{Battling My Demons: Learning to Ignore the Numbers}

Let me start off by saying that I despise the terrible little acronym which so many of us from a young age have been made very conscious of; that acronym is BMI. I hate it. These three awful little letters, when strung together, have caused the emotional downfall of so many people, and I am not immune from dealing with this insecurity. I have to admit that I’ve been battling with a serious inner struggle as of late, and although this is not an easy topic for me to tackle, I feel that it’s time that I be honest, raw, and forthcoming with my own personal struggle with regards to my weight and body image.

Our society is obsessed with weight, BMI, perfect bodies, fat-shaming, thin-shaming, body fat percentage, and the search for unrealistic perfection. We are constantly faced with the images of athletes who, while incredible, posess virtually unattainable physiques which only the top elite athletes are able to gain through hours and hours of non-stop training and an incredible amount of nutritional discipline. Despite knowing deep down that we are not all built to acheive the results that top athletes possess, we begin to believe that we need to acheive these same qualities to be considered worthwhile as people and as athletes.

I also suffer from a self-imposed belief that as Muddy Mommy, as an associate of Spartan Race, and as an individual and mother who is striving to provide a positive influence on others seeking to improve their health, that I must portray a perfect figure similar to that of my blogging and racing counterparts.

Many of you following my blog know that I’ve struggled with my weight in the past. I dealt with a minor eating disorder through high school and the early portion of college, I became 50 pounds overweight after having my son, and finally, through proper nutrition and exercise was able to reach and maintain a healthy weight, all while discovering my love of running, racing, and OCR.

Which brings me to today.

I recently acquired a smart scale, shortly after also acquiring a few extra pounds due to traveling to work conferences which bring with them airport food, cocktail hours, and many meals spent at exquisite restaurants. Although I never allowed my training to suffer, and I remained diligent to my fitness regiment, I did find myself holding onto a few additional pounds.

Which brought me to realize rather suddenly that my insecurity regarding my own personal body image had returned with a vengeance.

I began picking apart each photo taken of me, refusing to post the majority of then due to my disdain for the overweight person I saw portrayed. I became embarrased, critical, self conscious, and frustrated of who I saw in the mirror. The little voice in my head began calling me a “fat-hlete”, and I began to feel unworthy of my recent OCR win, convincing myself that people must surely discount this win as undeserved due to my heavier weight.

Long story short, I’ve been a bit of an emotional mess. I’ve begun weighing myself obsessively, micromanaging my eating, and working out despite having been sick, when I should have been resting. I know all of these things are bad, yet I cannot stop doing them due to the pure motivation to feel good about myself again by acheiving a thinner frame.

This is what pisses me off. I recently had a body scan completed at a Wellness Fair, and part of this screening calculates BMI. Here is a look, on paper, at how my height and weight translate on the BMI scale.

My BMI Calculation

My BMI Calculation

Overweight. It says I am overweight. Are you kidding me?!? Yet that word keeps ringing through my head. The numbers keep circling round and round, taunting me, weight and BMI: overweight!

Yet tonight, as I looked in the mirror, I became angry because I realize that I am falling prey to the pressure of society to fit a mold that I just don’t fit. I am shaming myself when I should instead be proud of the hard work, the accomplishment, and the strength that I have gained through my committment to fitness and an active lifestyle. I’m angry because I know deep down that in no way, shape, or form should I feel bad about myself, yet I still do. My brain nags at me that it doesn’t matter how I look, and instead screams that what matters most is lowering those numbers so as not to be an embarrassment to myself and to others.

This is me: "Overweight".

This is me: “Overweight”.

While writing this does not completely resolve this issue for me, it does at least help give me a step in the right direction to my own personal acceptance of my body. I appreciate the support of each person who is a part of my journey, and although it is difficult to open up and admit to my own vulnerability, I feel that it is only fair to share the raw, honest truth of a struggle that so many of us share. So here’s to committing to positive personal growth, and I will keep striving to inspire others in their fitness journey while I continue in my own journey as well.

~Holly

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5 thoughts on “{Battling My Demons: Learning to Ignore the Numbers}

  1. You look amazing in that photo and far far from overweight. I have always despised that BMI scale it don’t take in to account those of us who have muscle just your age and height. For my height I should weigh 100-105 pounds which would make me skin bones no muscle and I refuse to go there. However as a teen and in my early 20’s I was obsessed with getting there so I would be “normal” and look and feel good. And I got close to that point but in a very unhealthy way.

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  2. I have to applaud you on being so open and honest, which can be so challenging to do. Your blog posts are truly amazing and inspirational. I have struggled with body image for the last 18 years, it is one of the hardest internal battles out there. If only we could see ourselves through the eyes of others then we could truly see ourselves. I have to say you are in no way overweight, looking at the pictures you posted your body is very toned and I would love to have your abs. It is very sad we live in a society that does put such a large emphasis on our external shells and ignores the fact that the external shell will eventually fail us all and it’s what is in our hearts that matter most. I think we all fall prey to what we see in the media. I have to say you are a tough competitor and deserve and earn every win you receive. I love reading your blog post and thank you for always being genuine and honest. You are a beautiful mother, athlete and women.

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  3. Thanks also for your honesty and I think you look fantasic. I think we all, especially women, struggle with what we are “supposed” to look like or “supposed” to weigh. It’s not an easy battle. I was told by a doctor that I was morbidly obese when I was a size 6 because of BMI. I was lifting pretty heavy at that point in time and had a lot of muscle. I tried to laugh it off but it really made me feel badly about myself.
    If it makes you (or anyone) feel better my daughter’s pediatrician said that they have to list BMI on their chart but she ignores it because it is all wrong. Her words as a doctor.

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  4. As always you write what I think… I lose 9% body fat in 2014. 9% is pretty good in my mind yet I gained almost 10 lbs. I went to the Dr and he commented on my weight gain and that it could be the cause of my sleeping problems / tired problems. I said, ‘But, but, but I lost 9% body fat!!!’ It didn’t matter… all that mattered was the scale. I struggle on a daily basis with my body. I hate it. It seems no matter how hard I work or how much food I cut out my fat remains. I know I could work harder but all I want is a little win. 5 lbs maybe. Anything to show for my hard work.

    And then I take a step back and remember I am me. I have someone who loves me and thinks I’m amazing and my kids marvel at my fitness. I just have to embrace it and keep working and realize that those lbs don’t define me. I, too, had an eating disorder and I certainly don’t want to go back to it – it is a daily struggle. But all of us women can fight it and win!

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  5. Pingback: Must-read OCR articles of 2015 | On My Way To Sparta

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