain people. I know it’s not healthy for my body, but at least it makes me feel safe.

  44. Truly inspirational. You’re beautiful, in your ideals, your mind, your soul, and your body. I wish more people thought like you. Thank you for sharing your story with us, and I hope you continue to love yourself, and inspire others to do the same. Cheers, mate.

  45. I discovered a similar realization when I took control of my health last year. The media has been lying to me and the medical community has been lying to me! I was not so grossly obese that I was on the verge of death as so many books, articles, and marketing campaigns would have me believe. I was merely inactive. Some relatively minor changes in activity, nutrition, and sleep habits turned my health around!

    If you are what you eat then your mind is what you feed it. I no longer wast my time reading negative fear mongering medical advice! Fuck-off is an appropriate declaration! I’ve learned to choose positive and productive advice from the available health and fitness advice. I consider your post to be in that category!

    1. Hear, hear! The media and the medical community, while not perhaps in cohorts, certainly help spread negative messages of health that do damage rather than aid patients. I’m glad you’ve found strength in yourself and have turned your health around. Cheers!

  46. Oh my goodness was this a wonderful and inspiring post to read. I stumbled upon it clicking on freshly pressed, and I’m so glad that I did. Great job in putting emotions that I have felt myself into words as I have experienced so much of what you wrote here. Thank you for posting and also for inspiring me to get up and to move more. :)

  47. This was beautifully said!!! I had the same problem a couple years back, and your words could not have said it any better. Thank you for sharing your story :) You are truly beautiful.

    1. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I’m glad to hear you, too, have overcome your body-image problems. It’s a wonderful, freeing feeling!

  48. I’ve been thinking a lot about this subject – loving your body as it is and for all that it is capable of – and I love hearing the thoughts of others. Thanks for sharing!

  49. Ah, this made my heart all fuzzy!

    Thank you for being so honest! I absolutely loved reading this and I am beyond thankful that you wrote about it. It sure takes a lot to lay it all out there for others to read. Although I hope you know that by sharing you are inspiring, helping and changing someones life whether you intended to or not.

    P.S. You are remarkably beautiful! (And just as much as your outer beauty shows that, it’s also your heart that radiates that!)

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! It was hard to lay it all out there, I’ll admit. And having my post Freshly Pressed and realizing that thousands of people would be reading my words definitely made me nervous. But the outpouring of support has been immense, and I’m deeply grateful for that. I can only hope, as you said, others will get something meaningful from my story as well.

  50. I literally have tears in my eyes after reading this… I don’t think I’ve ever read something I’ve related to SO strongly. I’m in much the same boat as you, no one knows about my body battles and I was an athlete and personal trainer for 8 years, with a degree in exercise science and an anorexic sister, so I should “know better” than to diet and hate my body. But fuck, it’s so hard, when every message you get is that you’re not good enough as you are! This piece is so damn important for people, not just women, but everyone, everywhere. Much love and respect xo

    1. Of all the comments I’ve received, yours has touched me the most. Your fight sounds exactly like mine. I’ve always been healthy, in good shape, an “athlete”. But that didn’t stop me from letting my slow slide into womanhood – that is, what a woman’s actual body should look like – torture me. It’s important to remember that we own our bodies, not the media. Not the tabloids. Not the diet pills or the latest exercise fads.

      I hope your sister is doing well and has recovered; I’m proud of you, too, for fighting the uphill battle instead of giving in to the messages we’re bombarded with on a daily basis.

      Cheers, lady. Be well.

  51. BRILLIANT post. So great to read about your experiences of being the skinny girl who can’t put on weight as opposed to the usual “I’m too fat” posts. Very refreshing but I’m so glad you overcame your worries in such a healthy way. I had a similar thing growing up where I tried to be skinny, but then I joined the gym and discovered how much I love to feel strong and toned, how good muscular feels compared to hollow. I love my body now, and I’m so glad you do to, I just wish that others would wise up to how much better it is to be healthy and strong compared to skinny and weak. xx

    1. Aye, I love your line about “being muscular as opposed to hollow”. I love that feeling! It’s so empowering, to know I can lift, and run, and sprint. It’s very primal, very humanizing, and I love that feeling as well. Cheers!

  52. That was wonderful to read. I am a 195lb athletic male who, according to BMI calculations is “Overweight”. Sure, I sit at a desk every day and time for the gym is sparse – I eat very healthily and sure, I drink more than I should and have a little extra padding around the waist. But I am not fat – am I? In my positive moments I feel great about myself, but when I’m down that fucking BMI rating niggles. And those Men’s Health magazines … I need to do some running to show myself the wonderful things my athletic physique can (and used to easily) achieve. I think this post has kicked me up the butt. Thank you.

    1. Cheers, Andy! I wish you the best in discovering (or re-learning) the wonderful things your body can do for you. And, FYI, I should have added one more mantra to my litany of “fuck-offs”. It would have been: “To the Body Mass Index, which encourages men and women to view their bodies in terms of numbers rather than strength and ability and promotes the idea that such perception is ‘healthy’: Fuck right off.”

  53. Thanks for your post Amira!

    It is not that easy for people not having that perfect body today. The community gives you a bad feeling when you are not trained and slim.

    Makes you sick and die young… but is it true? Sure very fat people maybe have problems with health. But the very skinny girls and boys do also have trouble.

    And not every body is the same. In the past (maybe 30 years ago) I was able to eat and drink what ever I liked, and I was slim all the time.

    Getting older it changed. Now there is this waist not the prettiest one, but I can choose: Make diet and sports never-ending trying to get it lost, making me crazy and grumpily, or live with it and enjoy life.

    I think second choice will be the best. For most of the people.

    I am making some sports, cycling – and relaxing in the sun. With drinking a glass of wine and eating something delicate with maybe some more calories.

    So what? I enjoy it, it makes me feeling happy. Thats the most important thing in this life.

    Have a good time, be happy and live your life as you like it :-)

  54. Thank you for appreciating your body. Dictating how your appearance should be is some times detrimental to your health.

  55. This is exactly what I love about running, and why I wish everyone, man or woman, had some kind of physically challenging activity they enjoy. It really makes you appreciate your body for what it can DO instead of worrying about what it looks like. And just being among so many totally different “runner’s bodies” in a starting corral is a pretty powerful visual too. Congrats on your first half of many, I’m sure!

    1. You’re so right about that! Seeing so many other people of all shapes and sizes really changed my opinion of what our bodies are really valuable for. I agree with you that I think everyone should have some kind of activity through which they push themselves to be better and stronger. Thanks for commenting!

  56. Wonderful read. I am on the same path. I have always been athletic and thin, beavered worried about weight or eating until I just have birth to my gorgeous little man. It’s now 6mths on I haven’t lost the baby weight that I thought I would, but I am learning to love my body and I am training for a marathon :) so I could really really relate. Thanks so much for your honesty.

  57. You should be over confident of your shape…men!you look gorgeous.so many people are dying to have a great shape like yours.kudos for writing this and encouraging women who are not confident with their body

  58. 👍 great read.. More so this doesn’t stem only from within. We have to be stronger and have our individual identities irrespective of what magazines, our partners and or other sources make you feel. I experience a similar love/hate towards my body and that usually stems from outside sources. And I am 113 pounds! I believe I am a healthy person and it is sad that the because I lack the “ideal” body toning i have to defend my acceptance of my body.

    1. Very well said, Devika – the idea of “defending my acceptance of my body” is really powerful. We shouldn’t have to explain to others why we feel good in our own skin! That should be a given, the most natural state of being. But our culture and media has warped our perception of ourselves to the point where feeling comfortable in your own bodies is strange. Isn’t that bizarre? It’s time to reclaim that for ourselves, I think!

      1. True.. I’m working on a blog on the same idea .. And u helped me come up with a possible title :) will repost yours as a reference.. As its a good read.

  59. Wow, I love this! I happened to stumble upon your blog (I’m new on this site not sure how to work it too well yet) and I can say I relate to you 100%. I was just like you in high school and I FEARED gaining weight. To be honest, I never believed people when they said it would catch up with me. Now though, it has and it sucks. It definitely is a constant fight. Some days you feel good about yourself while others you hate everything about yourself when you look in the mirror. It’s so nice to hear someone with a similar story as my own and see that you aren’t conforming to society’s idea of pretty. Because 120lbs is TINY! It’s sick to think this number is heavy or even a significant enough piece of information to make or break someones day. Thanks for the comforting words, you make the daily struggle a little less now. I hope that somewhere in the future I can have a mindset like you!
    xxx
    Lexa

    1. Cheers, Lexa! I wish you the best in your own personal journey and I guarantee you that if you believe in yourself, you can absolutely have the same mindset I do. Best to you, and I hope you come to that day sooner rather than later!

  60. Great read! It is very true what you say about perceptions and how, even though there may be no physical change, you can see it mentally.
    It goes to show that the mind is exactly like a bicep, tricep or quad, it can be trained through hard work and dedication!
    I Look forward to your future posts!

    1. Thank you so much for commenting, and you’re so right! Training is as difficult mentally as it is physically, and it shapes us in both ways. Cheers!

  61. That is wonderful about the half marathon…Congratulations!!! I just try and walk 30 minutes everyday. I don’t understand why everyone is still trying to mold into that oh so perfect body especially with the internet going on and on about everyone being airbrushed in magazines these days. Well keep up the good work with your running girl!

  62. Genius writing – loved it! I’m new to WordPress and the blogosphere in general, but reading things like this tells me I am in a good place. I connected with you on so many levels, and I love your honest and authentic voice coming through loud and clear in your writing. Body image haunts me day in and day out and even as I am typing this I am debating whether I should go and grab that oatmeal cookie calling me from my kitchen. Your post is ending my day with an indignant little smile on my face!

    1. Eat that oatmeal cookie! You deserve it, and don’t forget that food is literally energy for our bodies and for our minds. I’m so happy you enjoyed the post!

  63. Great article there, i too am participating in a marathon this year, adding to it is the altitude which makes it more difficult and exciting. i can already feel the love for my body. seems the marathon will change me drastically.

    Cheers

    1. Cheers, and good luck with the run! Altitude will definitely be a challenge; make sure you’re well-acclimated. But then, you probably know that already! I hope you have a fantastic time!

  64. Wonderful post; important topic. This is such a huge issues whose roots not only stem from the media, but also our food system and the evils at play therein.

  65. Congratulations on acquiring physical fitness and coming to terms with your body type. Now I think you might look at becoming spiritually fit. It is more a difficult objective to achieve because our persons, the world around us and evil spiritual beings tell us lies about everything. However, once received it lasts forever, which cannot be said of physical conditioning. I would like to tell you more about it if you are interested. if you are not interested now please remember the possibility if you change your mind in the future.

  66. Reblogged this on Fashion Obsessor and commented:
    Wow this is an amazing read! Such great passion and such a true story that I can relate to. It kind of made me tear up a little bit but that’s good because that’s the kind of stories I love, they need to make you feel something. Great piece, I think everyone should read it, plus it totally made me want to go out side and run! ahhh motivation!

  67. Even though I’m in the fashion industry I totally agree with everything you say here. And besides that fact I can totally relate. You put a smile on my face after a long day of classes and shoving my face with junk food, and for that I thank you! I’m excited to check out the rest of your blog.

    1. Always good to know that even fashion industry insiders feel the pressure sometimes. No hate meant to you personally, of course – it’s the machine of the media responsible for driving such negative body image. Cheers, and thanks for commenting!

  68. Awesome post. Amira. We live in a world that can feel dictated by the media, and stories like yours are one of our best defenses. This blog gives men and women who live normal lives the ability to make extraordinary changes in the world because they have a voice. Thanks for sharing your story. It’s a powerful message.

  69. I love this!

    Congratulations, you look amazing! I wish more young girls these days would use you as an inspiration rather than the airbrushed models who are so often forced upon us.

    I have never been the skinniest, and have always had my own weight insecurities but I ran my first half marathon last year. During training, I moaned about not losing weight but at the finish line I realised how silly I had bee – despite still not being able to fit into the skinniest of jeans – I had never felt more healthy, alive, and amazed at what our bodies are capable of!

    1. It’s astonishing how great it feels to cross that finish line and realize that your body carried you all that distance. I’m so happy to hear you also had such a positive experience with running a long-distance race. Thank you for commenting!

  70. I have also put on about 20 pounds since undergrad 2 years ago, and each time I work out I know I’m doing it to “get back” to a former form of my physical self. For that I don’t push myself as hard in the gym–I’ve noticed. After I read this I got excited to work out, not to lose weight but because I was reminded of why I used to be fit in the first place, and how my fitness peak was due to dedication to strengthen and challenge my body, and not because I wanted to look a certain way.

    Thanks for the much needed reminder of that feeling.

    1. That’s really the reason why we should all work out, in my humble opinion – to get back to that feeling of strength and power that defines us as physical beings, as human animals. Appearance has nothing to do with it! Best of luck with your training and fitness program, and thank you for stopping by!

  71. Amira
    Way to go! I love your attitude! I am one of those people that needs to lose weight and am very self concious of my body weight. This post could not have came at a better time. Thank you Amira for opening my eyes and aspiring me to keep on keeping on!

  72. What a great post!!! You are absolutely right! And it’s all about our attitude towards ourselves, because as much as one day we might change the world and the media and how looks are everything these days, right now things are the way we are, and it’s up to us to respect ourselves, no one else will do it for us.
    PS: you look amazing!

    1. You’re exactly right that “right now things are the way they are, and it’s up to us to respect ourselves.” That’s precisely it! I couldn’t have said it better myself :)

      P.S. Thank you for saying so!

  73. Great post! And I know you have received a bunch of comments {congrats on freshly pressed!}, but one thing I wanted to say is that all the commentary about our bodies changing during pregnancy are so negative. We should be celebrating the same strength and power that you have discovered.

    1. Oh my gosh, you’re SO RIGHT! In fact, you’re so right about that, you should write a blog post about it! I’ve never been pregnant, so I hardly feel qualified to discuss it. But if you do, and you decide to write that post, please share it with me – I’d love to read it!

      1. I did post last year about the lessons learned about body image that I have learned by this point,and how empowering it is mentally. But I will link to your post in an upcoming article!

  74. Thank you for your honesty in telling your personal story, Amira. I’ve had very similar experiences and could relate to so much of what you wrote about (esp the bit about crossing into 120 lbs territory–that’s my “bad weight” too!). I’m a half marathon runner myself and have found that I’ve had such a yo-yo relationship with distance running, it’s so inspiring to read someone else’s account of discovering their love of running. Thank you again.

  75. Classic example of the beautiful person that has always lived inside being allowed out by its owner. It is scary how many women do not believe they are wonderful and amazing people just because they don’t conform to a shape.

    Running is an amazing sport that changes so much more than just fitness levels, well done keep running :)

  76. Your story resonated with me. I myself had body image issues despite being considered by many as slim. It was only recently when I started to overcome it and focus on getting strong and fit. Thank you for sharing. :)

  77. Fantastic post, and super inspirational! I too was always very thin and fit growing up and then I turned into “one of them”. LOL Running a half marathon and then eventually a full marathon has always been a dream of mine. But struggling with my weight constantly, I continue to tell myself that I’m too out of shape to run…..anywhere. But after reading your post I think I just told myself to fuck off. Time to put the sneakers on and just run, anywhere. Maybe I’ll start at a half mile but eventually work up to a half marathon.

    Thank you for sharing, and most importantly thank you for opening my eyes.

    1. Get those shoes on, lady, and go conquer those demons – they’re not going to fight themselves! There were so many people at the half marathon I ran who I would never have looked at and said “wow, you’re going to cross that finish line” but they totally did, and some of them finished way ahead of me. There’s no reason why your weight should determine how hard or well you run. Go kill that half-mile, and then conquer that half-marathon!

  78. You look amazing!! I think your body looks a lot like mine does and reading what you wrote makes me want to start running again. I used to, but lately I too have been feeling this way about my body. Seeing it as weak and fatty and annoying and gross and undesirable. But honestly, you look hot in your photo above! You do! Also, how much do I love your fuck-off attitude! LOVE IT!!! GO GIRL!!! You are so right! We don’t need to be those perfect people. Our bodies can get us places and can be strong without being perfectly toned or whatever. It’s sooo not realistic to expect people to be that way. Love this post. Seriously, LOVE!! Will reblog!!

  79. Thank you! I have been struggling with body image all my life. I’m in the group that doesn’t look athletic and I often look at people who are thinner and envy them. But now I know that they struggle with body image too. It’s all of us. I shouldn’t be ashamed. I should just work on being happy not thin. Thank you again!

  80. This is really refreshing to read! I too felt this exact way – it’s crazy reading. “You can pull of anything because you’re so small” “you never have to diet, you’re to lucky!” “Here have all my clothes that no longer fit me because you’re still the same size as you were in high school!” Hah! And then my pants started slowly not fitting and it was scary! I know how what you mean!!

    What’s even more crazy is that I did my first half and the same exact thing happened – nothing on the outside changed!! I was so annoyed and still am. It’s been 6 months and I still can’t believe I’m stuck on that feeling.

    All I can say is – thank you for writing this. I want to feel this way someday too! I hope to get there. I’m proud of you!!!

    1. Man, I was freaking annoyed too, for a while. When I started running 8-9 miles on weekends and an average of 20 miles a week, and NOTHING CHANGED, I was really pissed at first. But I came to realize, pretty quickly, that I was able to run those distances because my body was strong and muscular, not thin. The strength may not have manifested on my body visually, but it showed when I crossed that finish line after 13.1 miles. I’m sure you’ll come to your own realization one day, hopefully soon, and I’ll be rooting for you until then!

  81. Reblogged this on Kelly Bowker and commented:
    Wow, so this woman sums up much more articulately than me some of the thoughts I’ve been having about the importance of discussing body image and how to present body image through dance. As dancers although there is a high incidence of eating disorders and demands for perfection I think there is also respect for our bodies -for all we ask them to do. I believe this makes dance an ideal tool for addressing the topic of body image but I might be a little biased.

  82. Sigh. You really are a wonderful writer. Me, I’ve been the opposite of that. Late 30s and been trying to gain weight for years. Doesn’t happen no matter how much I eat.

    I’ve kinda given up on that and now just exercise to stay healty.

    Love your comments fighting against media stereotyping and society’s expectation and subtle pressures

  83. Love how candid you were about this struggle and shift in your own perspective. We are the person we see in the mirror, and how we choose to see ourselves makes such a difference. Thanks for the honest, well written, and relatable post. I look forward to reading more!

  84. Just keep running !

    I am starting again with renewed enthusiasm! To cut down 22pounds and this is my 4th run in three weeks. Feeling energetic after each 4.3km run.

  85. Wow. I felt the same and now I don’t care it doesn’t matter. I think those model industries can go to hell. I mean that you don’t see different sized women you see tens of people who are the same hight and size it’s like well I’m sorry but I wasn’t born to be perfect so push off.

    1. Say it like it is, lady! None of us were born to be perfect. If those models had been alive in the 17th century, everyone would have thought them waif-like and strange. Our definitions of beauty are entirely defined by society. It’s time to change that.

  86. I just have to say great post. It is very inspirational to me. I have also struggled with my self image of my body. I have had ups and downs between gaining and losing weight. I am also a runner, I ran a half marathon about 6 years ago. I’m not a skinny girl but running gives me confidence. Training for a run makes me feel good about myself and what my body can do.

  87. Good on you for positive thinking and for seeing the negative facile society we live in and speaking against it. I agree wholeheartedly.
    D. J. Blackmore
    Author of ‘Charter to Redemption’.

  88. I needed to hear the extra fuck off’s today. Thanks for that. I too weigh around the same and run and have similar groans of “ugh” when looking into the mirror. Our daughters and future generations need more of this attitude. Good luck on your next race! :)

  89. Awesome post. I was on an acne medicine called Acutane, and it definitely changed my life. I barely had any acne, however, my parents put me on the drug due to my siblings having major acne problems. My body didn’t actually need the medicine….so…the drug started to hurt me instead. I started to withdrawal and thought poorly of myself. I began to see myself as fat and wanted to be like the rest of my peers -skinny, athletic, etc. I was never a popular kid….or noticed…so I decided to stop eating. I didn’t know what else to do. I eventually lost almost 50 lbs within a few months. I continued to become more distant from family and friends. My parents would forcefully pull my shirt up to see how skinny I had become. (I refuse to take my shirt off -even to this day) Annorexia doesn’t just alter your physical attributes, it takes control over your emotive characteristics as well. I felt that I couldn’t take living in the same environment anymore so I ran away to Florida. Several months later, I decided to come back home. I was totally emaciated by that point. Fast forward a few years, Yep. I’m still dealing with learning to accept me for me. It is super hard for me to receive and especially give hugs to people.

    1. Thank you for sharing that story – that was very brave of you. Learning to accept ourselves is one of the biggest challenges in modern society, I think. It’s a struggle for everyone, and everyone reacts differently. I hope you’re in recovery now and are on the road to coming to terms with your physical and emotional self.

      If you’re interested in reading a really excellent blog that deals frequently with anorexia, my friend Rachael Spellman writes beautifully about her own disease. You can check her blog out at raishimi33.wordpress.com.

  90. Very raw, very honest, very beautiful post! Congratulations on your achievements. There are too many to name. You sound like a very positive person now, and your massage is amazing. I wish there was a way to broadcast it to all the young girls out there.

  91. This is a truly moving piece that shows its readers that they can love their bodies. I’ve been struggling myself with body perception and I’m glad to know of others who have won the battle without starvation. Thank you.

  92. Congrats Amira, Great achievement. I really liked your attitude and happy to reading this. “Don’t give up for any thing”..i am inspired by you..

  93. Interesting read. I read mainly because of the mention of half marathon in the title. I’m planning to prepare for a marathon in Oct for my own personal reasons. Hope you could maybe write a more detailed blog on your preparation for the marathon and how you remained motivated?

    1. Hi! I hadn’t thought of that, but it’s a great idea for a post. I’ll try to write it for sometime in the next few weeks. Thanks for the inspiration, and keep your eyes out!

  94. I hope one day I’ll also come to that point and love my body the way it is, just like you love yours. This inspired me a lot, thank you :)

  95. I have always dreaded becoming one of those people that can’t keep weight off and struggle with diets and whatnot basically because I’ve gotten older. At 22 I’m already seeing a lot of changes and it really is hard not to obsess over it. BUT this was so beautiful, so touching and so relatable. I’m also a runner and I’m always comforted to know that my body is a source of strength, not scrutiny. Thank you thank you thank you.

  96. You took the words out of my head …I just completed my first Half on May 3rd… I have been on every side of the body image battle. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. There is an end. there is a tunnel. It’s real these challenges we face [imagine?] The light exists between your ears. I’m so inspired to hear you found it :)

  97. YES!!!
    Thank you for giving me back my spark. I’d lost my need to run because I felt as though I wasn’t good enough.
    You have reminded me why I have the need to run. Even if my run might resemble a waddle, I’m still in the race.
    Thank you so much.

  98. Thank you for this! I wonder though – I believe that the world has a warped sense of bodies… When I watched “Miquela” on a news station, I sadly said, “Where did they get her?” to my husband… I feel terrible for that remark, because that is what I have been fighting for TV to do… get real with bodies!!! And I simply fell into the old stereotype trap. It’s so hard not being perfect! :)

  99. Thank you!! I’ve hated my body from 115 to 235 and now on the way back down at 180. I look fuckin sexy in my riding shorts though. My big ass is hot. :) I like to ride. I do hope to lose more weight but not down to society standards. Even my doctors say I’m healthy and eat good foods and I exercise too!! Cheers to feeling great and treating our bodies and self esteem right. Cheers to you!! Thank you.

    1. Hell yeah, lady! As long as you’re feeling healthy, eating foods that are right for you, and getting your exercise, there’s not much more you can ask for. Cheers!

  100. I honestly wish I had the will power you do. I have the psychopathology that goes to the gym for 2 months 5 days a week, sees no improvement and then gives up. Then starts eating poor food. And can’t fit into 32 jeans any-more… (UK measurement)

    At the end of the day we need to achieve these things for us… You obviously used to have an unhealthy body image and, from a Psychology perspective, were in the red zone for developing an eating disorder. I’m glad you didn’t. I’m also glad you are now incredibly fit; your heart rate is probably below 60 at resting and your life expectancy will have gone up :)

    I wonder, are marathons incredibly awkward? You go from training by yourself to being jammed against strangers… Then you overtake a guy that is obviously giving it all and you feel sad. Or is that just because I am strange.

    1. I actually thought the marathon would be awkward, but instead found it really fulfilling and enjoyable. Everyone is a little stressed, trying to stay calm, trying to get in the zone. Everyone’s in the same boat. I felt great passing people who were ‘giving it their all’ because it meant I was competitive. I also didn’t mind in the slightest when someone else passed me, all that meant was that he or she was working a little harder than I was! It’s a truly amazing thing because it’s one of those experiences where you see that everyone really does have their own pace and style, and it’s not about how you get to the finish, but just about setting foot over the line. I had a blast with mine.

      1. Are you more introvert than extrovert then? There are so many variables I would associate with running a marathon. All socially inclined ones make me panic on account of my complete lack of extroversion, confidence, interest etc.

  101. congratulations Amira! I started to run and the beginning is so damn difficult! :) we’re planning to run half marathone next year and that’s why me and my boyfriend started to kind of setting up the mood and to prepare the body+all the good things that come with this.

  102. ::::Applause!:::: I hear you. I just turned (gasp!) 29 and I’m finally starting to look older than sixteen. It’s a curious sensation. I love your post; thanks for keeping us grounded, girl.

    1. I feel ya! Shifting out of my teenage body and into my woman body was a jarring experience for me. I still wish I didn’t have tits, most days (or body hair, but that’s another matter altogether). But that sure isn’t going to stop me from running my little heart out, climbing mountains, or conquering twenty-mile hikes! Cheers, lady, and have fun with that womanly body of yours. Surprisingly, they can work wonders :)

  103. An amazing post and so inspiring to read. My weight is up and down my whole life and having my little boy has made me the heaviest i have ever been. I feel your pain and also get so much out of running. I do need to lose some weight still but i am on the same journey learning to love and accept my body for itself. Well done and keep running. X

    1. Cheers – it’s all a matter of being comfortable with where you are. If you’re happy the way you look, fucking fantastic! If not, hard work and some feel-good endorphins will get you where you want to be. Just do it for yourself, and not for anyone else!

  104. Thanks you Amira!! My sister, you speak right to my heart! (And to that sad, rejected belly of mine). I’d add one thing–that we move forward with not just confidence but deep, radical self-love, compassion, and acceptance. I love you girl!

  105. Amira, what a wonderful blog, in so many ways. Brave, honest, full of hope. My story is different to yours in so many ways, but like so many humans, I have had a lot of identification with you regarding my own body image. I’m a 53-year old woman, never been athletic, HATED running/jogging/any more than a brisk walk. I was really feeling that I was just a heap of frumpy/middle-aged/saggy yuckiness and had more or less surrendered to it. Then in January of this year, I started a 5K training program. At the beginning, I could barely breathe and now, four months later, I can run a 5K with only one really quick stop for water. And I’m now training for a 10K. Your thoughts and words about the wonder of your body carrying you through beautiful places and what it does to you is exactly how I have started to feel about mine. It’s like I’m actually starting to get to know it and be PROUD of it for all the hard work it has done for me, especially in the last four months. More than that, like you, my own self-esteem has grown, I’ve become so much healthier, and I’m more aware of my surroundings. And much happier in myself, which also translates into any communication with other people and how I treat them. Anyway, in a long, roundabout way, I really wanted to thank you for your blog.

  106. Great post Amira! My problems are similar to yours, but, to this day, I still don’t like my body. I am now taking steps not only in losing weight, but also loving myself for the way I am, which includes my body. It is a long process but I know its a necessary one before it consumes me physically and mentally.

    Congratulations on such a major achievement!

  107. Very powerful. I have struggled with my weight since I was a kid and I can relate to many of your thoughts and emotions. I just finished my first half marathon. Love that you reminded me that no matter how my body looks, it still carried me across that finish line. Thank you for sharing this.

  108. Wow. This was great. And kudos to you for saying no to the western culture system. I did a post not too long ago along the same sort of lines called, “Your butt is too small… What?” Taken from the line that the greek guy says to the american raised girl. I have struggled my whole life with poor body image. Different than you though, I was always chubbier as a kid and teen. It was only as an adult that I became obsessed with dieting and working out. I even got certified in fitness and nutrition, gave physical conditioning classes, and pre-kids, apart from teaching four classes a day, had my own cardio and strength building regimen. I think I’m finally starting to get to the point where you’re at now. I eat healthy and exercise, but heck, I’m not going to let western cultures ideal for the perfect body have control over me any more.
    Thanks for such a great post. :-)

  109. Awesome post, I’m going through the same thing right now. This was a great boost to kick my mind back into right place. You’re beautiful, I’m glad you’ve changed your perspective on yourself it’s truly inspiring.

  110. I recently went through this myself!! I ran and did ab exercises every day for two months and my self confidence skyrocketed even though I technically didn’t lose much weight! Isn’t it such a fantastic feeling?? :D

  111. Well done that was lovely to read :-) Im 41 and loving my body more every day. I recently found cancer in my boob and it actually made me more fierce about enjoying my body before it changes from ops. Suddenly I keep grabbing my tiny boobs realising they are fantastic. I wish there was a way to reach these epiphanies without the fear of loss/death being kicked in to me. But there it is and. .. im sharing it just in case it helps any one grab their flesh and just let go. .. Let go of the media rules and just feel soft skin…sweet fat ….hard bones and as is written here The Bionic Machine that does your whole day again and again and again. Xxxxxxxxx

  112. Reblogged this on Speaking Volumes and commented:
    This is exactly how I felt for some time before I learned how to love my body. I agree 100% with what this woman has to say. Forget what pop culture tells us, we are all beautiful. All I can say is, find your own way to love your body and be happy because there is no use in hating yourself when you have a beautiful life that you should be living.

  113. Thank you for writing this. I experienced the same thing with running, but only when I started running outside. Healing… Admiration for my body and what it is capable of, rather than feeling at war with it for not looking “good.” I wrote a blog called “why I run” that you might enjoy :-)

  114. You look pretty good to me. I too have a body image complex – the only part I was ever proud of was my bum but even that is getting a bit saggy now !!
    I also run for miles as a form of meditation and positive thinking time. And the hope that one day I can get back close to the form I once was when I was younger.
    Unfortunately work and life get in the way.

  115. Thanks so much for this. I ended up having weight loss surgery a couple of years ago after years of battling my weight, and am thrilled that I am now able to be fully active again and I’m running 10k and doing sprint triathlons two years after the surgery. I had the surgery because I love myself and thought I deserved good health, not in order to look a certain way. Every time someone compliments me on the basis of how I look I say “thanks, but I did this for my health and I FEEL great”. I am in awe of and grateful for how my body still works in spite of years of obesity. I am part of a women’s online running community, and I love that nobody ever talks about a bikini body or abs of steel or a runners butt. It’s just a bunch of women (at various different weights and fitness levels) who value working toward good health and fitness. Our bodies are amazing things. Congratulations on your half-marathon – I’m planning on HM training in the next few months.

  116. I love your fashionable blue swimsuit and by that I mean you have it going on! Man. With the mud, too. I feel like a bad boy again. So thanks. Ah- you wrote it right as well.

    -ANdy

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