When I think about the awesomeness of our bodies, I tend to think about a mud run I did with a friend of mine. For the uninitiated, a mud run is a race, usually about 5k in length, that runs through an obstacle course of crazy-fun stuff for you to conquer. Now, I don’t run these looking for a great time (see above). I run them to push my body to do wacky things that it never gets to do. At a mud run I get to swim and climb and crawl through all sorts of tough and muddy obstacles.
Anyway…the reason I think back to one particular run is that it highlighted for me the awesome things that bodies can do, no matter what they look like. I did the run with one of my dearest friends, who has quite a different body than I do. My friend is naturally quite thin, ans has in fact struggled for years to gain or maintain weight, just to stay healthy. Then there was me. Short, fat, and definitely not looking like the mud run ‘type’. But that’s another great thing about these runs, you get all types. There were muscle-bound hardbodies, trim runner’s bodies, soft fat bodies, and everything in between. One of the coolest things about the runs is the way in which everyone really helps one another. For example, my friend does not swim. She never learned, and is afraid of deep or dark water, so the swimming parts of our course had her nervous. I, on the other hand, learned to swim early, and while I am neither graceful nor skilled, can propel myself through the water just fine. Being fat helps too, since it gives me a natural flotation device! So before the race, I told my friend that I likely wasn’t going to run too much, I just wasn’t in shape for that. She had no issue with this and said she was happy to go as slow as I needed. I was eternally grateful for this when we rounded the first curve and saw the hill that we had to trek up for the first leg of the race. Bless her heart,s he stayed right with me as I huffed and puffed and trudged up that hill. Later, we came to the water obstacles. I had promised her when we signed up that I would stay right beside her for anything that she was afraid of. She could hold onto me and I would pull her across, or just stay with her while she paddled. As it turned out, the first obstacle was not as deep as we had expected, so we walked across, fighting the mud that threatened to suck of our shoes and never give them back. One down, no problem! The second one was a different story. Since I swim and have no far, I hopped off the edge first, to see how deep the water was. I never did find the bottom of that cow pond! Fortunately, there were ropes along the side, so my friend clung to the rope and worked her way slowly across the water, me floating next to her in case she needed a human life preserver. She never needed me, and totally kicked the water’s butt!!
Later we came to a climbing obstacle. It looked like this, but at an angle, instead of straight up and down
We each took our turns grabbing a rope and hauling ourselves to the top. We yelled and screamed and cheered encouragement for one another as we climbed. I crested the top and started back down the other side in a cloud of euphoria, I did it! Wooo! Later, when I saw pictures from that obstacle, I marveled at how freaking cool it was that our 2 very different bodies totally rocked! In each of our pictures you can see our faces screwed up with concentration, brains working faster than light to figure out how to climb the wall. You can see the muscles in our arms and legs outlined beneath our skin, using all their strength to pull and push and balance. I mean come on, how awesome is that!
So next time society’s messages of imperfection and body shame get you down, remember all the cool things your body can do. Try making a list of all the things that your body does that make you happy or amaze you. Maybe that’s dancing to your favorite song, picking up your kids, your brain working out a tough puzzle or problem, your legs propelling you down the sidewalk, or your belly turning yummy food into energy for all your parts.
Tell me in the comments, what are the awesome things your body does that you think are really cool?