In high school, my least favorite day of any year was the day my gym class administered the National Fitness Test.
My least favorite part of my least favorite day was Running The Mile.
Every year, I came in dead last (or tied for dead last, if someone else in class was similarly athletically challenged) with a rockin’ time of around 16 minutes.
I never ran.
I never even jogged.
If my gym teacher was extra lucky, I might consider a power walk.
I acted like I was walking because I thought I was too damn cool to play your stupid gym class game. Who’s got my smokes?
Really, it was the most publicly humiliating day of my year.
I knew if I tried, I’d fail. I decided it was better to never try in the first place.
I’ve avoided running ever since.
After two rounds of Insanity, I’m looking for new ways to get a good full-body workout.
(I tried P90X and took a pass. More on that another day.)
Luckily, I live close to a park with a mile track.
I used to walk this track with my mom when I first decided to get healthy. I got winded just walking a mile back then.
That was almost a year ago.
Since then, I’ve gained confidence in my own strength. So, I decided to go back and see. Am I capable of running?
Like… at all?
I girded my loins, charged up my iPod, and headed to the park.
When I hit the track, I began to run.
I didn’t so much as slow down for the whole first mile!
Once again, I got to experience my new favorite feeling: Accomplishing something I’ve spent a lifetime thinking I’d never be able to do!
Since then, I’ve gone for a few 4 mile runs.
Well… ‘runs’ may be a little generous.
I run the first mile, jog the second and third, and alternate walking, slow jogging, and cursing for the fourth.
I wouldn’t blame REAL runners if they laugh on the inside when they see me. There’s a good chance that I flail like I’m having a seizure.
But, for me, running is an excellent exercise in getting over silly vanity.
This is what I look like after a run (or any good workout):
See how my face turns an astonishing shade of fuchsia? See how my face matches my fluorescent pink camera and bra? That’s a lifelong thing. It’s in my genetic code. There’s nothing I can do about it.
My self-consciousness over that rockin’ red face is an excuse I’ve used to avoid working out in public in the past. Luckily, my compulsion to be healthy has finally kicked the ass of such silliness.
While grappling with my painfully negative self-image at 243 lbs, I even felt self-conscious about people seeing me out walking.
I imagined everyone looking at my plus-sized frame and judging me as a slob.
What I only realized after putting in all the hard work is this: The fit runners I thought were judging me? They’re only fit because they’re there doing the hard work.
I always assumed it came naturally to everyone but me. But maybe… just maybe… they’re fighting for their own health as hard as I am.
People lapping me at the track may be thinking the same thing I (now) think when I see a particularly heavy woman at the track:
YOU GO, GIRL!!!!!!!!!! DO IT UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!
There is no more difficult stage in the journey towards fitness than the beginning.
If you’re terribly out of shape and at the track, I know I’m witnessing someone deciding to make an awesome change.
You’re just starting out. You’ve decided to do the hard work.
I want to bust out some pompoms and cheer you on!
I want to pull out my before & after pictures and tell you I KNOW you can do it, too.
Of course, I don’t do any of these things. I don’t want to be committed.
But, it’s a good life lesson: The person you assume is judging you just might be silently cheering you on.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go find my gym teacher’s email address.