Lately I’ve found myself slipping into a “can’t do” attitude with my goal of weight loss and a return to my pre-pregnancy physical condition. Lots of days I want to sit on my couch in my pajamas reading Time Magazine or the latest YA book until noon. However, in the past whenever I’ve been distressed with a lack of progress I motivate myself with my “rags to riches” weight loss and running story. I wish I had pictures to include – but they are all packed away right now. Meanwhile – It goes a little like this.
– Cue the dramatic music and dim the lights, the story is about to begin! –
I grew up in a soccer-van type of family. All four kids played for at least a couple seasons on the town league, and some of us were good, and some of us weren’t. Although I liked to play, I wasn’t the most driven player. My dad always said I was the type to have to be mad to play well, and I only got mad when we were losing.
In high school after seasons of only so-so soccer ability, I decided to try something new; cross-country. I didn’t pick the sport with the most enlightened mind. In fact, I knew nothing about it. But since this was the first year the sport was offered, every runner counted in the goal toward finding five runners for each team (boys and girls) to qualify for a match. So I showed up. Two weeks before classes started on a hot August day I was on a field that was mostly football players and soccer stars. What happened next involved my Walmart sneakers and I jogging two laps around the school building. Reader, I barely made it that half-mile. That was the beginning of running.
Since this is a story about two things (weight loss and running) let me provide you with a little nutritional background as well. I also grew up in a carbs and snacks kind of family. We were always eating, usually crackers or candy, and at meal times the vegetable portions were small and the rest, well, the rest wasn’t. “Seconds” was a routine part of these family meals, and slow mindful eating was a totally foreign concept as well. Along with a penchant to view sweets as rewards for all occasions and successes, I didn’t exactly have good foundation for healthy eating.
When it came to cross country I was mostly people oriented and hardly performance oriented. I loved the feeling of participating in a team sport, running with my friends, and identifying as a “runner.” But, when it came right down to improving… I didn’t. The hard truth is, I didn’t apply myself very well. I started out intending to run during the off-seasons, but really I would start running again in August each year after an 8 month hiatus with another three pounds under my running shorts. I won no awards, merely came out of the whole experience with was a sense belonging and some accomplishment of consistently showing up and working hard. I also took some (perhaps misguided) pride in being the “slowest runner” on the team.
Although I emailed the coach at my college to receive a training plan for the summer, and contemplated joining their cross country team, I didn’t run very much over that summer either and also gained ten pounds at summer camp. When late August appeared and I stepped onto my college campus, I was too ashamed to join the team, or even meet with the coach, sure that I would once again be “the slowest runner on the team” as I had always contented myself with in high school.
This time, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to keep that title and I didn’t quite know how to overcome it, or the weight gain. Over the course of that first semester I stepped foot in the gym about 5 times, and gained twenty-five more pounds due to poor eating habits, unlimited cafeteria food options, late night eating, and the type of crippling identity crisis that hits a fair number of college freshman.
This is the point I consider the “low” of my story.
Which makes it a fitting time for a commercial break.