Going public

It’s time.

As a woman in labor says to her husband while grabbing her overnight bag and the car keys: It’s time.

It’s time for me to get serious about healthy eating, healthy living, this extra 50 pounds of baggage – and go public with my struggle. Public because it’s the only way I will stick with it. (Well, it’s not the only way [more on that later], but it’s a hugely important way, and the one I’ve chosen.)

Many factors have converged to bring me to this point, but tonight was decision time. After more than a year of wishy-washy, excuse-filled thinking, it was time to paint or get off the ladder (my former pastor’s variation on a more colorful and well-known phrase).

As with many of my so-called good decisions, this one came while I was jacked up on too much oxygen – toward the end of a 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) run in a beautiful neighborhood – blue skies, green trees, a slight breeze, low humidity, bicycling kids and dads, jogging moms. A perfect evening.

It was the perfect end to a not-so-perfect day at work – a day of being out of control with my eating. Today was April-birthday-celebration-day at work. Can I tell you all the things I ate without making you sick? It makes me sick (emotionally, mentally, spiritually) to think about it, so maybe I won’t. I will let you imagine. Because, if you are reading this is as a person (especially a woman) who has struggled with food issues for any length of time, you don’t have to know the specifics of my particular brand of food insanity; you have your own specifics and can fill in the blanks using your own food-drug of choice.

I am typically not a binge eater, but I do tend to overdo, and today I pushed the limits of common sense. I ate a lot of junk – so much, in fact, that even though I was no longer full by the time the Women Run Arkansas clinic started at 5:30, I felt heavy. Not body-heavy, but heart-heavy.

I didn’t want to run. For this reason, I knew I had to.

One thing about the running clinic: I always feel better when I’ve pushed myself, made myself persevere. I never want to go; I always am glad I did. It’s kind of like when you’re tired and don’t want to get up and go to church. You’re in a bad mood, don’t want to do it, but you know you’ll receive a blessing if you just go. And you do. And you do.

Tonight, as always, I got to the designated running spot and walked around the parking lot while the other ladies chatted. I don’t like to do the stretches without warming my muscles first. I started off feeling like an elephant (“I can’t do this tonight. Why am I here?”) but slowly began to feel more capable, confident. By the time the group stretching began, I was ready (I had also found a bathroom in the nearby gym – an unexpected, happy bonus: I could pee one last time before jogging! [More on that later, filed under “A Million Excuses”]).

I’m sure they told us the following fact after our last Saturday morning workout, but with the wind blowing, the music blaring and the stretch leader’s head turned in the other direction, I do not always hear all the details: We were going to run a 5k tonight. In a hilly neighborhood. (Saturday workouts are on the high school track. The flat-as-a-pancake high school track.)

Tonight we ran the route of the upcoming 1040 Tax Fun Run/Walk. Sure, we’d been running nearly 3 miles in our thrice-weekly workouts for quite some time, gradually building our endurance with longer jog/shorter walk times, but tonight we took a big leap. Instead of an alternating run-2-minutes/walk-3-minutes workout, we skipped ahead to  a run-3/walk-1 pace. What? Are you trying to kill us? (Really, they’re not. Quite the contrary – they’re trying to save us from ourselves.)

But it was run-3, walk-1, and I was game. I have been building endurance, even though with my respiratory issues (Excuse No. 697) Bruce thinks I may never get the lung capacity I long for. My physical endurance, while not ideal, nevertheless has been improving.

When I finished my 5K (in 41 minutes, 15 seconds!), I walked back to find some other joggers and walkers, mainly because Bruce was with them. (He has been volunteering as a coach at the clinic for a couple of weeks, since the day we both needed the car and he stayed to see if they needed help instead of simply dropping me off.)

Strangely enough, after my run, I felt good. I am sure I won’t be saying this once the humidity pods descend on our city, but tonight it was all good. Especially when I crossed the finish line.

I felt so great, in fact, that I doubled back to jog in with the group behind me, encouraging the ladies as they neared the finish line. And when we reached it, I doubled back again to pick up the next group. “Go, ladies. You’re almost there! You can do it! Finish line just ahead!”

It made me feel good to encourage them. They may not have wanted or needed my two cents’ worth of encouragement, but I felt good giving it to them.

That’s when the crazy idea hit me (remember, my brain was all endorphined up):

“Next year I am going to be in good enough shape to be a leader of one of the running groups.” (We have several groups, starting with Walkers, then Beginner A runners, Beginner B runners, Intermediate …)

“That is my goal, my New Year’s resolution (nevermind this is April). I am going to get serious about this unhealthy, out-of-shape body and be a serious runner! And then I’m going to help others!”

If you have ever made a New Year’s resolution, or gone on a diet, or committed to anything important in the throes of an oxygen high, you know how risky and tricky the next few weeks are going to be. I’m not stupid – I know I will have many obstacles, not the least of which will be the enemy’s attempts to short-circuit my resolve. The evil one will throw in my face every single excuse I’ve ever come up with for quitting.

So let me list a few of them here, just to get them out of the way. I’m sure I’ll think of more later, but here are a few of the Million Excuses:

  • My feet hurt. (I have bone spurs in the bottoms of both of my heels. I’ve seen them in X-rays.)
  • My knee hurts. (I did something to it quite a while back, and it gives me grief sometimes.)
  • I have a heart condition. (But my cardiologist told me 18 months ago that I needed to lose a few pounds.)
  • I have developed a problem with urinary leakage upon exertion. (Don’t make me explain. If you’re a middle-age woman or have been pregnant, you probably know what I’m talking about. Explain it to the other girls.)
  • I don’t have the right apparel. (Solved the most important one recently when I figured out How to buy a sports bra. This was a tongue-in-cheek post; some people didn’t get that – but he was a guy.)
  • I don’t have time. (Haven’t we all used that one? If you don’t have time to take care of your body [and your spirit], you’re too busy!)
  • I’m not very fast. (Solved that one, too, when I read No Need for Speed: A Beginner’s Guide to the Joy of Running.)
  • I have respiratory issues. (So what? See previous item.)
  • It’s too cold/hot/humid. (Since I began running again in November, I have run in below-freezing temperatures and lived to tell about it. In the past, I have run in high temperatures and not died of heat stroke. As for the humidity – well, I’m still talking to myself about that one.)

Those are some of the excuses I’ve used for not exercising. The ones for not eating right are fewer but more ridiculous:

  • My oven is 40 years old and burns everything. (So make a sandwich.)
  • I can’t afford to eat healthy. (But you can afford a cardiologist’s bill?)
  • I don’t have time to cook healthful foods. (Salads do take a relatively long time to prepare, and cutting up the vegetables too many days in advance causes them to spoil faster. But good alternatives exist. Figure them out, and stop whining.)
  • Fresh produce spoils so fast. (So go to the store more often. Or send hubby.)
  • But this tastes so good. (So eat a little of it, savor it, and put your fork away.)
  • The Weight Watchers calculator is out of stock, and I can’t count my points without it! (Good news – I finally got the calculator.)

The excuses pile up like stacks of old newspapers. And the excuses are a lot easier to recycle.

The bottom line is that, left to my own devices, “wisdom” and appetites, I will die young. And I don’t want to leave Bruce and the dogs to fend for themselves. I love them too much for that.

That is why I’m going public:

This morning, my scale said 199. That means my actual weight is 201 (I cannot calibrate my scale to the correct setting, so I trust the one at work, where we are doing a Biggest Loser competition and I’ve been losing the same 2 pounds for about three weeks now).

My weight issue is largely an accountability problem. (At its core it’s a spiritual battle, but that is a post for another day.) And because I need accountability to my friends, my family, and even total strangers, I am choosing to go public.

I’m not going to post my “before picture” tonight because I have to find it first and it’s already two hours past my bedtime, but I am committing to writing something every single day in this space. I do have a busy schedule (job, school, family, volunteer work), but I will at least post a brief thought. Not sure yet how often I will post my weight (at the moment, I’m weighing myself every morning), but I’ll figure out the specifics as I go.

In reading this, you have found out some ugly things about me that you may not have known. I invite you to take this journey with me, whether you have pounds to shed or some other type of heavy weight that is keeping you down. I am doing this not only to help myself but to help others, Lord willing.

This journey will require prayer, commitment, obedience and a lot of listening to God’s voice (the only way this will really and truly work). I am finally ready. Are you?

It’s time to go public. I hope you’ll join me on the journey.

Share your struggles, words of wisdom or a bit of encouragement with me by posting a comment.

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