Last March I finished a track workout, looked down at my spikes feeling fast and confident, but couldn't help notice my stomach. I was six months post partum and my second son was born only 15 months after my first. I thought about how I used to look before having babies and how I used to feel. I felt guilty for wanting my pre-baby body back but was also in the midst of a realization.
In a short time I had worked my way back to a high level of training and racing and was in pretty good shape. I had just run 3 sets of 400, 300, 200 with my 400s at 71, 70, 69. That's the best I had run even before kids, when my stomach looked "normal" and wasn't separated by a gap and with loose skin. I wondered how many other women see themselves and chastise their own body during a time when their body is actually functioning really well and running stronger and faster than ever. But they're hooked on their outward appearance. So I shared my thoughts in that moment and posted to Instagram. Little did I know that moment would have such a rippling effect on future events. There's no better way to summarize it than with what a friend texted me, "I saw you on the Today Show, you've gone viral!"
In five days I talked with just about every major news publication about my Instagram post and its background. It started with #journeywithsteph over two years ago when I made a commitment to share my post baby return to training and racing and my journey to try and make an Olympic Team. I never set out to be an inspiration as I know there are far more inspirational people out there. I have simply chosen to share my story with candid raw honesty. Apparently in this day and age that resonated with many women and I saw an outpouring of comments, support, and love.
It can seem scary at times to be the real version of yourself, but how refreshing when you are and you realize so many others share the same fears, insecurities, self deprecation, and it can all be erased with the simple act of freeing your mind.
So my thought for everyone is to acknowledge the bias. Acknowledge the lumps and bumps and shapes that we all have, the things that we feel weird about BECAUSE of the "perfect" images of human bodies in the media. Instead of fixating on "flaws", lets shift our minds to focus on our strengths. The pieces of us that make us who we are. When we can recognize that, we can honor ourselves and all of the amazing things that our bodies allow us to do.
This month, let's collectively share the love. Let's give back to ourselves. Let's free our minds, and allow others to do the same. Because we are better than the critics; those from outside the arena and the one inside our minds. Let's replace the mean spirited voice in our heads; the one that tells us that we should look a certain way, and replace it with a voice that reminds us that we're great as we are. Let's love our bodies back. Let's fill ourselves up with positivity this May.
The build up of positivity helps us find humility and strength in the process. It helps us tackle our future endeavors and to reach our big life goals. And our stories we tell help others to grow.
Share the love and your musings with hashtag: #BuildItUp and let's continue to grow this sisterhood of strength together.
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