Article by Jessica Bagley
Jessica is an avid ultrarunner, mother, and social media curator who preaches fitness with realistic and healthy body image goals in mind. Be sure to follow her on instagram @jessica.ultra.miles
Over the years, my relationship with fitness has changed almost completely.
I remember being a new Mom and wanting to “get my body back.” It was about the aesthetic, regaining my pre-baby body and looking the way I wanted to look. Life had taken many twists and turns and that was the one thing that I could control. I would wake up at 5 AM faithfully, do my cardio, lift my weights, eat the chicken and rice. Eventually, I saw the results I wanted so badly, and you know how I felt? Empty.
It was vain and it was fruitless. I had the body I thought I always wanted, but there was no limit. It could always be better, I could always be more toned- more cut, more fit.
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It's no secret I LOVE the Maurice River Bluffs. Today I had a conference call with @nature_nj and a film company and we roughly outlined a short film about the bluffs! I'll basically talk about why I love the preserve, how it fits into my high energy lifestyle, and how its benefitted my family and my RUNNING. Super pumped about this opportunity and hopefully it gets the word out about the amazing work @nature_org is doing to preserve some of the world's most beautiful places! More details coming soon, filming starts next month!
Then, I had another baby-my fourth- and I found myself starting from scratch again. But, this time I felt a little different.
Did I really want to work out so I looked like a girl on the internet? Or did I want to do it so I could more fully LIVE?
I opted for the second.
I trained for my first marathon, then my first ultra, and I found my passion. Now I run for the love of the sport. To feel my body move with ease and do the things that I want to do with my children. To be outdoors and enjoy each season on the trail and the unique beauty it brings. What is the point of these bodies that we have, anyway?
How do I explain body image to my sons and my daughters? They watched their Mom steadily gain weight as I started eating more and spending more time with my family. Was the time away worth it when I was in search of the ideal physique? In my opinion, no.
Now, my kids see me eat the cake. They see me run the miles. They see my ‘Mommy Belly’ and I make sure that they know it is normal. They do not hear me complain about my body, call myself fat, or run for the sake of “getting my cardio in.” My kids see me loving my sport and living fully and enjoying a balance.
It’s my hope that as they begin running with the Healthy Kids Running Series, they will find a love for the sport that I enjoy so much myself. I will probably never have those abs that I once valued so highly, but I think I have something even better: my kids will see that having a normal body is okay and that loving yourself just as you are is invaluable.