How I Learned to Love my Body
Editor’s Note: Mary was a member of Beyond Type Run‘s 2018 TCS New York City Marathon Team sponsored by Dexcom and Insulet, makers of the tubeless Omnipod Insulin Management System. Learn more about the 2019 Beyond Type Run team here.
I used to hate my body. Hate it. Now I absolutely love it.
I was diagnosed at age 7. I grew up with diabetes, and we fought a lot. During my teenage years, my A1C was literally in the double digits, because I didn’t take care of myself. I just didn’t want to bother with my diabetes, so I didn’t. I didn’t pay attention to what I was eating or when or how many carbs it was or if I took enough insulin. It was fine, whatever … I would be fine, right? Right.
In college, I weighed nearly 200 pounds at one point and was extremely depressed about it. I hated my body even more than I did in high school. My flabby stomach, dotted with scars and scar tissue, bothered me more and more. I’m not proud that I turned to unhealthy habits more than once to lose weight. Yes, I might have looked great and skinny and fit, but I was also spending five hours a day on the elliptical machine and obsessively counting calories.
Fast forward a couple of years to January 2017, and my body and I are in a fine place. I didn’t workout, but I ate okay and was at an okay weight. Then I decided to be a runner, I decided to sign up for the New York City Marathon. Why? I had never been a runner before, but I decided to do it. (Story on that coming soon!)
At first, I could only run for about 30 seconds. Then a minute. Then two minutes. I stuck to the run-walk method, since I couldn’t actually run. But slowly, I started to reach those milestones. I ran a full mile. A FULL mile! I was happy and proud and shocked that my body did it. That my body could do it.
Over months of training, my body changed. I had muscles develop and emerge. My stamina got better. My breathing was less labored as time went on. I endured injury after injury. I realized it was no good to be mad at my body, because that wouldn’t help it or heal it. I focused on recovering from my injuries slowly and listening to my body. Holy crap … I was actually listening to my body!
For the first time in my life, I was okay listening to my body. I listened to it when it was in pain, or when it told me it needed a day off. I listened to it when it was hungry, and fed it with foods that would fuel me. I stretched, rolled, iced and took baths. I started going to a chiropractor and sports doctor. I’m reading an entire book on feet … and it is fascinating! I researched different nutrition options and supplements and decided what worked for me. I actually listened. I never listened before this, I always ignored what my body was trying to say, if it told me it was hungry or had enough working out. By treating it with compassion and love, and listening to what it was telling me, I grew to love it.
But I didn’t realize I loved it until a few days ago. I read a comment someone posted on an Instagram photo of me, saying I looked “too fit and skinny to have type 1 constant insulin diabetes and have to deal with it honestly.” I was shocked, confused and offended. How could he say that? Was he saying I was too skinny? That I wasn’t a real type 1 diabetic? Never have I been questioned by another type 1 if I had type 1, and never have I been called “too fit” or “skinny” to be a type 1.
It made me think about my body and my type 1. I have had type 1 for almost 19 years now. I have dealt with the highs and lows and everything in-between. I have had times I’ve not taken care of myself, that I’ve abused my body and mind.
I’m proud to say I’m not like that anymore. I’m proud to say I take care of my body and mind. I am proud to be at a healthy weight. I am proud of my muscles, and my tummy flab and scar tissue doesn’t bother me as much. I feel beautiful and strong. Since I started training, my body and mind have changed for the better. I fuel myself with better foods, I take vitamins and pay attention to how I feel. I’m eating more now than I ever have, and my insulin sensitivity has increased, thereby decreasing the amount I need on a daily basis. Running helps control my stress and anxiety. It has made me love my body. I know I am powerful and strong. I know I can do anything I set my mind to. I ran 22 miles a few weeks ago, and am about to run 26.2. My body is strong, gorgeous and capable—scars, flabbiness and all. I am happy and healthy. That is what matters. Not how I look, but how I feel. It took me awhile to come to that … 26.1 years to be exact, actually. Isn’t that funny?
Don’t judge people by how they look. Everyone has something going on beneath the surface, and you can’t know what it is just by looking at them. I’ve worked hard to not listen to those voices and judgments, and it only helps my happiness. Because all that matters is that I love how I look, how I feel and I am happy. It doesn’t matter what the random people on the street think of me when I’m running by them, because my body is powerful and strong and I am confident in that. Running has made me love my body, flaws and all. And for that I am forever grateful.
Read more about the Beyond Type Run in the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon.
To learn more about the 2019 TCS New York City Marathon Beyond Type Run team click here.