This weekend I was out of town at a dance competition for my daughter. I have been running lately and had 8 miles scheduled for myself. I had driven around the town Friday afternoon and decided I would attempt to go for a run in this strange place when I woke up the next morning. I certainly didn’t want to get stuck doing it on the treadmill at the hotel gym. I don’t think I’ve ever run further than about 3 miles on the treadmill. I just don’t care for it. Well, I had a hard time sleeping that night and was wide awake at 6:00 ready to run. Only problem was, it was pitch black outside and not knowing the area and being somewhat scared of the dark anyway, I decided I’d rather be tortured and stick with the treadmill. I got down to the hotel gym and for the longest time I was the only one in there. I got on the treadmill, started to warm up, and realized I was going to be stuck starring at myself in a huge mirror that took up the whole width and length of the wall for however long it took me to get through this run. (Remember, this is the girl who for many years, avoided the camera and the mirror for that matter, except to get ready in the mornings.) Not to mention, I was in my shorts and tank top so more skin was showing than normal. Usually when I am staring at myself in a mirror or reflective window I am clothed and getting ready for the day. As my warm-up was complete and I started to run, I first started to notice the negative things my body was doing. My inner thighs that I swear will forever jiggle. The mid section that is not yet where I want it to be. The arms that dangle skin where I don’t want it, and it seemed like the list in my head went on. About two miles into my run a song came on my I-Pod and it totally caught me off guard. It dialed me into a place that I’m not sure I’ve been able to reach yet on this journey. All I could do was focus on the face I saw staring back at me in the mirror. It was my own face. And there was no way to avoid it. It didn’t take long and the tears began to well up in my eyes. First they began to come because I didn’t want to be stuck looking at the face I saw in the mirror for the next hour or so. Then something happened. I started looking at the different parts of my body in the mirror as I was running and noticed so many things that without a mirror while running, I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. For instance, even though I have loose skin that drives me nuts on my inner thighs, I also have muscle in my quads and calves that I never knew existed. My arms and shoulders, even though may not be perfectly where I want them yet, have many areas of definition and improvement from where they were before. Here I was falling in love with a body I really didn’t know existed yet. I noticed my face and how much thinner it is compared to what life was like a few years back. I continued to run and the tears continued to flow. I was running. Something I never in my wildest dreams thought I was capable of ever mastering just a few short years ago. It was hard, but I was pushing myself. It felt good. I looked at myself in the mirror again and thought about how strong I looked. I didn’t look scared or timid or shy but confident in what I was doing. I was happy. I was enjoying the moment.
I finally got control of myself about the time someone else came walking in to workout. I knew I had to pull it together or he may have thought I was totally a freak – running and bawling my way through a run as I stared at myself in the mirror. I spent the last few miles focusing on the things that have molded me into who I am today. The things I have fallen in love with doing. The things that allow me to be active. The things that bring me Joy. And the things that bring my heart peace and happiness after years of feeling unhappy with the body my spirit was trapped in.
It was amazing to me that after that first initial thought of not wanting to look at myself in the mirror and run the eight miles, to when the song came on my I-pod and my focus totally changed, I never once looked back. I love the fact that I feel like such a heavy burden has been lifted and that I can relish in the enjoyment of the new way of life for me and forget the old way of life. It was something that I had been trying to do for so long but it’s a hard thing to wrap your head around at times, so for it to happen naturally in a moment I was least expecting it, made it all that more special.