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I’m just going to come out and say it: I’ve been a d*ck to you, and I am sorry about it. I want to try to make amends, because you’ve been so good to me despite all of the mean things I’ve thought about you. And you don’t deserve that.
I remember I started thinking terrible things when I was a teenager, and I’d envision a magic knife that would let me carve off these bumps on your outer areas. I hated those bumps. They were right below my hips, and when I heard the phrase “saddlebags” for the first time, I thought, yes, that’s what I have: saddlebags. No matter how many leg lifts I did or how long I spent on that abductor/adductor machine that makes me feel like I’m inviting the rest of the gym to ogle my birth canal, they never got any smaller. (Just like all those crunches never made a dent in my belly pooch.)
I am glad that thigh gaps were not a big thing when I was younger, because that would have been another way in which you failed me and even more reason to hate you.
I was about to go into the issues I had with you when I hit my late 20s and realized all of the muscle tone I had taken for granted as a teenager was no longer readily visible, but you know, I really don’t feel like rehashing this. We both know our fraught history. We both know the things I’ve done, the feelings I’ve had, the thoughts I’ve entertained. I’m really sorry for all of that, and I want us to move on and to develop a better relationship.
I actually think we are well on our way to developing that better relationship.
I’m doing more to take care of you by cultivating your strengths, both inside the weight room and outside of it, and by making sure you have plenty of nourishment to rebuild yourself after I work you extra hard. I’ve started using a foam roller on you, and it seems like you like it, even though you sometimes bitch about it too. I try to stretch you out regularly and soak in warm baths at least once a week, because I know I ask a lot of you and I want you to know that I appreciate it.
I see that you are paying me back for the care I’m giving you.
Sure, those saddlebags are still there—and probably always will be—and no one will mistake me for an elite athlete. But even so, I see you proudly displaying those muscles—those quads, those hamstrings—and I feel a little proud for you too. My husband has caught me admiring you in the mirror, pointing my toe and flexing and checking you out from all different angles. But what can I say? I think it’s pretty rad to see you looking so strong and capable. Damn girls, ya look good.
The truth is I am so very grateful for you. You got me down the mountains when I ran my very first half-marathon in Ogden more than five years ago. You do the majority of the work when I run the three-bridge loop on the beaches. When I run as fast as I can, that’s all you.
And remember when we first pulled off a superman in pole class? Or when I first did a pole sit? That was all you too. You are strong enough that I can squeeze you together around a metal pole, and you will hold me in the air. I can wrap you around the pole and climb up it like a freaking monkey. And that’s all you.
I am maybe proudest of what we accomplished when I set off for my first ever 40-mile bike ride. We’ve been working hard on the bike, riding consistently on routes that take us on overpasses and bridges (which is about all we get when it comes to hills in this part of the country). We’ve gotten to the point where I can get out of my saddle and climb up hills, and even though it was really hard on us at first, you’ve adapted to the workload and so it’s slowly getting easier. At least I’ve noticed that you don’t burn quite as fiercely when we are done.
Anyway, I noticed that you felt strong and solid until mile 30 or so, and then the burn started to set in. It was hot outside, and our water bottles had gotten lukewarm and gross, and you were so, so tired. But you didn’t give up. We kept going for another ten miles, on a route that had us going over at least six overpasses during that time, and even though we were barely crawling up the last one (I think my Garmin registered something like 6 or 7 mph?) you kept turning those pedals, right until we pulled into our driveway.
That was all you, ladies. You did that. Do you know how awesome that is? I was so proud I even posted about it on Facebook, and I haven’t posted about a workout on Facebook in months.
That’s the kind of relationship I want to cultivate with you. Not one where I sit and stare at you in the mirror and hate you for not looking like the thighs I’ve seen in a magazine. (By the way, I’ve since tossed all those magazines, and I am pretty sure that made a difference in our relationship as well.)
No, I want us to have the kind of relationship where we look at each other in the mirror and tell each other how awesome we are, and then we go set off on amazing adventures together. I want us to be friends is what I am saying.
So I hope you will forgive all of the terrible things I’ve said and done to you in the past. You are worth so much more than that, and I’m sorry it took me this long to realize it. I promise I will never be sh*tty to you again.
This post was was written by Caitlin Constantine and originally published on her blog, Fit and Feminist. Caitlin is a triathlete, runner, and swimmer who funds her endurance habit by working as a digital media producer for a TV news station in Florida.