Thoughts on a Fat Guy in Spandex...

Treat yourself with a little kindness

What Peter Shankman learned about how he looks at himself

Good morning from NYC, where I completed another NYC Triathlon. A 1.5k swim, a 40k bike, and a 10k run. The Hudson River, however, beset by storms the past few days, didn't feel like cooperating, so the swim portion was changed to another run, so it was a run/bike/run Triathlon. (Or Duathlon, I suppose.)

Anyhow, I finished it, I'm sore, and it's another notch on my training belt towards the Kona Ironman in October. But something interesting happened yesterday that I thought we could all learn from.

On race days, I usually wear spandex. If you know anything about me, you know that spandex and I are NOT friends. I'm a t-shirt and jeans guy. I don't have, nor ever will have, the kind of body that screams "let's wear something totally clingy that highlights every single slice of pizza I've eaten since I was seven years old!" But on race day, you're going to be sweating, you're going to be dumping water on your head, and you're going to be out in the sun for a long time. So cotton is out, spandex it has to be, and yesterday was no exception.

As I crossed the finish line on a humid, overcast Saturday, and as I was stopping my Garmin watch, I heard someone call my name. I looked up, and it was my coach, David, with a camera in his hand. "Smile," he said, as he grabbed a photo of me, shall we say, not in my best pose.

He sent the photo to me, and I immediately grimaced - Who wants to see this fat, sweaty, soaking wet guy walking towards them? Ugh.

But them something happened.

I looked at the photo again and noticed the word "FINISH" on a banner above me. I looked and saw a guy who (possibly for the first time in my life) didn't look fat and out of shape, but rather, strong and tired from completing a decent race. I saw someone who had spent the past 15 months getting stronger and stronger, in an effort to get ready for this massive undertaking he'll attempt on October 9th. I saw a guy who didn't look like he won the race, but looked stronger than he's ever been before in his life.

I'd never seen this guy before. Hell, up until I looked at the photo, I didn't even know he existed. He's not there all the time. He disappears on occasion, forcing me to hang out with the fat guy who's full of imposter syndrome.

BUT... (And here's the lesson...) If the stronger, happier guy can show up for me every once in a while, maybe your stronger, happier person can show up for you. Maybe we all can start seeing ourselves like other see us, as someone doing their best every single day to try improve, as someone who occasionally has setbacks, but tries to use them to come out stronger on the other side.

Maybe, just maybe, we can look at ourselves today and treat ourselves with just a little more kindness.

That's my wish for us today.

Much love,


PS: If you can, would you be so kind to donate a few dollars to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society? The whole reason I'm training for the Ironman World Championships in Kona in October is to raise $150,000 for this wonderful organization that is helping to beat blood cancer. In honor of those in my family with blood cancers that I've lost, and those who are fighting it every day, I'm attempting this monumental task. Every donation, no matter how small, helps.

See Peter crossing the finish line here.

Other articles by Peter Shankman

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