Almost four years ago I decided to take part in the Exposed movement. I had been reading the posts and they resonated with me. Women baring themselves, talking about self-image. Sharing what makes them tick while shedding the layers of protection – both in terms of the clothing AND the barriers we all erect to hide our inner demons. I posted my first Exposed post in January 2010, and then joined in the first anniversary celebrations in October 2010.
For this fourth anniversary of EXPOSED, I decided to go back to my old posts, to read and consider what (if anything) was different in the “me today” versus the “me in 2010”, and to take a quick photo of myself (because it doesn’t count without a selfie, right?!).
I have to admit, going back to those old posts was somewhat painful. I don’t know why I didn’t see it then. My tri coach at the time told me that the words I used in my posts were a dead giveaway that I had a lot of work to do with my mental game. Now, looking back, I see that truth.
* In my first post, I label myself “fiercely determined”—in my second post, I expose that this determination is tempered by a real lack of physical confidence.
* In my first post, I proclaim that I don’t diet, but share that I want to lose weight—in my second post, my desire to lose weight continues to be a theme.
* In my first post, I point out all of my problems—in my second I start to celebrate my accomplishments, but still highlight my issues.
* In both my first and second posts, I am not smiling.
When I look at the photos and read those words, I feel as if I am a completely changed person from my 2010 self.
I changed by challenging myself to do things that I had never dreamed were possible. I started that process in 2007 when I decided to do my first triathlon. By 2010 I had pushed myself to do more than I believed was possible, but I was still scared. Scared of failing, scared of my body, scared of consequences, and scared of the unknown. But my 2010 self had started to visit the edge of my limits – that is clear from my second exposed post. And today? Today I believe. I believe that if I work hard and trust my training, that I can succeed. I believe that my body will not let me down. And I know that even if I do not succeed physically, that the process of trusting myself, working hard and committing to a physical goal is in itself a success.
* I see my physical self as another piece of the work in progress that is life, something to be proud of and not ashamed of.
* I was told to quit triathlon by doctors, but I rehabilitated myself back to competing with patience, time and self love.
* I no longer see numbers as a measure of self worth.
* I do sport SIMPLY BECAUSE I CAN—and I know it is not worth losing touch with that purpose or else sport stops being fun for me.
* I know that every race is a gift.
* I work with my body rather than fight it—when you fight yourself, you always lose.
I know that sometimes sheer self belief may not translate into physical success – training camp in Lanzarote in February this year (and in Spain at Strong Like Bull in 2011) reminded me that I am a physical work in progress. But I no longer flinch when faced with this reality – I do not feel defeated or deflated when I come up against my physical limits. Today my limits are just something to decipher, things to work around and figure out how to beat. Today’s limits are the challenges I meet in the road of learning who I am and what I am made of.
I have learned that self-image had absolutely nothing to do with what a camera captures. I think that self-image is about what is going on inside my head.
Today, I smile.
Thanks Mish for allowing me to reflect on my journey toward self-belief through this fourth anniversary celebration of the Exposed Movement. The Exposed posts were the way that I originally connected with the healthy living blogging community, and I appreciate the efforts you have made to remind us all of who we are and where we have come from. I’m looking forward to future exposed celebrations and to continuing to share my own experiences as I evolve, change and learn from facing – and beating – my limits.