I ran a mile. Actually, I ran slightly over a mile. A mile plus. And I didn’t die. And I maybe could have gone further. Maybe. I wasn’t setting the world on fire in terms of speed. But I jogged. I trotted. I ran. So far away.
I ran a mile. Four laps around the track. I sprinted about 50 feet at the end and my legs were wobbly but generally, I felt ok. I was working. I was sweating. My throat had that 8th grade P.E. burning feeling. After, we walked up and down the stadium seats and then walked another mile-ish.
I had to do a stress test as part of getting approved for surgery – as I’m sure many of you also did. In a stress test, you have to walk until your heart rate reaches a certain level. I remember the nurses saying that you should then walk/run for as long as you can after you reach the heart rate level. I barely made it to the heart rate level. I remember the lady asking me if I wanted to go on or stop and I definitely needed to stop. I couldn’t inhale a breath. I told her this after I sat down and she said I was hyperventilating. Literally.
Before the surgery, I spent a lot of time dreaming, hoping, bargaining, etc. about what it would be like to lose the weight. What I would look like? What could I wear? How would I walk up stairs? How would I fit in airplane seats? How I could dry my hair without sweating to death. Maybe I could run a 5k. Actually run it. Cross the finish line. My own personal marathon.
My old neighbor Jenny remembered that I’d said I had this pipe dream and suggested we register for this local race (loosely using that term). Maybe I could run the last mile she said. Yes, let’s do it I said. Without her push, this would always be something on the list that I hope to get to one day. But probably never will.
So, we went up to the track last night and started.
Long before the surgery, I remember hearing Elisabeth Hasselbeck talk about wanting to get back in shape and have her daughter be able to say “My Mommy is strong.” And that really resonated with me.
I desperately want Grace to be healthy, strong and happy with her body. Please God – don’t let her have the weight issues that I have had. And her father has had. And so many in our families have had. The odds are stacked against her genetically. I so want to be a good role model for her. Healthy and fit. Not hung up on nuances of imperfection.
I had a revelation last night while I was running. We were talking (and I was huffing) about being active and how we were active with our families growing up. I realized that I don’t have any positive memories about being active as a child. My memories are wrapped up in athletics. Playing a sport that I wasn’t good at, didn’t enjoy.
I played sports because I thought that’s what was expected – and it most likely was. My family was very wrapped up in team sports. I played softball, volleyball and basketball until my sophomore year of high school. Why? Because that’s what you did. My brother is a successful athlete. My dad is an athlete and coach. My mom is a fan.
I remember shooting lay-ups with my dad and trying hard to do it right but not succeeding really well. Playing sports was always a high stress situation because I never had confidence that my body was going to do what it was supposed to do. I am not coordinated. I can be more coordinated if I really try but I still am only marginally successful. I am not an athlete. When I think about being active with my family growing up, it’s usually a frustrating, high stress kind of memory. It wasn’t fun. I didn’t enjoy it.
I have maintained for quite a while now that I hate to exercise. And I do. Now, if I go for a walk or something, I do feel good after but I’d still rather sit on the couch, read a book and eat chips. I realized that I associate exercise/being active with something that you HAVE to do rather than something that people might choose to do. They might choose to do this for many different reasons. But it can be a choice. On their terms. And about what is important to them, not about living up to someone else’s expectations.
I’m sure this is like saying that the sky is blue to most people but I don’t think I’ve ever thought about this before. I always assumed that I just didn’t like to exercise because that is how it was/is. I never thought about how that might be a conditioned view. Maybe I don’t like to exercise/be active because I haven’t ever had a positive experience? Because I haven’t ever chosen to do it? Because I haven’t ever chosen what I wanted to do? Because I haven’t ever said – I wonder if my body can do this? Let’s find out.
Am I going to run a marathon? Nope. That is still something that isn’t going to happen. Why – because I don’t want to. I really don’t want to. However, there is a glimmer in my mind that maybe I could if I wanted to. Maybe. Still don’t know.
But I am going to run a 5k. The whole way. With a number pinned to my shirt. I can run. And Grace can say “My Mommy is Strong” and so can I. Because I choose to, because it’s important to me and because it’s meaningful to me. And that is all that matters.
Chapter 38: This one is for me
2 weeks ago