I can still feel the agony, the dread of the once a year mile run in elementary school.
I never could do it. I would try so hard, but my legs would hurt, my side would cramp and my throat would get so dry I couldn’t even spit (which was so unlike prissy little me to even WANT to spit.)
“I am not a runner.”
That script has run through my head my whole life. I remember watching in awe as my friend Martha would sprint across the last square of sidewalk with her legs pumping, flying up behind her. Our gym teacher would stand there with her stop watch in hand. I always dreaded mile run day. I would hope that I didn’t get lost in the neighborhood surrounding my school as I was so far behind the rest of the class. I would walk across the finish line holding my side hoping I wouldn’t puke.
My best friend in high school broke the school records for cross country. A 5k to her was a sprint, she was born for it. I figured the reason that I was her best friend was so that I could admire her skills because they were skills that I didn’t possess. My niece runs the 400 in less than a minute and has earned countless metals and a college scholarship because of her speed. In contrast the few times I’ve tried to be a runner I ended up with Plantar Fasciitis and could barely walk. Let me say it again, I am not a runner.
I’ve always said I liked exercise only when it was fun!
I grew up as a gymnast. I was strong. Flying through the air is a rush. Punching a back flip after a series of back handsprings feels awesome. Playing doubles tennis in high school was a great experience of working together with a friend and enjoying competition.Then I became a grown up and exercise consisted of walking/jogging on a treadmill. This makes me feel like I am loosing my mind. All around me I see work that needs to be done, dusting and things to pick up. I would often tell myself that I would exercise when the work was done and I put myself on the bottom of the pile. I constantly broke promises to myself and walked around with time slipping away and loosing self esteem and strength everyday.
Somewhere along the road I had lost my way. Not completely, but little pieces of me that were always strong began to wither.
I’m not sure if there is a certain event in my life that I can trace it back to. I think it was more of a slow chipping away at my image of myself. My script was experiencing a gradual shift from positive mantras of, “You can do anything”, to “you’re not good enough.” My story includes a lot of hard things. I experienced multiple miscarriages, the loss of a son and an adoption of two kids that didn’t happen. As a girl whose number one dream was to be the Mom of a big family these disappointments eroded away at who I was. Eight years ago I was diagnosed with Chrone’s Disease and I felt like my self image of being strong and healthy went crumbling down in front of me. It was replaced with what felt like a stamp on my forehead that said, “I’m sick.” I no longer knew how to eat or take care of myself. I took perscription drugs to put my disease into remission but quietly lived in fear of the side effects like cancer that were printed right on the label. My last two kids were born 17 months apart. My children are my greatest gifts from God, but I was in survival mode. I became the mom who carried lollipops for the kids in my purse to dodge meltdowns and hid in the pantry when I needed a chocolate pick me up. I swore I would never be that Mom, but I had gotten good at breaking promises to myself.
I want you to know that all through this season the people around me loved me well, but so much of me had quit loving myself.
My husband would buy me beautiful clothes, and workout equipment, and do his best to inspire me. He would try and be my cheerleader to take care of myself, but when he would say things like “Did you get a chance to work out today?” My mind would translate it to hear, ” You look fat and I have little respect for you anymore.” If he innocently asked me where the chocolate went my mind translator would turn on again and hear, “You have no self discipline, I don’t think you are pretty anymore.”
This weekend we went to a wedding I had my clothes laid out and when Adam saw what I was going to wear he simply asked if my dress was still in style? He was looking out for me. He wanted me to steal the show and to feel proud of myself. For the first time in a long time I heard his words WITHOUT the translator which normally would have said, (“He hates my style, thinks I’m fat, and dress like an old lady.”) Instead I tried on 3 more dresses and was so glad that I did. I was dressed just right for the event and felt confident all night long. That success opened my eyes, “He really is on my team!” I thought. This took me off of my place of being constantly defensive and made me open to honest dialogue. I could finally hear what he was really saying, words like: “I want to grow old with you, I want to hike and explore in our retirement, invest in your self now so we can enjoy life together.” These are words of love, but I had translated them to hear, ” You’re not good enough, I wish I had the younger version of you.”
Something in me was starting to switch. It started with “Skinny House.”
For the first time, when I started the “Skinny House” process, I took care of myself first. And I did it for me alone. I’m a chronic people pleaser and for the first time I just did something because I needed to, not for anyone else. Also, as I was decluttering and organizing one area of the house led to another and I quickly realized how all of life is connected. When I made space in my house for my things to be orderly I also made space in my day to take care of myself. The Skinny House diet looks like this:
I- IDENTIFY TROUBLE SPOTS
E- EXERCISE ROUTINES
These principles began to cross over from my house to my health.
I began to EXERCISE ROUTINES for fitness and put myself on the top of the priority list. I woke up early and let my kids get breakfast while I went for a walk/jog. I often connect with a friend and it becomes a social event so then it is something that I enjoy. One neighbor who I exercise with has been a huge motivation to me. Linda just retired and we are kindred spirits. She taught me to run for 2 minutes, walk for 45 seconds. With this method I began to gain strength.
Today I conquered a goal that is huge for me. I ran the loop of my neighborhood, only walking to cross the streets.
I think it is about 1.7 miles. Since I was a child in gym class I never thought I could run a mile. Today is the day for a new script. A script that puts goals in a place and I am a conqueror. A script where dreams are back in the picture. A script where I am not defined by a diagnosis, but a story of overcoming. I have always been an optimist and I am ready to be myself again. You, my friends that read my blog, have become an inspiration. This platform allows me to put my fears into the light. I am held accountable when I put things in writing. Thanks for journeying with me.