Until I was in fourth or fifth grade, I was skinny. So skinny, that classmates would come up to me and joke about how they could fit their hands around my ankles. I even had someone tell me "you're not that bad, I always thought you were just that really skinny, shy girl." I ate everything in sight, and so I decided I was one of those blessed people who would always be skinny.
I started doing gymnastics, hit puberty, and in one summer I went from 78 to 91 pounds (yes, I remember the exact numbers). I freaked out about it. I remember the first picture I saw that summer, in a two-piece bathing suit, and I thought I looked fat. So began my crazy body image issues.
When I see overweight children (especially girls), I think less about their future health problems and much more about what they will go through once they hit adolescence and their figure will mean the world to them. In one way, I'm glad it happened to me. I focused on healthy eating and started running.
By mid-high school, I no longer really wanted to be skinny, I just wanted to be happy. In every resolution, and in the letter I got to write (and address) to my future self, I never said that I wanted to weigh 100 pounds, just that I wanted to be happy and confident in my body. Its exhausting to worry about it, to rip it apart in the mirrors, to feel guilty through every bite of food. It takes so much of a toll on my life. I don't even want to be skinny anymore, I just want to be fit, healthy, happy and confident.
I get these small reprieves from my body image issues, which is why I cherish them so much. Because, when your body takes you through 26.2 miles in just over 3 hours and 22 minutes, you can't hate it. Its not about what it looks like, its about what it can do. I discovered this the first time I ran ten miles, while training for my first marathon. I came home, and I looked in the mirror. I wasn't any thinner than when I left, but I felt so great and all I could do was look at myself and think wow, those legs just took me ten miles.
And, there is no mirror more flattering than the one at gyms. Every time I stand in front of a mirror to lift weights, I'm incredibly happy with my fit, little self.