comparisons and body image

Those two are actually separate issues for me.

Comparisons/Competitive Behavior.

I’m feeling odd about my running. I’ve compared my running with a lot of people lately. Real life people, not intarwebz people. I don’t know why. I hate the feelings that come along with it: “I’m nowhere near that level” or the equally bad, if not worse, “I could totally beat that time”. It makes me feel icky inside and I can feel it pulling toward a really dark, ugly place that I’m not willing to visit.

It’s all apples and oranges. That, or something like it, is a mantra of mine. It keeps me from comparing things that really have no business being compared. Namely, me and anyone else. I used to think of myself as a competitive person, but I don’t think that was really accurate. Or maybe I was, but I’m certainly not anymore. There is a definitive gap in my memory that divides my life into two categories: Before Pregnancy and Motherhood. Sometimes I cannot tell if I experienced something BP, or if I dreamed it (can you say chronic sleep deprivation?). Bubs is 90% of my world, and for the most part, petty shit has fallen off my radar since he came into my life. So this is definitely a rare place for me to be anymore.

I quit striving for perfection somewhere in high school, when I was hit with the realization that no one actually aspires to be an Average Joe, yet most people end up there. It’s not that I gave up on my dreams or myself, but I started thinking about what was actually important to me (helping people and not being attempting to be rich and famous). I try to be a good person each and every day, but I won’t strive for “Their” definition of perfect, especially since it’s designed to be unattainable anyway. It was just a reality check, and one of many that I’ve experienced throughout the years. I have long held the opinion that just because someone has an attribute or skill that I covet, doesn’t mean that they are living a perfect life. So why am I wasting time and energy comparing my running to that of other people? I don’t know, but it ends now. Actually, it ended Sunday night, this has just been a long-in-the-works post. I’m not going to make myself miserable over something so completely irrelevant.

I am going to do a speed workout tonight, though.

Body Image.

I’m a woman. An American. I’m not all that far away from my teenage years. Most often, I still see my body as a collection of parts and not a whole. There was a time when the only body part I could honestly say I liked was my nose It’s freckled, pierced and slightly crooked because one time I thought I could catch a line drive with it. Actually, I didn’t have my glove up high enough and the ball skimmed off the webbing and broke my nose. The assistant coach was a RN, so my nose was set almost immediately. I believe that my nose is crooked should speak as a testament to his skills as both a RN and a coach, but I digress. So now my nose has personality.

For the most part, I don’t think about my body. You could compare my mental self-image to the cryogenically frozen celebrity heads in Futurama. Or not. I know my body is there, but I don’t spend much time looking at it, and less time thinking about it, at least in regards to the good-bad dichotomy of body image. Occasionally, I will catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. It goes one of two ways: “Woah! Hubs is right, I do look good!” or “Good grief! Lay off the chips and cheese, would you?” Because the odds are only 50/50, I don’t bother with the mirror very often.

I’m learning to appreciate other parts of my body, though. I can see muscle definition of my quads. I can feel my abs (although there is still a protective layer of blubber over them which has never once helped keep me warm in winter, hence my desire to permanently evict it from its current locale). I hear I have calves. I have an oh-so-slight definition between my biceps and triceps, although this is not from working out but simply performing my duties as “Mama”.

So while I understand that my body image isn’t completely healthy, I think I’m getting there. Maybe when I’ve learned to love all the pieces, I will be able to see the whole pie.

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6 thoughts on “comparisons and body image

  1. I’m with you on the body image thing – I rarely look at the whole picture. It’s usually a 3″ diameter “peephole” that I’m looking through…this spot, that spot – but never the whole thing. Sometimes I LIKE that particular 3″ spot I’m looking at but sometimes I zero in on the one spot I DON’T like that day. And I usually don’t have any warning if I’m going to like it or hate it. It changes day to day. today I like my calves. tomorrow – who knows!

    • That’s totally it! I can never tell when it’s going to be a good reflection or a bad one. Because I don’t think the mirror has anything to do with who I really am, so I just don’t look.

  2. Do you look at yourself naked a lot? No, seriously, stop laughing and think about it. If you spend a little bit of time looking at your body from all angles in a full-length mirror, and do it while naked, you will over time learn to FEEL your body as a whole entity, instead of simply the sum of its parts. Try it sometime. Find something good to say and something to love EVERY time. It’s weird and uncomfortable at first, but the more you do it, the better it feels. And the more at home in your skin you will feel. (Not that that’s an issue for you, but it was for me.)

    • You’re right. I should. Sigh. It’s so easy to not look. I mean that both figuratively and literally. My full length mirror is in an awkward place. But I will try it out, after my run today.

  3. I find it really hard to not compare myself to others -whether it’s with running, achievement at work, clothing, etc. I have gotten to the point where I don’t get hung up on it anymore, but just notice the comparisons I have and can let them pass me by, like leaves on a pond (a la mindfulness practice!). I find that I will probably always be making comparisons, but that I don’t have to let those comparisons define my thoughts or behaviors. Easier said than done of course, but that’s the goal!

    • That’s usually the state I’m in. “Oh, we’re different at XYZ. That’s cool.” All of a sudden last week I was feeling really bitter and spiteful about it. I’m glad to be past it, since it’s not a nice place to be.

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