Monday, May 26, 2014

Flashback: Body Honor

In light of recent posts about body image, loving the Truth in Ads campaign, honoring my body with a year of Exercise Detox, and raising three tween girls, I thought I'd bring you a post that explains why I believe confidently and unabashedly that I have an amazing body, and why you should too.

November 6, 2008
Body Honor

I am all about honoring the body. I don't mean honoring the body for the way it looks, or only honoring those parts that "look good." I mean honoring the body for what it can do.

My very first taste of "body honor" was at Ironman Canada in 1999. After months of training that breaks you down both mentally and physically you can't help but reach the start line with gratitude oozing out of your pores. Truly, to be able to survive the training of an Ironman triathlon is harder than doing the race. So, I found myself feeling thankful while swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and running 26.2 miles. Some people bitch, moan and complain. I just couldn't. I was too grateful to make it to the start line. Those feelings returned when I competed again at Ironman New Zealand in 2002, but with a new appreciation: not only was I happy to make it to the start line I was overjoyed that my body can do this. That appreciation carried me forward. My muscles kept moving, my bones held me up, my heart powered through 12 1/2 hours of swimming, biking and running, and through it all, I was in awe. The human body is an amazing machine.

You do an Ironman triathon and you think nothing's going to top that, right? Pregnancy and birth easily top that. Too much over-thinking can weird you out. After all, a human being grows inside another human being. And other than having (what we all hope is good) sex, we have no power over this. That baby develops. The female body adapts. And then there is birth, the most mind-blowing part of it all. At least when I did an Ironman my mind played heavily in the race--I had to will myself to keep moving, get to the finish. Not so with childbirth. Did you know a woman in a coma can give birth? The body is magical.

Like many moms, the "journey to motherhood" has left us with a few consolation prizes. From where I sit now I can see the cottage cheese on my thighs. When I'm not pregnant I can whip out my twin skin and let it hang over my pants. My belly button looks like an asteroid landed there. And then the boobs, or to borrow my dear friend's description, "tea bags with nipples." I can't get too worked up about these things because they are, for me, reminders of my amazing body. Again, not in a swimsuit model sort of way; I'm talking about capability, not appearance.

Still, it's hard for us women not to compare ourselves to the Hollywood ideal. The "Mom Job" is all the buzz. And I'm not necessarily here to dis plastic surgery. My point is that moms, all women, not only need to honor their body for what it can do but also for how it looks--stretch marks, sagging skin and all. Sure you can nip and tuck your way into a cover model body, and sure there is some self-confidence to be gained by this. But I don't think that brand of self-confidence can measure up to what you can get out of accomplishing a physical goal. When you're proud of your body for what it can do, I think you're more likely to be happy with how it looks, or at least not be bothered by the "imperfections." The feelings of accomplishment you get after crossing a finish line just aren't available post-op.

So how do we make our real body our ideal body? How do we feel good about what our body can do and stop comparing it to what's on the cover of magazines? I think this movement of moms gravitating toward fitness is a huge step. Maybe these moms are initially concerned about wanting to look good in that little black dress. But when they finish that uber hard-kick boxing class, or cross that 10K finish line, they can do more than wear it: they can own it.


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Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with you more. My dermatologist looked at my hands and said they were rough and dry and my kids say I have old lady hands. I have worked hard and I like it that my hands look older than the rest of my body. I tell my kids it's because I work so hard and I say it with pride.

Heather said...

Hi Kara! My name is Heather and I just have a quick question about your blog that I was hoping you could answer! Please email me at Lifesabanquet1(at)gmail(dot)com :-)