I can hear my feet hit the pavement. I can hear my breath almost gasping to get more air into my lungs. Lungs expanding to get all the air they can. My legs propel my body forward. My arms swing like metronomes, steady, as if to encourage my legs.
After I reach my small goal, running 5 minutes straight, I mutter out loud, “Good job.” They don’t seem like big words. Until I think about what I would have uttered to myself even 5 years ago. “You used to be able to run longer than 5 minutes.” “Why bother running? You are fat.” I think about my recent decision to stop being critical of other women, even in my own head, on the street, on Pinterest. The way I spoke about myself I thought about other women. Too fat. Frizzy hair. That skirt doesn’t go with those shoes. The words weren’t spoken out loud but instead took up space in my head.
If I want to stop being critical of myself, if I want my lovely sisters-in-law to be free of negative self-talk, if I want women to be free of this compulsion, I need to stop the critical talk. Of myself and others.
Be the change you want to see in the world.
You don’t need a “Thinspiration” board on Pinterest. I don’t even believe that you need a “Plus-size Clothing” board. Get inspired by what inspires you. Who cares if it is standard-sized or plus-sized? Especially if you sew and can make whatever you dream up. At your funeral no one will say, “She lost those last 10 last pounds! What a great gal!” They will say you were compassionate, generous, funny, smart, kind. If you did lose those 10 pounds it may have positively impacted your life, however, that accomplishment will not define you among your family and friends. You are worth more than 10 pounds.
I went horseback riding about 5 years ago. I got up on a horse and the stablehand had to adjust the stirrups to accomodate my long legs. As he was adjusting I said, “Long legs like a supermodel. Yeah right, supermodel.” in a scoffing tone. He firmly, and I mean firmly, said, “Don’t talk about yourself like that.” I was immediately embarrassed that this manly man, a real-life cowboy on a ranch, had to teach me a lesson on negative self-talk. His words, and tone, have stayed with me for 4+ years. I have learned to speak firmly back to myself when I fall into bad habits of body shaming. When I am critical of myself or other women.
Now my critical words have changed to encouraging words. So again I’ll say, “Good job.” and “Thanks, Cowboy.”