This morning I found a blast from the past post in my feed. I’d forgotten how faithful I used to be to this blog and how much it helped keep me accountable. I started reading through some old posts and was so glad I did. Another thing I’d forgotten or maybe romanticized in my mind was how hard this always was. This is important because I’ve been feeling for a long time that I just can’t do it anymore, that it is too hard. And it is hard. But not too hard. I can do this. I just have to remember that there isn’t going to be a time when it isn’t work. That’s the point, right? I mean to put in the work.
But that wasn’t the only thing that was stopping me, or rather paralyzing me. I was completely overwhelmed trying to do everything I thought I was supposed to be doing: cardio, strength training, core work, yoga. How does someone fit all that in? You know people with jobs and children? It seemed if I was hitting one I was losing another. I constantly was worried that if I was doing cardio I wasn’t maintaining strength and flexibility. Or if I added in core work, how would I also get to yoga and the required amount of cardio time to lose weight? It was all so daunting. When I tried to keep it up I found myself exhausted. And I wasn’t doing what I enjoyed, what made me feel good.
This was all further complicated by menopause. Sleepless nights, anxiety, some depression, frustration and let us not forget the hot flashes. Eternities of moments where I become drenched in sweat and feel as though I can’t breath I’m so hot. It’s like my own personal sauna. It seems whenever I take a scheduled rest day I can count on several nights in a row of sleepless, sweaty anxiety filled hours. I can hear the blood pulsing in my ears as I toss and turn. I’ve tried meditation, reading, yoga. Nothing works. I simply have to let it happen. This means days of a brain filled with static, missed workouts as I try to get some sleep so I can be somewhat human, so I can make it through the day without feeling as though I am going to fall apart.
In the past two years I have disappeared from myself, from everything. And I am so tired of people telling me how to fix myself. Which I’m sure is karma, since I know I’ve done that to others. When I am in a good place I tend to think everyone can be there if they just push a little harder. That’s not always true. And I realize now that all that well meaning “encouragement” simply makes me feel like more of a failure. Everyone has to start where they are and find their own way. Or should I say ways, because it’s often more of a recipe than a single solution. I guess it’s good to know that others have been where I am, but the assumption shouldn’t be that your path will work for me. There is no twelve step plan. There is only the me plan. If you really want to be there for someone, just listen. Don’t give advice unless it is asked for and even then know when to shut up. Don’t assume mastery of someone else’s life.
For me, I have been continuing to try. Recently, this took a major shift. I am fifty two years old and tired of so much of my life being about how I look. No matter what I do I am going to get older. Every day I see new reminders of that marked on my skin. I don’t need a tattoo, I have lines, stretch marks, crepe skin, scars and cellulite to mark the moments of my life. This isn’t a hallmark movie where I say I have found the joy in these little mementos of age because they tell the story of my life. Fuck that, I wish my skin was smooth and vibrant and my waistline small. That’s just the truth. But here I am so I work with what I have. What I wanted was to feel strong again. And for me that means running. So, I found my running watch, a realistic running plan and started from there. To be honest I thought I was done before I even started. The first workout included running for twenty five minutes straight. I haven’t done that in months. I have been running for three to five minutes with walk breaks. I have been doing some Sean T strength training, with lots of breaks. I decided I would do what I could.
It’s a weird mindset to be afraid of a run. I mean, really, what is going to happen if you don’t make it? You just have to find a way to keep trying. But I am often afraid of runs. Because I’m a freak. Anyway, I just promised myself I would do the best I could and keep it very slow. And I set up a route with mostly flats and downhills, figuring that would help. And it did. I ran an eleven to twelve minute mile and was able to run for twenty five minutes. I was ecstatic. And then a few days later I ran for forty minutes straight. Yep, just under three and a half miles. And then today I ran for twenty five minutes again, and it wasn’t any easier and my watch doesn’t think I’ve worked hard enough but I know for me it is a huge victory.
So is it a beginning? No, I think like everything else, it is the middle. But I am still trying.