Spring is here!
I lace up my shoes and rush out the door where I am met with the pleasant feeling of warm sunshine on my face, rather than the cold blasts of wind that tormented me these last few months. The green grass, the birds chirping and the pink flower buds on the trees grant me an abundance of energy as I run down the street, kicking off the first few miles of a long run. It is the weekend, I just put our toddler down for a nap, and I have a little over an hour to myself. I’m feeling strong and glorious! But then around mile 6 it hits me. I’m no longer feeling glorious, I am lightheaded and my vision is getting blurry. I finish the couple of miles it takes for me to get home at a more relaxed pace, and then I walk in my yard, taking deep breaths and keeping my head up. By the time I get inside, take a few sips of water and get into the shower, I feel better, but I’m scolding myself. I know what caused this feeling; I haven’t given my body enough fuel to push it that far. That was a rookie move.
Springtime, for me, means a surge of liveliness as me and the kids joyfully play outside without a half-dozen layers, get ready to plant a garden and get excited about fresh food from farmer’s markets. At the same time, I’m upping my running to prepare for a couple of half-marathon races. The warmer weather also reminds me that summer’s quickly approaching. Summer = bathing suits. *grimace* I hate using the term “bikini-ready” because I don’t think I’ll ever be exactly that; but, to feel comfortable in anything less than a beach towel cover-up, I usually change my diet in the spring. I tend to start off with a low-carb diet that evolves into something closer to a clean-eating diet after a few weeks. Let me just say, I love to eat. I love salads and sweets alike, and I like to believe that they balance each other out.
My internal dilemma has always been this: I want to slim down certain areas of my body through diet, while at the same time try to push my exercise limits, which can lead to quicker results in my mid-section, but the combination leaves me feeling weak.
It’s not a complex dilemma, but it is greatly affected by body image issues that I think many of us face. We are constantly bombarded with portrayals of the “ideal” female body on magazines and in TV shows. Really, unless you have terrific genes or a great photo editor, these images are not a realistic standard of how women must look to be beautiful or sexy. I’ve come to realize that being comfortable and confident in your body makes one sexy.
And how come “mom bods” haven’t been celebrated the same way that the mega hot “dad bod” was last year?
Through many personal highs and lows with diet and exercise, which have included getting back into shape after the birth of my first son, and also the frightening experiences of nearly fainting, I’ve come to the realization that I want to be strong more than I want to be skinny.
My body and it’s athletic build has helped me to conquer many challenges from hiking up mountains to carrying babies. I need to be able to literally carry my own weight when I run, and to do tasks that require physical strength, like lifting babies and shoveling snow. I want to have the energy to chase my kids around the yard, to keep up with them as they ride bikes, and to carry them inside when they fall asleep in their car seats. I have to adequately nourish my body so that it can continue performing for me and my family.
Right now, my biggest health goals are focused around physical activity. I want to keep eating healthy foods while pushing myself to complete 4-5 half-marathons this year. I may also follow one of my friends in doing a 30 day challenge for abs and squats! I may have thick thighs, but strong is sexy!