What you will see is variety. You will see every shape and size in both genders. Every age range is represented. So is every ability and disability. You’ll get to see the wheelchair race, the elite runners, and thousands of stories as they pass by. You will see determination and overcoming fear. You will see months of training, bucket lists, and comebacks. And I guarantee it will heal you of the false belief that all runners are long, lean and run without effort.
When I walk or run, I wear my little fuel belt around my waist. I’ve had it since I first started running in 2001. It’s a lifesaver. It holds a Benadryl and my Epi-pen in case of a bee sting. It also holds my car key, two tissues, my phone or iPod, whichever I’m using for music that day, and enough fuel for my run. I’ve been using Honey Stinger waffles and gels, and they have been working great to fuel my long marathon training. Any run over 90 minutes, and I need to eat to keep up my energy.
Lately I’ve been joking about my natural fuel belt that tends to hang out right around my waistline ever since I went menopostal…I mean menopausal. I happened to transition from high to low estrogen relatively early when I was 40 years old. I personally consider this an answered prayer. I was not a fan of the monthly fluctuations, the discomfort or the hassle. To me, this is freedom. I did have a few sweaty nights to contend with, but those days are long gone.
The one thing that is not gone is waistline fat storage. What…in…the…heck? Since I have been training for the big event in October, I made the choice to run which puts me in my heart rate zone 3. This is another topic entirely; however, suffice it to say since instead of walking my normal zone 2 workouts I am running my zone 3 workouts, I am storing a little extra. And it aims right for my waist.
Years ago, I did a certification course called Midlife Fitness for Women. Much of the material centered on the topic of estrogen’s role in our health and fitness. It is a very complex process that can be summarized like this: after menopause, fat will be stored near your waist. The reasons have to do with estrogen levels, storage and how important estrogen is to your heart and other vital organs.
Your fuel belt is a lifesaver!
But we just see it as an attack on the shape we used to have. I believe we need to remember this:
1. Your body is programmed to store fat at the waistline after menopause. You cannot reprogram this. Railing against it is a waste of your personal power.
2. Your body is doing this to ensure proper function of your vital organs, especially your heart.
3. You are empowered to mitigate the amount you store by eating a mostly plant-based whole foods diet and staying active and fit.
4. Walking and strength training are crucial to keeping extra weight from being stored post menopause.
We do not get to choose where our bodies store our fat tissue. We only get to choose how much. We already speak so harshly to these gorgeous bodies of ours. I hate to see it continue during a time when we would be much better served by celebrating what our bodies can actually DO.
I can spend all day anxiety-ridden about a few pounds jiggling over the waistband of my jeans, or I can keep my heart open to the fact that I just finished an 18 mile training run and am about to do a 20 miler this week. Which one sounds more radically responsible? Which one sounds more empowering? Which one sounds more healing? Yes, of course.
I will make understanding this truth part of my daily practice.
I will not abuse my body with unaccepting words.
I will be kind to my body, notice what it is capable of, and honor how it is programmed.
I will express my health and fitness every chance I get.
By being wide awake.
By understanding and celebrating who I am.
And by honoring whatever stage of life I am in, because all of this is really one giant miracle. And I don’t want to miss any of it.