I find it amusing that when I talk about being healthy, many people conjure up images of flat abs, round buttocks and toned lean limbs.
We think being healthy is exclusive to our outward appearance and what’s inside medically. But what about the emotional aspect of the body?
I am human, I am susceptible, same as every other person, to those thin, toned women in the media. As a fitness instructor I worry about bulges showing, and my legs giving out from the hundreds of squats each week. I say a silent prayer that no one will see the imperfections that plague my eyes when I look to the mirror as I get ready to go to class.
My husband is in amazing shape physically, and I often muse to him about my insecurities. I think his body type and fitness level compounds my constant thoughts of body image. Not only do I deal with media portrayals of perfect woman, I live with the human equivalent of a male fitness model in my own home, which is tough.
Not that it is a competition, or that I worry about our relationship, it is because he is a constant reminder, that I want to be fit. It is tough to eat a candy bar and chips with Mr. Abs man, sitting across from me on the couch eating carrots.
Now, anyone who knows me, knows I am not a perfect size six, but I consider myself to be both strong and healthy.
So because I pride myself on being healthy, it came as a shock when a lady in a local business showed me what emotionally healthy really was. What she did and said within two minutes, made me want to be more like her.
I walked into her shop and into a conversation she and another woman were having about their bodies. When I approached, she said to me, “You are a fitness instructor, show me your stomach.”
To which I was horrified, not because of me being modest, because I was terrified to lift my shirt, and be judged. Did I have lines were my pants had been, since I had been just sitting in my car for the drive, did these pants make me look thick, or did my stomach just look too “big” to belong to a fitness instructor?
As those questions raced through my mind, I was about to stammer out an excuse when she lifted her shirt to show me hers. Not only did she laugh and flick her self-proclaimed muffin top, but she then went even further. She actually pressed on both sides of her belly and showed me her belly “bum” and jiggled it, for me and the other woman to see.
My first thought was that, I would never do that, I would never openly show my imperfections. Not even if someone paid me would I make myself so open to public scrutiny and judgment. Never. I will stress again, never. The very thought makes shiver.
As I stood there, watching her jiggle and flick, I was so jealous. I can tell you how “healthy” I am, and that I am proud of my body… but this put me to shame. I wanted to be able to lift my shirt, I wanted to jiggle what I had. She put her shirt down, we finished up our business and I left.
The image of her stuck with me all day, not the image that media tries to pass of as “bad,” but a picture of a woman with amazing body confidence. Sure she may have had extra pounds (and not a lot I might add), but she knew that and was still comfortable in her skin.
More comfortable than I, all covered up in my fitness clothing and praying no one will notice that ripple or that “too tight” bra line some nights.
To all those ladies who have that kind of body image confidence, I applaud you. You make this fitness instructor, who teaches a dozen classes a week, pale in comparison to your healthy body and its confidence. What a joy it must be to be comfortable with the body you have and not worry if people judge you.
To the lady in the restaurant that day, know that I am envious of you, just as you say you are of me and how I am able to do so many classes. But classes cannot teach what you naturally have, body confidence.
Perhaps some day I will be able to pull up my shirt and show people my belly… but as I write that, I know it is not true. That is sad. You have truly opened my eyes. I will work on my body image.
Kelli Cruikshank is a working resident of Scotsburn who balances being a fitness enthusiast, a mother of three girls and a wife. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org