On a solo run last weekend I had a shocking revelation: I actually enjoy running. What is wrong with me? Is there something in the water that causes yuppie mutation? Five years ago, hell, even ONE year ago I would have laughed at the mere possibility of running for pleasure. But now I am running a few times a week, and I am actually enjoying it.
The occasional muscle ache is eclipsed by the many benefits of running. My legs are getting strong, my posture is better, and my mood has improved. I bought new shoes! Not only do they look cool they are also so incredibly lightweight I sometimes feel like I’m floating over the pavement.
Totally awesome car repellents
It has been nearly two months since I started running. While I have no plans to do a marathon anytime soon I hope to make running a lifelong habit. There are many factors that can prevent this from happening. Injury is an issue for many but I’m fairly in tune with my body. I’m not one to overdo it, and if I ever feel any pain more than a muscle ache I will take a break until I heal. What I am concerned about is my penchant for self-sabotage.
Like most people, I can become really good at something if I work at it. I learn quickly. But a couple of things often hamper my success: laziness and low self-esteem. The laziness is pervasive but it is fairly easily overcome if I am doing something I find interesting. Low self-esteem, however, is my achilles heel. That nagging feeling that I’m not good enough to succeed crops up right when I start to gain momentum. Friends and family have repeatedly tried to lift me up but to no avail. I subject myself to a daily comedy roast. The latest bit is “You’re too fat to run. You’re going to smash those fancy shoes with your high BMI. You’re like Jabba the Hut’s sister. Go ahead, eat that bag of chips. Turn on that TV. Running is lame! You’re such a worthless fat ass!”
Part of the solution to my self-esteem problem might be found in a book called “How To Be A Woman” by Caitlin Moran. I am loath to say “this book changed my life!” but I might just end up with that admission. It is a hilariously unapologetic feminist manifesto. I often wonder if I wouldn’t have the low self-esteem issues if I was a man. Sure, men have obstacles in life, but women face most of those as well as unattainable beauty standards, objectification, sexism, lower pay than male counterparts, possible violence/rape by loved ones or strangers, etc. 40+ years after the women’s liberation movement we still have a long way to go.
There are many great points in “How To Be A Woman” but the “I am Fat!” chapter particularly resonated with me. So many women turn to food for comfort. I reach for carbs when feeling sad, angry or stressed. Moran points out that overeating is “the addiction of choice of carers” (often women) because it allows them to remain functional while “slowly self-destructing in a way that doesn’t inconvenience anyone”. Moran muses, “I sometimes wonder if the only way we’ll ever get around to properly considering overeating is if does come to take on the same perverse, rock ‘n’ roll cool of other addictions. Perhaps it’s time for women to finally stop being secretive about their vices and start treating them like all other addicts treat their habits instead. Coming into the office looking raddled, sighing, “Man, I was on the shepard’s pie last night like you wouldn’t believe. I had, like, MASH in my EYEBROWS by 10 p.m. I was on a total mince rush!”
I actually addressed my carbo-holism on Facebook. I admitted that I had recently consumed half a loaf of french bread in one sitting. My friend Sarah (not to be confused with my sister Sarah, who also has amazing advice) commented “Breathe and give yourself a break! You cannot go through life eyeing up the forbidden fruit and not fall off the wagon. Just let yourself fall off the wagon, eat that bread and tomorrow, get up, eat an apple and go for a walk. Its not much, but its something. You cannot be perfect 100% of the time. Impossible! So when you fall into the ditch let it go, just do your best to climb out of it.” A few friends (including a man) empathized. It was just what was needed- a sense that I’m not alone and can get over it. I have also been talking about it to my husband, who has offered to help and support me. What I plan to do is stock the fridge and cupboard with healthy convenient foods. That way I don’t go hungry and there are no excuses NOT to eat well.
Exercise and a healthy diet are not only good for weight-control, they also are an effective anti-depressant. I am prone to depression but have found that I can avoid it as long as I’m taking care of my physical well-being. And if I am content not will I more easily overcome life’s challenges, but I will also be more motivated to continue healthy activities like running. To live long and prosper running- that is my goal.