A few weeks ago, I found myself running down University Avenue. I've done this lots of times, but never on the east side of the street; never along the almost entire block-long length of tall, glimmering store windows. But there I was, and I looked over and saw my reflection. The reflection of myself running.
And I immediately wanted to stop running.
Because, while I know I'm not one of those stick-thin runner girls and I don't see myself that way, I did envision myself with a different gait. I thought that my slower-than-most pace would at least afford me a graceful stride. In my head, while I am running, I look lithe and strong.
In reality I run like I'm afraid of peeing my pants.
And I couldn't decide: should I immediately turn away from my reflection in horror? Or should I run up and down that small-city block in Provo, watching my reflection until my gait changed to match the one in my head? Or should I just stop running altogether and take up knitting for exercise?
This morning I had another unusual perspective of myself. I was doing the plank in the sculpting class I go to at the city rec center. Usually when I do the plank, my head is pointing toward the mirror, so that when I look down I see the long expanse of the mat, and then my shoes, and then the quivering arms of the woman behind me.
But today (we had an intervals class so my regular approach was thrown out the window as I tried to just survive the entire hour without weeping) I found myself doing the plank with my toes pointing toward the mirror. When I started doing the plank thing where you tap one foot to the side, bring it back to the middle, and then repeat with the other foot, I looked down. I saw the long expanse of the mat, my shoes, and then a lovely reflection of my underbum (not sure how else to describe it...the curve where bum meets thigh) and my quivering hamstrings.
I found myself mentally apologizing to Kendell. "Sorry, honey," I thought, struggling through that minute-long toe-tapping plank. "Sorry for saddling you with those fat thighs for the rest of your life. An eternity of chubbiness is yours."
Gah. I had no idea. Here I am, having lived 40 entire years of my life. Roughly 14,600 days (not counting leap years) and for none of them did I know how atrocious the back of my thighs is. It's chubby. And jiggly.
Once again, the image in my head matches up not even in the least with reality. And I confess: it's fairly discouraging. I'm trying to make myself feel better by reminding myself about the positive mental impact that exercise has, and how I'd be a mental case without running. Even if I do run like a girl who's trying to keep her D-cups from bouncing. (I don't have D-cups.)
But I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that I wish all of that (awkwardly-strode) running had done just a little bit more for my back side.
And that's not even starting on the back fat I glimpsed today.
It's enough to make a woman wish for an unlimited plastic surgery budget.
Or a stronger self-esteem.
Or just some skinnier thighs.