No More Running

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.

27 thoughts on “No More Running”

  1. This is really brave to put out there, and it’s an interesting post, and you are so strong. I’ve always been impressed by your in-home workouts, because it is there that I find the most excuses and opportunities to take it easy. It’s so hard to listen to our bodies, but I think you’ve done an amazing job of it, especially lately. I guess I’ve been extra wowed by you lately, taking on so much and making it happen, even if it’s in different ways that you thought it would be. xoxo

  2. Great post. When I started running a few years ago, I REALLY enjoyed it. I felt strong — I was impressed by what my body could do. I was amazed that I could do this running thing.

    And then, for a myriad of reasons, I fell out of it and have had a HELL of a time getting back into it. I know it’s a mental thing for me, but that’s still hard to overcome. And you know, on the days where I have “crappy” runs I do feel really, really bad about myself.

    BUT…I do remember how awesome it USED to feel. So I want to try to get back there.

    (Can I say, too? This is such a great example of “One size does not fit all.” Anytime someone says to me “Oh well if you want to get fit all you need to do is X,Y, and Z. No. It’s SO different for everyone. We all gotta find our own thing.)

    I’ve been thinking about adding some karate into the fitness mix (something I might actually ENJOY), but the whole “leaving the house and finding a studio” thing is…well. It hasn’t happened πŸ˜›

  3. i completely feel your post… i have never enjoyed running, but sometimes i do it just because i think i should run… because it feels like that’s what all the super fit gals at my gym do.

    anyway, i just started swimming laps and it’s been so fun to find something that i actually enjoy! kudos to you for following your heart in choosing your workout!! thanks for sharing!

  4. This is awesome. Very inspiring in terms of “maybe all that anxiety I fear won’t come to pass!”
    And it makes me interested in the Kinect. What stuff did you use?

    1. For games, we use Your Shape: Fitness Evolved. Both the original, and the 2012 version.

      The only add-ons we use on top of that are 5 or 8lbs hand weights. Which the Kinect takes into consideration when calculating your calories burned.

  5. This is fascinating. Running is one of the only forms of exercise that makes me feel not-insane, because it’s something I enjoy, not something I do for the sheer point of “working out.” But, even though I’m always surprised when other people don’t love running as much as I do, I’m even more surprised when people keep doing something they hate or that makes them unhappy. Like, I hate swimming laps, and so you’ll never find me in a pool, even if I’m hugely pregnant or injured and it’s the only exercise that makes sense. Good for you, figuring out that running is not good for you mentally, and then finding something that works. I also want to second your endorsement of the Kinect. We got one for Christmas last year along with a couple of the fitness and sports games, and it is so much fun. I love it for couple-bonding time that’s not sitting in front of the TV or leaving the apartment (although it is technically sitting in front of the TV, but whatever), and also for something fun to when friends come over. Love it.

    1. You know what adds another level of crazy? I didn’t even KNOW I didn’t like it until I had a solid year plus of distance from it. The whole time I thought that I was the problem. If only I worked harder, if only I was more in shape. etc etc etc. I didn’t realize it was bringing me down until I looked back on it.

  6. This makes me SO HAPPY TO READ. This comfortable place you are now in. It is really liberating and exciting πŸ™‚ I’m so proud of you!!

  7. I loved this post. Thank you for sharing your journey! While I don’t usually have that kind of anxiety related to my body (not that it’s perfect, it just doesn’t bother me), I do know well that awful feeling that nothing I’ve done matters because I’m not X or I didn’t do Y. I’m so glad you’ve found a way to be kinder to yourself.

  8. Go you! I’m totally still looking for that place… The body anxiety got worse rather than better here. One day I’ll be cool with it all, I hope.
    Enjoy your workouts πŸ™‚

  9. Great insights, Lauren!!! I know so many people who worry about “being watched” while running. I do still enjoy running, but in a different way than before. I tend to walk more these days because that is something that Hank and I can experience together, and it’s so awesome to watch how he watches the world! Also, I have this “Fuck it. I’m a mom. I’m awesome no matter what!” sort of attitude about things. I used to shy away from any sort of group exercise class requiring hand-eye coordination because I am way too competitive to suck at things like that. I’m a lot more open to trying new things because it’s not about control anymore. It’s about enjoying being active, and…yes, even enjoying a few moments to myself away from my son. Giving birth and raising my son (and some other less fortunate events) has made me a stronger human being, and is well worth the little soft part of my tummy that will probably never go away, and will remind me of what I have done!!

  10. Good.For.You.Girl!! Coming to a place with your own body where you can feel comfortable is such a hard thing to do for so many women (and men too I’m sure). I lost about 70lbs a few years ago through mostly diet change, and have been able to keep it off and stay at a steady weight since then. This, however, does not mean that I haven’t gone through some utterly agonizing self inflicted battles. I have gone through periods where I restricted my calories to try to lose more weight, to eating more calories because I wasn’t losing anything still, to contemplating getting surgery on my stomach because it will never bee flat or look nice. Over the past few months I have been able to gain a healthier perspective on my own body. I wake up early at least 5 days a week to go on a mile walk with my husband and the dogs, because it does us all good. When I get home I throw in 15 minutes or so of weights if I have time, and on the weekends I try to do a little bit more. But I’ve stopped beating myself up for being lazy if I don’t work out for two days in a row, and I’ve stopped scrutinizing every thing I eat in a day. I feel like I treat my body well, and I have come such a far way from where I was, that there’s no need to mentally bully myself on a constant basis.

    So last night I had cake after dinner. And today, I don’t even feel guilty about it. Which is a huge, huge accomplishment. And I’m proud of myself for it.

    And you’re kicking ass every day working, and raising a new baby, and helping to take care of a household. And when your old and looking back at your life, remembering how long you stayed in maternity jeans after you had the baby will not matter one bit.

  11. I don’t know why but this was my favorite post of yours so far. I’m glad you’re doing so well. I might have to look into getting a Kinect.

  12. This is a really great post! Go Lauren! Having Lyra helped me get over some of my need to push myself to look a certain way. I tried to think about myself the way I want her to think about herself one day.. Strong and smart and sexy because she’s an individual not a cookie cutter. But its hard some days, and your post is really inspiring to keep looking at things the right way and not the magazine way.

  13. Hi Lauren! I wanted to ask you, what games do you use for workout? I’ve been thinking about doing it but I wanted to know

    1. We use Your Shape: Fitness Evolved. Both the original, and the 2012 version.

      Sadly the 2013 version was a WiiU exclusive. We hope it eventually makes it over to the Xbox.

  14. I am, so so impressed by your self discipline and motivation. I was never sporty at school, and lately I have been trying to start some kind of exercising routine, first I tried running (but I get so dizzy afterwards) and lately training at home in the living room (but we are always forgetting).

    Mark read this and he says he feels like you, the guilt, forcing himself to run / train just to feel good that he did it but at the same time just wanting it to be over fast.

    Way to go! (And it is great that you found a way to train that suits you and that you can do at home).

  15. This is such a great post. First of all, based on your photos, I think you look great, but that’s beside the point. I’ve been running a lot more (mostly with groups/partners, which has made it more of a social outing, which is fun), and feeling so accomplished in what I’ve achieved. If i didn’t, I don’t think I would be doing it so much. Also been doing Zumba with my mom, and we look like fools, but we’re having fun. These activities are way more fun than what I used to do (working out at home), and for so many years I fought against group exercise of any kind. So, I guess in some ways, that’s similar.

    The body image questions are tough, though. I haven’t changed my diet drastically, but that’s because it wasn’t terrible to begin with. We do eat out less lately, though. I’ve upped the intensity of my workouts, not to lose weight but because I enjoy it. Anyway, I did hope that this would result in pounds just melting off, and they’re not. I have lost some weight, but not like I thought I would. I’m trying to not be discouraged because I thought that would just be a bonus, and yet here I am feeling disappointed about it. Like you, if I have to take time off from working out, it stresses me out. It shouldn’t, but it does. I’m trying to get there.

  16. I also am not-a-runner. I go through phases where I’ll do a run-walk routine on the treadmill, because so many people say running is the best way to burn fat. Buuuut – it makes my knees hurt, I hate it while I’m doing it, and I am SO HUNGRY the rest of the day that it defeats the purpose. I’ve realized from personal training sessions that I’m more of a HIIT and strength training kind of girl. It makes me feel strong and energized, and it’s when I see results.

    I often feel like I should be MORE anxious about my working out, because I do allow myself to slack off without feeling guilty. I’ll say I just needed the rest, or I’m too busy and don’t want to stress out about fitting it in. But you make really good points here. There’s plenty of time, fitness is one part of our lives, it makes us feel good but so does that indulgent meal and weekend cocktails, berating ourselves does NOT make us feel good, and we’ve got to balance fitness with everything else we’ve got going on.

  17. I used to use the Kinect too. What program did you use? I tend to favor being outside if at all possible, but in the dark months of winter here I still do what I can indoors. Right now it is biking to work twice a week, hiking/canoeing or backpacking on the weekends and running/walking once or twice a week.

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