Grateful for My Body
[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Leslie Uffman, who has an amazing fitness and body confidence story to share today! Leslie competed in triathlons (insert horror face emoji, then two “100” emoji’s here), but still wasn’t happy with her body. Read on for how she became grateful for her body!]
“LESLIE, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!” It was May of 2015 and I had been working toward this finish line moment since the summer of the previous year. For anyone who doesn’t know what an Ironman is, it is a long distance triathlon that combines a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile (marathon) run in one day. Words cannot begin to explain the excitement of finishing that event, but when I received promos for the race photos to remember it, I didn’t want to buy. Why? I didn’t like the way I looked in my trisuit. . .
I have battled with my weight since I was a preteen. By fourteen, I was regularly discussing weight loss with friends. I tried some pretty drastic things as I got older, including a lot of fasting and liquid diets, but I could only maintain that for a while. Then I would shoot right back up to where I had been and usually a little beyond. This pattern continued for years, and I only felt sort of comfortable with myself when I was on the low end of my weight cycle.
In 2011, I discovered how enjoyable triathlons could be after doing my first. I fell in love with the sport itself, but honestly I thought that it would help me lose weight, because cardio does that, right? As my distances got longer, I decided to go for a full Ironman. While my weight had not dropped, I was still certain that with an ultra-distance race I would finally get skinny. I didn’t. . . I worked for almost a year leading up to that race, but long sessions left me so hungry that I was actually gaining weight. So here I was, EXTREMELY proud of what my body had gone through to get to that finish line, but refusing to buy the commemorative pictures because I felt too embarrassed by my appearance.
I decided afterwards that I was going to get myself under control and studied exercise science to become a personal trainer and nutrition to become a health coach. Although I now had head knowledge, I still wasn’t quite sure how to apply the things I had learned to my own lifestyle. About this time, I discovered intuitive eating and Pilates. Intuitive eating is about trying different foods, finding ENJOYMENT in them, and paying close attention to how they make you feel. Pilates is a mind-body exercise that focuses on highly controlled movements from your core throughout your whole body. When I did Pilates, I didn’t dread the workout, I truly enjoyed myself on the mat, and I almost immediately began the long process of becoming certified in it. I still did some high intensity workouts but only when I felt like it. I was loving how I felt, and yet, I still was continually frustrated with my appearance. There was still something missing for me.
After over a decade of agonizing over every detail about my body, I finally realized, I simply wasn’t being grateful to God. I mean, here I was, with a body that could travel 140.6 miles in a day but could also control the tiniest of movements on my mat, and I was dissatisfied? God gave me this amazing vessel that could accomplish any challenge I had tried, and I was mad that it didn’t look a specific way as easily as I thought it should? I am rarely sick and have never broken a bone, but I can’t stop thinking about my appearance? That is not gratitude for being fearfully and wonderfully made. That’s grumbling when things don’t go exactly according to my plan. These realizations changed everything for me. That’s not to say I can’t make some changes to my body if I want, but I look at it entirely differently than I used to, and I have a confidence that I’ve never had, even at my thinnest, because this vessel is a gift from God, and what it can do is truly amazing.
And by the way, I bought the photos. . .
Leslie is an online health coach and mind-body personal trainer with Santé Women’s Coaching. She lives in Texas with her husband, and is not a fan of training outdoors during Houston summers. She is a recovering chronic dieter who now actually enjoys a wide variety of food. Leslie can be contacted through www.santewomenscoaching.com.