Letting go of stick-figure worship
Thru hiking transformed me, and I suspect that those internal shifts will continue to ripple out through my "real life" for a very long time.
I hope so.
Now that I’m less likely to give a f*ck about what other people think, I can also appreciate how thru-hiking helped me start healing my long held grudge against my body.
And not just because I lost 20 pounds while I was out there.
I’ve gained some of that back since I got off the trail because...ice cream!
What didn’t come back was the grudge. The harsh self-judgement. The sense that it’s not okay for my thighs to touch.
I fell into the trap, like every one I know
Like many women in our culture of stick-figure worship, I’ve spent most of my life unsatisfied with my shape. Even at my fittest, I thought I needed to lose a few more pounds to be happy.
My own grudge started early. How does a five year old know to compare herself to another kid and to come up short? Stacy Toler lived behind us and she came into life as a skinny twig. I will never be Stacy Toler skinny, but that didn’t stop me from thinking I should at least aspire to that standard.
What a trap to fall into, trying to be something you’re not.
Emphasis on maximus
I have meat on my bones and always will—broad shoulders, thighs that touch, gluteus maximus with the emphasis on maximus. Built for power. Not speed. Unable to appreciate that both are beautiful and valuable.
Do you know what Percherons do well? They haul heavy loads. They do it all day long without tire. They are the thru-hikers of the horse world and it took a thru-hike for me to finally begin to appreciate what’s unique and special about my own build.
Thru-hiking transformed and healed my body image. There’s no going back to old grudges. There’s no going back to wishing I was a stick figure. Only going deeper into acceptance and loving what is.
How I turbo-charged this body-image miracle
The transformation on the trail happened without a lot of fanfare or even effort.
It involved a lot of gratitude for my body on a day by day, sometimes minute by minute, basis. I asked a lot of it, it rallied in spectacular ways and I made sure to say "thank you" frequently and effusively.
It involved a willingness to appreciate what I’d been given (or what I’d chosen), gluteus maximus and all, and to let go of the habit of comparing myself to the Stacy Tolers of the trail.
It involved a lot of forgiveness, mostly to myself for the thoughts about my body I’d cultivated in the past that kept me locked in an unwinnable battle with my body and my self.
It involved a lot of faith that I was on the right path, that healing was possible and that the Divine was guiding me to get over my self (lower case s) and move forward.
It involved a willingness to change my values, to release my belief that Thoroughbreds are better than Percherons and to see the truth. That they are gloriously different and spectacularly beautiful in their own unique ways.
And, by extension, so am I.