A Different Kind Of “After” Photo.

One of the ways I used to allow myself to talk about my weight back when I used to talk about my weight, was by using the standard of, “I’d love to lose enough weight to feel comfortable running in just a sports bra.” It was my way of setting a goal connected to how I felt about my body instead of what the scale said…which made me think I was taking power away from the scale. I know now that setting it connected to an appearance dictated by society and the media is no better…but I didn’t know that then.

Back in 2016 I ran a 110K and I was the smallest I had ever been since I got pregnant with Wesley in 2007. I took this picture in the hotel the morning of my race and posted it to instagram, but was not brave enough to go in public like this. I felt like in the shadows of the hotel bathroom this body was okay to share on the internet but there was NO WAY I was brave enough yet to do this in public. I thought, Maybe if I get down below 130…then maybe I can do this in public.

BEFORE: 2016, 135lbs, no practice of self love.

Then, as you know, the next few years saw me slide away from ultramarathon/endurance running. I had a lot of personal crisis’ related to my mental health, my Mom’s health, and my professional career that all led to me gaining 30+ pounds. Luckily, as I was working my way out of all of this I also was learning more about loving my body in whatever form it takes.

I started practicing mantras of self-love and I stopped looking at the scale. I refused to let myself criticize my body and started imagining the hateful words I’d use to talk to myself as words directed at my daughter, which helped me stop using them. I gave all of my old clothes to goodwill and bought adorable clothes for this new body – including crop tops. I started enjoying food instead of counting calories and not punishing myself or calling days “bad days” that involved binging. I started prancing in front of my family in a cute outfit and saying things like, “LOOK AT ME! I LOOK ADORABLE!” My husband even said something to someone recently when I was explaining this new habit of mine and he said, “Yeah…it’s not something she’s ever done before, it’s awesome.”

I mean, it hasn’t been an easy transformation. There were many days I’d look in the mirror and say, “UGGG…<insert negative comment here>” and then have to practice and say, “Kim…you are beautiful,” even though I was feeling anything but. But eventually? The negative comments stopped flowing and became a trickle and I started believing the positive things.

But I still had never run in just a sports bra.

And then? A few weeks ago I saw a Facebook notice for a special Pub Run event being organized by some female runners in our community where they were encouraging women to toss the shirts and run in our bras. The idea was A) It’s already hitting 90s in Alabama so it’s official too hot to run in ANY clothes and B) It’s easier to step out of your comfort zone when other women are doing it too.

So I DID IT.

There was a HUGE group of us but I didn’t want to put the group picture on my blog since I don’t know everyone in it, but just trust me when I tell you: IT WAS AMAZING. And the majority of us? Were first-timers.

I was very nervous. I kept saying, “What if I’m the only one there without a runner’s body?” But you know what? EVERY BODY IS A RUNNER’S BODY! There were even signs that said that!

I’m really proud of myself. Who knew that instead of losing 5-10 more pounds to be comfortable in running in just a sports bra, I only had to gain 30+ and a lot of self love. I’m hoping my next step will be to brave just a bra in my neighborhood by myself without my friends by my side, then I’ll truly feel like I’ve deserved my membership to the #sportsbrasquad.

Y’all know I’m not a big fan of before and after photos as public testimony as they’ve crippled me in my quest for body positivity. I don’t mind them for personal progress measuring but I have learned that a lot of my personal self-hatred evolved from wanting a skinny “after” photo my entire life…EVEN WHEN I WAS SKINNY. But this time? I’m showing you a different kind of after photo. That photo up there was the before, it was before I loved myself and before I was brave enough to demonstrate that self love in uncomfortable ways. This one here? This one is the after. This girl was happy and cool and loving running with my awesome friends last night. Sure…she had to wear two bras and grease the shit out of her boobs (and her arms and her thighs) to avoid chaffing when all of the stuff rubs together on a sweaty run. But she was proud and happy and her belly was loving the breeze. Sometimes she eats cake and french fries and drinks beer. Sometimes she runs. Sometimes she walks. Sometimes she does yoga and a lot of times she eats bean dip. She no longer calls days “good” and “bad” based on food or fitness. She wears crop tops and short shorts and pigtails and she thinks she’s pretty awesome.

AFTER: 2016, 165ish lbs, believes in her own beauty in any body.

Welcome to the real goal weight: STRONG, HAPPY, AND LOVING MYSELF WITHOUT SHAME.

14 Comments

  • junkie

    YOU ARE SO AWEWOME & HAVE BEEN BEAUTIFUL ALL ALONG!!!

    I’m SO glad you figured that out, too!!! ?

  • Amanda

    I LOVE this post and I love you!!! You are awesome and beautiful and thank you for sharing this journey with us. You rock.

  • Misty B Stiers

    I am not there yet, but I read this just now and had tears streaming down my face because following you all these years means I’ve gotten to watch you go through this and it feels possible. It feels probable that someday I may smile and feel good and be proud of how I look. Thank you for that.

  • brian

    I’ve always known you were amazing, this is another great step on your journey. You rock!

  • Elaine C. B.

    SQUEEE! This is the best. I love this post, and that you just went out and did it, and so many other women did too. Just, the best! Hugs!

  • Jobonga

    Awesome! I started wearing shorts last summer and I realized I don’t actually hate summer, I just hated being overdressed and overheated. Shorts actually keep me cool – who knew?? And I started wearing regular bathing suit bottoms at the pool instead of only swim leggings. Do I love the cellulite and stretch marks? No, I don’t. BUT I am so thankful for this body and for my health. I feel beautiful sometimes but much of the time I just want to be HERE as I am – neither beautiful nor ugly, just a human lucky enough to be living my one life.