Strong is the New Skinny

The Devil
If you've never been overweight, I'll let you in on a little secret: when you're overweight, the camera is your worst enemy.  And if your peers are a good bit lighter than you, they're going to want to break it out for every occassion.  Sure, you've got to worry about what everyone worries about - lighting, the right angle for your nose, closing your eyes as the flash goes off, and the camera adding 10 pounds.  But when you're already more than 10 pounds heavier than most everyone in the picture, that camera may as well add 100.

When I first started racing, I was far into the Athena category, and around the time of thyroidectomy, I was the heaviest I've ever been.  Photos were excruciating for me.  I would avoid them at all costs.

Except race photos.

I knew that, no matter how heavy I felt or looked, those photos proved that I was there, doing something healthy and physicially challenging.  They proved that, while I wasn't skinny, I was certainly strong.

First time shooting a rifle . . . I even
impressed the hunters
Now, I'm not saying I liked the way I looked in them.  There are race photos I can't stand to see, just like any other photo, because I have jowls, or 6 fat rolls, or an absurd expression on my face (and, as I've said before, no one looks good in spandex).  And, even though I wasn't going out of my way to avoid them, I still looked at them after races and thought, damn. I'm still the fat girl.

Since I have been healthier and training more regularly, and since my thyroid medicine has gotten adjusted, I've lost nearly 30 pounds and I'm only 15 or so from my "normal" weight.  But it has happened so slowly - taking over a year and a half - that I haven't even remotely adjusted to being smaller.  I still stand next to women who are within my clothing size or weight, wishing I was as small as they are; I still go into stores and try on jeans that are 2 sizes too big before I realize how small I am; and I am still afraid to see photos of myself after they're taken.

Does this outfit make my STRONG look big?!?!
Well, something phenomenal has happened over the last few months in particular: even though I cringed thinking of how they would come out when they were taken, when I actually look back at my photos, I love them.  All of them.  Even the ones with the goofy faces or angles don't worry me; they make me laugh and I delete them, but they don't make me curl into the fetal position or cower in fear like nearly every picture of myself used to do.

This isn't just because I've lost weight; yes, I am inevitably smaller in those pictures than I expected myself to be, and I'm still not used to that.  I'm still heavier or "thicker" than a good majority of my friends.  I'm still not what a lot of my male peers consider "hot."

And you know what?  I don't give a flying damn.

My eyes are half closed and I look bald
No, the reason I like myself in pictures - particularly race-day shots - is because I can finally see that my Strong outweighs anything else on me.  And your Strong, unlike your butt or thighs, should always be as big as possible.

This weekend some of the race crowd was holding up motivational signs as they cheered us on.  One of them said something like "Strong is the New Skinny!"

I couldn't agree more.

1 tidbits of wizdom:

Alili said...

Okay, not going to lie - the pic of you with the gun...ROCKS!