The REAListic Beauty and Fitness Challenge

“The perception of beauty is a moral test.” Henry David Thoreau

For me, running is a little bit like finding myself again. It’s my time to think, my time alone, and let’s all be honest here. It’s my way back into a size small.

In the past I’ve always been an all-or-nothing girl. It’s hard for me to find balance in these things. I either eat well and exercise or I do neither and feel gross all the time. But I’m 30 now (getting closer to 31) and I think it’s time to mature a little bit and find some balance.

Know what I mean?

So here is what I propose to myself. I have three children and so I will be realistic. I believe fitness is extremely important so I will be committed. I will work to feel comfortable in my own skin and I will be healthy for my children (and someday, grandchildren). I will not allow myself to talk negatively about my own body. I will embrace a healthy view of womanly beauty and model it for my own daughter. I will not compare myself with others. I will be well-rounded, not focusing only on outward beauty. As I grow older I will not try to change my physical self in foundational ways, but will receive the years with grace.

I will exercise and I will eat with wisdom but I will not let these things define me. They will be a part of me; they will help me to reach some of my goals in life. But they are not me.Β 

I don’t know about you, but I needed to read those words today. To remember, as I set out on this venture for fitness that a woman is more than her visible parts. My daughter must know this as she grows into a woman, and I am her closest example.

Would you join me? If you’re reaching for fitness, would you consider committing–with me–to the following guidelines? As women, we understand each other’s struggles. Together, maybe we can remind one another of what is really important while getting some cardio.

The REAListic Beauty and Fitness Challenge

  • I will commit to a realistic fitness goal
  • I will share my commitment with others and allow them to keep me accountable
  • I will encourage my sisters in their fitness goals
  • I will embrace a realistic view of womanly beauty
  • I will exercise for health and wellness
  • I will eat a healthy amount of food (this isn’t about dieting)
  • I will not speak negatively about my body
  • I will not speak negatively about another woman’s body
  • I will restrict media containing unrealistic and/or unhealthy portrayals of the female body
  • I will strive to be a good example of REAListic beauty (inside and out) to my daughter/sister/niece/granddaughter/friend/etc.

Here is where I begin:Β I will commit to running a 10K sometime in the next three months. This commitment is two-fold: I am committing to run regularly and train for something, but I am also committing NOT to run a half marathon first. I will stay realistic (and not injure my knees). I have a tendency to do too much too fast and then burn out. Not this time.

How about you?

Some friends have expressed a willingness to run this 10K with me. Would you like to join us? The 10K distance is 6.2 miles and many training schedules require eight weeks. Before committing to a training schedule you should be able to run at least 2 miles.

There are many run/walk training schedules available, and if you’re a walker, consider training to walk the distance. Exercise has been shown to ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression, and enhance brain function, so as long as we maintain a healthy view of exercise it’s a win/win.

Time for a disclaimer: if you have health problems or difficulties with your knees, back, feet, ankles, etc. you really shouldn’t be running. Consult a health care professional about your options for exercise. You can always swim! 6.2 miles is an extreme distance for swimmers, but I’m sure there’s something comparable out there. πŸ™‚

But remember, this isn’t just about exercise. It’s about getting back to a REAListic view of beauty. It’s about protecting ourselves from going too far in our search for approval. It’s about portraying the beauty in our hearts and not just the beauty in our faces. Ultimately, it’s a way of growing in wisdom.

I’ll leave you with these words from poet Henry David Thoreau: “The perception of beauty is a moral test.”Β Let’s pass the test.

Thank you for reading! If you’re interesting in joining the REAListic Beauty and Fitness Challenge, let me know in the comments below, or email me at Consider asking your friends, sisters, co-workers, etc. to join you, too. We don’t have to do this alone!Β 


  1. Anna Chapman says

    Well said – no, wait, beautifully said. So inspirational. What a challenge for us in this culture that values mostly one standard for beauty. I’m in! (Might be walking that 10K though)! REAListic here. =)

  2. says

    Ok I’m in too! But mine will definitely be a Walk rather than a Run. This post has focus where it should be, and all of us need the gracious input you have provided! I was not very good at this when you were a tiny girl, but as we know, there is Grace for all things past. I see this in you!

  3. says

    Ladies, thank you all for your comments! I am so excited about this challenge, and I’ll be keeping everyone posted as the days go by. πŸ™‚
    Angie, absolutely love your comment about the picture. That’s my sister in the pic with me and she’s (obviously) SO much fun. BTW, I’m looking forward to driving to the women’s conference with you.

  4. says

    Thank you, thank you! For using the word, “realistic”. I’m tired of all these crazy, impossible workout fads! Love your blog.