Guest post: Peter Hogan's perspective on running and body image

A couple months ago, my friend and teammate Peter Hogan posted this on Facebook and I loved it.  His words stuck with me and he was kind enough to allow me to share them here. He is open and honest and I appreciate the opportunity to highlight his story. Thanks to Peter for sharing!

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So normally I post to Facebook like I would to Instagram. Cute pics of my kids and a blurb. But I wanted to post something about an issue that I’ve been thinking about over the last couple days. And that is body image and body positivity. Take a second to read this if you care. I’ll be back to the kiddos next time.

Recently on the Running Rogue Podcast Episode 103, an amazing podcast for anyone who is even remotely interested in running and endurance sports, guests Jessie Barnes and Cate Barrett were on talking about goals and more specifically, recently crushing some goals (good job ladies!). During the episode there was a little snippet by Jessie about this matter of body image and body positivity. She detailed a bit her struggles in that area and some of the work she does with the #SportsBraSquadATX, a local running group. What really got my wheels spinning was when the host, my running coach and all around amazing guy Chris McClung stated that he also struggles with this issue.

Full disclosure, Chris is a super good looking dude. He shows up to coach us every Wednesday morning looking super fly in his relaxed athletic way. But he’s also a high level distance runner and compared to some of those guys he’s running with, his body composition is different. He sees himself as maybe not as fit or not as skinny as those guys.

As I listened to this I just kept thinking how crazy that was. And I started to have a little self reflection in this area.

I’m posting all this with a picture from a recent race I ran. The reason I chose this picture is because originally I didn’t post this picture because I thought it made me look fat.

How sad is that!

I had just crushed the hardest hill in that race, 10 miles in and I wasn’t even breathing all that heavy. A great accomplishment that I’ve put not a little amount of work towards and I’m worried that some people (and let’s be honest, no offense) I really don’t know well will think I look fat.

I reflected back over the last couple years about running and weight loss and a couple things stood out. First is that when I run only to “look good” I’m not consistent and I don’t enjoy it all that much. I focus on the scale more than anything else and it’s just depressing most of the time. But, when I run for all the right reasons (I won’t dive into those but I will point you back to that Running Rogue podcast to learn more about why it’s important to define why you run!) I run consistently and I love it! And I lose weight anyway.

If you’re still reading this post (hi Mom!) there’s a few things you should know about my own body image. I was a three sport athlete in high school: water polo, wrestling , and swimming. Through it all I was the only person I knew of who could do that much sport and still have a pot belly. The darn thing just never went away. And it never has. I’ve mentally put having a flat belly as a bucket list item. I’ve sadly wrapped a lot of self worth into not having one. And as a result have thought less of myself because I didn’t have a six pack or whatever.

Life has moved on. I got married, had kids, etc and it’s not quite as important as it used to be. Do I want to lose weight and have a flat stomach? Sure, but not all for the same reasons. Now I want to lose weight because my cholesterol is lower when I’m lighter and all those hills in Austin are easier to run up when I’m lighter. Rebecca Hogan didn’t marry me for my six pack and would love me if I ended up on my 600 lb life.

But here I am filtering out a picture because I think I look fat. Sad. And revealing. More work to be done.

So a couple things. One, I think my daughter is perfect and always will be, but if someone like Chris struggles with body image so will she. And honestly it’s way more of an issue for women than for men (books have been written), I appreciate people like Jessie being vocal about this matter and I want my daughter to struggle as little as possible with it as she can. So my goal in relation to her and her own body image is to be as positive of a factor as I can be. Same for my son. Same for my wife. I will do my best to reinforce that they do not need to compare themselves to anyone and at least to me they are perfect.

Two, it’s suuuper hot over the summer here in Austin. I never run shirtless or even in a singlet because I’m self conscious of my body. Well screw that! It’s suuuper hot in Austin. So in the spirit of the women of the #SportsBraSquadATX, if those skinny fit dudes I run with Wednesday morning take their shirts off so am I!

Jessie BarnesComment