Getting Past the Numbers

Today is the day that start fresh. AGAIN! Oh well. At least it sounds good. I have to admit, when I checked the temperature outside I shivered. Twenty five degrees? Uggh! It has been quite some time since I ran in that kind of cold. But today, I am determined. Four miles here I come. It is a must. A necessity.  I can feel my resolve drifting away in the mornings as one day after another there is another reason, excuse, not to go to the gym, not to wake up. Some are valid, most are sort of iffy and some just are full on excuses. So yesterday, when I woke up with another head ache, I promised myself I would work out when I came home. Except that I didn’t. I found a whole bunch of reasons not to, one of which was Cabernet.  As I snuggled up in bed last night with my computer watching Misrepresentation there were a few moments of AH HA! And some moments of feeling sorry for myself and some moments of being angry and disgusted with myself.

I can theoretically recognize the impact a gender biased and often misogynistic society has on my sense of self esteem and identity, however, the visceral  impacts are much harder to tear apart and understand. These are crevices and scars that although invisible throb continuously. Especially as I age and my body refuses more and more to conform to an unattainable form of not even beauty but what is acceptable. If I am not moving along well in my career, if I am not an at home mom, if I am not making strides in the work that is so important to me, shouldn’t I at the very least keep the package together? Because as hard as I fight against it, I still buy into the idea that my value begins at my skin, as opposed to beginning with inside my head, heart and soul. Stupid, even as I write it I want to smack myself! (Damn, eight years at a Quaker school and that whole passiveness piece still mostly escapes me.)

And I really need to  just throw the damn scale out! I have gained about twelve pounds since I have been home from the hospital. Some of that is holiday weight, I need to own that, but some is from the multitude of missed workouts. Those numbers haunt me and I need to get away from them. It isn’t just the guilt from not going to the gym, it is the feeling that there is something wrong with me, some character flaw for eating food that has fat and sugar. Even when I don’t, the proof is on that number at my feet. Irrefutable. Obviously I am committing some crime.

So, when I am not going to the gym or running outside I recognize it as a failure. And last night as I was trying to push away from some truths that I didn’t like, one came home that made me stop and think. On September 25th I was admitted to the hospital because of acute appendicitis. As it turns out I had been walking around with a busted appendix for about days. Long enough to get into some trouble and have the crap (literally) sicken quite a bit of my abdomen. That was just over four months ago. Although it seems like an eternity, it wasn’t. That means it was three months ago that I started running. And here is where I got into trouble. Because I read about other women with similar experiences who got back to running days after they got home from the hospital. Thinking about that, made me feel as though I was going too easy on myself even waiting the four weeks. I also chose not to stick to the plan I found for coming back slowly, adding two minutes to each run. Instead I chose to add two minutes to each day, whether I ran or not.  So, long sob story endless, it is no surprise really that I am having trouble. 

Okay, well enough with both the excuses and real reasons. What has come back over and over is that sometimes you stop working out because it is just too hard or it doesn’t fit in. But sometimes, I think, when you grow to hate it, when you dread it, if this becomes the constant tune, then it is time to take stock. Nobody is going to continue with something they hate. And I am no exception. And I did start to hate it. I dreaded waking in the morning, I dreaded going outside, I hated the mad dash to get ready for work and school so I wasn’t that late, and I found myself struggling once I was there. Which now I think I understand better, but at the time just felt like failure after failure. It has been a really long time since I felt strong. But here is another realization I had last night. I don’t feel any healthier when I don’t work out or go to the gym. I don’t feel less tired when I roll over and turn off the alarm. If anything I still feel tired but I also feel a little sickly. I miss the tired that comes from going hard in the morning. This tired, this fuzzy slightly headachy body weak tired is not going to go away with more laying around.  So, me being me, I have devised a plan.

I thought a lot about how I started and what worked for me. If you have ever read the book by Dan and Chip Heath Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard (which I highly recommend) it says that one important aspect of success is to study what already works or has worked. What worked for me before was switching it up all the time. In short, I miss biking, I don’t like feeling chained to the treadmill. So I am bringing it back. I am cutting down my runs to two a week, one outside one inside. If this makes me less of a runner, so be it. I am adding in two rides, and hoping at least one will be outside. I know I have been lulled by the current weather predictions, but that is okay. Even if I do two inside, I’m good with that. And I am going to keep two strength trainings a week. However, I am not going to do more than four days in a row at any given time. This means that no work out will be married to any given day. I know that isn’t the usual, but trying to force things to work when they don’t just doesn’t make sense for me.