Athena, embrace your inner goddess!

Weight can be a touchy subject.  Like a lot of women, I struggled with body image as a teenager and through most of my 20s.  It didn’t seem to matter how thin I got, I felt just as dissatisfied with my body whether I was a size 14 or a size 2.  I was an obsessive about counting calories, working out, and weighing myself daily.  Society tells women that small=feminine, and despite being 5’9 I still was fixated on an arbitrary (and impossible) weight that I thought I needed to be.  I was never over weight; just a tall, “corn fed”, German girl, battling with my weight as it yo-yoed up and down.  At 30, I went through a series of difficult, life altering events, and was struggling with major depression.  It felt like I hit rock bottom, and I lost my motivation to do all of the active things that I used to enjoy.  My weight quickly climbed to 170 lbs, the highest it had ever been (With the exception of when I was pregnant with my daughter).

Me, at a curvier 170 lbs.

Me, at a curvier 170 lbs.

With the encouragement of some very good friends, including my now boyfriend, I decided to start running again.  I had a rough start, with plantar faciaiitis developing in my left foot.  I followed a training plan to rebuild a 20 mile per week base, and every mile I ran those first few months was slow and painful.  I was so focused on trying to get back into shape that I stopped weighing myself and stopped counting calories.  I was focused on eating healthy foods to fuel my work-outs, and was excited to feel my body getting stronger.

One night, I met up with some of my running friends for a dinner/happy hour after work.  We were enjoying greasy bar food and beers.  The woman sitting across from me (that I just met); a beautiful, slender, blonde triathlete who was happily devouring a plate of loaded french fries loudly jokes, “I’ve decided to just be fat and lazy this winter, if I gain a ton of weight I can always race Athena class!”  I know she didn’t mean anything by it, but the comment stung, because I knew I all ready met the weight standard for an “Athena” class runner; but I certainly was neither fat nor lazy.

After thinking about it for a while (like I do with most things) I came to the following conclusions:

  1. Her comment was not directed at me, and her intent was to make a joke….however foot in mouth it may have came out.
  2. I was happy and proud of myself, and the progress I was making with my running.
  3. Another person’s words should not change how I felt about myself.
  4. Athena was a bad bitch!  Seriously, the Goddess of wisdom, courage, strength, and war….doesn’t get any badder than that!
  5. I was going to embrace my “inner goddess” and be proud to be labeled an Athena.
Athena

Athena

 

It took a conscious effort to shift to that mental state (embracing my inner goddess) at first, but at some point I began to actually believe it. (I guess it’s true when they say, “Fake it until you make it”)  Not that I was an actual goddess (Psshh….that would be silly! 😉 ), but that my body was strong, healthy, and beautiful just the way it was.  I didn’t care anymore that skinny jeans were not my friend….This Athena’s thick legs were able to carry me 26 point freaking 2 miles!

The crazy thing is, I finally learned to accept my body when I was at my heaviest.  I didn’t even notice when I did start to lose weight; it came off very slowly.  I had thrown out my scale, but found a warehouse pallet jack at work to weigh myself on after I noticed my clothes were getting baggier and people started asking me if I had lost weight.  I was surprised when I realized, 6 months since I had last weighed myself, that I lost 15 lbs.  Over the next year and a half, I lost 15 more.  Between my weight loss, and the weight being increased to 165 lbs for the “Athena” class; I am no longer technically an Athena.  However, I still try to embrace my inner goddess, since being an Athena played such a critical part in me learning to love my body.  I even had the the owl she is often depicted with in paintings tattooed onto my right rib cage, to help remind me to keep my focus on keeping my body strong and healthy while I run, regardless of what I weigh!

My Athena Tattoo

My Athena Tattoo

 

How has running helped improve your body image?  Do you have any running related tattoos that inspire you?

 

 

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16 thoughts on “Athena, embrace your inner goddess!

  1. I working on the same goal, to get back to running. I have the same problem with my left foot. Did you find anything to help it? I’m slowly improving my self image, but as you say this takes time. It’s inspiring to see you have achieved that, thank you for sharing.x

    • I found pushing through it and continuing to run was the best thing I could do – mine hurt the worst in the morning and the runs seemed to stretch it back out. I also wore a night splint to bed for a while.

      http://www.footsmart.com/products/10711

      I’m glad you’re getting back into running! I think focusing on any sport and setting performance goals (over weight loss goals)-definitely helps have a more positive body image. Thank you for stopping by! 🙂

  2. Cool tat! Whenever I step on the scale and notice it’s higher than before, I remind myself that muscle weighs more than fat. So it’s probably muscle that I’ve packed on from crushin it so hard in the gym! Haha! I do find that running changes my body image when I regularly incorporate intervals – that is when I see fat start to melt way.

    • Haha -it’s totally all muscle from crushing it so hard at the gym! 😉 scales can be misleading, I pay more attention to how my clothes fit than the number on a scale!

  3. Great post and I love the ink! I don’t weigh anymore. I thought that number on a scale was everything but I can tell my weight by how my clothes fits and how I feel. Athena is my favorite of all the goddesses. 🙂

  4. This is a great post. I was always comfortable with my weight until I went to the doctor and she said my weight classified me as OBESE. Since then I have been obsessive with my weight and I do everything you used to do (counting calories, working out, weighing myself daily). I am now 40 lbs lighter but still obsessive and trying to find a better balance between healthy and crazy compulsive guy.

    • While i was still un the military we were expected to be back at regulation weight within 6 months of giving birth. My first weigh in after i had my daughter, the doctor told me I was overweight (less than 5 lbs over the line based on bmi) and it made me obsessive about my weight for a while. And it got even worse after I lost my “baby fat” because i was afraid of gaining the weight back. After realizing that my weight loss was based on healthy lifestyle changes and as long as i continued to follow a health style I’d be fine, I learned to relax. It definitely can be a tough balance! You’re active and an awesome runner, absolutely perfect the way you are! 🙂

  5. Weight is so arbitrary. I think the important thing is how you feel and how fit you are. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten less interested in the number on scale and more on how many miles a week I run, PRs, etc.

    • I totally agree! I’ve been so much happier and confident since I stopped worrying about my weight and focusing on my accomplishments! Thank you for stopping by my page! Hope you have a fabulous holiday weekend!

  6. For the faciatiis – ice it as much as you can, then massage it with cold presses raw castor oil (I got my bottle at a health food store) wrap it with a rag soaked in it and then plastic wrap and a heating pad (I used and old pair of socks soaking the first and covering with the second). Stretch your calf muscle and achilles tendon as much as you can – it hit me last fall and about 6 weeks ago I finally felt some relief. I still tape it to run but I no longer wake up hobbling.

    • Thank you for the advice! I did ice and a night splint. It took about 9 months before the pain started to subside but it’s been a couple years now and it barely bothers me now. I’ve heard about using castor oil from a few people now – I’ll have to recommend it to some of my running friends suffering from foot issues! 🙂

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