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Body Shame.

14 September 2015

It was a balmy and humid morning Saturday. BB and I went out for 19 miles. As I tweeted the night before, we are now deeply into the reasonably-long-drive-length runs. We only have one run longer, a 21 miler in three weeks, before the marathon. This weekend we’re running the Navy/Air Force Half-marathon in Washington DC. It’ll be nice to have to run “only” thirteen miles for our long run this week.

I’m really looking forward to the race. It looks like a good course, starts and ends at the Washington Monument. It’ll cover some of the same ground as our full marathon next month, so it will be good to see how the terrain feels. And I’ll get another medal and I’ll get to run with my partner and I’m excited for all those things. It’ll be kind of nice to go out for a two hour run without wearing a vest and hauling six pounds of stuff on my back too. Running unencumbered is a nice change from all the junk I’ve got to carry on the long training runs.

The weather is supposed to be getting better too. During our 19 miler, the average temp was about 75 degF. And it was about 85% humidity. I sweat a lot. Despite drinking almost three liters of water, I lost about five pounds of water-weight during the run. Which works out to about 11 pounds of sweat. I’m drenched from mile four onward, and my footsteps squish from mile six. There’s nothing I can do about it. I’m just a person for whom exertion equals perspiration. It’s not attractive.

But with cooler temps I sweat less, and with lower humidity it evaporates faster. Which cools me too. And I end up less of a disgusting, drippy slob. It’s nicer. But even in the deep depths of winter, running in sub-freezing temperatures, I end up wet with sweat.

Sometimes I wonder: would I be less ashamed of my body if I had a better one? Or would I simply focus on smaller supposed flaws? I was a scrawny kid. I didn’t get fat until I was in my late teens. I was never tremendously obese, but at 235 pounds, I was a hefty guy. Now down some 50 pounds, I look reasonably fit with a suit on. But I still have a pronounced spare tire that’s very visible in running clothes when they’re plastered to me with sweat. Even if I lose ten or fifteen more pounds, my skin will never snap back to what it would look like if I’d never gained all that weight.

I’m healthy, these days. My metabolic numbers are good. My strength is decent. I can run at least three and a half hours without stopping. But I’m ashamed of my body. Even while I’m proud of what it can do, I’m ashamed of how I look. And I’m past the point where it is possible for me to look how I want to. I simply need to practice acceptance.

Accept what I cannot change. Change what I can. I can do the things I want to do. I am healthy and strong and committed to doing good things for my body. That it will never look how I want it to look is a simple fact. I can accept that. I will be able to accept that. One day.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. aimee permalink
    14 September 2015 12:39

    As a woman with many woman friends, I can assure you that you would probably focus on smaller flaws with the same intensity. That’s what every woman I know does. I was once young and slender, and objectively attractive enough to have a job based on my body’s attractiveness. I still thought I was ugly as sin. I look back at those photos now and can’t understand why I felt that way, but I did. It’s a distortion, and it’s probably part of the disease. Also the need to compare our bodies compulsively to others or to an ideal…. that’s part of the disease. You’ve made amazing changes for the better in your health and abilities…. just try to a stop the thought right yhere, before it goes on to the “so why….but….” part.

  2. 15 September 2015 02:45

    I admire that you run at all in public! If I’m honest I am vain, probably we all are to some degree. I used to swim a lot but as I grew into middle age and the obvious things that I couldn’t stop happening started to happen to my body I have to be frank I was more and more concious in the communal changing area in the pools I attended.

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