My good friend and fellow trail runner, Jill Puleo (check out her YouTube chanel) gave me permission to share this recent conversation we shared on Facebook. It’s personal from both sides of our stories, but her advice to me…?
Her advice to me is too damn good to keep to myself.
Jill (rockstar in the picture above!) and I have only met ONE time in person. Yet we have both worked to build a strong and growing friendship based initially on two simple things: Curly hair and trail running. 🙂 We met at Western States Camp 2015 waiting for the run for day two to start.
Our friendship essentially started from a three minute conversation at the start of a run.
How awesome is that!??
Here’s the Facebook conversation between Jill and I recently.
So the day you checked in with me?
Thank you following your gut or intuition or whatever was guiding you Jill. I had had a rough day.
Longish story as short as possible? Spencer had a run/stride analysis with a local coaching/Ultra-running/Guru that we all love and respect, Joe. Spencer loved it, gained a ton from it – and was quick to tell me that I should get one done as well. I made some comment at the time about ‘I’m not fast enough to have a stride.’ and dismissed the idea. Spencer would bring it up every once in a while… ‘Are you going to get your stride looked at by Joe?’ and I would say something benign and dismissive like ‘I’ll think about it’ or ‘maybe’.
Well this past weekend we had a full weekend of training. I am starting to ramp up training from an extended recovery period.
Spencer says he is only going to suggest to me one more time to seriously consider getting my stride looked at and then he’ll drop the topic but do I understand that this would be a really beneficial thing to do?
So I say yes, I’ll go see Joe. (I’ll admit I said it with the unmistakable tone of bitchy, forced, pissed-off….)
I email Joe and get an appointment.
Joe is AMAZING. SO much patience and knowledge. And it turns out I do have a stride and it’s kind of messed up or least could be a lot more efficient and ‘healthy’. He appreciates that my goal is to be running when I’m 70 and that I want to invest time in building a ‘healthy’ stride since I’m fairly new to running. He spent over two hours with me talking about what was weak/strong and how to work to fix some of the things he saw to get me to a healthy stride.
Here’s the deal… And this is what ALL of my resistance was about… He videos you running at different speeds and from different angles. And then you get to watch in ((slow-mo)) while he shows you your legs, angles, back, feet, arms… I assume it’s fascinating and instructive had I not been totally and utterly horrified at seeing myself running on video.
I saw a woman who looked fat, lumpy, flappy, floppy — her hair looked horrible and she really, really needs a new bra. I was so heartbroken at how I looked on that video I could barely hear what Joe was telling me.
And then we go through some range of motion exercises and cues — and we run/tape again. Again…. I’m watching the videos totally transfixed with how fat and awkward and horrible I look.
In my mind I’ve thought I looked happy and solid and like maybe even just a teeny, tiny little bit like an athlete when I run. Seeing the video removed ALL postiive thoughts I had about my body while running. I think deep down I KNEW this is what would happen which is why I was defensive and avoiding it all… I drove home choking back tears the entire way in self-pity. I know that Spencer knows something is wrong well beyond the stride analysis thing and me ‘not being fast enough to have a stride’. And I’d just about rather cut out my own tongue that explain that I just didn’t want to see myself on video…
Seeing myself on video running was actually far worse than I imagined.
Jill, please tell me to grow up. And that everyone hates their self on film. That I need to get over it – so I can get working on what really matters – which is a healthy stride…
I’m stuck in horrified, defensive and bitchy mode.
I want so badly to have a different body than I do… And that makes me sad. I know you will understand that because we’ve talked about body image issues before. And I KNOW that learning to love my body as it is, is a process.
I always seem to know exactly what to tell others who are struggling.
But if you would have seen the video of me running — you would understand my current horror and sadness…
The video: YES I UNDERSTAND.
I understand so, so very much.
I am still suffering from seeing pictures of myself that my friend posted of me from her wedding in which, I look like a puffy old crow with a hooked nose and thick calves.
I am not going to tell you to grow up.
I am not going to tell you to “practice self care” (whatever the eff that means…I HATE THAT PHRASE) and I am not going to tell you that it doesn’t suck. Your body was made in a way that doesn’t please you and you fight it every day. Being flippant about that and telling you it will all go away with a journal and a cup of camomile tea is epic bullshit.
OK here’s a big one: Although I believe in the Body Positive movement, I don’t really get some parts of it. I feel like there are many good points, but it also seems like there are a lot of excuses being floated around. You know what I mean…?
It’s those people who don’t want to feel ANYTHING uncomfortable. Well you and I both know that if you don’t feel anything uncomfortable, you are not growing. You are also not challenging yourself. I would like to sit home today and eat M&Ms. That would make me VERY comfortable. And the body positive people would say that after multiple days of doing this I should love the body that results. BUT NO. Because that is NOT FRIGGING HEALTHY.
So, my idea is this: I like to think of my body like I think of my my sister in law…I have to accept it for what it is, even like it sometimes, but I don’t have to love it.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO LOVE YOUR BODY.
But, I do think that you have to love what it does for you, and that’s where I choose to focus my thoughts. Or at least, I try. I know I am not a fabulous runner. I mean, I am not fast and I will never win anything. I do have this pretty amazing talent for long distances. I get more comfortable the longer I go and feel better doing it too. I think to myself that I like this about my body and I thank it for getting me this far.
BUT I DO NOT THANK IT FOR THE CELLULITE I’VE HAD SINCE I WAS 10.
I don’t care how much goddamned tea I drink I am never going to love my cellulite. I don’t know if this helps, but your body has done and will do a lot of things.
Maybe it’s a partner, a co-worker, a sister in law…
It doesn’t have to be your true romance.
BUT YOU…you, on the inside…well, you’d better love that part because inside that package is a heart and a mind and a soul and all of it is pretty spectacular.
As far as the video/photos go…you have the choice to never look at it ever again or watch it over and over. I try to think to myself: which of those options will allow me to be who I want to be once I stop watching? Like, I don’t want to be a total bitch all day, so I should probably NOT go through my high school yearbook, you know? Not without vodka, anyway.
You don’t get an award for being OK with watching your body flop around on a treadmill and being OK with it. But, it is nice to feel good and treat others well (aka: NOT be a bitch after said viewing) so in this case: YOU ARE JUSTIFIED and welcome to not ever look at that video again.
Don’t say “I should get over this” because that diminishes your feelings. Say “I will get better at handling this” because unlike the self-help/life coach/body positive ladies, I do not believe that this feeling will go away.
I think that instead of wishing it away, ya better cozy on up…because if you want to get through it by making it ghost, you’re in for a world of shit when it comes crashing back unexpectedly.
So, think about what you like about what your body does for you and focus on that. LIKE it. APPRECIATE it. But, don’t feel like a failure if you end up giving it the side-eye most of the time. You’re allowed.
That being said, be sure that you are not comparing your body to other bodies. I am pretty sure you don’t do this, but scrolling through Instagram can be incredibly defeating. All of those gorgeous bodies in front of gorgeous mountain ranges can be hard to watch…
OK that’s enough full frontal Jill for now…haha
Sending love as always
YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
You are never alone.
Deeply grateful for you, our friendship and your stellar, blunt, authentic advice.
Thank you Jill.