This past week, abodyandabrain’s domain name expired, again. I’ve been writing this blog since 2012, and though I’ve had the occasional hiatus, it continues to be something I’m not willing to give up.
So I paid the $18 to keep the domain name to continue writing into its third year. And I vowed to dive deeper into its purpose: why am I doing this? Why does this blog exist? The main reason I’ve been keeping up with it lately is to keep up with my friends and family, whose readership I value immensely. But I have a feeling there’s a bigger purpose here.
I want to inspire people to live healthier lives. I want my own journey into health to reach out to others. I want to let you know that in a culture that profits from a negative perception of your body, it’s ok to love it for what it looks like and what it can do today.
I’ve been more sensitive lately to people who feel like they can’t work out or eat healthfully for one reason or another: “I would work out if I only had a pool to swim in,” or “My baby cries the moment I put her down, so I can’t exercise” or “I only have so many years to live, and I want to eat whatever I want in those years.” I know these sound familiar to a lot of us. For those of you who have overcome these excuses, how did you do it? What was your journey like?
Here is mine.
I was never terribly fit. I didn’t play sports in school (save for tennis for a couple of years, but I quit when the coach started making us run on the track – it hurt too much) and I was never able to run more than a quarter of a mile at a time at the gym, which I rarely did. As in once or twice a year in college. But what did I care? I was blessed, as my entire family is only in childhood and early adult years, with high metabolism. Might as well enjoy it, I reasoned.
But I didn’t feel good. The college diet of pizza and beer made me feel sick until it didn’t anymore, once I forgot what “good” felt like. On Sunday nights, my friends and I beached ourselves on a couch watching movies, licking our dehydrated lips, the rehashed stories from the nights before losing their luster in the dull flickering light.
My moment came during Christmas 2008. I was home for the holidays visiting my parents. They had just gotten a treadmill, and I liked walking on it during the day. One night, my dad and I watched a movie called Run Fatboy Run. For anyone who hasn’t seen it, Simon Pegg plays an out-of-shape loser who wants to run a marathon to win his wife back and compete with her horrible but physically fit boyfriend. He struggles throughout the movie (hilariously) and in the end, though he comes in dead last, (like hours after the race has been cleared up) he completes the London marathon.
After the movie, I looked at my dad and told him, “We could do that if we wanted to. We could run a marathon.” He looked at me seriously and said, “Maybe a half marathon.”
At the time, this idea was madness, just another far-fetched fantasy. I had never even run a mile. I was, however, intrigued: if someone could will themselves to get up every morning and run, why couldn’t I? I researched a local half marathon, and, to my surprise, signed up.
The training plan was overwhelming. How was I supposed to run 3 miles? What was I, a wizard?
So how did I do it? I just tried. Literally one step at a time, I completed my daily runs, which were more like glorified walks to start. I didn’t think about whether or not I would go for a run, I just put them on the calendar and treated them like an appointment I couldn’t miss. I didn’t set out to improve my diet too, but it did improve because I didn’t want that junk affecting me. I wasn’t drinking as much beer at night because I wanted a better run in the morning.
Sooner than I expected, I was ok with running three miles at a time, but then the calendar was getting harder; one day I had to run seven miles. I remember being so nervous beginning that one. I ran and ran and ran, and when I looked at my iPod, (yes, iPod) I saw that I’d already run 5, and I knew I had two more in me. That was my first real feeling of elation, of the power and freedom that you can have just by taking care of your body.
And in the end, I did it. Just like Simon Pegg.
And I kept running after the race, too. And I ran a full marathon the next year. And then I got injured, but I felt too good to stop caring for myself, so I started going to yoga more. And then I loved it so much that I started teaching.
Now that I’m a mom, I need to care for my body more than ever. I am fortunate enough to be in a marriage where both partners value fitness. We are both training for a half marathon in October, and we both work out six days a week. We juggle caring for baby and our house is never quite clean enough, but we sacrifice because we know it’s worth the work. We know that investing in our own health is one of the best gifts we can give our son.
Your body is a gift. It’s where you live. Right now, it’s capable of amazing feats. Even so, it can change – you can change it. You can make it faster, stronger, capable of even amazing-er feats!
Now that you know my story, I want to know yours. Even if you feel that your own fitness journey isn’t complete, I want to hear where you’ve been and where you’re going. I’ll probably ask you if I can feature it in this blog. Email me or comment below and let us know: how are you getting healthy?