I've started running. I began because I wanted to challenge the myth that vegans are weak and unhealthy. I want to be a runner. I'm never going to be an olympic runner, or even the person who wins a race, but I want to run like I mean it. Running is a kind of freedom. I tell myself I can't do it, and when I run down my country road, I tell myself about three times I'm going to quit and I never do. It's so fucking inspiring to prove yourself wrong. I haven't really implemented any other workouts yet, but I'd like to do some yoga to improve my flexibility for dance and to practice meditation which I hope may help center me when I'm feeling manic. I also find a lot of satisfaction in work out classes. What classes will I take? Well. None this summer because I have zero opportunity between camp, Europe, and vacation to take any exercise classes. But it's good to remember for when I begin to struggle again in the winter. But for now, I will keep running. Every day I will at least run a mile and walk a mile. No exceptions. When I get my Vegetarian/Vegan Student Fellowship up and running, I want to enter races together to make a point. We are healthy. We are strong. And I can't promote that truth unless I'm living it.
But here's the kicker folks: You can't be healthy unless you love yourself. A lot of people lose a lot of weight driven by self-loathing. This is true. But being skinny won't make you love yourself forever. After a while that negativity will come back to haunt you. You have to love yourself (your body is a pretty important part of you, by the way) before you can try to make that body healthy. You can't look after something you hate. You have to nourish your body and work your body because you love it so much that you want it to be strong. Loving yourself is just as much a part of overall health as looking fit. You have to sort out what's inside first.
So I take some issue with before and after pictures. The before pictures are always heart-breaking. The faces on those people reflect the self-hate that has driven them to this transformation. The after pictures display skinny or muscular bodies and smiling faces. The women have put on makeup and fixed their hair. The men pose, proudly showing off their new built bodies. But I know that they aren't happy--not really. Because when the high of pride has settled, they will be left with the same person inside that they began with. Self-love isn't earned by being skinny. So. I decided to do a before and after picture. But I'm smiling in my picture. I love my body as it is, but I've decided to start taking care of it, and I want to record the progress, because I'm proud of myself, as I should be. So here I am, right now, as I truly stand. I have fat, but I'm not fat. My size does not define me.