3 Stories That'll Make You Re-Think How You Look At Your Body
Ugh bodies, man.
There have been so many times where I’ve told myself that “I don’t deserve to go on that super hard hike” or “I could never wear a bikini around those people” because I wasn’t skinny like this girl or that girl.
And I’m here to tell you (and myself):
That. Is. Bullshit. In the last 2 years, i have seen my body do things I didn’t even imagine were within my strength. Fuck, I am probably never going to be the world’s definition of ‘skinny’ or ‘small’ but who the heck is the world’s definition of “skinny” or “small”?! We are all just doing our best and we are all struggling, striving, wishing, pushing to be the best versions of ourselves. You know what I am the definition of? I am the definition of healthy and happy and capable and strong. My size doesn’t reflect my ability to climb a damn mountain.
I owe everything to my body. It has taken me so many different routes both mentally and physically. It has pushed me when I did not want to be pushed. It has collapsed when I didn’t pay attention to its weaknesses. It has overcome obstacles that I didn’t even know were within my capacity. It has remained steadfast in the times where I treated it like shit, told it it wasn’t worthy, and looked at it like it was a curse. I have asked my body so many times why it couldn’t look like this, or that, or be smaller here, or stronger there – when all it has done for me is be capable, and humble, and patient. It has sat back and waited for me to look at it the way it looks at itself. To see it for every perfect curve, stretched skin, weakness and strength it carries.
My body and your body deserve our complete and total admiration. For too long we’ve neglected the key ingredient to its success: gratitude. If you love your body, if you see it for what it’s doing for you in this moment rather than what it should be tomorrow, then you can rule the fucking world with it.
– Casey Callahan
As a way of background I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disorder (Crohn's and Colitis) in 2011 when I was a Sophomore in college. I had just signed up to go to Italy for study abroad and ended up cancelling my trip 2 weeks before my flight left due to not being able to get my disease under control.
It was at that point that I decided I couldn't live with a bucket list anymore. Crohn's is unique in the sense that it can flare up at any time for many reasons, internal and external. I decided to kick the bucket list to the curb and start living limitless because I never knew if my body would be giving out on me next year to cross that next item off my list.
This isn't without it's frustrations and challenges, especially when you're a outdoor enthusiast and self proclaimed adrenaline junkie. Hiking, trail running, skydiving, snowboarding are not IBD friendly activities. They stress you out, and stress isn't good for my body. Add that to the fact that there usually aren't bathrooms when you're on a mountain 5,000 feet up or falling through the air at 15,000 feet. I've collapsed on mountains, had "accidents" while traveling in foreign countries, and generally have had my limits tested.
Being an active advocate of getting outdoors when you have a medical issue can be tough, especially when you see all the pictures of other "influencers" out there. Some people don't realize that it might have taken twice as much energy or effort to reach the same peak that they did. You can only capture so much with a picture and a few words. It's equally frustrating to see that content when you might be stuck in bed sick because you ate the wrong food for breakfast that morning. Can't be fair right?
But that's what makes it so magical in it's own way! It takes many times more effort than the normal person to reach that peak, and I can speak from experience that it feels that much more gratifying when you achieve it even with the added weight on your shoulders. I know exactly how hard it can be to keep pushing your body on a hike or run. It kicks and screams back at me, but it's so important for my physical health, and definitely my mental health, to get outdoors and climb the same mountains everyone else does. To prove that our bodies can be pushed past their limits, and expanded to find and explore new limits.
It's important to love your body, and treat it like a temple, but don't shelter it away so the rest of the world can't see it, because that's not what life is about. Life is about scraping your knees falling off a swing so the next time you get on it you know your limits. Show the world that you can give your chronic illness a big middle finger and live on anyway. I've always loved the Game of Thrones quote from Syrio Forel: "There is only one god, and His name is Death. And there is only one thing we say to Death: 'not today'." So keep pushing.
– Matt Somma
Growing up, my awkward stages seemed to last longer than most of the girls around me. Naturally, (though this shouldn’t be the natural thing to do), I compared myself to them. Which made me feel self-conscious more often than not. It didn’t help that, at the same time, social media platforms became integrated into everyday life. Pictures of beautiful, fit, slender women were EVERYWHERE…
I’ve always lead an active and outdoorsy lifestyle, but never did the pictures of me near a waterfall look like the ones that I saw as I scrolled through instagram. Over time, this slowly ate away at me. No matter how in-shape I was or how ‘cute’ my hiking outfits were… I still didn’t look or feel good enough. But good enough for who? Me? The mountain?… EXACTLY. The answer is no one. I had nothing to prove to anyone except myself.
The way to overcome my frustration with the way I looked was to LOVE how I look and be so freakin’ confident in who I am, that I could wear a trash bag in public and still feel like a trillion bucks. It took me about 5 years to figure this out. It’s not easy to do and some days are harder than others, but on those days I just remind myself that everyone is different, I’m uniquely me, and the mountains don’t care what I look like just as long as I climb them.
– Marisa Franzese