I am going on my third solid month of steady working out. I have run almost every other day since the week before Christmas and I have been doing a variety of cross fit and cross training exercises for 3 weeks. It has been wonderful. It has been terrible. Some days have been ridiculously hard and others have been a breeze. I have been on a steady mileage incline of about a mile per week and slowly but surely my mile time is coming down.

Despite this improvement, I still find myself comparing who I am now to the runner I was six years ago. The 145 pound high school girl who could run twice a day without even blinking an eye. The one who could bench press 100 pounds without thinking, who could run a 7:45 mile easily (and then complain that she wasn’t fast enough), who could squeeze into size 7 jeans (and complain because she wasn’t a size 5). This girl was careless with her body, silly and young and looking forward to opportunities to go further and faster day after day.

I sit there berating myself for how far I have let my body go. For struggling to run three miles without walking. For struggling to touch my toes after a hard run. For the way stretch marks criss cross my stomach, hips, and thighs. For every difference between my 17 year old self and my 23 year old self. For every pound that stubbornly clings to my form in spite of my best efforts.

For most women this is a frequent occurrence. A common way of thinking about oneself day after day. For some this is even considered motivation. It is so sad to me that we treat ourselves this way. It hurts my heart when I get stuck in the trap of these negative thoughts. It pains me to see women struggle the same way I do everyday. And I have realized now, that as much as it hurts my heart, it hurts God’s.

I have realized that I will never be that 17 year old girl again, in mind or body. And that’s okay. I have come so far from the girl I was then. I have made so much progress towards becoming the woman God has made me to be. I can bench press 45 pounds. It may not be much but it’s progress. I can run 4 miles straight, I may not be fast but I’m doing it. I have lost 1 pound and 2 pant sizes, it’s no where near my goal but it’s steady movement forward.

Every time I make progress I try to keep in mind that it is not about becoming who I was before, but becoming a better me than I am now. It is not about competing against myself or other women. It is about taking strides every day towards becoming the woman God intended me to be all along. One who treats her body, and her soul, as being worthy of appreciation and love. So from now on, I will try my very best to stop comparing myself with me or anyone else. When I look in the mirror I will thank God for all my body has done and can do. When negativity begins to creep in, I will use it as motivation to pray. I will appreciate all the progress I make along this journey be it a week, a month, or a year from now.