If you follow me on any of my social media, you will know that I recently ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon. I have been an avid runner since high school, running for track and cross country teams and devoting a lot of my free time in college to working out. Running is part of my identity, a part that very few people would guess without knowing me relatively well. In fact, I often get looks of surprise when people find out I am a long distance runner. Why?
Because most people imagine all runners to look like Olympians. Tall, lean, all leg, and no chest. In all my 5’3 glory, I am none of those things. I am a stocky, curvy woman who has a stomach that I like to fill with bread and cheese. My thighs and calves, thanks to miles and hills and treadmills, no longer fit into any skinny jean. And I wouldn’t change that for anything.
What I would change is the way people react to my body. I can see it in their faces (and have had it said to my face): If you’re a runner, why aren’t you skinny? or I mean, I want to work out, but I don’t want my thighs to get bigger…
So what does any of this have to do with pie and Butterball turkeys?
One thing I have noticed about the holiday season is that people bake a whole lot of guilt into those pumpkin pies and candied yams. How many of us sit around the table on Thanksgiving and stuff ourselves to the point of discomfort while simultaneously making comments about how fat we are?
So many carbs!
I should really go to the gym.
Why did we buy such a big turkey?
One more piece of pie…oh, I really shouldn’t…
Honey, you don’t need another dinner roll.
The holidays usher in joy, delicious food, and also a lot of judgement surrounding what we eat. So much of the focus is on food–shopping for it, preparing it, eating it, putting it in Tupperware…and also regretting it.
Well, I can tell you that I have never regretted pie on Thanksgiving. I can also tell you that as a runner, I don’t sit around the table at the holidays (or ever) and think, “I need to go running. I need to work this off.”
I don’t run to melt away carbs. I run because I am an athlete, a little bit insane, and obsessed with a sport that gives me life. And I will always be a stocky 5’3 because that is how my body was built, and I make no effort to change my diet to lose weight. Maybe someday that will change, but for now, I don’t believe what I eat should make me unhappy and feel like I need to hit the treadmill. I may not be 130 pounds and I definitely don’t fit into pants that aren’t at least a size 8, but that doesn’t matter.
It also isn’t a bad thing if you never work out and you are 120 pounds and fit into a size 4 pant. Eat what makes you feel good. Make your mental health a priority and eventually, judging yourself will become a real waste of time. For me, happiness doesn’t involve making excuses for a body that doesn’t look like a runner’s.
I believe in pie with whipped cream.
I believe in Butterball turkeys with stuffing.
I believe in baked potatoes with sour cream.
I believe that celebrating with family shouldn’t come with a side of guilt and a self-promise to eat salad for the entire following week. We work so hard to make delicious food to enjoy together…can’t we just sit down and eat it?
I think everyone should eat until they are stuffed on Thanksgiving. And no one should feel the need to justify the feast.
It’s a holiday. Don’t judge anything. Just eat something.