I recently received an email from a person who wanted to become more active. They wanted to start walking, running and maybe even compete in a few local 5K and 10K races. They thought that being more active might be a good way to lose some weight and feel better. So far, not a bad plan.
But, they went on, they were not willing to change their eating habits, they were not willing to drink less and they were not willing to quit smoking. Their question to me was how much activity did I think they would need to overcome the rest of their lifestyle. I didn’t know how to answer.
You’d think that this approach would be unusual, but it isn’t. I can remember coming in from my early runs and sitting on the sofa and lighting up. It made my son crazy. “How can you do that?” he would ask. Easy. Like my email friend, in those days I was tied in nots.
I want this but not that
I was angry that I was 43 years old and 100 pounds overweight, but I was not going to change any more than I had to. I was angry that it was getting more and more difficult to walk up steps, mow the lawn or wash the car, but I was not going to stop doing the things I enjoyed. I was angry that I couldn’t live an irresponsible lifestyle and still be thin, fit and healthy.
So, when it finally occurred to me that I would have to be more active, it wasn’t as though I relished the idea and jumped in with enthusiasm. Sure, I liked the idea that I was wogging (my combination of waddling and jogging) several days a week. I liked the idea that I was actually running in running shoes. And, I liked the idea that I had a few race t-shirts in my closet.
But, I was not ready to give in to the idea that my life was going to have to change. I was not ready to start thinking like an athlete. I was not ready to be a runner when I wasn’t running. I was not going to become one of those people.
No… not me. I was going to be the one who found the way to be both decadent and fit. I was going to be the one who could over eat and over train. I was going to be the one who was not giving in to the benefits of being more active. And for the better part of a year, I managed to be both what I had been and what I was trying to be.
Appreciating good change
Eventually, though, I began to realize that my priorities were changing. The more miles I had behind me, the more I began to think about the miles ahead of me. The more I ran, the more I was a runner. It became more and more difficult to not be an athlete – not by design but by default.
I wasn’t all that happy about it at first. Standing at a starting line in sub-freezing temperatures one Saturday morning, I found myself questioning my own sanity. Surely there was another way. What happened to the person who drank hot coffee and smoked cigarettes on cold weekend mornings? Where had he gone? Surely he had enough sense to stay inside.
I was not that person anymore. I was a runner. I was one of those people who ran in the cold and rain and heat and humidity. I was one of those people who wore shorts and tights in public. I was one of those people who stood in line at the grocery store and stretched.
Even now that I have been running for eight years, I’m still amused at all the things I am. But more, I’m amazed at all the things I’m not. I’m not angry anymore. I’m not fighting with my own destiny. I am not afraid to find out where my limits are, and I am not afraid to accept those limits.
But more than anything, I am not afraid to change, to learn, to grow and to look past all the things I can’t be to those few that I can.
Waddle on, friends