Run For Your Life

I’m eating fries right now.  They’re seasoned fries from a fast food joint and they taste really good.  They’re not good for me.  I don’t eat these types of things often these days.  But today I decided to eat fries.  Sometimes I’m an emotional eater and sometimes I eat simply because something tastes good.  Like many folks, I went through what was apparently a very emotional and tasty time a few years back.  Hi.  I’m Britney and I was an inactive over-eater.  Let’s start at the beginning.

As a child and teen I took 12 years of dance lessons, played 2 years of basketball and spent 3 years as a cheerleader.  I was active.  It was natural for me.  I didn’t struggle to be active.  I didn’t even especially try to be active.  I just happened to be passionate about dance which lead the way for a pretty active childhood.  I was tall and thin (5’7″ in the 7th grade) and so was my older brother.  In fact, there have always been many tall, thin folks in my family.  Sure, after high school graduation I put on a few pounds, but nothing dramatic or extremely noticeable.  I was even pretty fit around the time I got married at the age of 24.  But about 6 months after my husband and I got married, it happened.  I had my first panic attack.  I didn’t know what in the hell was happening to me.  After much misery and hesitation, I decided to take medication for my anxiety issues.  The nurse warned me that I would gain some weight after starting the meds, and she was right.  Between the medication, my still-existent anxiety (sadly, medicine doesn’t magically make the anxiety disappear immediately) and my emotional over-eating, I certainly gained weight.  I’m not sure how long it took or even exactly how much I gained.  Things can be a bit blurry when you’re dealing with severe anxiety.  But one thing I do know is that my husband and I love food, and we ate.  We ate PLENTY.  And it tasted gooood.  We went through a short weight-loss stint, which was good, but then it happened.  I got pregnant.  Although I had fairly recently lost a few pounds, I certainly wasn’t starting the pregnancy as an active, super-healthy person.  While still in my first trimester, I told my husband that we needed a treadmill.  I knew that I had to make fitness as convenient as possible so that I would actually get active.  So, OK, I didn’t actually use the treadmill much during the pregnancy (I was swollen and tired and hungry – ha).  It took until my son was about 7 months old before I really began to exercise.  I chose running for the simplicity and convenience of it.  There was a big, beautiful NordicTrack sitting in my bedroom just waiting to be used, so I used it.  I also started using the MyFitnessPal app on my phone to track my calories.  I began by walking mostly, and I increased my running gradually over time.  I didn’t have a trainer or a professional to tell me how to do things (can one actually take running lessons?  hmm…) so I simply relied on common sense and Google.  Severe shin splints happened.  Being tired happened.  Motivation loss happened.  Bad food happened.  But one of the many things I have learned through this journey is that if you screw up you absolutely have to pick yourself up by your boot straps the very next morning and get back on the horse.  That’s the only way you’ll make any progress.  I might have a day of horrible eating (Tex-Mex, cake, fries, you know, the tasty stuff), but as long as I get right back on track the next day and don’t let those days happen too often, I still lose weight.  “The tasty stuff” certainly slows down the process, but it’s not worth throwing in the towel.  You ate a Big Mac meal with large fries and a large Dr. Pepper today?  Fine.  Whatever.  It’s not optimal, but it’s over with.  Don’t beat yourself up.  Don’t freak out.  Get back to healthy eating and exercising tomorrow and you’ll be just fine.

5 years ago I was an unhealthy smoker on anxiety medication.  Today I’m smoke-free (2.5 years) and medication-free (3.5 years).  Plus, I’ve lost about 30 pounds so far and I can run for 30 minutes without stopping.  30 minutes, people.  That’s not impressive to the experienced runners out there, but to everyone else the thought of running for 30 minutes without stopping sounds insane.  I remember about a year ago saying that I would be so proud when I could finally run for 5 minutes without stopping.  My dad says “I couldn’t run for 30 minutes straight if I was running downhill being chased by someone with a gun.”  Running makes me stronger inside and out.  Running makes me feel good emotionally and mentally.  Sometimes it’s a pain in the ass.  Some days are better than others.  But for the most part, it’s a major source of positivity in my life.  And eating well goes right along side the running.  I feel better during a run when I’ve eaten well.  Plus, when I do the two together, I can still eat some of the tasty foods I love and lose weight at the same time.  Score!  I don’t know if I’ll eventually move on to another main source of exercise or not, and I don’t know if I’m a runner for life.  But I know that I did and do run for my life.  And it’s a sweet life.  No cake required.

Well, no, never mind, we need cake.  We do.  Yeah, let’s just keep the cake.  But, you know, my life is “sweet” even without too many sweets.  Get it?  OK.  I’ll stop now.

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