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Strong Is Sexy
Last night I took a Chisel class at the gym.
I hadn’t been to class — or done any quality strength training — for a few weeks. I was convinced all my hard-earned strength would be lost and I envisioned myself begrudgingly downgrading from my 8-pound dumbbells to the 7-pounders.
But hey! That didn’t happen!
Good. Still got it.
The class kicked off with a whole lot of squats. Then we did lots of fun arm things. We got our butts pretty kicked.
As much as I love running, I really do enjoy strength training as well. After class, I thought a lot about my “marathon body.”
I talk to a lot of people who gain weight throughout training — people who run for hours and then eat for hours. It happens. We need fuel to stay strong, but it’s hard to tell just how much we need, so we tend to overcompensate. Whatever. Nutella by the spoonful — or ladle-ful — is delicious.
I also know a lot of people who sign up for half marathons or even full marathons as an effort to lose weight. Power to them. Running a marathon — from what I’ve heard — is no easy feat. (I’ll let you know in 11 days!)
As for me: I don’t own a scale so I can’t officially tell you how my weight has changed over the past few months of training. I only weigh myself every eight weeks when I go to the hospital for my Remicade infusion.
Weight is never something I’ve thought much about. I grew up as a dancer, and we were supposed to be thin. Dancers are skinny. That’s just how it goes. Sure it’s a stereotype, but it exists for a reason.
I was never a “skinny” dancer though. I’ve always had muscular legs and in ninth grade some boobs showed up and then I knew I’d never have the ideal dancer body. I’ll never forget my dance teacher telling me during my senior year that I’d “be able to jump higher if I weighed less.” Ouch.
She was kind of a bitch, but it was true. I wasn’t built to be a dancer.
And maybe I’m not built to be a runner, but I sure do love what training has done to me. It has made me feel so strong.
My thighs may be big, but they’re toned. And I love knowing that if I met a stranger in a dark alley I would absolutely have a shot at kicking his ass and then running away at a sub-8:00 pace. (Though why would I be in a dark alley? I wouldn’t, Mom, so relax. Just giving an example.)
There was a time in college, during my sophomore year, when I kind of abandoned eating. It wasn’t me at my best, that’s for sure. I would eat a granola bar for breakfast, survive on water and an apple all day, and then eat something ridiculous for dinner, like a massive slice of pizza.
I lost a ton of weight almost immediately and I remember thinking that I looked good. But I knew what I was doing wasn’t healthy.
That lifestyle certainly didn’t bode well for my dance career. I was on the kickline team and I liked that my uniform looked a little better, but hated how hard it was to kick my legs for two hours every night.
I had no energy and I didn’t realize that food was fuel. I thought it was my enemy.
I got over that issue pretty quickly. My food-less days didn’t last long and I ended up gaining weight back — lots of it — which stayed on throughout college.
How people stay healthy in college I do not know. I loved drinking and ordering pizza at 4 am and I wouldn’t change a thing. Good times.
But now things are different. Obviously. I’m older and a little wiser. I’m smarter about what I eat and I know that every single item I eat will either help or hurt my training.
Corn, fried chicken and, sadly, pizza and I can no longer be friends. Crohn’s Disease doesn’t approve.
But I drink a lot of water, I eat tons of fruits and vegetables and in spite of my 16 Handles addiction, I do eat pretty well. Or at least I try.
As a result, I feel better every day.
I will never be stick-thin. I probably don’t have a future career on a runway. And I’m pretty sure US Weekly would have a field day highlighting my imperfections in a bathing suit.
I enjoy getting dressed up every now and then…
…but nothing makes me feel more confident than a good sweat and a post-run glow.
I love food. I love running. They go pretty well together.
Thanks to the abundance of running I’ve endured since April — and yes, I have loved every minute of it — I feel good. I feel strong. I feel kind of badass.
This morning I ran 5.5 miles. The plan was to do a warm-up then run two laps of the Central Park Reservoir: the first lap at my marathon goal pace and the second lap at my half-marathon goal pace.
I didn’t think I had speed in me today. But I was wrong.
The run was great. I’m enjoying my taper and doing exactly what my coach says.
And on September 24, I’m going to become a marathoner, in part because I have a great coach and in part because I think I’ve finally learned how to take good care of myself.
I have also learned how to dress like a cowgirl. So that’s cool, too.
So I say, appreciate your body a little more. Yes, this is probably cheesy as Hell, but next time you look in the mirror do yourself a favor and notice the good things — your smile, your bulging biceps, your massive calves — instead of the things you usually criticize. I promise there are more good things than bad things. You don’t have to be skinny to be sexy.
Thanks. Have a nice day.