Figuring it Out

I have lost all ground. Every ounce I lost two years ago is back. I hate the idea of going back to work fat. And I hate even more that is what is bothering me. I thought I was getting past that. But I know, really, I never did. I did become more complacent, or maybe tired is a better word. Even before last fall I was struggling to get out the door. Whatever it was that made the summer before seem magical now seemed so much harder. Sleep, running in the dark, balancing food and running, the heat, the humidity. All of it felt like reasons to rethink everything. It wasn’t just that I got too close, I became too militant. But that, the discipline, was also what got me through.

Running is hard. But, for some reason, I can’t explain, I do love it. And I want it back. I want to be able to run like I did before. I know that it isn’t just the working out that has gone out the door, it is also my eating and general outlook on like. I am less patient, more irritable, feeling less motivated, having a harder time focusing. All of the “go to” joys in my life, the pieces of me that I recognize seemed to have gotten stale. They have become a chore. And sometimes the need to pull back is so strong. I just want to escape. At the same time, I recognize every day how fast life goes by and I am ever conscious (aahh!) of how quickly my life is going to be so different. My children are growing up and I don’t want to miss a moment. It makes being fully present hard because I am holding on too tightly.

So, I guess I have to ask myself why I am doing this. What is it I want? A perfect (unattainable!) body? Health? Longer life? Bragging rights? Mental health? Role model for my children?

This summer I have been getting out three to four days a week, some running, some biking and some weight lifting. I have gone to a party every weekend with abandon. I have had ice cream at the pool (once) and pizza or some other unhealthy choice, at least once a week. I have also found myself constantly in the kitchen. Every time I turn a new leaf, I go a sleepless night, go to a party, or have an IBD episode (probably caused by the other two) and flip it right back. I have also been on Facebook obsessively. And way too deeply involved in the election process. I have flipped sports radio to news radio and had a steady diet of everything wrong with the world. It makes me depressed and angry. But it also feels like something I should be doing. The world has problems and you need to be informed. It is like the course you took in college that you were supposed to love, but instead you tolerated.
Here is something else I realized. At some point I tried to go back and figure out what worked before, and tried to bring all of those things back. I failed miserably. It’s one of the reasons I haven’t been blogging. I don’t feel as though I have anything to cheer about, and I am ashamed at how far I have let myself slide. So “cheering little successes” is really all I have right now.

I think the shame is what is at the heart of it. Because regardless of how much I tell myself and everyone else it is about going farther faster, the reality is when I started to have trouble fitting in my clothes that is when my whole sense of self esteem walked out the door. When I had to start taking walking breaks, I no longer wanted to talk about running and I never post it. I am ashamed at how much ground I lost. And it wasn’t getting sick last September. It had been creeping in before that. I was already turning discipline into excuses.

Yesterday my daughter and I went bathing suit shopping. Last summer we did the same thing and it wasn’t a big deal. I knew I wasn’t going to be reaching for the bikini but I also felt pretty confident about what I would fit into and feel good about myself. Not so yesterday. There were moments when I tried things on and I couldn’t believe how big the person in the mirror was. (I swear those dressing room mirrors add weight!!!) When had that happened? It was as though the last two years were a mirage. I felt deeply ashamed and could feel my mood slipping. For the first time in a long time I didn’t want to go to the pool. I didn’t want anyone to see me. I felt worthless.  Since I had run that morning, I knew that the shape matched up to my running. I struggled to go more than a mile without taking a walk break and then towards the end struggled for even that far. I think I did a little more than four miles before I called it quits. Fifty minutes. Forever.

So, here’s the thing. I am not the same person I was two years ago. I started running on the cusp of a major change in my life, and it is something that I have to deal with. Two years ago at this time I was checking the calendar to see  if I would have my period during the duathlon. Now I never know if or when I will get my period. And I no longer ever consider getting pregnancy tests. Two years ago, when I went to bed I knew I would sleep through the night unless one of my children had a bad night. Now it is always a crap shoot. Two years ago I was truly a beginner runner and every thing I did was a success. Now, I’m not and what was once a success is not.

So I have to start over, again. I bought the book Run to Lose, because I like programs and guidelines. I like writing it down, marking times and creating plans. I like reading about how to improve and what to eat. Some of it I know I read before, but I forgot. So, fifteen minutes in the heat is my baseline. I will have to work from there. Tomorrow I am determined to try a long run (which for me will be about five miles) but it is something I haven’t done in a long time. It will include walk breaks. I know that. But, I’ll be out there. Figuring it out.

So here is my theme song for the next four weeks!

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