One of my goals for 2016 was to maintain a consistent fitness schedule. Over the last few months, I have struggled to stick to a regime that works for me. Embarrassingly enough, the last time I felt really good about my body and its strength was when I graduated from college back in 2014. My 2014 New Year’s resolution was to run a half marathon, and I successfully did so after maintaining a strict training regime from January until May. I committed all of myself, getting on the roads in between classes and hitting the gym at 11p.m. I had started spending time with my now-boyfriend and one of the first things we did was a 6-miler. I wanted to hang out, but running was just as much of a priority. (He still goes running with me, for the record. A keeper.)
I logged miles, stretched, cross-trained, and stayed determined until I crossed the finish line feeling tough and powerful.
I was pretty good with keeping it up through that summer, but the change was that I didn’t have a place to cross-train at anymore. I was working a minimum-wage job and was far too frugal to pay for a gym membership. So I ran 5 days a week on New England hills, signed up for another half, and found myself limping by October. My doctor said plantar fasciitis. My physical therapist said Graston technique. I said f*** that and ran the half anyways.
Weeks after the race, I started my first full-time job and discovered that 40 hours + family + friends + boyfriend + blogging + freelancing + breathing does not leave much room for running. I was exhausted all the time and having trouble adjusting to a new schedule and the early stages of a relationship. So, naturally, I handed myself another ambitious goal to try to get motivated — Tough Mudder.
I was kidding myself when I signed up. The race was in June of 2015 and I barely worked out before hand, entirely unprepared on race day and dragged through much of it. Thankfully, Tough Mudder has a totally different vibe than a typical running race, and I had fun.
I didn’t run regularly for most of that summer because heat and work and….excuses. My dedication to my body was missing, despite signing up for another half that took place last November. Another desperate plea to motivation, I think.
I did train, but not consistently enough, and I didn’t enjoy the runs or the race the way I did in 2014. I was still feeling…blah about running. Some of my passion for it had leaked away, slid under a chest of drawers to hang out with the dust and fur balls. It was becoming a chore to find it and clean out the lint, cotton that collected around my body as I ate more chocolate and logged fewer miles. Running was still something I did, but not something I loved anymore.
That broke my heart, and made me feel worse and worse about myself. My body confidence started to decline as my writing confidence increased, as I dedicated much of October and November to my novel instead of the roads. (Sidenote: I don’t regret this choice, but I do want to learn how to nurture both my body and my work.)
December happened. I was getting into yoga, but still not getting in shape.
I ate everything in sight and watched all of the Netflix.
Cue New Year’s Eve.
I was an idiot and scheduled my yearly physical for the last day of 2015. My doctor, a slim, tan woman in her mid 30’s, peered over narrow glasses with a wire rim from behind a square computer desk. Her slender fingers slid the frames down her tiny nose. “You are overweight, though not by much,” she said in a clipped voice. “It might be a good New Year’s Resolution.”
I sat in a gray, thin johnny that felt like an unwashed bed sheet and wondered why doctor’s appointments must always take place with your clothes off. I crossed and uncrossed my ankles. I smiled too wide.
“Yeah, it’s that time of year,” I responded lamely.
I had already known, of course, because I had gone sans belt with my favorite jeans that morning. The expectation made it worse, kind of like hearing your name over the loudspeaker at school, called to the office for an indiscretion you knew was wrong when you did it. When you ate it. And didn’t exercise it.
It may have been partly the fault of a holiday binge, but I knew the weight had not happened in three weeks. The warm blanket over my muscles had been knitting itself for months, tied with cupcakes and bagels and excuses for why I couldn’t go running that day. I saw a picture of myself from when I ran my first half in 2014, when I was in shape and felt really, really good. The picture didn’t make me feel that good about right now.
I’m not going to buy a scale. I’m not interested in the number as much feeling good again.
So that’s why part of my overall goals for the New Year was to run 3 times a week, taking rest days in between to avoid more physical therapy. Sounds small, but 3 is more than 1-2, which is what I have been sporadically doing for months.
The first week of getting back into it has been a success. I ran 4 times, actually, despite frigid temperatures. Once because I just wanted to.
Week 1 conclusion? I already feel brighter. Better. Stronger.
Plus yoga, of course, because yoga has turned into something I cannot live without.