I’m just going to come out and say it – I’ve been a dick to you, and I am sorry about it. I want to try to make amends, because you’ve been so good to me despite all of the shitty, mean things I’ve thought about you, and you don’t deserve that.
I remember I started thinking terrible things about you when I was a teenager, and I’d envision a magic knife that would let me carve off these bumps on your outer areas. I hated those bumps. They were right below my hips and when I heard the phrase “saddlebags” for the first time, I thought, yes, that’s what I have – saddlebags. No matter how many leg lifts I did or how long I spent on that abductor/adductor machine that makes me feel like I’m inviting the rest of the gym to ogle my birth canal, they never got any smaller. (Just like all those crunches never made a dent in my belly pooch.)
I am glad that thigh gaps were never a big thing when I was younger, because that would have been another way in which you failed me and even more reason to hate you.
I was going to go into the issues I started having with you when I hit my late twenties and I realized that all of the muscle tone I had taken for granted as a teenager was no longer readily visible, but you know, I really don’t feel like rehashing this with you. We both know our fraught history. We both know the things I’ve done, the feelings I’ve had, the thoughts I’ve entertained. I’m really sorry for all of that, and I want us to move on and to develop a better relationship.
I actually think that we are well on our way to developing that better relationship. I’m doing more to take care of you by cultivating your strengths, both inside the weight room and outside of it, and by making sure you have plenty of nourishment to rebuild yourself after I work you extra hard. I’ve started using a foam roller on you, and it seems like you like it, even though you sometimes bitch about it too. I try to stretch you out regularly and to soak in warm baths at least once a week, because I know I ask a lot of you and I want you to know that I appreciate it.
I see that you are paying me back for the care I’m giving you. Sure, you touch – and you probably always will – and those saddlebags are still there – and they probably always will be – and no one will mistake me for an elite athlete, but even so, I see you proudly displaying those muscles – those quads, those hamstrings – and I feel a little proud for you too. A few times Brian has caught me admiring you in the mirror, pointing my toe and flexing and checking you out from all different angles, but what can I say? I think it’s pretty rad to see you looking so strong and capable. Damn girls, ya look good.
See, the truth is that I am so very grateful for you. You got me down the mountains when I ran my very first half-marathon in Ogden over five years ago. You do the majority of the work when I run the three-bridge loop on the beaches. When I run as fast as I can, that’s all you.
And remember when we first pulled off a superman in pole class? Or when I first did a pole sit? That was all you, too. You are strong enough that I can squeeze you together around a metal pole and you will hold me in the air. I can wrap you around the pole and climb up it like a freaking monkey. That’s fucking magic, yo. And that’s all you.
I am maybe proudest of what we accomplished last weekend, when I set off for my first ever 40-mile bike ride. We’ve been working hard on the bike for the past month or so, riding consistently on routes that take us on overpasses and bridges (which about all we get when it comes to hills in this part of the country). We’ve gotten to the point where I can get out of my saddle and climb up hills, and even though it was really hard on us at first, you’ve adapted to the workload and so it’s slowly getting easier. At least I’ve noticed that you don’t burn quite as fiercely when we are done.
Anyway, this last weekend, I noticed that you felt strong and solid until mile 30 or so, and then the burn started to set in. It was hot outside and our water bottles had gotten lukewarm and gross, and you were so, so tired, but you didn’t give up. We kept going for another ten miles, on a route that had us going over at least six overpasses during that time, and even though we were barely crawling up the last one (I think my Garmin registered something like 6 or 7 mph?) you kept turning those pedals, right until we pulled into our driveway.
That was all you, ladies. You did that. Do you know how awesome that is? I was so fucking proud, I even posted about it on Facebook, and I haven’t posted about a workout on Facebook in months.
That’s the kind of relationship I want to cultivate with you. Not one where I sit and stare at you in the mirror and hate you for not looking like the thighs I’ve seen in a magazine. (Which, by the way, I’ve since tossed all those magazines, and I am pretty sure that made a difference in our relationship as well.) No, I want us to have the kind of relationship where we look at each other in the mirror and tell each other how awesome we are, and then we go set off on amazing adventures together. I want us to be friends, is what I am saying.
So I hope you will forgive me for all of the terrible things I’ve said and done to you in the past. You are worth so much more than that, and I’m just sorry it took me this long to realize it. I promise I will never be shitty to you again.
Loved this! I have a whole new body now, and I like it, but I am still finding peace with myself. This was a great approach.
Thanks! Tracy, who commented just beneath you, wrote a really great post about this yesterday: http://fitisafeministissue.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/making-peace-with-my-body/
Great post. And yes, something must be in the air today about body acceptance. I love your idea of writing a letter of apology to your thighs for all the bashing and ingratitude they’ve experienced from you. I too owe my body am apology for lack of appreciation. And I love how at the end you articulate the kind of relationship you would rather have with your thighs. Makes sense. Thanks for this awesome post. I agree with your comment on mine too that the more of us there are, the more traction we can gain on these sometimes overwhelming issues.
What an awesome post….makes me feel so bad about all the rotten things I have been thinking about mine too. Need to re-think this!
Thanks! I’m glad you are thinking about this some more. Our lives are too short to spend them hating the one thing we are sure to have the entire time we are alive, you know?
LOVE this. I ended up in the hospital in March 2007 for three days on an IV with pneumonia — overwork. Taking my poor old body for granted, working while ill. Never again. I was drenched with sweat from my 104 degree fever so I took a shower there — and there apologized out loud to my body, promising I would never again take it for granted or so callously abuse its gifts.
I had hip replacement in Feb. 2012 (at the age of 54) and am now doing two 90-minute dance classes a week — with kids 30 years younger. Thank God for my thighs, and the rest of it. Thank God for our bodies, while we still have them!
And I love YOUR comment! It’s sooo easy to take our bodies and health for granted – I know I do it all the time, until I am sick or injured, and then I realize just what a gift it is to be able to exist in a body that functions well. I try to remember this as part of the mindfulness and gratitude I try to bring to my life, but I also know how easy it can be to lose sight of these things.
Also I’m glad that your hip replacement seems to be doing its job. 🙂
It’s funny….so many people knew me in terrible pain (I waited 2.5 years, terrified of major surgery and needing to have $$$$ to take a freelance month off to recover fully) and they are always asking “How’s the hip?” It’s fine, 99% of the time…My right knee is a little funky which suggests some compensation so I might got back to the Dr and PTs to clear that up. But you will never ever take that strength and mobility for granted until you lose it. Terrifying, esp. for those of us who identify so strongly as athletes.
Running made me appreciate my legs. I was thrilled to fit into boots when running made my calves stronger and larger. My (probably imaginary) saddle bags are gone now that I’ve improved my posture, but those little dimples remain. And I’m secretly proud that I’ve filled in that thigh gap. Well, almost, but it’s better than it was.
One of those smallish victories if you have anorexia. I’m stably on the better hand though. After 13,5 years of eating disorders (bulimia for a few of them), precipitated by an anorexic pattern the ‘professionals’ agreed that this may be the best that I’ll get. We’ll see.
My body survived all that. It’s stubbornly curvy, even at my still low weight. That, in itself, deserves a big thanks.
I’m so glad to hear your recovery is going well. A “smallish” victory is still a victory, and I’m glad to know you’ve been garnering so many of them.
Reblogged this on CoreFit Fitness and commented:
Nicely written. To all the ladies out there – make peace with your body, it’s the only one you’ve got!
You’re inspiring me to write a love letter to my flabby stomach…
I would read that. (I have been having a tough time with my own and am not quite to the love letter stage yet.)
Heidi, you know I would read the shit out of that.
That almost gave me the tears. 🙂
Good tears, I hope! 🙂
My lower body is what I’ve struggled with the most. Over the last two years though, I went from defeated acceptance of not achieving what I saw in magazines, to actively liking how they look. They changed, but not a ton. The other day, I told the little roll under my bum that it could keep its home there. The stretch mark scars over my hip joint and on my butt that they were fine where they were. I don’t even hate on my appendectomy scar like I used to. A doctor opened me up and rummaged around my insides, and here I am, to tell people about it. My thighs touch, and always will, but that’s ok, because it’s how they are. And I don’t want to sound like I’m resigned to it- *it’s how they are, that’s ok, and I like it*.
Love your perspective, especially regarding your scars. I didn’t get a sense of resignation about it as much as I sensed an appreciation and an acceptance for your body and the way it is. Thanks for sharing it with me!
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I have a letter to cheese and chocolate: http://wp.me/p2EXs4-6H
but never to my bod! I need to send an apology/love letter to my Tharms immediately!
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Reblogged this on Ladies Night Dance Workout and commented:
Now this is how to appreciate your rockin’ body!
“I want us to have the kind of relationship where we look at each other in the mirror and tell each other how awesome we are, and then we go set off on amazing adventures together. I want us to be friends, is what I am saying.”