A few years ago, I felt like a true failure. I felt like I had hit rock bottom. I was doing Weight Watchers (for the third time) but not making progress. I spent hours everyday working out to my videos and was still overweight. I had just about decided that there was no point in fighting it, I was meant to be fat forever. My attitude was negative and my family was sick of my constant complaining. I was tired of feeling bad about myself. I needed a change of heart and mind. That change came in the most unexpected way. It came with running.
After dinner on Thanksgiving, I went out for a walk with family before we had dessert. It was cold and just starting to snow. I had put my little mp3 player on and was enjoying the music when a favorite song came on. I felt like dancing but that was out of the question (I had two teens with me). So I picked up the pace a bit and started to jog. It was only for a few minutes but after walking to catch my breath, I ran a little more. Now, the teens with me decided that I had lost my mind and called for me to stop, go back to the house, and declared that it was time for dessert. I shooed them on back home and spent about 15 minutes (nothing drastic) walking and running. I was quite pleased with my burst of activity and thoroughly enjoyed my dessert later.
What was more surprising is that I got up that next morning and went out again. While most people were out shopping the early sales, I walked and ran around my neighborhood for 20 minutes. I felt strong and calm all at the same time. This was something I could do. I recalled the good vibes I felt when I used to run 20 years ago and decided that I wanted more of that. I couldn’t wait to tell a friend who had just discovered running for herself. We signed up for a spring race and became very dedicated to our running. We encouraged each other and stopped worrying about the scale. We were more focused on miles, eating healthy and avoiding the flu that winter. Race day came and we had a ball with a few thousand others. We still enter races together even she is much faster than me now. We have done several half-marathons (13.1 miles) and one full marathon (26.2 miles).
Even though my weight is still higher than I would like, I no longer obsess about it. I try to stay more focused on getting my miles in, adding some light weight work and yoga. Most of all, my workouts are not to exceed an hour per day (except for long runs with my training group during marathon season) and I take Sundays off completely. The goal for me is to keep exercise in my life but not let it overtake my life. It took me awhile to realize and accept that I am so much more than my weight. I love to read, quilt, and travel. I especially love that I can fit all this in and volunteer at my church.
I know that running marathons is not for everyone. My husband used to snicker when I asked him to join me at the park. To show his support, he would ride his bike with me on long runs. Somehow he has caught the running bug; he has started running with me a few times each week. He completed his first half-marathon last month and says he’ll do another. The point is that each of us can find an activity that will enhance our health, reduce stress, and increase self-esteem. Taking an active role in your own health care (by becoming more active), especially if you are a plus-sized woman, is the most important thing you can do.