Last week, the podcast episode with Dr Bhrett McCabe was one of the most eye-opening podcasts I have ever recorded. He said so many things that were so applicable to us all, to every single one of us, regardless of what stage of life we are in.
“We want success all the time, a part of us deep down wants success because we have to have it in order to feel valued by ourselves.”- Bhrett McCabe
Bhrett is not a runner, in fact, when introducing himself, he said he could barely believe he was on a running podcast, THAT is how little he was associated with running.
However, as with so many things, each aspect of our lives parallel the internal struggles we are going through, and I hope todays post can make you think a little differently about how you treat yourself. Remember what Evie said about being kind to yourself, yeah, that kinda talk.
Even though I might not be running right now, so much of what Bhrett said resonated with me, particularly what he said about comparison.
One of the reasons we feel inadequate when we compare ourselves to others is because we never compare ourselves to areas we have strengths.
In the same way, we don’t compare ourselves to the improvements we have made to be better, about steps we have taken, instead we hone in on our weaknesses and areas we feel we have failed.
As the article in People Magazine headlined (yes, THE People Magazine featured me last week!!!!!), I am intentionally gaining weight, and that is the primary reason I still have not run.
When I stopped running, I did need a break, who knows how long that would have lasted, but the reality is, that now, at this point, I probably would be back running, I would like to get back into a few light easy runs a week, but it has become almost a battle of will now.
That might sound ridiculous, but I want my first run back to be one of celebration, one to signify the next stage of my running life, and one that is just for the sheer joy of it, not for the reward on the other side.
I don’t want to run until my cycle comes back. I want to know that I am doing everything I can to reassure my body it is safe, and even though one individual run would not sabotage that, it is the principle.
That being said, I am not going to lie to you, it has been really hard at times to see my body in the mirror and feel fear, wonder if I will ever be fit again, or will I continue to put on weight, year after year, until one day, I wake up, and I am unable to walk up the stairs.
They say it sneaks up on your after all.
I know that is irrational, and I am learning more each day that your size really doesn’t define you. You are who you ARE, not what you look like, or what you do.
My family, friends, and the people who care about me, treat me the same way they did a year ago, two years, ago ten years ago. They love what is inside.
Your friends and family love that light that shines bright in you when you are confident and happy. Whatever you need to do to be happy, is what is going to make them love you more, not being a certain body size or image.
When I look back on photos of myself now, from just before the London Marathon, I almost wince.
Even at that moment, I thought I was still bigger than most runners I competed against. I was thin, but they were skinny. I was normal, they were underweight.
Now I can step back, I can see that actually, I was just as thin as those other girls, I just couldn’t see it.
I am not saying there is anything wrong with being lean. If you are going to try to be one of the best in the world, to give yourself the best chance, you have to run a lot, eat the right foods, and get your body ready to perform. Which is exactly what I was doing.
Naturally, your body will become lean, in prime position to run to your potential, and I don’t think I was doing any damage to my long-term health. I was doing it in a healthy way. Just not a sustainable body shape for me to maintain.
I have to say, as I look back at my body, I see that I was edging on too thin, certainly too thin for my personal genetics to maintain, and I am not sure it was healthy to be there other than for that small 6 week window where I was accomplishing my lifetime running goals.
I wouldn’t go back and change it, though. I did what I needed to do to be the best I could be, and it paid off, big time!
I am not sure I would have reached that goal if I hadn’t trained as hard as I had and eaten all the right foods for performance. But, just as Lanni Marchant and I talked about taking time off, and gaining back much more weight than you have lost, it still wasn’t where my body was comfortable being.
Now I am away from that, I can see how skewed my perception was. How distorted my body image of myself was.
I saw lean runners all around me, which led me to believe that it was normal, I was just normal. My fear was if I gained weight, I would immediately jump from normal (my version of it), to obese. There was nothing in between.
I was scared. I was attached to my identity as a professional runner, and I didn’t want to lose that. I thrived on the respect that gave me.
My family and friends tried to tell me that, but at the time, I just shrugged it off. Once again, in my mind, I was bigger than most of the other girls I competed against. I was, but only when you compare to the girls who have taken a lean body image too far, and are struggling with eating disorders.
Still a dangerously close line for me to walk.
What is crazy is that even in that moment, when I was in the best fitness I had been in, I still wasn’t confident. I still would go to the bathroom some days and look at my body in the mirror. I knew I looked fit, and I knew I was lean, but I still couldn’t feel satisfied with the way I looked. I still wasn’t as toned as the other girls I raced against.
I think that is what I am really trying to say here, in that long and rambly way of telling you that we are never happy with how we look, never 100% confident, which is ridiculous, because once again, I believe each and every one of us has something special to offer this world, and it is NOT our bodies.
Sure, if you are good at a sport, your body is the part that does help you to achieve something great, BUT you need the personality to go with it, you know that old quote, “given time, hard work beats talent”, well, it’s true. You could be the most talented person in the world, but if you did not have the motivation and dedication to train, you will end up getting beat. It is the person they are INSIDE that means we can accomplish those big goals.
When I compare to that Tina, the lean Tina I was there, and it is tough not to feel like I have “let myself go”, feel that I am huge, feel that I am just soft and jiggly. Thankfully I have my new goal to focus on, and that keeps me in the right mindset that I am doing the right thing, but it still isn’t easy sometimes. I still feel like I might end up losing respect and the approval of others.
I try to remind myself, and hopefully remind you that:
It is who we ARE that really makes us be our best, not what we look like or what we do.
Sure, being healthy and having your body be fit enough to do the things you love is a big part of your confidence, but just keep in mind that even if you did reach your dream weight, the body size you think is absolutely perfect, you will NOT be happy, you will still feel like you could do more.
We never reach that perfection, so striving for it will only bring you more frustration and guilt.
I am saying this because I have been there, and believe it or not, I actually feel a lot more comfortable in everything about who I am and what I look like now, than I did during that marathon phase.
I always had that paranoia that I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t doing enough, but in reality I was, I was doing the best I can. Rather than celebrating that and being proud of that, I felt guilty that I wasn’t doing enough.
Now I am learning to just learn to be. Be relentlessly who I am, no matter what.
So that is what I am doing.
It’s not always easy, I don’t always feel like I am doing the right thing, but bringing it back full circle, Dr Bhrett McCabe said:
“We cannot be content in life, we simply can’t, because if we are content, we would never grow, and if we never grow, we stop getting new experiences, and having new, valuable learnings.”- Bhrett McCabe
I LOVE that, and what a good way to think about things. We are constantly growing, and so there is nothing wrong with those moments of doubt in who we are, those are the moments that make us figure out a new way to grow.
This one was also pretty powerful, and so true.
“People who have a growth mindset, believe that they are constantly a work in progress, and that is a very powerful and successful mindset to have. Everything I do, is not a determinant of who I am, everything I do is an opportunity to build who I am.”- Bhrett McCabe
There were so many more of those in that episode, please, go listen to it, trust me, you will not regret it!!
In other news
The #NoWatchMe movement of running by feel is starting to get some momentum, as more runners are trusting me to run using effort rather than pace. Steve and I spent some time on the Effort Scale PDF this weekend to make it even easier to understand how to run your best without looking at your watch.
If you haven’t yet tried it, please give it a try, and let me know how you get on.
For those of you who downloaded this PDF before, this one is much more detailed and clear, so I would recommend downloading again. I also made it black and white, so you don’t have to use 3 ink cartridges to print it 😉
Oh, and one more thing:
Steve’s Marathon and Half Marathon Training Plans go on sale THIS WEDNESDAY! If you have been reading my blog for a while, you probably know that Steve keeps his training VERY close to his chest, which is why I never really shared my training, but he has created a 40-50 mile per week marathon and half marathon training program, and by he end of of the month, we will have 60-70 mile per week program.
What are you guilty of comparing yourself to?