How I got my Awesome F*cking Body.

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I was born it. I’m not lying — I came out with an amazing body and I’m proud of it. (Hint: so were you!)

You probably already knew I was going to say that. “Good genes” is a pretty standard response in celebrity interviews.

But what you may not know is that you were born with an awesome fucking body too.

Before I got cancer, I used to work out because I didn’t love myself when I didn’t. I’d set some number in my mind and when I weighed more than that number I hated my body. So I would run because more than any other exercise, running makes me lose weight the fastest.

But I hated running. I was terrible at it.

I would run way too fast at the beginning, and after five minutes I’d feel like I was going to throw up. If I pushed through and made it 10, I’d have to stop on the side of the road and dry heave.

All of it was punishment. From putting on my running shoes, to going out in the heat, to pounding the cement, all of it meant that I’d done something wrong. I’d eaten too much. I’d let food get the best of me. I wasn’t good enough. I was fat and most of all, I was unworthy of love. I’d spent the entire 40 or 50 minutes running till I felt sick and then walking and berating myself for being so out of shape.

And then I got cancer.

For months before I was diagnosed, I had trouble breathing, trouble swallowing, a dry cough that became irritated when I exerted myself and I was tired all the time. Even though I wasn’t working out much, I was losing weight quickly. I also had a lump on my neck.

How Cancer Affected Me (And My Awesome Body that Fought Back)

“I think I have cancer,” I told a friend after I’d lost another five pounds that week.

“I must have it because I never lose weight like this. I always have to fight every pound off and now they’re just falling off.”

“Be happy. I’d love to lose five pounds,” she said.

At 5’9” I went from weighing 150 pounds to 130 in two months, and I received more compliments than ever.
“Wow, you’ve lost weight. You look great!” “Thanks, I have cancer.” Insert awkward silence.

It didn’t matter that my skin looked drained, dark circles shadowed my eyes, that my hair shed worse than a German Shepherd’s and I’d resorted to coloring my bald patches with a magic marker—people were constantly telling me how great I looked.

I went to Spain just a few weeks after my surgery and strangers would stop me to tell me how beautiful I was. This isn’t rare in Madrid, and on its own wouldn’t be big news, except that I remember a group of guys asked my friend and I to take their picture. As I took the camera and held it up, I heard the boys making jokes about how hot I was and one guy said, “She has a tattoo. Did you see her tattoo?” And that remark made me feel so sad and angry.

I wanted to say, “Yeah, you know why you can see my tattoo on my hip? It’s because my shorts are falling off me because I have cancer.” I went from a size eight to a size four. I hated it. I didn’t feel sexy or hot, like people were telling me I was.

I felt sick.

I looked in the mirror and I didn’t like the hollows in my cheeks or the sag in my bra.

My natural frame is athletic. I have a big butt and strong thighs. I lost all of that when I was a size four. I had no curves, no strength. This wasn’t supposed to be “sexy.”

What’s wrong with a society that thinks sick looks good?

After my surgery, the doctor said I had to rest. I couldn’t run. The thing that I’d hated to do, the thing that I did when I was bad and had eaten too much, the thing that was my punishment was now the thing I missed the most. When I saw people running by my house, I felt sad, and I promised myself that as soon as I was better, as soon as I was strong enough to go outside, I’d run again.

This time, not as a punishment, but as a prize.

And that as I ran, I’d thank my big legs, the ones that I hated as a kid, and I’d tell them they were fantastic fucking legs because they could carry a heart so big and so brave.

So this is how I got my fantastic body. I was born with it all along. I just didn’t know it. I didn’t appreciate it. Now I spend time every day telling my feet, my hips, my butt and all the way up to my bright eyes and brain, that “I love you. You’re fantastic.”

I have an awesome fucking body, and so do you.

~

I know my worth. (A Poem)

And it doesn’t come from the size or shape of my ass
Nor whether I want to slide it up a pole
Or shake it all alone.
I know my worth doesn’t come from a cup size
Nor does it depend on what you think you could do with my body
If I were to let you.
Although my ass and my breast are both worthy of admiration,
Worthy of paintings and statues and salutes and awe,
They do not define me.
I am beautiful
I am sexy
My ass is round
And tight
And strong
And hard
But I also have two strong legs to hold it up.
And a back that has held much more.
And two arms that have carried hearts
And sleeping children to bed.
I have a chest beneath these breast
That holds a heart that is bigger than a nation
That has loved many
With the tenderness of a silent lover.
My lips that speak words of comfort
My eyes that shine even through the pain
My ears that hear your thoughts before you speak them
And my mind, full of ideas and desires
That lies awake and imagines all that was and is and will ever be
Of us
And others.
I am all of these bits and pieces
None of them alone define me.
I am not the size, nor shape, nor curve of a limb
I own all of me.
I decide my worth.

~

Image: Kira Ikonnikova/Unsplash 

Editor: Catherine Monkman

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Jamie Poole

Jamie Poole started life out in a small town in Alabama. She moved to Los Angeles at 18 and graduated from UCLA. She then moved to Madrid where she met an awesome Spaniard, married him in Las Vegas, and moved back to Madrid to open an English bookstore and coffee shop. After eight years abroad, she moved back to Alabama where she’s a university professor, a fitness enthusiast, and a writer. She enjoys heated conversations about most anything, but especially gender, beauty, success, and love. She loves to travel, to laugh, to be amazed, and to spend time with her family. You can send her fan mail at [email protected]

 

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anonymous Apr 10, 2016 12:27pm

I recently lost 60 pounds in 7 weeks. I heard repeatedly from people how they wish they could lose weight as “easily” as I did. They don’t know the torture my disease was putting me through. Society needs to ease up on the skin and bones is sexy thing. I’m happy with my curves.

anonymous Apr 5, 2016 8:19am

Thank you, Jamie, so much for having the courage to write your story and that poem. The way you conveyed your heart through those words was more than magical. I commiserated with your suffering and thought it was beautiful how you emerged wise and kind instead of bitter and hateful after such ubiquitous torment. That kind of realness that you portrayed actually sparked something in my soul, something that lost its flame long ago…regarding the love for my own body & I had been in motion to restore that…your words came at the right time. Thank you so much, for speaking to my soul. Thank you for saying what so desperately needed to be said to this generation. Bravo!!!!

anonymous Apr 4, 2016 7:54pm

Thank you. Just reading this article and the responses here, leaves me so appreciative. Every time someone tells me I look fabulous, it’s a horrid reminder of what illness and medications have done. I hate explaining “well, that’s chemo.” Especially when people just assumed I was fat and had no clue of the multiple steroids I take daily just to breathe. What it has taught me, is that we never know what someone is going through, don’t judge, and show kindness to all. The Golden Rule has never wrung truer. Being sick has taught me to be less self-reliant, open to opportunities, and selective in what fills my life.

anonymous Mar 16, 2016 9:28pm

I’m sincerely hoping you beat that cancer. .. it’s a crazy disease running rampant these days, making the lives of wonderful people like yourself miserable. Unfortunately it takes lives too . You’re a warrior and a survivor, and this article really gives a great pearlescent on how people can take their health for granted. You’re a badass. And a fighter. And an inspiration 🙂

anonymous Dec 31, 2015 7:42am

Jamie Poole,
How are you today? This is a wonderful article and we would love to know how you’re doing 1+ year later. Here’s to your Health in 2016. Happy New Year!

anonymous Nov 19, 2015 11:54am

Thank you for your honesty and bravery. This article is very inspiring! Brava! Best to you in health and beauty.

anonymous Nov 19, 2015 5:40am

In the same boat. It's funny because I was training for a triathlon before I got sick…now I consider walking the dog a major achievement. I look in the mirror and don't really recognize the person looking back…it's bittersweet because I tried so hard to lose the weight that is now flying off all by itself but I just want to eat a fucking cheeseburger without throwing up, lol. I am planning on training again when this done…I'm actually hoping to do a half marathon for cancer research in the spring. I guess the joke is on us…have to lose weight the "easy" way (along with hair, health and dignity) to understand how blessed we are and will be to train and do it the "hard" way.

anonymous Aug 23, 2015 9:11am

Thank-you so much for writing about this! Years ago, after a devastating trauma, I developed anorexia. 80% of my friends and family said I looked like I was from Auschwitz – articulated skeleton, losing my hair and eyelashes, dark circles under my eyes, not sleeping. Yet 20% of people, mostly men, told me how great I looked – "like a model" one guy said. To have a distortion where you are skeletal and think you need to lose weight is confusing enough, but to get positive feedback and compliments for being sick is messed up. I wasn't overweight to start with, I was like you, healthy and strong. I had curves, I felt sexy. But the attention I got when I was so thin also made me feel like I had what everyone else wanted. A long time friend (male) recently told me he thought I looked better when I was "skinny" – in that moment I chose self-care and decided to end our friendship. I want to be surrounded by people who don't have a set idea of how I should look, and care more about how healthy and happy I am. I appreciated your article very much!

anonymous Jul 10, 2015 9:21pm

I can feel your story. I too felt that way and am learning to love all my body, especially the tummy that I birthed so much with. When I started losing weight like that I freaked out. Cancer? anoerexia? Am I getting too skinny again. I love my food too much.

I had lost all the muscle tone in my legs, arms. I mean they had no fat on them. I too had been strong when I had been working out at the gym years ago, ridden bikes for years, walked everywhere. The muscles in my legs were big. Too big a weight not enough reps. Next time I would get that right. Put the seat up on the bike. Lengthen that leg.

Here they were, my muscles had shrunk. Sometimes my inner thighs would just let go. I was falling over. I know it was to do with the spiritual energetic journey I had been on. My arms would suddenly lose their tone one minute, then resume tone later. It was scary at times especially when I was on my own. Same with my legs they would just let go.

My friend lost weight too, his was due to cancer. I felt bad because I didn't have a diagnosis or something I could link it with like he did. It was hard for him to understand what was happening to me with all he was going through.
My legs were actually worse than his.

I was experiencing the bardo on a very physical level. Often major planetary conflicts. My friend would keep an eye on me, I would do the same for him.

In the end I was dealing with long term anaemia, as well as not being in my body for a long period of time. It has been a long road back. I was pale, ethereal they called me. I too missed my strength, even though I was bigger before. I felt healthier, happier, more confident. At the time I was dragon boating then my body, my head just gave out.

I couldn't walk across that bridge, up the hill to get to work, i couldn't row. I was collapsing. I needed to stop.I listened to my body. This woman said she broke down for a couple of days. I thought I have been breaking down for the past four years, letting go for twenty.

Another older friend who died of cancer thought she looked great when she was losing weight. I remember her looking at her legs. We can suffer delusions with pain and medication. It seemed she was reconnecting with a part of her younger self. She didn't look good or well. I can't judge as seemed to make her happy, she was so cheerful about it. She was showing her strength in other ways.

I would walk and couldn't feel my legs. I keep being told to ground. I felt grounded yesterday. I could feel my feet. Yoga helped to get me back into my body, Reconnect with it more fully. Thank You for sharing.

anonymous Jul 10, 2015 8:06pm

Thank you Jamie. Great article and poem!

anonymous Jun 11, 2015 6:49am

Thank you, Jamie, for this wonderful reminder. You are amazing. You really are. My youngest sister has cancer right now and I am going to send this to her. She is so beautiful inside and out and I know she will appreciate your words.

anonymous Jun 10, 2015 7:59pm

I love my f#c¥ng body too!
Thank you!

anonymous Jun 10, 2015 7:20pm

Thank you , it’s one of those days where the port hurts because I’ve grown so thin. That I’m so tired I can hardly play with my child that I find myself shedding tears for someone I used to be. Thank you

anonymous Jun 5, 2015 3:49pm

I've felt my worst when I've been at my skinniest; skinny because I was so depressed I stopped eating much. My mom was the only one who told me looked sick (not in a mean way; in a concerned mom way), and she was right. When I clicked on this article I thought it was going to be prescriptive, but it was way more profound than that. Thank you!

anonymous Jun 5, 2015 9:36am

I hate that many of us are so focused on our size and shape (myself included), than on health. We are sick to be so blinded by what others think of us. The more we become aware that this is what we are doing, the better the chance that we shift toward a more natural perspective.

I wish we could get your article additional exposure. Have you considered submitting it to Forbes or NYT? I think others would also be enlightened to hear your story. Would you mind if I send it to them, and ask them to publish it? I am a big nobody, but maybe if we all request it be published, they will spread the word. What could it hurt?

Jamie – Did anyone ever ask if you were ok, health-wise?

anonymous Jun 4, 2015 1:13pm

To anyone who has CANCER or any other disease of the body…

Research URINE THERAPY. This will heal you.

Much love to you on your healing journey!

anonymous Jun 4, 2015 10:52am

Amazing article. Thankfully I didn't have cancer but I had a complication with a complicated surgery and lost almost 30lbs. I was a healthy weight pre-surgery. I went down to 108lbs and a healthy weight for me is minimum 127-130lbs. I had SO many people say how great I looked and so forth. It was disgusting – people's reactions that is. My hair was stringy, my skin was grey, my bones were protruding…but because I was a size 1 I looked great apparently. People were telling me how they wished they were that skinny. I didn't react for a while then finally I said things like "oh, you wish you were on the verge of organ failure and hospitalization? awesome." It was an eye-opening experience for me. I realized how shallow and sad our society has become.
I hope you and everyone else here is healthy and happy.

anonymous Jun 3, 2015 8:23pm

Jamie, thank you. That was so well said.

anonymous Jun 3, 2015 6:58pm

So extremely empowering! What a triumphant feeling your article & poetry has left me with. Thank you. ^_^

anonymous Feb 11, 2015 11:01pm

Beautiful. Thank you for writing this. I just want to hug you, and I will now thank my big, strong, awesome thighs. Seriously, thank you.

anonymous Oct 30, 2014 2:29am

this was amazing. please keep writing and sharing.

anonymous Oct 9, 2014 11:45pm

LOVED IT!

anonymous Oct 9, 2014 11:23pm

Really nice article. It really touched me and above all surprised me.
Thank you.

anonymous Sep 21, 2014 11:30am

awesome article.
and so true.

I have been an oncology nurse, by the way for over 30 years, and one of the best parts of my job is seeing how much people let go of bull shit and start appreciating what they have-every bit of it.

oh, and also seeing how much progress we've made in long term survival, cure and amelioration of symptoms.
may you have a long, a very happy and healthy life, with your f—ing awesome body.

anonymous Sep 21, 2014 10:53am

This was just beautiful!!!! Thank you!!! Cheers! – Leah

anonymous Sep 20, 2014 5:41pm

Thank you for writing this. I had surgery 7 weeks ago for cancer treatment and also have a condition that causes me to drop weight quickly when it flares. People have literally told me they wish they had my problems so they could be skinny. I weighed 90 lbs and am 5 ft 5 inches and that weight looked and felt scary. I wish healthy people appreciated their working beautiful bodies more. You never know when illness will strike and you'll regret saying you'd rather be thin than anything.

anonymous Sep 19, 2014 9:07pm

One of the best stand out articles I have read on EJ.

anonymous Sep 19, 2014 12:01pm

i love it

anonymous Sep 19, 2014 9:36am

I needed this article today. Thank you. Loving my body is an ongoing struggle for me. I do know what it feels like to love and appreciate my body the way it is, but that feeling can be instantly thrown off by certain triggers (ie. my boyfriend noticing an attractive woman, etc). I still haven't figured out the unconditional part of the self love and confidence. I wish I had it.

anonymous Sep 19, 2014 9:10am

Life is nothing but perspective….

anonymous Sep 19, 2014 12:02am

simply rad. honest. full. beautiful. fucking true.

Michele Guthrie Jun 2, 2017 6:09pm

I almost died a few years ago; the diagnosis was "Near-fatal Necrotizing Pancreatitis." Basically, a duct in my pancreas was blocked and so all that pancreatic fluid spilled onto my organs, shutting them down. I was in the hospital the first round for 4 months (and altogether for 2 years), and I lost 100 lbs. because I couldn't eat anything during that 4 months. I was so weak I couldn't stand on my own, but my family raved about how great I looked. "She hasn't looked this good since high school!" my mother said. It boggles my mind how I was fighting for my life, but people were focused on my weight-loss. Thank you for sharing your story.

Heather Lynne Allison Hames Jul 17, 2016 12:36am

Thank you, Jamie.

Leydy Frausto Jun 27, 2016 7:00am

Love it!

Teri Wright May 8, 2016 5:26pm

Huh. I'm 5'9, was 157 lbs. Quit smoking and lost 10bs then lost another 10 due to stress- left a 4 yr relationship, grandpa is dying ect. All in 2 months... Now I'm at 135 lbs. I'm hoping that I don't have cancer :/ I've thought about it, because it was so easy and so fast and I seem to still stay that weight...