My Definition of Beauty: Sweat

29 Jun

Hello friends!

Happy Sunday funday! I hope you guys are all doing well!

Today my husband and I went out for a ride. We ended up exploring the trails for a total of 32 miles. It was glorious! The sun was beating on our backs and there was a light breeze. The combination mixed with our sweat helped us keep cool as we raced through the underpasses and the trees.

My husband was always ahead of me. I want him to be ahead of me. I don’t want him to have to wait for me just because I’m slower than him. After all, we set out for a ride with the intention to work out and to get our heart rates up. We wanted to feel the pain in our lungs and the hurt in our legs by pushing our limits. If he stayed at my pace, I’d be robbing him of his “work out.” Fortunately, every 8ish miles I found him waiting for me to make certain I was safe. I thought that was rather cute!

But what I have learned from this bike ride, and what I learn from my solo runs, is that people offer comments when they are not invited. Before I get to the specifics, let me explain a little bit about myself.

My name is Valerie and I have struggled with more things than you know. Those struggles have given me substance, character, and experience. They have helped to define who I am. With my struggles I have seen the darkest of days and the brightest of days. I choose to live in the brightest of every day, every moment I can. I have been near death because of my own addiction to anorexia. One cannot be anorexic—you cannot be an eating disorder! But one can suffer anorexia. And I have suffered with it since I was 13 years old. I’m sharing this because it’s time I get real. It’s a self-inflicted affair between me and myself. My anorexia stemmed from my days as a gymnast, and being a cross-country rat. I was a “heavy-spot” and my coach recommended I drop some weight. Per pound I dropped resulted in me being an easier spot and a faster runner. My mile times kept getting faster and faster. It was easy to correlate being thin to being fast. And so I lost more and more. I was down to eating an apple a day. My food journal was pathetic! My beautiful friends around me were developing curves I would never have because of my anorexia, and as much as I wanted to be like them, and have curves, I couldn’t face food. I starved.

Food was the ultimate enemy. My struggle with anorexia is intimate. I know what it is really all about. I have learned that food was never the issue—it’s an issue of control. Fast forward only a few years after my initial struggle and I found myself in a treatment center. I was 5 foot 2 inches, like I stand today, and 78 pounds soaking wet. I thought I was fat. I was robbed of my chance to compete in gymnastics because I might faint or have a heart attack, same reasons why I wasn’t allowed to run competitively anymore. I wasn’t allowed to do anything I wanted. I wasn’t allowed to do anything but EAT! It was tragic!!!! Anorexics, like most teenagers, just aren’t human! They aren’t in the right mind frame. They’re so narcissistic. I thought that everyone would know if I ate more than an apple because they would see it on my thighs!!!

I’ll spare you all the details of my struggle. But I share with you this, I have struggled. I have talked to God and begged Him to help me. But I was so afraid of His help because I didn’t want to really get better. I only kind of wanted to get better. I didn’t want to gain weight. I didn’t want to look different. I wanted to maintain my frame and eat only when people were watching—because in my mind, that was getting better. I wanted the best of both worlds. I wanted to get better to appease my family. I wanted to make them proud. And with each bite, I succeeded. Too bad I couldn’t perfect my already perfect grades to impress them. Instead I was faced with eating every course presented to me on family Sunday gatherings. It was torture for me. The feeling of being full equated to death. I wanted to literally roll over and die because I felt like I could roll over. The feeling of being full, to this day, makes me so uncomfortable I can’t breathe. It’s something I am learning to cope with, but it will never go away.

Let’s fast-forward 15 years to today! Anorexia is still prevalent in my day-to-day routine. For those of you who are my friends, don’t act like you’re not surprised…I control it. What my family and friends fear is that I’m back to competitive running and have a passion for endurance sports. But they need not worry. I’m okay. I just wish I didn’t wait so long to return to the sport.

But let’s talk about something…let’s talk about this idea of beauty. When I was 13 I knew my curvaceous friends were beautiful. I knew I was a beanpole and I knew that being a beanpole was not attractive. But I couldn’t do anything about it. I was under the spell of anorexia. I knew I was different. And I didn’t care. Feeling empty inside from food made me feel beautiful. Today, well today feeling empty inside still makes me feel beautiful, but I only want to feel empty inside after hours of a long workout. I feel beautiful when I have my headband on and my Newton’s on ready to run. I feel beautiful when I have no makeup on and the sweat drips down my face and I taste its salt. I feel beautiful when the sweat from my ponytail drips down my back and onto my calf. I love how my skin glistens after being kissed from the morning or afternoon sun during a run or a bike ride. I feel more beautiful any day of the week when I’m in my athletic gear rather than my casual or professional attire. I mean, I love me my stilettos and pairing them with my newest dress from Ann Taylor, but the promise of sweat and a caloric deficit that my Newton’s offer me makes me much happier. And happiness is a beautiful thing to witness.

But with my happiness comes critics. And this is really what today’s blog is about today. My husband and I rode 32 miles today throughout the District. When I tell you I feel beautiful in my athletic attire, it’s not only because I like how I might look in it, it’s also because I like what it promises me—a work out=sweat. I wear what I wear because it makes me feel strong and pretty. Two words that should bleed together more often!

What I wore today, many girls wear. But today, like other days, I was barked at, catcalled, stared at, and was told “nice rack” one too many times. You might think that’s what I get for getting an augmentation. Ok, I don’t disagree entirely—although I did it for me, not for attention…and I had to do it twice because my first doctor royally messed up. I did it for me because hey, remember when I told you I was anorexic? Couple that with running and I lost all that I was barely given. I’m not shameful when I tell you I got them done. I did it because by being anorexic I deprived my body of what could have been. It was a very difficult decision to make because I didn’t want to come across as if I were narcissistic. Then I was faced with having to do the procedure again because of complications, at which point I wanted them out entirely!!! I hated them. And I hated how I felt about myself because I felt guilty for wanting them, fixing them, and then again for having them.

What I am here to say is, I have breasts. I’m not showcasing them as if I’m on the Las Vegas Strip! I’m not in a padded bra that emphasizes them to be 3x larger in a dress where they are so close to my chin I could eat them for dinner. I’m wearing a freaking sports bra, like every other girl out there, with a tank top. Yes, my athletic clothes might hug my body tightly (like everyone else) and it might make my curves look a little more voluptuous. It’s not intentional and I don’t wear my clothes for unsolicited comments.

My breasts just so happen to be so firmly squished together (so they don’t bounce) giving this illusion of cleavage that apparently makes a gentleman become a complete asshole. I didn’t know seeing cleavage gave men the right to say whatever they want. I am sooooo happy my husband was in front of me when these crude comments were made today.

What troubles me is that there’s this absurd fascination with sex—it’s ridiculous. A beautiful woman walking down the street is subject to insensitive, crude, and demeaning comments because she is beautiful. A woman sweating her ass off at the gym or outside is subject to these same remarks because she has cleavage, or nice legs, or her arms are too sexy. I just don’ get it! A woman can’t win. If she carries herself with confidence, confidence she gains from working out, she’s considered self-centered. You see, I don’t view my body as an instrument of sex. I view it as an instrument of strength!!!

If a man or a woman judges me (or any other woman out there getting her sweat on—I see you, I know who you are and you ROCK!!!) when I’m (she’s) outside pushing my (her) limits, sweating, and pleading with my (her) legs to keep going, because they think of sex when they see a little bit of cleavage, arms, and legs, I think the problem is theirs.

My definition of beauty for myself is not measured by my cleavage. It’s not measured by my sex appeal. It’s comprised of hard work, sweat, and pushing my limits both personally and professionally. For some of my friends, they think it’s being adorned with the newest trends and brand names, getting Botox, collagen, and eyelash extensions, and having perfect hair, makeup and nails. Granted my friends don’t need any of this, they’re beautiful without it, I respect them for doing what makes them happy and not apologizing for it. To each their own! Who am I to judge? I know I’ll never have perfect hair. I know I’ll never have the picture perfect makeup on to look flawless in person and in pictures. I’m okay with this because the hours it takes to do all that, I’d rather be sweating. If I spent that kind of time getting ready, I’m sure I could look glam, too! But I’d rather look like a Boston Qualified Marathoner (when I stand up next to my girlies in pictures)!!!

Here’s the thing ladies, despite what we do for our beauty regime and how different it is, our beauty regime is for us—we do it for ourselves, not for a man! So why do we allow for a man (mean girls, too) to strip of us of our confidence by making inappropriate remarks. I didn’t put my sports bra on today to invite tasteless comments—I put it on to embark on a serious sweat session, to live in the beauty of today, and relish in another victorious day against anorexia.

I read something the other day by a woman I admire and it reminds me of what I experienced today. And it goes like this:

“I truly think nothing bonds people more than sweating together. I am not a let’s get drinks kind of woman [unless it’s after a race, training run, or bike ride J], or a talk on the phone kind of woman. I’m a come and sweat with me and we will be fast friends kind of woman. It shows you what a person is made of.”

-So come on and sweat with me!

Happy Sunday!

Happy Running!!!

 

XO

Valgal

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3 Responses to “My Definition of Beauty: Sweat”

  1. Brittany Gurney July 3, 2014 at 9:04 pm #

    You’re so inspiring Val, I love it! Keep on doing what makes you happy, it drives the haters crazy! Give Paul a squeeze for me!

    • valerietoth July 27, 2014 at 11:21 am #

      Awe, than you Brittany!!! I appreciate your love! And yes, I’ll squish Paulie for you! :)))

    • valerietoth July 27, 2014 at 11:25 am #

      Awe, thank you Brittany!!! I appreciate the love. I will definitely give Paul and big squeeze from you! :))))

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