Have you put off getting on your bike because you're waiting for the cycling equivalent of a summertime beach body? Do you struggle with your own body image? Is it getting in the way of getting out there?
It’s been a few weeks since I read Alice Seuffert’s wonderfully written article (Put On Your Damn Swimsuit) about her personal struggle with her body image, written to inspire other self-conscious moms and encourage them to love their bodies— stretch marks and all.
While Alice may not have planned it, her short article inspired me too — a 42-year old man who's struggled with body issues since my early 20s.
My favourite part of Alice’s article was her realization that “My kids will never say, ‘My mom was such a good mom; she fit into size 10 jeans.’ Instead, they will talk about how I was confident, how I loved swimming, and how I loved both them and myself fiercely.”
You see, in the past few years, I’ve gained a few pounds myself: A move to NYC and then back to Canada, along with personal and work-related stress… I’ve found comfort in food, especially sugar. It’s been a lifelong struggle.
I don’t know when the little voices started to get louder to the point where it got to the point of me hiding, but it doesn’t matter… it was there; quietly shaming me in the back of my mind and somehow suggesting that I don’t deserve to be on my road bike, riding alongside some of the fittest people I’ve seen in my life.
And when I told myself I was being ridiculous and put on my kit anyway, I would take paths that we’re generally hidden away from the public eye and scrutiny. Logically, I knew that nobody gave a damn what I looked like on my ride, but that didn’t stop me from thinking about all the worst-case scenarios of body shaming I *might* experience on my rides.
A few weeks ago, I went on my first ride of 2017 and it was awesome. I've been on many rides since.
I was the big-boned fella riding down Lakeshore in Toronto. In my mind, I resembled a human sausage, pressed into my kit which is probably a little bit too small for me right now. That’s OK.
Because like Alice said in her article “Starting the journey to loving myself and putting on a swimsuit didn’t happen overnight. It takes constant effort to counter self-deprecating thoughts. I’ve played those thoughts in my head over and over for almost 40 years, so it’s going to take some time to heal.”
Thank you, Alice.
-Ride Safe (and judgment free!)