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December 14, 2020

How Running Taught me to Believe in Myself.

Stacia Aashna

As a young girl, I was taught to believe that women in my family weren’t built to be runners.

Why? Because we all have large breasts.

Even merely typing that “justification” now feels ridiculous.

These days, I run five miles a day, and I have been a runner for the last eight years. As a woman with a size E chest, I feel I have some authority to say that, no, big boobs don’t mean you can’t be a runner.

However, I believed it. I never even ran a mile until I was in my mid 20s I resolved to believe that I was not built to be an athlete. In fact, for years, I yo-yoed with my weight; my relationship with my body was unhealthy, and I believed that I would always struggle with these things.

I remember when I first made attempts to go jogging outside; I was immediately met with the debilitating feeling of being deeply ashamed of my body and feeling out of place. I was unable to run outside for fear of being seen as the imposter I felt I was. I felt hypersensitive to my body jiggling and to anyone looking at me.

In truth, there was a lot going on for me beyond my body insecurities. I struggled with PTSD and depression. As much as I wanted be a runner, there was a lot more that I needed to address mentally and emotionally, as well.

I had to first overcome some of my trauma, shame, and depression, at least enough to just get started.

What helped me? Meditation and reading Buddhist philosophy to become more objective with myself and understand how the mind works. I learned about neuroplasticity, which is the ability to grow new neural pathways in the brain, and thus change your belief systems. I found therapists and went to support groups to heal my PTSD and depression.

I got better.

I healed enough to get started. And quickly, running became a part of my healing protocol. Because, of course, this was never only about running. Becoming a runner, for me, was more than just becoming fit enough to run—it help set me free. It taught me to be more attuned to my body and my breath, and it showed me how much these things are connected to the mind and emotions.

Most importantly, becoming a runner taught me to believe in myself and to reject the limiting, false beliefs that were given to me. They don’t belong to me and they never did.

What are you holding on to that doesn’t belong to you, but you have made it so?

These days, I run along Lake Michigan with the sunrise and the biggest smile on my face every morning. It makes me feel powerful and alive to know that I am the captain of my ship, and I can rewrite my story—I did rewrite my story.

You can, as well.

~

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