Thursday, April 14, 2016
Fat Girls Don't Run
I showed up at the cardiology office dressed, well, less like my normal self...sweat pants, a ratty sweater, a well-loved t-shirt, and no makeup since I thought I'd be sweating my ass off on a treadmill.
My specialist, as a Google search turned up, is well-respected physician. What the Google search didn't tell me is that he's also a sassmaster. After the EKG, and during a few minutes of talking over my medical history, he said the stress test wasn't necessary since I'm healthy and fairly young. My weight is the only thing working against me. As he flipped through paperwork, he noticed my LDL was 122. While my primary care physician and Web MD tell me this is suitably within normal range, the cardiologist said, "My normal is not Texas normal. My normal is South African normal where people eat plants and walk everywhere."
So there's that. I didn't bother telling him that despite my less-than-presentable wardrobe, I don't, in fact, drink bacon grease and I rarely eat fried food. Doctor Sassafras assured me that while I'm healthy I should be healthier and do 200 minutes of exercise a week. That's 200 minutes more exercise per week than I've done for several years now.
Rather than being mad that another doctor told me to lose weight, I took this as a challenge. I went home and did over 40 minutes of exercise for the first time in an embarrassingly long time. In fact, I've done 200+ minutes for the last two and a half weeks just as he asked.
I strapped on my FitBit, I got busy with the "real food" eating habits I prefer during weight loss cycles, and I decided to make this vessel carrying me through life the best it can be. After all, my number one motivator in all this is being among the living as long as possible for my family.
For most of my life, I've approached exercise from the vantage point of what I can't do. I can't be a mountain climber because there aren't any mountains. I can't be a swimmer because I can't afford to join a gym. I can't be a runner because I have bad ankles, I don't like to sweat that much, I hate huffing and puffing, and it will hurt, it's just not realistic, and everyone will laugh at a fat woman running. Fat girls don't run.
When I thought practically about what I wanted to do for 200 minutes per week, I realized I didn't want to buy special equipment, or not very much. I still don't want to join a gym. I know I like to see scenery passing by because I get bored otherwise.
And the answer was there. Like so many answers lately. Just try running. Just try.
For the first time ever, I'm not working out because I broke up with someone, or someone broke up with me, or I hate my body. I'm not fat-shaming myself. I have to start somewhere, and I'm starting here...with who I am now. I'm not waiting to be some other way. Some other size.
Couch to 5K is great because I need a plan so I don't overdo it, burn myself out, and quit. I need guidelines for what this process should look like.
With a kickass sports bra and some great running shoes in the bag, I've been doing the thing. The first week I was jazzed. Pumped. Living on the edge! Absolutely tickled with myself for doing this. For making up my mind and trying hard. It was a heady feeling.
Week two was much of the same but with some knee pain.
Week three has been a PAIN pain. More knee pain, some ankle aching, some waxing and waning motivation, insomnia that sucks the life out of me. But ya know what? I'm still showing up and doing it. I listen to my body. I walk rather than run when I need to. I run longer when I can. I get up from my computer and go grab 1,000 steps because I'm tired of sitting. I've accepted FitBit challenges with my family and friends. I rest from major exercise two days per week to recharge and let my aches assuage. I have a day here and there when I eat a rich, spicy pasta dish for lunch. I won't undo this work in one meal.
I've lost four pounds, which seems appropriately slow. Crash diets don't work, they're miserable, and this is a life thing. After all, it was over the course of a year of real food eating that I lost 40 pounds, which I've kept off, so this is the next leg of the journey.
This is a health journey. Not a weight loss journey. Not for me. I spent years hating my body. Hating myself. Doubting what I could do in every way. Doubting whether I was normal or not. In the moments leading up to a decision to run, I remembered how it felt when I was a kid and I loved being active. I was fat back then, too, but I was in pretty damn good shape from tumbling through the living room all day, dancing, playing, riding bikes. In high school I was the mascot...a fox no less...in a giant suit made of carpet sweating off 15 pounds of water for every night of football. I remember feeling good about feeling tired. About being kind of astonished by what my body could do for me, and at the same time, not really having to think about it at all.
I want to feel strong again, physically, because I feel strong mentally and emotionally. There's no self-hatred left in me now...mostly just the determination to do and try and move. Move through life with purpose, strive for contentment, and be the best me I can be.
This fat girl is running.
I have to mention a new friend and fellow blogger I've found to be so very affecting in this journey, even before I made the decision for myself. Tara from Running 'N' Reading and It's Tara Leigh, you are an inspiration with your honesty, heart, humor, and spirit.