Once upon a time, I used to hate my legs.
One of the things I always tried to do was make sure I showed you that I loved my body -- inside and out. I never wanted you to grow up with the image of me worried about my weight or how I looked. Instead, I thought by modeling a healthy lifestyle, eating nutritious foods and seeing that I enjoyed working out to be strong, it would help ensure you both have good self-esteem.
Yet, on the inside I still struggled. My confession is this: I didn't like my legs. They are soft, they have cellulite, they are jiggly. I think having goals to improve my strength or maintain a healthy weight are good. But I would find myself looking at my legs while working out and hearing the words in my head, "I hate my legs, I hate my legs" and then I started saying it. To a friend. And then one day I came home from the gym and even though I had felt so wonderful working out, the first thing I said to your daddy when I walked in the door was: I can't stand my legs!
A big moment: wearing a dress on a photo shoot.
And then I wondered: What if you end up with my legs? Though I was careful to never say negative things about my body in front of you, what if your innocent 7- and 4-year-old ears had overheard that comment? How would that have made you feel about yourselves, as you grew up to realize you have your mother's legs? The legs that I claimed to hate. It was such a moment of clarity for me. How could I hate my legs if I know my own beautiful daughters could look just like me? I look at you both and only see beauty. So why allow myself to hate part of me? I still have goals to tone them, to continue to gain muscle, but I refuse to allow myself to hate part of my body that makes me, me.
I decided to see them in a different light and asked myself: What is good about them? And that's when I realized, a lot. I'm thankful for these legs that carried me across my college graduation stage. In my early 20s they carried me out of an emotionally abusive relationship. They marched me into my classroom on my first day as a teacher and walked me right back out years later when I confidently decided to be a stay-at-home-mom. They allowed me to run, to workout, to chase you and your brothers. Despite their softness, they are strong. Really strong. They carried me through my fastest half-marathon at a pace of 8 minutes 16 seconds per mile. They carried me 26.2 miles. Three times. I crossed my first 50 mile race, a dream, on legs that I used to hate.
Crossing the finish line of my first 50 mile race.
Sweet Girls, did you hear me? My legs are strong! And for that, I'm thankful. When you look at yourselves and find yourselves wishing something away, don't. Be thankful because every single inch of your body is good and beautiful.
Nicole blogs at MyFitFamily about her faith, family and fitness.