This past weekend I was lucky to spend time with family – LOTS of family. Immediate family, extended family, friend family (you know, the friends you’ve had for so long they simply BECOME family?). It was Father’s Day weekend, and I was fortunate to be able to share it with my dad; hence, LOTS of family.
Also on the weekend agenda, running the Steamboat Classic 2013, a 4-mile and 15k run (Illinois’ Toughest 15k, according to race hosts, the Illinois Valley Striders) that I was fortunate to be able to share with my brother, my nephew, and my great-nephew. Nothing like being the only girl in the running pack. My great-nephew ran the 4-miler, the rest of us attacked the 9.
2013 marked the 40th year for this quirky race. I say quirky because we 15k participants had the pleasure of running the most grueling leg of the race not once, but twice. The Peoria, IL area is graced with gorgeous bluffs – bluffs equal very steep hills. Twice. Enough said.
So between lots of family and lots of runners/walkers, I was surrounded by lots of different people, and, I might add, a wide range of body types. I feel this is important to point out for two reasons.
Number one, if you’re a runner, you’ve probably noticed that many participants (of all distances, from 5k’s to Half Marathon’s) don’t always fit the stereotypical “runner’s build”. This particular race has a Clydesdale and Athena division (Weight Classes Aim to Balance Races), so you know every registrant wasn’t a lean, mean running machine. And even if you’re not a runner, you still belong to a family, so you’ve probably noticed that not all family members are built the same way (especially those extended and friend family members!).
Number two, many of the clients I see in my practice suffer from serious body image issues. They’re challenged to find even one positive physical attribute, and frequently spend hours each day attempting to exercise or starve their bodies into their vision of perfection. Which is impossible, by the way. These lovely women, beautiful just as they are, work extremely hard to embrace, let alone celebrate their unique beauty.
On the other hand, the “friends and family women” I encountered this weekend appeared completely comfortable in their bodies – they wore shorts, tank tops and tees, summer attire we wait all year to wear – and they certainly seemed to have no compunction about not being perfect. Not that I asked them, or that we even had this conversation. But being surrounded by such “normal” looking women was such a departure, not only from the clients I work with, but from the striving for bodily perfection that I frequently encounter, it was almost bewildering.
The bodies at the race were strong and fit – you simply can’t run distances of 4 or 9 miles and not be. That’s reason enough for celebration of body and spirit. The other “weekend bodies” had carried babies (ok, not ALL of them, but MOST of them), and lived full, joyful lives peppered with cookouts, beer festivals, birthday cakes, and chili suppers – all celebrations FOR body and spirit.
So if today you’re not feeling particularly perfect in your body, perhaps you can somehow see your way clear to honoring your body for all it allows you to do; like enjoy life in the walking or running lane, share good food and memories with friends and family, or even to simply show up and participate in life, and embrace YOU as a celebration of body and spirit. Imperfections and all.