Thursday, May 26, 2011

Change in perspective

I have never been a fan of my legs.

Even in high school, when I was in good shape, could eat whatever I wanted without consequence, and could wear slim fit jeans, my thighs and calves were "substantial". No chicken legs here people.

My legs (along with the rest of my body) have always been insanely pale too. Sun doesn't help... My color options for my skin are very pale beige, bright pink, or fire engine red. I have played with self tanners but they don't look very natural on me, I don't like spending money on that kind of thing, and my skin is really sensitive. So pale it is.

To make it all even worse, when I was pregnant with my third son, I developed really rotten varicose veins on one leg. They are the big poofy kind. Super ugly. I hate them. The doctor asks if they hurt me at all, and the truth is they only hurt my eyes when I look at them! They have never bothered me in any other way, and optional (cosmetic) surgery isn't really in the budget. So, the varicose veins aren't going anywhere for awhile.

As I became a runner and lost over 70lbs, I had times where I was frustrated that I didn't have awesome legs to show off. Sure, my muscles are impressive, but you have to see past the glowing white skin and nasty veins to notice them. I never wore running shorts because I was so self conscious about how my legs looked.

But while I was running the Salt Lake City Marathon, somewhere in the later miles I found myself talking to my legs. I was telling them that they were awesome and strong, and thanked them for not cramping or getting injured. And since then, I have looked at my legs differently and have changed my perspective and attitude about them.

Yup, my thighs and calves are substantial. They are STRONG, and muscular and down right buff. These are the legs that in junior high and high school helped me hang on to the backs of big old thoroughbreds and steer them around jumping courses. These are the legs that have carried me on a journey of weight loss and self-discovery. These are the legs that have run through three marathons without any major cramping and only minimal soreness afterwards. These are the legs that put in over 50 miles a week without complaint and are always up for whatever I ask... speed work, hills, long runs... no problem. These are the legs that let me push and get that sub-four hour marathon I wanted so badly, and these are the legs that I am confident are going to carry me to a BQ marathon.

These legs are pretty darn awesome.

The other day I got some new capris in the mail that I had ordered. I ordered two styles in a size 4. The first pair (jeans) fit great. The second pair (a thinner cut khaki pair) did not. I literally could almost not pull them up past my calves. When I finally got them on (I am sure it would have been quite entertaining to watch), the waist of the capris was way too big, the thighs were quite snug but ok, and the calves looked like if I flexed I would bust right out of them.

And instead of being upset about it, I thought it was cool. I am proud of those muscles. That's when I knew my perspective had really changed.

The world seems to focus SO much on women being thin/skinny. I am thrilled that I was able to lose so much weight and get my body to a healthy weight. and I feel amazing. At 5'5" tall and 136lbs, I am right in the middle of what is said to be a healthy weight. I am sure I could diet and work at it to lose another 10lbs or so if I really wanted to, but my focus is on being healthy and strong.  Skinny little chicken legs wouldn't be able to carry me up big hills or run strong for 26.2 miles. Skinny little arms wouldn't be able to do 30 "man pushups", or carry around my two year old that has cerebral palsy and needs help and "mom transport" to do anything. I will take strong over skinny any day. :)

So I am done complaining about my legs and I am done being ashamed of them. My legs are strong. My legs are fast. And I am going to wear those running shorts with pride.

Hey, do you want to be the awesome person to get my fundraising current total over $500? I am just under that amount right now. It literally takes just a moment to donate and is so easy. Any amount is appreciated. Please help me raise $3000 to support Team MEB when I run the NYC marathon in November, and help provide children in the U.S. and in Africa with access to good health, education and fitness.  Every little bit helps and is greatly appreciated. :)



fancy nancy said...

GREAT post! I have always looked at my legs and sighed hoping they looked differently. I have always said, even at my skinniest, that I have tree trunk legs! You are right to look at what your legs have carried you through! You are strong and amazing and an inspiration to me to change my perspective!

The Green Girl said...

You go, girl! I am working on this myself.

Baldwincrew-blog said...

Hi I am Janice Cooks sister and found your blog this post hit me.. I to have a body image issue with my legs. I have always had the bigger legs of the family all 6 of my sister have what we call chicken legs and I have thunder thighs. They always try to tell me they would trade to have athletic looking legs but I have always ya right. I also have varicose veins and never want to wear shorts running or just anytime. Well as I have gotten stronger in running I have realized that they may not be thin but they are strong and can do a lot more than I give my self credit. I will now wear shorts doesn't mean I am super confident but I do it. Thanks for sharing.

Heather Elliott @ the desire to run said...

Ahhh so perfect to read. I have had the same issues. Lately I have been irritated that my legs are still so "substantial." When I started running I got muscular but they are still large.

Thank you for the reminder that I am going to depend on these legs one day when I finally run my first marathon. Thank you for the positive outlook!

Julie said...

I like your style! I really like your style! I also have trouble getting some pants to fit well around my calf area. Or I get the pants on and then when I sit down and then stand back up again my pants are stuck around the middle of my leg and I'm tugging away to get them to where they are supposed to be :D
I love my strong legs, just like you!

Alicia said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post!! Believe it or not, I'm 5'5" 136 also. Crazy coincidence. Anyway, I've been being so tough on myself lately. Let's just say I've been talking to my legs, too, but in a much different way than you do. I have forgotten how much my legs have done for me. Thanks for putting it all in perspective. And, in case no one has told you today yet- you rock!! :)

Candice @ I Have Run said...

This is an awesome post! I love the way my legs look because of running! And what they can do that allows me to run. What a great perspective you have!

Kiley said...

yeah, I sigh at my legs too. But I love them...especially my calves. Pretty mine are huge & wouldn't fit in skinny capris either!

Amanda@runninghood said...

Beautiful. Way to love your body the way that it is! Yes, your legs are strong and fast! And I love the About Me part of your blog!!! So helpful in getting to know you!

Terzah said...

Great post, E! I have never really liked most of my body (maybe my shoulders and my neck I've been OK with), and I think so many others can relate. I will try to "talk" to my legs and hips on my next run, too.

Kevin said...

Great post, great perspective!

Becky said...

Thank you so much for sharing this with me! I loved it!! I have always had the same view as you did regarding your leg. Mine are big and my calves RARELY fit into those super cute knee high boots. But they are strong. They've always been my strongest body part, and now I love them!