An ode to my tummy (and the Tough Bloke Challenge)

I recently completed the Tough Bloke Challenge – a 5 kilometre mish-mash of army style obstacles, running, mud pits, and tunnels. Why did I do this? Well, apart from the obvious joys of crawling through mud pits under barbed wire and running five kilometres in pouring rain, I like to challenge myself, and my body. It’s a sick and twisted thing – but I really enjoy the physical “I can do this” mentality that I get when participating in this kind of stuff.

You may or may not be aware that I’ve been training for months to compete in Tough Mudder (Why do all these events sound the same?!, I hear you cry. I don’t know. I honestly don’t). I’m running between 12 – 14 kilometres, I’m doing bootcamps, and I’m sometimes even attempting to not eat chocolate. It’s truly ghastly.

Physically, I’ve never been fitter. I may not be as ‘skinny’ as I once was, but I’ve never been able to run this far. I’ve never had this much stamina, or confidence in my ability to do this physical activity stuff.

And so, it was with glee that I checked out the photos from Tough Bloke the other week. ‘I’m a super fit machine’, I thought. ‘I’ll look amazing in these photos’.

And yes, super fit I did look. But then I came across these photos:

There it is. My tummy. Chilling right there, for the world to see, whilst the rest of me is busy A) tackling some monkey bars, and B) posing for the camera.

This isn’t a hate letter to my tummy. On the contrary, it’s a love letter. You may have read my previous blog on my body, whereby I came to the conclusion that I was never going to look like a super model. These images really just reinforced it to me. I am in truly bangin’ shape at the moment – I can run pretty damn far without losing my breath, I can climb over log walls, and I look at one of these army-style obstacles with a gritted determination only previously seen when I was four, and demanded to have ALL THE CHOCOLATE for Easter.

And yet, there’s my tummy. It refuses to be shaken, or to abandon me – no matter how hard I have previously tried. And now, I’m now partly grateful, believe it or not. By having it shoved in my face, courtesy of these photos, I realised that it really is a part of me – and if I don’t love it, who else will?

I know that this may lead to a few people saying, “What tummy?! The girl is hallucinating!”. Or even better yet, “Let me show YOU a TUMMY!”. Which is great, and fine. But we all have our hang ups, no matter what size or shape we are -and this one was, and is, mine.

I’m going to leave you with a few other photos from the Tough Bloke Challenge, and a question: if you’re not treating yourself right, and challenging yourself now and then physically, why not? I don’t necessarily like running – but I do it because I can. Because I have two legs, and because I want to use them. I want to challenge myself, and see if I can overcome a few fears (such as climbing really high cargo nets and swimming through leech infested dams) along the way. And if I have a few unflattering photos taken of myself along the way? Then that’s great. Because I just have one more reminder of how I challenged myself and my body, and I won.