I used to run. I don’t think you could call me a runner – my goal was always three solid miles, but running was my main work out and I attempted at least 3-4 times a week. Wow, 3-4 times a week of running? I can’t believe that is true…! Anyways, I used to run. I wasn’t good at it, but I did it for years. I mean YEARS. I started running in high school and kept it up all through college, all through adding in yoga and pilates, kickboxing, team sports, etc etc. I was also running.
And then, when I moved in with Kamel running became really difficult to maintain. He doesn’t run, doesn’t really know how to run – and yes, knowing how is pretty important and not something everyone knows how to do. Getting up in the dark to go outside, in the dark, to run in the cold wet dark became unbearable to me. So we started working out in our living room with the kinect. This I could do in the dark, in the comfort of my house, in my underpants if I so chose. For a while my thinking was still, “Well this is just a place holder and I will go back to running in the spring.” Except I didn’t, I never went back. I got way more out of my little living room 40 minute to an hour sessions than I ever got, physically, from running. The convenience was astonishing.
I have always had anxiety over my body. Always. And honestly, it’s all about control. For a long time I didn’t feel like I was in charge, I felt like some unforeseen force was constantly messing with my weight, making my body unpredictable. I felt like I was doing the best I could, I was running 3-4 times a week! I was trying very hard to eat well, but if I wanted a cookie why should it also mean I can’t button my pants the next day? Why should it also mean I feel uncomfortable in my own skin – puffy, tight, awkward, embarrassed, self-unconscious, yuck. There were times when I didn’t want to leave the house because I didn’t want people to see me. There were times when I would try on every piece of clothing in my closet in a sweaty, anxious panic trying to find something that I thought looked ok, that I felt physically comfortable in. Sometimes I could calm my ass down, and others I couldn’t. Sometimes I would cancel plans, cry into my pillow, vow to do things all differently starting tomorrow, go for a run, yell at myself in my own head over how I need to be running faster, farther, better. This lasted years. YEARS.
Working out in my living room helped. Once I got to a stable weight, something manageable, something predictable, I felt sane.
Then I got pregnant and working out came to a screeching halt. Also, my eating changed (as it does when you are growing a human) and I put on 50+ pounds. And towards the end when I saw the scale very very near, mere lbs from 200, it did make me feel like, “oh, god… really? what have i gotten myself into?” But in a different way than before, a measured way. It’s not like I didn’t know what this was, I just wasn’t sure how it would all be once the baby came out. But then the baby did come out, and it was all kind of magical, oh my god how cool is this body stuff.
I didn’t hate on myself, all of the changes and the attempts at reversal post pregnancy didn’t make me anxious. Even while on leave, with my odd little not-pregnant-but-still-look-kind-of-pregnant body I was out and about and I felt like I looked awesome. I mean, I wished that I could wear pants that weren’t maternity, but it wasn’t something that occupied my mind very much. I lived in sweatpants for two months and felt like I was doing just fine in the body world. I was doing more than just fine – my body and me, we were excellent.
And now it has been 3 months, a little more, and I still wear maternity pants to work – nobody can tell. We have had guests in town and our routines have been a little wonky so the last time I checked I had 10 more lbs to lose to be back at my pre pregnancy weight, but I haven’t gotten on the scale in a few weeks so that number could have fluctuated one way or another.
Before I had a baby this would have made me feel horrible: You mean, I had a cold and couldn’t work out for a couple days? And then we had people over and ate out a couple days? What if I have set myself back 5 lbs?! I will have been a FAILURE.
But now, when I think about the flux of weight gain, of weight loss, of muscle gain and loss, being in shape/out of shape, toned arms or saggy butts – I just see an ocean of time. I am no longer running. Sure, I run through my day at work, I run through loads of laundry, I am hustling. Moms hustle. But, as far as my body is concerned, me and it, we’ve got time. I’ve got time to have a cookie, and take a day to sleep if I need to sleep and not work out, I have time to lose 10 lbs, 15 lbs. I have time to fit back into my pants, or I have time to go buy new ones if the old ones will never fit quite right again.
Running, I see now, was terrible for me. It’s this big epiphany I’ve been mulling over while I listen to the radio in the car, or take a minute to look out the window of the train. Running was terrible for me. It was awful. It made me feel like shit about myself! I was never going far enough, never running good enough, walking a bit too much, never running enough days. It was a perfect example of how I was sloppy and lazy. I worked full time and went to grad school full time – I wrote a fucking book and yet… I was always yelling at myself on the inside: Go go go go go, you can do better, don’t stop, what are you doing? You are going to regret this later. And on and on and on.
Now I don’t do that anymore. I thought I would. I thought I would bully myself back into my old jeans, but I’m not. I don’t run. I work out in my underpants because it makes me feel strong and happy. Sometimes I have a cookie. Or a Reese’s peanut butter cup. Sometimes I don’t. I’ll get to where I’m going, I’m not worried about it, and that is my favorite part.