A Letter To My Body

Dear Body,

We’ve been together for 31 years. And that’s basically nothing — we’ve got a long road ahead of us! So I think it’s time we had a chat. Because right now, I feel like you hate me. And I know there have been times that I’ve hated you, disrespected you, and ignored your needs. So I’m going to lay it all out there, because I want us to work together for the long haul. Here are a few things I want to say to you today…

Best friends.
Best friends.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for all the times I looked at you and got angry or upset because of how you look. I’m sorry for all the times I stood in fitting rooms trying on jeans that wouldn’t budge over my thighs and blamed you (instead of just sizing up or, duh, giving in to a life of spandex). I’m sorry for all the times I saw a photo and immediately cursed the bad angle or ill-fitting outfit I’d chosen.

I’m sorry I don’t always take enough responsibility for stuff. I’m sorry I waited so long to go to the dentist, and I’m sorry for all the times I procrastinated getting really basic tests and procedures done simply because they were inconvenient or expensive. (But I had no problem meeting friends for fitness classes or dropping dollars on SoulCycle classes…) I’m sorry I haven’t always made you a priority.

I’m sorry for not getting enough sleep. Or water.

Now we both have jacked up teeth...
Now we both have jacked up teeth…

I’m sorry I spent at least 15 years wearing the wrong size bras.

I’m sorry about that time with the hives. That was totally my fault. I know what I did. I’m sorry we had to go to the ER and get that really painful shot in the butt to make them go away. I made a bad judgment call the night before.

I’m sorry about that one time I insisted on going for a run even though I had a fever. (I learned my lesson, though, and have never done it again!)

I’m sorry for getting Shingles. That was weird, wasn’t it? Why did that have to happen at the ripe age of 23? I don’t think that one was my fault, though.

I’m sorry for all the times I obsessed more over how you looked than how you performed. I would never judge my friends — or even a stranger — based on their appearance alone, but I did it to you constantly. I’m sorry for being an asshole.

This was the day I made you do 1000m repeats. It was terrible. Sorry.
This was the day I made you do 1000m repeats. It was terrible. Sorry.

I love you. 

I really do. I know sometimes it seems like I don’t. I know I’ve looked at you in the mirror, in the shower, and everywhere in between, and I’ve thought terrible things about you. I’ve talked shit about you to my friends, and I’ve screamed and cried at you when you weren’t behaving the way I wanted you to behave.

I remember being really young when I first started hating you. I was only 7 years old when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s, so we’ve been through years of ups and downs already. I remember spending hours in the dance studio, hating you because you didn’t look like the other — skinnier — girls. You couldn’t jump as high or move as fast — and that had everything to do with you, not the fact that I was eating entire boxes of oyster crackers straight from my backpack every single day, and was skipping ballet class to get footlong meatball subs from Subway. (Lessons learned, OK?) Instead of changing my modifiable ways, I criticized your inherent ones.

Then, in college, oh my god, I was so, so bad to you. I’m sorry we only averaged like four hours of sleep per night, and that oftentimes that “sleep” was really just a drunken nap. I’m sorry for all the Franzia I fed you, and for all the times dinner was two chicken quesadillas and five strawberry vodka juice concoctions. I’m sorry for the other bad habits, too. We don’t need to address those right here or now, though. You remember. My bad.

Rollin' up to the hockey parties with water bottles full of Franzia. Ugh.
Rollin’ up to the hockey parties with water bottles full of Franzia (and crazy straws). Ugh.

It took me until recently to finally truly love you for all that you’re capable of. After knocking me out of the game for almost two years, you rallied and came back to life so we could run the New York City Marathon in 2013 and again in 2014. It was one of the greatest days of my life, and one that still reminds that this, too, shall pass. You’ve proved your resiliency and your strength, and I haven’t given you enough credit for that. Keep that shit up, OK?

I really love you now. I love you for being unique and strong and one-of-a-kind. I love you for having legs that let me run, arms that can pick up a 60-lb. puppy, and eyes that [knock on wood] don’t need glasses or contacts. I love you for having sample-sized feet, so I don’t always have to ask a sales associate to grab a pair of shoes to try on from the back, and I love you for [so far] not sprouting any gray hairs. I love you for sticking with me through brutal hours in the dance studio, long nights of kickline rehearsal, and early hours running in Central Park. You’ve been everything from a size zero to a size 12. You’re a trooper, through and through.

Remember when we got to work out at CitiField?!
Remember when we got to work out at CitiField?!

I need you. 

I have really big dreams. And in all my dreams, you’re there with me! I want us to do great things together. I want us to travel the world, cross exciting finish lines, and live to be 100. So if I promise to help you out, will you help me out, too? If I promise to treat you better — feed you better, hydrate you better, give you more credit, talk nicer to you — can you help me out in return? Because lately I feel like we’re on opposing teams.

I know neither of us ever asked to have Crohn’s disease or any of the problems that come along with it. (These fevers, man — they’re giving me a real run for my money this week. And I keep clogging the shower drain because so much of my hair is falling out right now. Not to mention the wisdom teeth thing, the headaches, and the 20+ bathroom trips per day. Yes, 20+.)

Happy-ish times in Vermont. I thought I was "so sick," but that was just the beginning...
Happy-ish times in Vermont. I thought I was “so sick,” but that was just the beginning…

I know having Crohn’s is as hard emotionally as it is physically. And I know that when the disease is really bad, I blame you. I blame you for betraying me, for taking me away from the things I love, and for stripping me of my identity. I blame you for hurting me, for keeping me up at night, and for making me live in a constant state of discomfort.

If we keep going through life this way, we’re not going to be around very long! So let’s work together. I know you can’t magically make this Crohn’s flare go away — wouldn’t that be nice?! — but if you’re reading this (LOL), can you at least make the fevers and night sweats and some of the bathroom urgencies go away before I travel internationally tomorrow? I really want to see the Eiffel Tower.

And I really, really, want to run the New York City Marathon again on November 6. Training was going so well. I was feeling fast and fit, and I was training well. I was taking rest days, I had cut back on my sugar intake, and I wasn’t over-training for once. I was doing it right. I was going to make sure you didn’t get injured or overly exhausted. I was taking care of you.

Those are bathing suit bottoms, not granny panties, first of all. Second of all, WHERE IS MY HEAD?
First of all, those are bathing suit bottoms, not granny panties. Second of all, WHERE IS MY HEAD?

I want to tell you to fall in line, to cut the shit (dude, literally), and to please give me a little break. But I know that negative reinforcement isn’t often productive. So I’ll take some responsibility for this current state of health. We’ve had such a great year so far. Let’s just keep that rolling. Go team?



PS If you behave and we make it to Paris, I promise to feed you pain au chocolat for breakfast every single morning. If that’s what you want.

PPS Bonus points if you let me run while we’re in Paris. I’ll never say a bad thing about you again!



13 Responses

  1. OMG, that picture of your headstand cracked me up! That sucks having problems when you really have been watching out lately and doing so well with your training. I have great faith that things will turn around for you and you’ll be back at it in NYC!!
    Hope you are having a great trip in Paris 🙂

  2. I love this Ali! Thank you for sharing. But also, boo for this flare. The part about getting shingles made me laugh, as I’m just getting over having them for the last two weeks. And I’ve been pretty mad at my body for not cooperating with me. Hang tough girl!

  3. You are truly an inspiration! We are so hard on our bodies and your letter really puts everything into perspective. I am so sorry this is happening and that you’re struggling so much right now. Sending so many positive thoughts your way. I hope you get to Paris and get to enjoy your vacation!

  4. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. As a fellow Crohnsy I truly feel your pain. I hope you’re able to travel, just bring Poopourri for the plane! Whether your body allows you to run or not, enjoy your time there. Soak up the sights, sounds, smells and tastes! Nutella crepes for life! I went to Paris for my honeymoon and was flaring as well. We just tried to make the most of it. Dance party hugs! Feel better super soon.

  5. I am so sorry this is happening to you AGAIN!! I feel horrible. However, I was thinking that you should write a book about your experiences. You have an amazing talent for writing. Do it!

  6. Oh man, I think we should all write a letter like this to our bodies. There is definitely so much I expect of my body without giving it what it needs in return. I hope your body is letting you travel to Paris, but if not, the city will always be waiting for you!

  7. Wow, thank you so much for this Ali. You so perfectly summed up the conflicting messages we send our bodies on a daily basis. There are so many times I get mad at my body for not being able to do yet another long run after 4 days of long runs in a row, and fail to realize that it is hurting and has already carried me through so much. It’s usually not until I get injured that I truly understand how loyal my body has been. Thanks for the reminder to treat our bodies with respect everyday.

  8. Ali I have never commented but can’t tell you how much I needed this post. I almost cried reading this because it is such a good reminder to be kind to ourselves. IBD is such a shitty disease and always here if you need to vent!

  9. This was lovely! I’m 25, and it sometimes takes me aback to realise how badly I treat my body sometimes, especially if I think in terms of wanting to live to 100! This was a lovely reminder that I need to be grateful for my body, and to look forward to all the adventures it can take me on! Enjoy Paris, definitely try an almond croissant, and I hope the flare up goes away soon. x

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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