Finisher Medal

Running, Round and Round

Five years ago I ran a half marathon. This was about a year after I began to run regularly. I went from being someone who found the idea of starting to exercise daunting. I wasn’t sure HOW to begin so therefore I chose not to.

Until a friend offered to help me and began working out with me. We started with walking laps, then eventually working up to full on running. In a few months I was out there on my own, running five to six days a week.

Signing up for the half marathon was a way for me to keep working towards a goal. My first goal of weight loss had been attained. Without setting goals, maintaining health and fitness gets boring. I needed a new challenge and it was needed.

In the ensuing years, running became my on again, off again relationship. Seasons of being gung ho and excited about it and other seasons of feeling meh about it. But I return to it again and again for many reasons.

It’s cheaper to run than to join a gym. I only need to invest in a good pair of sneakers and off I go! I’m lucky to live in a community with several parks and at least one with lights perfect for evening runs.

Staying consistent with running has been a struggle without having a goal. I’ve decided to start setting new goals, in this vein I signed up for a 5k this Thanksgiving morning. Next I hope to do a 10K then perhaps another half marathon.

Paying for these races is an investment and an incentive to meet these goals. I desire to take care of this body as well as I can. Running has taught me so much about the things my body is able to do. It has taught me about how I can want to give up and the benefits pushing through that.

Those lessons are invaluable.

My Health Journey

Six years ago I learned how to be healthier and that running isn’t the devil. But so much can change over time, mindset, metabolism, schedule and motivation. I’ve found what works for me, what foods or moods can trigger me. That just because I know how to make better choices when it comes to my health, it doesn’t mean I will or want to.

The things I have learned about my body over these six years are numerous. I will continue to learn more as I get older. I’ve learned what I don’t want just as much as what I want.

Why I Don’t Stress My Weight

It’s not that I don’t care that my weight is where it is today. At my “ideal ” weight, I was the least joyful. The process of losing weight was easier in some respects than maintaining my “ideal” weight. Losing weight, I had a goal to meet. It’s the same as when I did Whole 30, I also had a goal to meet in doing that. I do well with goals it seems, especially if they are public ones too.

But maintaining an “ideal” weight that in the end isn’t so ideal isn’t healthy either. Nor is letting my continued apathy towards where I am right now. How will this look in my life as discover new goals? I honestly don’t know yet. But I do understand better that ideal isn’t necessarily a number on the scale.

Where I am today and where I would like to be has a ways to go.

Lacking Motivation

I also lack the motivation to do what I need to do to get there. When I lost the bulk of my weight, I was doing two intense workouts a day, seven days a week (I learned later on about rest days). It wasn’t something that can be maintained in the long run.

I also don’t want to stop eating the way I have been. There, I said. It’s been a stressful time with my move and moving into a new role at work but it’s also been my choice. It’s not that I eat nothing healthy but ending each day with ice cream doesn’t help that.

A New Start

I know what I need to do. It’s about owning the choices I have made to get here. To understand why I have chosen to eat the way I have ( tastes good, makes me feel good, convenient).

Previously as I posted about healthy eating or a motivational picture, I was not always following my own advice. That is the reality of blogs, social media et al. It’s not the entire story.

The reality of getting healthy is that it’s something that can fall away. I didn’t believe I would end up making the same choices that have lead to my weight gain when I was in the midst of losing it. But here I am and the reality is at times it can feel easier to fall back into the habits that I know. Instead of habits that are good for me.

This takes routine as well as motivation. But life doesn’t adhere to routines, at least not for long. Things shift, an illness, a change in jobs and *poof* it changes. Sometimes it’s easier to get back into it. Other times it takes longer, or even not at all.

This is where I’m at right now. Trying to make the better choices, owning when I don’t and meeting myself where I am. And most importantly, not comparing myself to others. The other day as I went out for my run/walk, a gentleman ran circles around me at the park. It hit me that I too had been at the point where I could run laps nearly non-stop. One day I may be there again but I have to want it and work up to that once again. That’s what I mean by meeting myself where I am.

The Everyday Moments

It’s been a while since I last posted a blog. There was a lot of change in my personal life. Not only that but I had become less enthusiastic about blogging. I felt that blogs had to be about something BIG. A statement about the state of things and pontificating on such things isn’t easy. There are far better educated and nuanced writers out there who can capture these ideas than myself.

Then one day on Twitter, a blogger I follow lamented the loss of the blogs of old. Blogs about the everyday moments. Then she posted a blog about those very things. And I recalled why I fell in love with reading blogs (a moment of silence for Google Reader please!). And why I had fallen in love with writing my own. Starting on Blogger, moving to WordPress, to my own website and back to WordPress. My blogs have covered a variety of topics, the biggest one my journey to getting healthy five years ago.

Writing those posts about health, I began to feel like a fraud. While I’ve maintained certain aspects of healthy habits, I’ve let others fall by the wayside. So I began to write less of those. I wrote about writing ( another habit I’ve gotten out of as well). But I began to feel I didn’t have anything new to say that hadn’t already been said.

I wanted my writing career to take off via my blog. When it didn’t happen because I became overwhelmed with the amount of talent out there. My editing skills are not as honed and while I did find work for a time doing that, it wasn’t my forte. I felt lost as to where to start and if this is how I wanted to make my living. I had to ask myself what I wanted to gain from doing it.

Besides doubting myself I was also in the process of moving. For the first time since my twenties I was going to move into my a place of my own. Figuring out an affordable place to live was a long journey for me. I had also taken on a new role at my day job as well and I had no energy left to write.

I didn’t know what to write about for my blog or if I wanted to continue blogging. But then I saw the tweet about posting blogs about the regular everyday things and became inspired.

At this time I don’t have a plan for the blog. I know what I want to write about. I hope that people will find it helpful or funny or even themselves in them. I hope to recapture what I loved about writing blog posts and writing in general.

Grief

Wrestling with Patience

Patience. The very word can send me into annoyed levels upon hearing the word.

The last thing I have wanted to hear throughout my life while in the midst of a struggle is be PATIENT.

Patience with others, situations or things to come has not been easy for me. To say the least.

Hearing to be patient when not in a place to be patient has been the least motivating thing for me. In fact it only made me more upset.

I didn’t want to be patient! I wanted what I wanted right now and in the very way I envisioned it. So of course I would shut down, turning inwardly and into the spiral of wallowing.

So many times I brought my frustrations to God and still found myself in the same place. It wasn’t until I began to attempt to align my heart with His that things began to change. The more I prayed for His desire over my own ( seriously not easy!) and learning to be thankful for people, experiences and things in my life.

It’s not that my life changed overnight, I just learned how to (ahem) be patient in my circumstances. At times this can be called contentment or even steadfastness as we like to say in Christianese.

Essentially, staying put when what I long to do is run away or solve the situation myself. Which wouldn’t be good. I tend to panic react and end up in a worse situation than I would of been if I simply been (you know what I’m going to say right?) PATIENT .

Slowly and with a lot of bumps in the road, changes in my day to day began to emerge. From how I dealt with people, my circumstances and who God is in all of it. The more my heart aligns with Him, the more I see less of my own desires.

Examining the heart behind my desires had been so humbling. Why do I really want this or that? What do I believe I will get from it that I’m not getting right now?

Believe me when I say that those examinations are tough. I have to go into some deep parts of me to get a small grain of understanding. Even still I’ve come out fighting for my desires over that of God’s.

I’ve had a hard time of being patient with people. Many times I’ve been harsh or short with others because they were the ones bothering me. Often too , my impatience can be a cover for my embarrassment. When being caught off guard, my comfort zone is a place of defense. If I have enough bluster then maybe my lack of knowledge won’t be noticed.

Yeah, right.

I read through James 5:7-12, where James encourages patience. Not only patience for the things I desire in this life but to have patience for the coming of Jesus. I must give credit for this insight to the ladies in the young adults group I help lead at church.

In the midst of a current hardship and even joy, Jesus is the greatest promise. Beyond anything else, patience waiting upon the Lord. Because the promises of God are far greater than anything I can desire.

It’s ok to wrestle with patience. It’s ok to say you are frustrated but not to stay there. That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned about patience.

The Power Of Fear

The power that fear has over me rears it’s ugly head in my life from time to time. I don’t believe this is necessarily a bad thing.

Fear serves it’s purpose in my life. Having a healthy sense of fear can be good. It’s good to have fear of certain things of course. Fear of being in a car accident leads me to wear my seatbelt. Fear can motivate me to work harder towards my goals.

But fear has also held me back. I have allowed the fear of change to keep me stagnant. I’ve stayed in the same job for so long partly out of fear. I feared rejection. I worried I wouldn’t be up to the challenge.

I tried something new in a temporary position and it went well enough that it can lead to a new permanent position.

There is also greater societal fears. The ones that can lead to division instead of conversation. A lot of it comes from a desire for self preservation.

I don’t believe it’s so much a fear of the unknown but perhaps more so of losing what is known. Even if what is known or routine isn’t the best or good for our lives.

Letting go of that comfort is the first step in facing fear. Not only in our personal lives but also in the current societal conversations. Fearing what can change can lead to shutting down a conversation.

In the years since I’ve become a Christian I’ve had a hard time letting go of fear. I’ve clung to it instead of being willing to see what God wants for me. Whether it’s breaking me from personal habits or long held ideas.

Fear at times is a good thing to lean into. At other times it’s better to face it and push through. Letting go of comfort and the familiar.

I try to be careful about allowing others to speak fear into my life. These projections that others attempt to place on my heart. There is a lot happening right now. Individual fears are being exposed.

Hiding behind fear isn’t the answer. Seeking to understand the why behind someone’s fear, listening and prayer all alleviate the power of fear. I know it’s something I plan to do.

Behind The Why of Fitness

This time of year is a boon for the fitness industry. People decide to take care of their health and in droves join gyms, subscribe to a new eating plan and at some point in the month all enthusiasm is lost.

If you feel stuck or discouraged right now, take a moment to reassess. Find out your Why behind wanting to do it. Understanding the reason behind wanting to be healthy will help you succeed. Write it down, tell a friend. Doing so will help to stay on track.

It’s something I didn’t think through when I began my health journey six years ago. Though I had lost weight and achieved many goals physically I was still searching for my Why. As the years go on it keeps evolving. At the heart of it I want to avoid the health issues that my family tends to have.

But there are other things playing out. I believed that being thin would equal happiness. But instead it lead to an obsession with the amount of calories consumed or freaking out about getting workouts done.

I wasn’t able to enjoy the fruits of my labor. I had believed the lie that being thin would mean acceptance. My Why had been skewed.

What I had missed was that God made it possible for me to be healthy not for my own glory but His. I still miss it. Losing weight was needed, dealing with the compliments and attention was hard to get past. Because then it becomes all about the outside. The pressure I placed on myself then became I need to maintain this weight for acceptance. To not disappoint others.

I had to admit that a lot of my motivation was external. In hopes of being the right kind of person that would be loved. I longed for the compliments about losing weight. When I didn’t hear them as much it meant I had failed somehow.

In this journey I had to confront these motivations. As I did so, the pressure to be perfect began to fall away. My Why today is different from my Why if yesterday. Today I try to workout consistently and eat well not to gain admiration but to care for myself. Plus it’s a habit that keeps me balanced, physically, mentally and spiritually.

The Why is just as important as how one goes about being healthy.

Still Learning Healthy Skills

I was uncomfortable in my body when I was unhealthy and that did not change once I was healthier. My mind had to catch up with my body. What I did not know yet was that it would take time. Even though I was at my thinnest ever in my life, I became obsessive about two things. How flat other women’s stomachs seemed to me and counting my caloric intake. Seriously, the majority of my thoughts focused on that alone. I would sit in a room during Bible study and instead of paying attention, I would find myself staring at other women and their stomachs.

[Tweet “Were theirs flatter than mine? I need to sit up straighter so mine doesn’t poof out as much. If my stomach was flatter that guy would want to talk to me….”]

Were theirs flatter than mine? I need to sit up straighter so mine doesn’t poof out as much. If my stomach was flatter that guy would want to talk to me….

Then there was the constant counting of calories in my head. Constantly going over in my head and My Fitness Pay how much I ate and when I ate it. Calculating how much of my workouts negated the calories I had consumed.

I was exhausted. I had gone from binge eating to binge thinking about food. How much I ate, when I ate and what I ate. I spent more time on the food app then anything else.

A huge motivation during my journey to getting healthy was that it would lead to my believed fairy tale ending. I was blinded by the idea that it would be my turn, finally my turn and nothing was going to move me away from this idea! But (and there is always a but with God isn’t there), God was showing me something more. He placed people in my life who continue to cultivate the idea of His love in my life. People who challenge me and force me to really take a look at my motivations behind my goals.

I also had to grow comfortable with how my body. The key for me was coming to terms that my stomach will never be flat no matter how many ab work outs and sit ups I did. That no matter how much I count calories, there will be times that I am off or just don’t care enough.

I have gained weight since meeting my weight loss goal four years ago. Today, I am in a healthier place mentally and no longer desire to try to fit into some mold that doesn’t work for me. Meaning I still strive to be healthy, working out and eating well ( for the most part) but not freaking out as I once did when I do not. Accepting my body for what it is, for how God has made me has been so freeing.

I encourage those of you to strive for your goals, to be healthy and see the amazing things your body can do! Also learn to accept the reality of what your body will look like. There will be a time when the choices you make will be to not work our or to eat that “forbidden” food. Just try to be kind to yourself during those times. You are not less than because of these choices. How you come back from them is what will define you. Gaining health is not about getting it right all the time. It is learning skills in order to be healthy. To live a well rounded life.

I am still learning how to be healthy, and some lessons take longer than others. The biggest lesson I have learned is to keep going, that life can get in the way. Or like me one can just want a break for a time from the work out grind. And that is just fine…