February 22, 2011 at 9:53 am | Posted in And I ran (I ran so far away), My life | 17 Comments

I didn’t run this morning.

Because I was out until nearly midnight last night at the Banff Mountain Film Festival.

And because sitting through three hours of movies isn’t conducive to staying well-hydrated, I woke up really THIRSTY this morning.

I didn’t run, and I am okay with it. I’ll swim tomorrow to make up for it, and do my usual run on Thursday morning.

But as I was getting ready to take a shower, I opened my latest runner’s magazine.

And came across a column with a quote that rang so true, I wanted to seek out the author and kiss him on the mouth.

If you’ve ever been fat, you will either be fat for the rest of your life, or you will worry about being fat for the rest of your life.

I was, in fact, a fat teenager.

There aren’t many pictures of me from those days, because I refused to be in pictures. But I vividly remember, when I DID have to be in pictures, sticking my chin out, elongating my neck, so maybe you couldn’t see the double chins.

I used to wear men’s jeans, oversized flannel shirts and sweatshirts, and a baseball hat over my long hair.

I used to look only in the bathroom mirror, which showed me from my shoulders up.

I did my best to hide my body from everyone and anyone.

And even though I’m probably 50lbs down from my heaviest ever?

I see that girl whenever I look into a mirror.

It’s completely nuts.

I STILL hate being in pictures. Usually, I’ll hide behind someone or have them zoom on my face or something that hides my body.

Yet when I DO get a full body picture of me? I can’t stop looking.

Because in those pictures I look SKINNY.

I guarantee you that this dysmorphia plays into a LOT of my intimacy issues in my marriage.

I don’t like undressing in front of my husband. I feel most comfortable when the lights are off and I can’t see my body.

Ironically, LOSING all the weight has made this come to the forefront. I was happier when I was 20lbs heavier – because I had made peace with the fact that I would never be skinny.

And now that I’ve lost that weight, well, I alternate between terrified that I’ll gain it all back…

… and it not being ENOUGH. My belly isn’t flat enough (nor will it EVER be flat enough). My thighs still touch. I have flappy arms.

So part of what I’m trying to do right now is come to peace with the person I am.

Which means finding some sort of balance with the body I have, the life I want, and the time I have in a given day to stay healthy and fit.

It does mean that I need to devote time for running again, get back into the regular 4-5 mile runs every time I go out. I have not been as good with the motivation this winter. It’s cold. It’s dark. There’s a TON of snow which means I have to run a dreadmill.

I hate the dreadmill with the power of a thousand suns.

But I have gained back a little bit of weight with the lack of activity, emotional eating, and cycling. Only 5lbs, but it’s enough for me.

And I’m not HAPPY, either. Truth be told, I was at my happiest this summer where I COULD indulge in chocolate and brownies and cheese and hamburgers and all the stuff I enjoy eating – I knew I was going to work it off the next morning in my run.

Where I felt healthy, and powerful, and LOVED my runs.

Where I ran my 10k in September in 55 minutes, and I felt great doing it, and I loved every minute of that run, as hard as it was.

But, you know. We’re cycling again. And the day I KNEW that my pregnancy wasn’t going to work out, last November, was the day where after a four mile run I had bleeding and cramping.

I know two things.

It wasn’t my fault that the pregnancy didn’t take hold.


Cycling is about managing the emotional rollercoaster.

So where I am now is that it’s better for me to do short runs and swim and yoga then it is to push the mileage and speedwork and interval training and hillwork.

I miss it something fierce. I miss my long easy runs, where I finish a 8 mile run at a relaxed 9:15 pace. I miss feeling strong and confident about running.

I think that’s part of why I feel so strongly about wanting to be done with ART.

Because I can stop worrying about whether my runs will hurt my body’s ability to get pregnant. (Because, you know, we have a HARD ENOUGH TIME getting pregnant. I don’t want to do ANYTHING to make it HARDER.)

So I keep going back and forth and back and forth. Wanting to run hard but scared that it’s going to make it so I’ll never get pregnant.

And always seeing the fat girl in the mirror, looking back at me.



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  1. Love that fat girl in the mirror because she was strong enough to get you where you are today. And, as best you can, keep running…so that you feel the strength in your muscles.

    Of course, when I look in the mirror, I just see an old woman whose life has failed. Sigh.

  2. I have a friend who is just like that. She used to be over 200lbs but has been under 150 for ten years now. She still thinks she’s the fat girl and she talks about her weight or other’s weight all the time. I don’t get the obsession and it drives me looney! Maybe because I’ve never been “fat”, I’ve been up and down my whole life but never where I hated my body. Maybe because I’ve always been curvy and I know I’ll never be skinny. Hmm, interesting to think about.

    Oh, and Banff is in my neck of the woods!

  3. I’d say lay off the longer mileage and pushing it harder. Not that it would hurt your chances–I don’t know about that–but just in case. You’ve got the rest of your life post-pregnancy or post-cycling or whatever to run hard. Just take it easy right now, and then you won’t wonder if it has a hand in any outcome.
    PS I always wonder what you think of my comments–if they are sincerely annoying or offensive? I like you, I like checking in on you once in while, and I hope I’m not a thorn in your side! :o) I have a personal question for you about running–would it be okay for me to email you about it?

    • Elle Bee – comments are ALWAYS helpful, especially from you. And feel free to email me anytime, too! šŸ™‚ xoxo

      • Okay, thanks! Just emailed you. :o)

  4. Oh wow, Serenity, you are reading my mind AGAIN. Freaky. I am EXACTLY the same. I was really overweight in high school/first year of undergrad. Then I lost some weight, and when I went to the UK for my master’s degree and became a competitive rower, I lost a whole lot more weight. Then I gained a chunk of it back when I first moved down under to be with Q., but lost it all again before we got married. And since we got married I’ve fluctuated a little bit, but was holding at about 5 lbs under my wedding weight when we got pregnant. I don’t actually know what I weighed in high school, but I would have to guess that my pre-pregnancy weight must have been close to 45 or 50 pounds below that number.

    And if I gain 30 pounds with this pregnancy, I will still only be where I was six months before our wedding, right when I got sick and tired of the weight gain and ran off 25 pounds.

    The people who know me where we live now have only ever known me as someone who runs and someone who is skinny.

    And yet? I look in that mirror and I STILL see that fat girl. There is a photo of me with Q. from this past summer when we visited his family, and every time I see it it takes my breath away because I am THIN- absolutely no doubt about it. But that’s never how I feel. I always hate my pear-shape, and my saggy butt and my child-bearing hips.

    The irony is I had better self-esteem in high school and my first year of uni when I was huge but didn’t know what I weighed and didn’t care. Because I am no longer fat, I’m just like that quote- I will feel I am fat, or will worry I will become fat again, for the rest of my life. Gaining five pounds (which puts me back at my wedding weight, which is still a very trim me), seems like an awful thing now. I think I keep resetting what I decide is normal, and anything above normal = fat. But I didn’t think I was fat at 150 pounds, until I weighed 140. And now that I’ve stayed at 135 for over a year, 140 seems huge. I’m hoping I’m at the end of the cycle now, and can work on just maintenance and stop the yo-yo.

    We are so damaging to ourselves. It is astonishing.

    I agree with your thoughts on slowing down the running- it seems to take very little to suggest to one’s body that conceiving is not a good idea in the present climate. I didn’t run at all during the IVF- not even in the early stages when I felt healthy enough to do so. And I’d been up to 14 km on my long runs right before. I just went cold turkey, and ate a lot of chocolate as a coping mechanism. Because I didn’t want to have that question mark over my head.

    You will find a balance which you can be comfortable with. (And sorry I just ranted about me for so much of this- you hit a serious chord.)

  5. That quote rings true, for sure, but as I approach my 45th birthday day, having lost 35# with 25 more to go, I know the greatest gift I can give myself is acceptance. That does not mean being complacent but it does me to love the me I am today as I will love the me I am when I lose the rest of this weight. I am not how I look.

  6. Oh Serenity..I feel this with u..because I am Fat again and do all those tricks to hide myself ..in pictures I will tell people “boobs up” don’t get the rest of me.
    But sweetie u r not fat..and I know now u won’t be again..u have the drive to make that so..u love to run..u love to work out your stuff…and that is a gift. It really is.

    I want u to know when I look at u I see a beautiful amazing woman. My hope is that u do too…soon!!!!

  7. This post hit home. I’ve been working on a post for a week that I can’t spit out about body image. Just know that you aren’t the only woman who grapples with this physical self-hatred. It’s probably the most painful, inexplainable part of infertility.


  8. I know about this, too … and wish I didn’t. And when I lost mine, I couldn’t help but think … well, you know. But I ran for 8 months with this one… and she’s here. I think it’s important to find balance and be healthy.

  9. I have battled my weight my entire life. Sometimes, the way I look makes me feel worse than infertility. Even when I have been smaller than I am now, I can’t see myself as anything other than the fat girl in the mirror.

    If you find a way to see yourself differently, can you share?

  10. This is me as well, except I gained almost all of the weight back after my second baby. I am struggling every second of every day, but I have this sort of complacent ‘okayness’ with the way that I eat lately because I’m here, I’m fat again and I know that there is a possibility that it wont come off this time. I hate feeling the “extra” on my front and especially on my back but I think the fearful feeling I hate when I was at a skinnier weight (scared I’d get here again) was almost worse than actually being here…

  11. It’s true – you do look skinny in the pictures. But I guess that quote has a lot to it. And I quite understand about needing to do things a certain way so you can manage the emotional rollercoaster. I hope you find that peace with yourself and your body.


  12. I am going to quote you from now until eternity- “That, my friend, is why pee sticks are evil.” I took your advise and took the day off yesterday from pee sticks and I am so glad I did.

  13. Trying to stay sane and avoid gaining a ton of weight is SO hard when cycling. I keep telling myself I’ll just eat right and exercise moderately, but that’s always MUCH easier said than done once the cycle gets underway. When I was pregnant with A, my OB told me I could to the same amount of exercise as I was accustomed to, just at a slower pace. Would you consider some longish-but-slowish runs leading up to transfer? It won’t give you the same feeling of power that you used to have, but it would give you more opportunity to indulge in comfort foods without feeling guilty. I’m actually trying to get back into that sort of exercise routine myself, to get rid of a few treatment pounds that have crept up on me.

  14. I can totally, 100% relate to this. I don’t know the answer or the solution to making it better, but I have these same thoughts all the time.


  15. I think most women — and many men — struggle with dysmorphia. I don’t look for too many flaws in the mirror, but when I see myself or hear myself, whether in photos or on video, I fixate on the flaws. I have never watched our entire wedding video from 2002.

    This is one reason I was nervous about having daughters, and esp. fraternal twin daughters with very different looks.

    You do look amazing in your running pics — slim and strong. You look like the runner that you are. I hope you can find pride in yourself and in your inner and outer strength!

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