Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Ok, I'm not sure why I've been so hesitant to write about this on my blog, but I have been purposely avoiding it since I decided to launch the blog. I was ready to make a public display of my life, but only the parts of it that I didn't want to come back and bite me on the ass later.

Here I am, still doing it, drawing out the suspense and making it seem bigger than it is. And really, in the scheme of things, it's not really that earth shaking.

I've started running.

Except that for me it IS pretty huge, pretty earth shaking. I've never been anything close to an athlete. As a kid, I always thought of being active as something that I wasn't good at and something that I shouldn't bother with. Some people were good at it, but I wasn't one of them. I stuck to the things that I was good at, especially reading. Throughout my life not being active became a self-fulfilling prophecy. I told myself I wasn't good at sports so I didn't participate. I was sure that I was awful and would embarrass myself. When I was forced to demonstrate my (lack of) athletic skills in gym class or anything similar, I was slow, uncoordinated and miserable. Just like I figured I would be. So, of course, I avoided all other situations where I would have to display my embarrassing lack of physical prowess.

Looking back now, it seems so obvious. I never trained my body to be active. In the past I would look at other people, the kids picked first in gym class, and be jealous of their innate athletic talent. It never crossed my mind that they were faster, stronger and more confident because they had a lot more experience than I did. The same way that people looked at me like I was nuts when I said I could easily read a book in one night, that was the way I looked at people who said they could easily run a 6-minute mile. It wasn't that either of us couldn't do those things, it was just that we never made an effort. Just like I couldn't read a book in one night when I was five and just learning to read, that person couldn't run a 6-minute mile when they first put on running shoes.

Obviously, my issues with activity are very tied up with my issues with body image and about being overweight. And none of these have disappeared. I don't think they ever will completely. But I've started to make peace with myself. Maybe my husband constantly telling me that I'm beautiful and that he loves me has started to sink in. (He's such a smart guy, it's hard to rationalize that he has no idea what he's talking about. :) ) Slowly, I've started to see things from a new perspective. After years of hating my unattractive body, I'm realizing that I ought to be thankful for it. It's a truly remarkable piece of work, and on the whole very healthy, despite my best efforts in the past. And all of this together, working through my personal issues, wanting to maintain and improve my amazing healthy body, and realizing that it might be possible to train myself to do something I always assumed I couldn't do, has brought me to a running routine. Now, I'm only halfway through my second week, so calling it a "running" routine is still pretty much a stretch. I'm still walking more than running. But around the 4th of July, I hope to be ready to run my first 5K.

Earth shaking. Seriously.

I was reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell this morning (see, not giving up on old loves, just finding new ones), and he argues that success is largely a product of arbitrary advantage and lots and lots of practice. Usually the arbitrary advantage is the opportunity to practice lots and lots. (Well, at least this is the argument he make in the first two chapters. I haven't actually finished it yet.) This theory makes a lot of sense to me given my recent revelations about my past. The basis of his argument is really a collection of anecdotes, so I'm not sure how far I trust his argument as THE explanation/formula for success, but I'm definitely inclined to give more credit to practice in the future.

Bringing it back to the artificial suspense that I started this post with: I'm basically trying to change my life and lifestyle based on my changing perspective. And I'm really making the very first baby steps right now. So, I'm scared that it's only temporary. Even more, I'm scared that this will fall apart and I'll see it as just another failed attempt to get fit and lose weight. I can't explain it, but something feels very different from other times I've lost a little weight eating better, but given up the routine and gained it back. I feel like my head is in the right place. I feel like I have goals other than just a smaller number on the scale.

But I've decided that shying away from it isn't the answer. If anything it's a cop out: if no one knows I've been trying to start a running routine and eating healthy, then no one can judge me when I fail. Not talking about it also makes me feel a little like I'm ashamed. I'm not ashamed, I'm proud. The perspective I use to have and the decisions I made in the past are part of who I am and made me the person I am today. But that doesn't mean I can't grow and change.

So, um, I guess, stay tuned for more running updates. :)

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