Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Shame Stops Here!

As a woman, I can only speak from this perspective, but I can tell you this; I have spent too much precious time and energy worrying about what others think. Let's just start there.......

In the running world, it's easy to do. Let me give you some examples that might sound familiar.
  • If I only registered for {Insert your dream race here} race and acquire that amazing medal.
  • Missed my PR again, I'm a horrible runner.
  • Another failed race, had to drop out mid-race.
  • I'm injured, AGAIN! 
  • My pace is a 11 minute mile, but hers is a 7 minute mile, why do I bother?
  • Yep, I got another 20 POUNDS to lose.
  • Another failed diet.
  • How come they don't make compression socks large enough for my calves?
  • Seriously, how come you don't make those cute tank tops for my size? 
  • The scale is broken, I can't weigh that MUCH!!! 
  • I can only run 4 miles, she runs two half-marathons a month!
  • How come she is a size 5 and I am 14? 
  • She gets sponsored by {Insert favorite running brand}

Do any of these things sound familiar? Can you identify with self- criticism or feelings of inadequacy? If you nodded or even don't want to admit it, please know I'm right there with you, dear sister. Crab a cup of coffee or tea, put your feet up and sit back as we unpack my OLD friend SHAME! 
For a long time, I have strived for perfection in everything I do, but the reality is, perfection is exhausting. Since I was in High-school, I had huge self-esteem issues because I had been basing my self-worth on weight. I was always ashamed of the arm flab, the way clothes fit and I hated looking in the mirror. FORGET IT! 

In college, my weight continued to increase and I continued to hate myself. It's such a sad thing to think about, but I was telling myself such negative statements. I would have never thought about running.. It wasn't in my genes or JEANS... 

Then one fall when I returned to college after running a couple of miles in the summer because my clothes were not fitting, I decided to train for a 5k with my dad. 

When I look back on pictures from this race, I don't even see that person anymore. The outside has changed just as much as the inside. 

Fast forward to marriage:

I married the best person ever. He loved me in High-school when I was going through self-hate, college and he loves me now! We were married for less than 4 months, I started having seizures and than a year later, I was given the diagnosis of Epilepsy. 
      Epilepsy gave me another reason to start shaming myself. It made me believe I did something to deserve it! I criticized myself for a while, tried to find a reason for it, but ultimately, I felt like a failure to everyone around me.

Failure on weight.
Poor Self-Esteem
Seizure Diagnosis

 I decided I was going to beat it and I was going to take the medication, but it wasn't going to define me.. Life can either paralyze you or you can choose to dive right in and pick yourself up. I choose the latter because I wasn't going to let this thing take me out.. So what did I do?? Well, I decided I was going to sign us up for a Marathon... You got it! 
A PWE(Person with Epilepsy)running a marathon!! 

If I get fired up enough or passionate about something, I go full force after something. Running the Walt Disney World 20th Marathon was a huge accomplishment because I never dreamed of running 26.2 miles. However, it wasn't enough. The negative self talk in my brain gave me a list of reasons why I wasn't good enough, especially when having conversations with others it and it kept feeding me a lie "I'm not enough as a runner."
                                   [Not fast]
                                   [You only ran 1 Marathon] 
                                   [ You only have one really cool medal ]
                                   [ You don't belong here]
                                   [ Why didn't I run Goofy?]
                                   [Take yourself home]
                                   [Your story sucks]

Perfection, shame and self-doubt will make you do weird things. It will make you go after more and more, until you hit rock bottom, leaving you broken like shattered glass on the carpet. We ran Dumbo out in California, which was a blast. Eventually, I bottomed out with running due to the criticism of others. I couldn't keep it up because I wasn't ENOUGH. 

I had developed and still have plantar fasciitis severely. 
Physical therapy 
Stretches daily 
Custom Orthotics 
KT Tape 
Rubz Ball
Night Splinters Nightly
Zero Drop Shoes

 I took some time off from running because I was serious about healing, but it lead to major inner healing. About a good year from long runs and just running to enjoy myself, working on speed training, while learning to love myself, which led to serious weight loss. I stopped shaming myself about what I wasn't and learned to love myself for who I was. I discovered someone beautiful on the inside and outside. This year allowed me to drop 40-45 pounds depending on the current week. I went from a 12/10 to a 2/4.

I discovered a woman who is strong, beautiful, kind, generous, loving, worthy of going after any dream. She is not defined by others opinions, negative self-talk, social media standards, the latest fashion, the thoughts of perfection, PR times, jean sizes, miles per week on the pavement, checking off the latest race on her bucket list, best running gear (although I won't turn it down) food cravings, anxiety, instant gratification or the amount of medals earned on wall.

She listened to heart above all other voices and ran ahead where there were no paths. 

Ladies, it's time to start taking the power back! We aren't going to be subjected to the crap of size, PR's, comparison, the amount of medals we have on the wall, the races we sign up for on a monthly basis, the amount of miles we run weekly, scale numbers, the image the mirror reflects, food choices or anything else that makes us feel exhausted. Running is fun, but if I'm being real, I've been shamed and I imagine on some level, you've felt the pressure of being a woman in this world, whether running or otherwise.

                             It's real.
                             It's exhausting.
                             It's time to change.

Women's Running Magazine got it right in their August edition when they featured this beautiful woman on their cover, something I have never seen on any other running magazine before! It was the best cover ever! They now have me as a LIFER. They are promoting change, strong and health. It's not defined by a number, mileage, medals or anything else. As someone who has been shamed by weight and the running community for the poor images I have seen on magazines and other places, I commend them for getting it right! BRAVO! 

Q: Have you ever struggled with feelings of inadequacy, perfectionism or shame? What do you think of this cover??? 


Megan said...

This is awesome, Sarah! One of my favorite quotes is from Theodore Roosevelt - "Comparison is the thief of joy." It's so true. We can't think about what anyone else is doing. We should just strive to be OUR best. And not let any one else get us down. We should be able to celebrate someone else's success, not feel less than because of it.

Sarah said...

Thanks, Megan!! I love that quote too!! It's so hard not to look at the right or the left and want to run others races instead of our own! We definitely should be able to celebrate each other and be grateful for our own race of life :)