I was a runner once. Please don’t hurt me, jeer, or make jokes. I was a runner, and I ran a lot. 150km week, no worries. Of course it was incredibly bad for me as I would run through illness and injury, rain, hail or shine; if I had eaten that day or had starved myself; I just had to run.
One thing that no one would dare say back then is that I had good solid quads. Fast forward a few years, 8kg (!) and a deal of life experience and quads are certainly a defining feature of AB. In fact I reckon I pack a couple of kilos in each…
It’s took some time to be at ease with my body; reading others’ writing about their body epiphanies and coming of age tales has made me realise I am not alone when I say, hey, my body is pretty great. Yet far more often, I hear about lives filled with regret and body hatred. 30, 40, 50, 60 year old women are still plagued with an affliction I felt that I was, in some ways, fortunate to hit head on in my late teens: loathing themselves.
At a local fair recently I ran into a work acquaintance. It was hot. I was wearing bum-cheek exposing ridiculous short shorts because, hot diggity, I live in Brisbane and it was probably 40 degrees and 80% humidity and people were lucky I was wearing pants at all. She came up to me and said “Hey”, followed really quickly by “oh my god look at the size of your legs! You can’t tell in your uniform!”. While I was taken aback at this blatant commentary on my legs, I realised it probably said far more about her and her own concerns, than it was about me.
My quads are like steel. They schlepp me all around the place. I can ride for 5 or 6 hours, no worries. I can ride really freaking hard for 90mins. I can do sweet sprints and get to (almost) 65km/hr. I can ride up 20% + bergs. I touch my toes and my hamstrings pop out in thirds like a piece of meat at a butcher. I have a line up the sides of my legs as my quads pop out. Their size and form is a result of function, just as my then-50kg body was a result of epic miles on foot. Cycling is just a healthier way for me to keep fit and physically and mentally healthy.
Even if you’re not a cyclist or a runner, even if you do no sport. If you’re hating on yourself I would implore you to ask why. We are all products of environment and genetics. If your arms are large but they give good hugs then they are good arms. If your breasts are saggy but they fed children then they are good breasts. A good body doesn’t have to fit an ideal. A good body isn’t a Kardashian unless Instagram is really important to you. A good body is one that takes you places, that carries you through life, that forms relationships and has a purpose.
Be kind to yourself and your body, it’s the only one you’ve got.