WAYS TO STRENGTHEN RUNNER’S BODY IMAGE AND POSITIVITY

As runners, we need to make sure that we’re protecting our body image and promoting body positivity. Acknowledge that all of our bodies are different, setting aside judgments, opinions, and expectations of what our body should look like as runners. Know that all of our bodies are incredible and capable of so much. They can go ultra distances, but on a cellular functional level they are more impressive. Appreciate, love, and respect that.

Self-care is obviously very important. Appropriate recovery and nutrition, among all of the other ways that we support our bodies.

We have to check our negative and distorted thoughts about our bodies. What kind of thoughts are you having about your body? What are you doing with those thoughts? Are you taking care of yourself? Positive affirmations, caring thoughts, embracing ourselves how we are in the moment, and focusing on the resiliency of our bodies are a few ways to go about promoting healthier and more realistic thoughts. Remember, thoughts are just thoughts, what you choose to do with them is what matters! We all experience negative thoughts.

It’s okay to want to improve our bodies and become sharper athletes. Make sure you’re going about it in the right way and not causing harm or injury.

Be present and content with how you are because our bodies do so much for us, they change day-to-day, anyway. Give thanks to your body, even the challenging parts. Forgive yourself for things that you have said or done to your body that you shouldn’t have. A good way to do this is to look at yourself in the mirror and repeat these things, allowing them to settle into your heart. Let yourself heal.

When hurtful words and actions come from other people, we don’t have control over that. We choose to control how we react. Have some sort of comeback or body positive affirmation in your back pocket for when this occurs. Protect yourself, stand up for yourself. A ton of people out there will have something negative to say about your body. It sucks, it shouldn’t happen, but try to not allow it to take a hold of you. You’re better than that and you’re worth it. Plain ignoring the person is fine, but it feels better saying something positive about your body. Better yet, if you say something amazing about the part of your body that they are judging or criticizing. Use your strength and take a stand.

You know what’s best for your body, but if you’re honestly struggling with body image and eating, reach out for support. Strengthen yourself through people who are there to help you. It’s alright to need any level of help with something. You could contact a professional mental health counselor, someone who specializes in body image and eating. Dietitians and nutritionists. A running coach, maybe even one who is certified in nutrition. For a good shot at getting the best support for you, make sure that they are a good fit to work with.

As a running community, let’s continue the conversation, sticking together on issues like this, and lifting each other up. Thank you for reading.

Breakneck Falls, McConnell Mills State Park

EXTRA SELF-CARE AND HEALTHY HABITS, SOMETHING WE ALL NEED.

Short talk about self-care, something that seems easy, but it’s actually kind of difficult to do. I feel this topic is covered so much, but yet, we all still struggle with it. I can’t think of a single person, myself included, who could be practicing self-care more frequently or in a way that’s more beneficial.

May is Mental Health Awareness month. What are you doing this month (and everyday because we have mental health everyday) to make sure that we are growing our knowledge and awareness of mental health? How are you supporting yourself? How are you supporting others? Please, share with me down in the comments what you’re doing for mental wellness. [I could use some fresh ideas.]

Mental health professionals cannot end the stigma alone and get everyone the help that they need, we need you to be a part of this mission.

About My YouTube Channel

The purpose of my YouTube channel is to provide you with information on mental health and tips to help you get through everyday life. Since I’m passionate about running and the outdoors, you may also see that as it relates to mental health.

Liggett Trail, Cook Forest State Park, PA

About My Facebook Page

“Like” and “follow” my mental health page on Facebook if you are interested in psychology and all things that are therapeutic and healthy lifestyle. I post mental health articles, blogs and free downloadable worksheets (blogs and worksheets are also available here on my website). My favorite things to share are inspirational and motivational quotes, random mental health facts and trail running photos that I took myself. You will occasionally see something about my favorite sport, running… and specifically, ultramarathon running. An ultramarathon is a distance further than a marathon. Running is about mental strength just as much as it is about physical strength. Running can teach us lessons that carry into everyday life, I like to integrate these things into my work in the mental health field.

I look forward to connecting with you through https://www.facebook.com/finishstrongercounseling/ on Facebook and I hope that you enjoy following along!

Be well and happy running!

~ Shannon

California

“Finish Stronger”

I came up with the name Finish Stronger Counseling from my experience and passion for running. To “finish stronger” means to end the session better than when it began. Think about training for a marathon. During training runs, sometimes the goal is to have negative splits (a faster pace per mile) and to push harder as the run progresses. “Hanging on” or maintaining mental toughness for the final stretch is also considered finishing strong. Keep in mind that finishing strong can look different for everyone.

Through these experiences, there is opportunity to learn something new about oneself and about running. The runner can gain empowerment, self confidence and strength. “I can because I did!” “I can do it again.”

If the session didn’t go quite as the runner hoped it would, they may consider the attempt a failure, but there are still things to take away from the experience. The runner has to CHOOSE to have a positive outlook and approach in what they take away from that training session. This bump in the road or “failure” is not an “end all” experience, it does not define the runner. Having that positive outlook and approach leans into the concept of finishing strong.

Runners can learn how to adjust and tweak weak areas and how to challenge themselves more. There is always room for improvement. When practicing pushing beyond the comfort zone, one can begin to become more comfortable with being uncomfortable. The runner becomes more familiar with feeling uncomfortable and gets into the habit of finishing strong, which then transfers into other parts of life.

Just as finishing strong is to running, it can be applied to counseling. Through having hard work ethic, positive thinking, resilience, and appropriate interventions and treatment, a person may leave their counseling session feeling better, more knowledgeable and well-equipped than when it began.

Badwater Cape Fear Ultramarathon, Bald Head Island, NC