Thursday, June 17, 2010

Running in Circles . . .

No, this isn't a metaphor for my life. I've actually been running in a circle lately. Well, technically, it is an ellipse.

Let me back up a bit.

I've been overweight for 14 years now. I had been average to thin for most of my life before that. But I'd also had an eating disorder for 14 years before I became overweight. I decided to stop, finally, and right around that time, I was involved in a serious car accident, and I was in physical therapy for almost a year. I was actually eating a normal amount of food, and I wasn't exercising hardly at all, and so I just gained a lot of weight.

I did lose some weight a few years ago by just watching my portion sizes, but then I put all of it back on. And then in March, I got on the scales. There is a weight that I'm generally around. When I got on the scales in March, I was 30 pounds more than my "usual." I jumped off. The number couldn't be right. There must have been some error, or the batteries were low, or I was leaning over, or something. So I changed the batteries, and stood up straight. And it still said 30 pounds heavier than my usual. And my "usual" is not even remotely a good weight for me, so to add another 30, well, let's just say, I was pretty horrified.

I knew I needed to do something but I wasn't sure what to do. I knew that I needed to lose weight, but I felt like I mostly ate healthy food, so what could I change there? I knew that I needed to exercise, but where would I find the time?

And so I thought about it. And thought about it.

And what I finally decided was that I needed to eat healthy. Not mostly healthy. (To me, that means eating local, seasonal food and I need to watch my portion sizes. And it meant that I needed to drink water, even though I didn't like it.)

And I needed to exercise, which meant for me, getting up at 5 AM.

Now, I was a fairly active person before the weight gain, and I did all sorts of physical activities, but my favorite thing to do was to run.

It all started when I was 11. My dad had had a heart attack, and the dr's encouraged him to start walking. It was January 1978, and I would bundle up in my parka and go walking with my dad. By the summer, my dad had worked up to jogging. He would go over to the Catholic High School in the evenings and run around their track. I would go over with him most days of the week. When I was high school, I joined the track team. (I would have preferred to do cross country, but I had weak ankles that gave out on uneven surfaces, so I decided that a flat track was probably a better idea.) When I moved to Utah to go to college, I started running longer distances, and up into the canyons, etc. When I moved back here, I went back to running with dad at the campus recreation center. So until I was about 28, I considered myself a Runner. Or at least a Jogger.

So at the end of March, I decided to start my new lifestyle of healthy eating and exercise. I joined a gym and I started walking on the treadmill. I would do this for 30 minutes, 5-6 days a week. I would also go on a walk on the local bike trail every weekend. After a week, I started adding a little bit of jogging. And then after 3 weeks, I met with a trainer, and he created a schedule of light weights to add to my routine.

By this point, it was starting to get nice outside, so I started jogging/walking to the gym, doing my weights, and jogging/walking back home. (It is 3 miles round trip.)

A couple of weeks ago, my girls started doing swim team, and their morning practice is from 7 am to 8:30 am. The pool is right next to a junior high that has . . . you guessed it, a track. For me, a track isn't necessarily my favorite place to run. Of all the places in town, the trail is probably my favorite place to run, but running on the track was very convenient to the pool. It is also like visiting an old friend.

It reminds me of running with my dad so, so long ago. (Wearing very fashionable tube socks and Nike running shoes, I'm sure.) It reminds me of high school, where I used track as a way to escape from all of the stuff that teenagers need to escape from. It reminds me of running the track at the Rec center and racing my dad for fun.

Now when I run around the track, I don't look like that 12 year old. That 16 year old. That 25 year old. I'm not in shape AT ALL. I shuffle along. I am REALLY slow. I still walk at least a mile of the 3 miles that I do. Some mornings, the little boy that I watch gets dropped off at the track, and I run, while pushing him in the stroller. I don't remember running with a stroller back in the day. But now, some mornings, it is run with a stroller or don't run at all. For many years, I could have run with a stroller, but I didn't. I chose to not run at all. Or much of anything else, for that matter.

But something happened to me in March. I found that I couldn't NOT do it anymore. There are plenty of days that I wish that I could still get a York Peppermint Patty and a Diet Pepsi for an afternoon snack, although I'm finding that I really do enjoy having fresh fruit and vegetables for snacks. I don't hate water anymore. And with the exercising, there are PLENTY of mornings that I don't want to work out. I'm tired, it's hot, my muscles hurt. I just don't want to. But I just do it. I've just been doing it for almost 12 weeks now. I eat healthy, I lift weights at the gym, and I jog. It is just what I do.

And what I hope to continue doing. My goal is to get to my goal weight by next March and to be able to run in a half marathon by next March. I've also talked with my older brother and my sister about doing a marathon and we are all going to train to do the St. George Marathon in October 2011. I know that I'm not there yet, and maybe I won't be capable of doing a marathon by then. But I think I will be. I've got 17 months to train. And if I just make sure and eat healthy and exercise 5-6 days a week between now and then, I think I can do it.

When I told my dad about the marathon, he said "That is so exciting. I think that you will do a great job. I wish that I could have done a marathon." (Technically, he probably could. He still runs most days. But he is 72 years old and generally doesn't run more than a couple of miles, and he just isn't at the point of his life that he feels up to training for a marathon.) So I told him that I would use his first name as a middle name for the marathon in honor of him. If it wasn't for him, I probably never would have started running.

And I hope that I never stop again.

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