Wednesday, April 6, 2016

In defense of the sweaty selfie

When I first joined my online fitness accountability group, I posted an after-workout picture (aka sweaty selfie!) a few times, but it made me feel extremely uncomfortable.

Listen, I don't really like pictures of myself even when I'm careful about the way I stand, the grade of my smile, or the color of my shirt. After I work out, my hair is a mess. It's usually 5 a.m., so my eyes are still hung with sleep. And yah, there's sweat. Why would I want to share my image in such an unguarded, undone moment? What could possibly be the point? I decided early on this part was not really for me.

Yet I appreciated seeing the steady stream of sweaty selfies from the group in my Facebook feed. Knowing that others were getting their workouts done encouraged me keep up with my goals, and seeing their smiling, glowing faces connected me to the group in a way that words on their own wouldn't have done. I started to feel like I knew these ladies who were sharing their struggles and goals, being brave in their skin and strong in their resolutions.

But still, I couldn't participate fully. If I took my own picture, I'd see one eye bigger than the other. Hair that's always awful. Look at those dark circles! And, sure, my biceps are bigger, but aren't they kind of freakish? Veins and elbow bones and ugh. Delete.

This boils down to fear. Old fear. That admittedly teenage fear of being judged, of not being accepted.

But as I continued to follow along with the group and post my text-only check ins, I started to wonder who I was really helping by holding myself back. Was I really sparing anyone something awful by not posting my picture? This couldn't possibly a big deal. Why did the idea of sharing myself with a safe, supportive group of women make me feel so uncomfortable? What would happen if I tried? Not just once or twice, but every day?


This was my guiding word for 2016. A resolution of sorts. It means:

--try new things
--try again
--try harder
--try, instead of thinking so hard
--try, even when you'd rather not

I decided to give it a go.

It's a simple practice, one that might seem silly to some, but it is a practice.

It's like this:

When you are training for something -- a race, maybe, or a performance of some kind -- you repeat the same action over and over to keep improving, to take yourself to the next level. One set of push ups isn't going to be the thing that breaks the 4-hour marathon for you, but it's a step toward a stronger body.

This picture, right here, cannot erase my self doubt, but sharing it today is a step toward putting myself out there. Letting go of my own insecurities. Being brave enough to claim every inch of myself, inside and out.

This is me. This is how I look today. Right now. I woke up at 4:30 and pushed myself hard in my workout and snapped this picture. I'm raw and real. And in sharing myself with you, I'm taking a step toward total self acceptance. I'll practice this over and over until I really, truly feel it.