I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life. It’s always something on my mind, simmering just under the surface. It’s a constant stress, worry, inconvenience. It’s the root of all my self doubt. It mocks me and yet it protects me.
In 2004 when my weight had reached an all time incredible high, something clicked. I had to do something. I had no idea what that something was but I knew it was out there. I started by walking around the block of my old apartment. I hated it. I was out of breath, my thighs chafed against each other, I was immediately drenched in sweat (and it was the dead of winter). But I did it. Slowly those walks got easier. One day I dared myself to jog a little. Just a little, when I was sure no one was around. And it wasn’t as awful as I had thought. So my walks morphed into a jog/walk routine and I was losing weight.
Later in 2004 I moved out of the city and back to the suburbs where I grew up. I joined a local gym and started going pretty regularly. I religiously went after work, jog/walked on the treadmill while watching the Food Network for 1 hour, went home, showered, ate dinner, and crashed.
I did that routine for 3 years straight and I lost 75 lbs.
In August 2007 I met John who was very fit; a former chubby kid and fellow member in the Significant Weight Loss Club. We had all of that in common and were really good for each other, motivated one another, and before I knew it I was signed up for my very first 5K race in December 2007.
I was already in pretty good shape because of my jogging treadmill workouts but my first 5K converted me. Racing was The Next Thing I Had To Do. Between December 2007 and January 2010 I trained for and completed six 5K races, one 5 miler race, and one 10K race. In October 2009 I started training for my first half marathon. I got 4 months into training and was up to 9 straight miles of running without stopping until a slow injury crept up and ruined everything.
In February 2010 I was treated for a labral tear in my right hip. I saw an orthopedic doctor, did 3 months of physical therapy, and got a cortisone shot to help my pain. I was told running was over for now and maybe forever. I was crushed.
In the meantime I tried everything – swimming, the elliptical, yoga, pilates, I even bought a bike. Staying in shape was so hard without running to focus on. I didn’t love anything as much as I loved running. Nothing provided me with the mental release and physical accomplishment I felt from running. I felt so ungrateful for whining about not being able to run with so many other options but I was defeated.
At that point John and I were engaged and focused on planning our wedding. I was able to do what I had to do to look halfway decent in my wedding dress. I was 10 lbs. heavier than my lowest weight ever and that killed me. It was still 65 lbs. down from my heaviest of all time but still. I didn’t think it was all acceptable that I wasn’t able to kick myself into high gear to prepare for the wedding. I told myself it was too hard, that what I managed to do was enough. It remains one of my biggest regrets.
After the wedding things got worse. I did nothing, did not cross the threshold of the gym, for 5 months. There were a lot of reasons I guess. None of them legitimate. The only reason I can come up with now is that I talked myself out of it everyday. And when I did go back to the gym in September 2011 it was a half hearted effort and remained that way even through last week. All this is to say that over the course of the last 10 months I gained 40 lbs and am now only 25 lbs. away from my highest weight ever. It’s been awful living with the guilt of that.
That brings us up to now. As I mentioned, things have not been good lately. Without going in to details I have felt a total lack of control over my life. And, without any real way to cope, it’s gotten worse and worse. Gaining 40 lbs. led to a shame spiral of not wanting to go anywhere, see anyone, or even try to confront my weight issues because they seem so insurmountable. This depression, coupled with the depression of everything else going on, has left me totally paralyzed. I wasn’t living. I wasn’t able to.
Finally, finally, I found some relief last week. I was desperate. I thought, forget my doctors, what if I could run again? How would that change things? It wouldn’t solve every problem but it would provide me with some control and that is what I need more than anything.
So, without overthinking it too much, I put on my too-tight running clothes and set out on Saturday morning. My plan was to just get out and walk, and maybe try jogging if I felt like I could. Well I tried. And somehow I could. It felt so amazing. I mean, it hurt like hell because I’m seriously out of shape, am 50 lbs. heavier than the last time I ran, and I have an injury. I couldn’t think about those things. I just focused. I just let my mind go to that place that it comfortably went to when I ran before. My legs knew what to do, my heart rate slid into that sweet spot of elevated but manageable, my breathing was on autopilot. It all came back to me. My body still somehow remembered how it worked and what it should be doing. This lifted my spirits so high. I took breaks, I alternated between a slow jog and walking, and I was hurting by the time I got back home. I could barely move the next day. But it was such a good hurt. The kind that makes you find strength in pain; that makes you think maybe I am worth fighting for.
As I said, this isn’t going to solve my problems. I may find I can’t do this after all. But I’m willing to try and I have hope for what could happen. I haven’t felt this excited for the future in a long time. I think, no matter what happens, this is the first step in getting myself back. I’ve been gone for far too long.