Why I Stopped Running, And What I Did Today

A few years ago, at the encouragement of a friend, I picked up an exercise habit I swore off in high school. Back in high school, we were required to run a mile and a quarter within a time requirement that I, for one, considered pure hell. Nevertheless, it was cathartic for me when I decided to finally try it again. I believe I did it because I needed a way to de-stress, a way to “escape” from the chains imposed by my ex-husband and my daughter’s diabetes care. I’ve written before about the constant care she required as a very young child, and how it always fell on me. I never got a break. Did I mention that I N.E.V.E.R. got a break?

I announced one day that I was going to run. I was met not only with incredulity, but with the assertion that “you can’t do that.” Or maybe it was, “you’ll never run a 5k.” Whatever it was, I had a reached a turning point in my life where I was sick of being told what I could and could not do and dammit! I was going to prove I could do it. I’ve written about that first run, and the feelings it raised in me – the freedom, the searing pain, the hope, the searing pain, and the pure joy to be alone with myself for the first time in what seemed like years.

I reached another milestone roughly a year later, when I ran my first 5k. By this time, I was waiting on the divorce decree, and life seemed more than a little magical with Todd back in my life. The 5k benefited the American Cancer Society and I scribbled the names of my Poppop and my uncle, both of whom lost their battles, on my each of my hands. When I reached the final lap around the track, the backs of my eyes were burning with tears. I had done it. I did it with them on my mind, but I also did what he said I couldn’t do. I ran a second (and my last, to date) 5k two months later AND I placed. It was “only” 4th place, but I did it. And, while it hardly mattered much to me anymore, it was sweet vindication to rub that medal in his face.

The months following this became more and more emotionally difficult, as my ex filed for full custody of the children and I fell quickly into the abyss of court hearings, incomprehensible fear, meetings with my lawyer, insurmountable anxiety, and paperwork. Gosh, all that paperwork! So much negative stuff happened during that period. I dropped to 113 pounds under the weight of the overwhelming stress. The one thing that I should have been doing, the one thing that I knew made me feel good before, was the one thing I stopped doing.

Fast forward four years. Over these last few years, I have run periodically – mostly because I know I “should.” But the desire is lost. I can count on two hands how many runs I’ve completed each year. Every time I thought about it, I had a really good reason why now wasn’t a good time. It’s too cold. It’s too hot. I’m out of shape. What if that dog comes after me again? We should just buy a treadmill. But at the end of the day, I felt bad that I hadn’t done it. But, I just didn’t feel like running. And – I was really happy otherwise.

A lot of good things have happened to me – to us – in the last two years. While we are still working through all the stuff that had us turned around, we are definitely moving in a forwarddirection. The alien gnawing at my gut has been extinguished. Life is good. And with that comes contentment, which begets noshing, which begets a certain careless disregard for weight gain. And wow.Have we gained some weight.

While I certainly don’t want to complain in the midst of so many who struggle with weight, I must say that I’m not happy to be 27 pounds heavier than I was in those early custody trial days. TWENTY- SEVEN pounds. The only time I ever came close to or surpassed this was during pregnancy. So, while I’m not complaining, I have noticed that pants are awfully tight and seem to be growing tighter. Because I don’t want to have to keep buying pants, I decided it was high time to take a more organic approach. I’m so tired of how round and heavy my face appears in pictures.

SO. Todd and I got away last weekend, just the two of us. He already started a diet but I fell off the wagon when PMS struck, and so I was still drinking and eating complex carbs. The final straw was Monday night when I was writing the last blog post, drinking wine and then I opened a bag of spicy sweet chili Doritos. I woke up Tuesday morning, weighed in at 147, and started cooking the “Miracle Juice” for the liver cleanse my stepmom gave me.

The first day was a lot easier than I thought it would be, except for the Miracle Juice that by glass #4 had me gagging and holding fresh basil to my nose while I swallowed it, just to keep it down. This juice is alternated throughout the day with only water. Wednesday morning I was down to 142. The next two days were all raw veg and fruit, with lean protein thrown in. Today – day 4 – I am 140 pounds. Now THAT’s what I call results. And it is what inspired me this morning, along with the no-excuses beautiful weather, to go for the first of many runs to come.

The motivation that started me on that first run so long ago is no longer relevant. I am not running away from anything anymore. So what will I run for? Do I really need a “reason”? It occurred to me on this run this morning that it’s always been about me, even then, and it’s still about me.

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