I want to tell you my triathlon story. I want to talk to you (again) about self-hatred and self-love. I want to talk about how so many of us trip and fall right into that maze of self-loathing at some point in our young lives and how we can stay there for so many years. Sometimes we see a light. Sometimes we almost find the path out. Then something kicks us back in. Something drags us back down. We get lost again. I want to tell you how triathlon and racing and finding fitness has been a part of all of that for me.
But I have been waiting impatiently for this month’s issue of triathlete magazine and Instead: I’m going to tell you to buy it and read it. Now. Right now.
Turn to page 30. Read stuff like this:
“We have a tendency, as a society, to demand self-hatred from each other – and especially from women. If you don’t hate your nose or your thighs or your stomach, you must be an arrogant jerk. If you don’t have something to contribute to the ‘I’m so fat; I’ll never be as fast, as skinny, as pretty as someone else’ chatter that still fills locker rooms, then you can quickly find yourself on the outside of the discussion.
We learn, to joke about hating our bodies, about being slow. We play down what we’re capable of… We make fun of ourselves before anyone else can. Until, eventually, we believe our own jokes.
It’s time to stop it. Stop it with all this nonsense.”
“Our little bodies – the small little space that we inhabit for the entirety of our lives – everything we feel, everything we experience, everything we do is contained inside of our bodies. And to be challenged physically is to have to meet all of your experiences. If you want to meet your limitations, do a plank for two minutes and see if how you feel about yourself and how you’re operating in the world doesn’t come up in 35 seconds! That’s why, personally, working out has always been an emotional experience for me.”
“I think in general, we are conditioned by society to believe one narrative of what health and fitness can look like, and generally that’s lean and ripped [and I might add, young – very young]. However, that body type is difficult for a lot of people to achieve. If you train like an athlete and eat like an athlete, usually a side benefit of that is a change in body composition. That may not necessarily equate to thinness, but it leads to improved health. I am all about focusing on athleticism over focusing on the scale – that concept has changed my life for the better.”
- staying within safe, easy limits and taking the path of least resistance
- the “FACT” that thinness equals health
and then I’m going to ask you to consider these women: Kelly O’Mara, badass professional triathlete and writer; America Ferrera, badass actress; and Louise Green, badass triathlete, trainer, and author of Big, Fit Girl. Consider the fact that each one of these women is Unapologetically Weird because here’s what they are saying:
- I will not hate myself just because it’s what you’ve told me to do
- I will not stay within safe limits because I know my most extraordinary self exists somewhere beyond them
- & I will not believe in, put up with, or stand for your limited, misogynistic, counter-intuitive definition of health
…AAAAAANNNND… ALL of them have found these truths through TRIATHLON. To engage in the kind of training anyone has to do for triathlon – even those of us who only race recreationally—you HAVE TO BE an unapologetic weirdo. Seriously. You might have to swim in lakes no one else will even let their babies swim in. You might have to learn to pee on your bike. You might have to spend an exorbitant amount of money on a special helmet that makes your head look like a space-age, praying mantis. And on this journey through/ to/ deeper into weirdness, you will know yourself better and you will learn to love yourself better and you might finally understand that you never had anything to apologize for in the FIRST place!
No more apologizing, Teamies! Sink deeper into your weirdness!