Sometimes when I see people out in the world, I imagine them as characters in a story. This story was inspired by a woman about 30 years of age kept running up and down the little hill in front of me in Central Park one day.
(I say “little” because I was sitting. I’m sure if I was running up it, that hill would have seemed like a mountain. So props to this woman.)
But here is where my imagination took me:
Three weeks until her best friend’s wedding and Rachel still hadn’t hit her goal weight. She had kept up with her workouts since the invitation came in the mail but the past two weeks had been hard. The bachelorette party had been last week (all those beers weren’t helping her waistline) and the week before had been her road trip with Ashley (fast food was way too prevalent along the US highways).
Today though, she was back on track.
In the park.
For one hour.
It had been murderous but she always felt good after a workout. That is, until she got home and looked in the mirror.
The mirror was where she noticed the way her thighs dimpled or the way her butt sagged or the way her underarms fluttered in the wind.
She could have avoided the mirror in her bedroom. And she could have avoided the one in the bathroom too. But mirrors weren’t just in her home. They were all over her life: The shiny buildings that reflected her form back at her as she walked down the street, the Instagram photos that her friends demanded be taken each and every time they did anything remotely noteworthy, the bathrooms, the elevators with the shiny doors, the computer screen, the window in her office, everything was a mirror, set there to reinforce her deepest fear that she was, in fact, fat and ugly.
But fat and ugly wasn’t a permanent condition. She would change it by running those hills, and skipping those desserts, and downing those dreadful green smoothies.
She didn’t realize that once the skin on her thighs ran smooth, and her butt perked up, and her arms held firm, she would find something else to hate. Something wrong. Like the way her lower stomach bulged just a bit, or how her armpit fat leaked over the edge of her sports bra.
She didn’t know that the fight was not with the mirrors or with the Instagram photos or the shiny buildings.
She didn’t know the battle was with herself, with her mind, with a world that would never be happy with her size, her shape, her weight.
No one told her. They just said to keep it up, that they could see a difference, that she was improving.
So she just kept running.