“Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.” ~Maria (The Sound of Music)
While I may not always see myself that way, people have told me I am inspiring and motivating. Really, these are the best compliments I have ever gotten. If me getting my lazy butt off the couch helps someone else get moving, that is awesome. I tend to be an “over poster” on Facebook but I figured by starting another blog, a place where people can come to get inspired, it could help alleviate some of that traffic.
I’ve been trying to write this post for about a week now, but never seem to know how to start. As with most major life changes, starting always seems to be the problem. Running, writing, working out, completing projects…once I’m in the middle I know I’ll finish, but that’s only if I am able to get past “the starting”.
But here goes: my story.
I guess you could say it all began with a trip to Oregon. I was heading out there for an educational conference. At first I was excited. A trip to the West Coast with a bunch of friends from work and a few days off from the kids to go along with it. What’s not to love?
Then I remembered that I would have to take an airplane. Then I remembered I would have to fit into an airplane seat and buckle my seat belt. Then I remembered every single article I have ever come across about airlines who kick people off the plane for being too fat. Images of Kevin Smith came swimming to the forefront of my consciousness. Suddenly, I remembered that maybe I would miss my kids and I shouldn’t go after all.
I belonged to a gym, joined in some arbitrary moment of “I can do this!” but at that point my workouts consisted of the 3 minutes I could stand on the elliptical or treadmill and then 30 minutes on the sit down bike. Throw in a couple of easy strength exercises on the machines, and I thought I was actually accomplishing something. The fear of getting on the plane and being embarrassed in front of people I had to work with motivated me to do something I had never done before…buy a scale.
After searching for what seemed like hours at a K-mart next to the gym, I finally found one. I raced home, carried it up to the bathroom, and after ripping off every ounce of clothing and all hair accessories that could add weigh (I actually contemplated cutting my hair), I gingerly stepped on the scale.
No, that is not a typo. That was the actual number. And while I didn’t want it to be true, I knew it was. I sat down on the bathroom floor and cried for about 10 minutes. How had it gotten this bad? How had I let myself get this far gone? Once I got control of myself, I got up, got dressed, and came up with a plan. That summer I worked my butt off and in two months (right before my flight) I had lost 20 pounds. I know that’s not a lot, but to me it was everything. It represented that I could actually do this.
Long story short, they didn’t kick me off the plane, though I did need a seat belt extender. But the heart wrenching fear I felt as I approached that first plane was probably the worst in my life. I didn’t sleep for nearly a week. I vowed that I would continue working out when I got home and would get myself to a healthy place.
And I did. For awhile. Until once again, life got in the way. That fall I worked out here and there, but nothing significant. Between two kids under 3, teaching kindergarten, and trying to be a good wife and mother, I never seemed to find time for the gym. Finally in January, after realizing I had gained back 12 pounds (bringing me back up to 321) a friend and I decided to sign up for the Y-fit challenge (the YMCA’s version of the biggest loser). And through that I fell in love with working out. I lost about 35 pounds, completed (walked) my first 5-K and began to gain back some of the confidence I so desperately needed.
And then, as most stories go, my world turned upside down. During the summer (on my last day of school) my dad died. We had a rather tumultuous relationship and hadn’t communicated in years. Because of this, I didn’t think his death would really affect me. But it did. In ways that I will never quite understand. And the gym took a back burner yet again. Luckily, I only gained about 5 pounds, but by the time school started again, I was a jumbled wreck. I didn’t know what was up or down or right or wrong. All I knew was that I needed something to change. I needed to be saved.
So I went for a run. And really, that is the true beginning of my story. Because on that day I was reborn. I learned that I can decide how my life is going to go. I am in charge of myself, my decisions, and my happiness. I can decide to begin to heal, and grow, and change for the better. And I did. Or, at the very least I’m in the process. In January, on the eve of my 33 birthday, I hit my 60 pound mark. And I’m still going.
Over the months I ran occasionally, went to the gym, got injured, and then began again and again. I started and stopped so many times that I can’t even keep track. The most important thing? Every time I stopped, I started again. I remember the first day I was able to complete one mile without stopping. I remember the first 5k I was able to completely run. Just recently I completed my first 10k.
I was looking back on old pictures today. Pictures from pre-kids, pictures from post-kids, pictures from last year, last week, last month and I can’t believe the difference. It’s not even just the weight, but the confidence, the happiness, the fact that there are more pictures now than there were before. These are all indicators that maybe this time is the right time. Maybe I’m finally exactly where I need to be.
Some days running feels so easy. Others, I want to die. I’m faster than I used to be, but still super slow. But I am a real runner. We all are. Even those that don’t run because the potential to run is in there.
And at 263 pounds I am currently running about 20 miles a week and training for my first half marathon in the fall. While I still have so far to go, I’ve never felt better. I’m ready to begin this new chapter in my life.
I had to start and stop, begin and end, give up and keep going, numerous times to get to this point.
But if I can do it, so can anyone. If I can do it, so can you.