Monday, August 16, 2010

It might be hope...

Sometimes, you don't know how far you've come until you look back and see how far you've gone.

About 3 months ago I started "running". I put running in quotes because most folks would not really classify what I do as running. Bouncy walking, maybe. Slow jogging, possibly. But not really running...not yet.

When I began, I chose a program that broke my workout times up into small intervals of running and walking, and then gradually (and sometimes not so gradually) increased my run times over the course of several weeks.

I remember my first "run" vividly. It was a Friday night. I didn't have real running shoes and I was nervous about attempting this feat on a track in front of other humans who did have real running shoes and were actually running and not turning stop sign red.

The program called for a 5 minute warm up walk followed by 60 seconds of "running" and 90 seconds of walking ... eight times (or for 20 minutes) ... and then a 5 minute cool down walk.When it came time for my first "run", I took a deep breath, leaned forward a bit and said "here we go!" and I did the version of running my body would allow. I thought I would surely die.

I could feel my heartbeat from the top of my head to the soles of my feet. My leg muscles screamed in agony. My lungs burned. Sweat began to pour down my face.

That 60 seconds seemed like an hour.

Then it was over, I wasn't dead and I was allowed to walk. And, by "walk" I mean "will my body to continue moving and not collapse onto the track in a sweaty, aching, burning heap of flab and inappropriate running gear."

I continued my "runs" over the next several weeks, taking one week off due to tendinitis, one when I babysat my nephew and nieces and the next when I tried out a new workout dvd. By that time, I was up to 30 minute runs with no stopping...or 30 minute slow jogs. I was pleased with my ability to press through the workouts and the stamina and endurance it was building, but I still downgraded my efforts because I wasn't really running "for real" (according to my own definition, of course).

But, I was going to press on regardless of my pessimism.

I'm rife with contradictions.

To build me back up to 30 minutes so I could finish the program, I downloaded a different running app for my phone that had preset training workouts. As I browsed the options to select where I wanted to start, I saw that their Advanced level was 30 minute runs with no stopping. And I smiled.

Then I chose the 4 minute runs.

After a week or so of doing this other running program combined with 2 weeks of the workout dvd I added, I was finally able to finish my original program and rocked that last 30 minute run. I felt like I was really running, or at least really jogging, and I felt stronger and faster than I ever have.

Now, I won't be running a race anytime soon, but its an encouraging finish/new beginning.

In addition to the running, I've been watching what I eat, tracking calories and so on. I also decided to take part in a 90 Day Fitness Challenge my brother started. Today was my weigh-in after the first week of the challenge. I lost 7 pounds. That's a pound a day!

After weighing myself, I didn't commence a happy dance. I just went over to my vanity to get ready for work, as per usual, and started humming along to the song that was playing at the moment. Then the words broke through the melody and my absent-minded enjoyment...

It's hard to recall what blew out the flame/it's been dark since you can remember/you talk it all through to find it a name/as days go on by without number/You've been here for a long long time/Hope has a way of turning *its* face to you/just when you least expect it/you walk in a room/you look out a window/and something there leaves you breathless/you say to yourself/it's been a while since I felt this/but it feels like it might be hope

I thought about where I'd been. Overweight. Depressed. Feeling defeated. Tired. Convinced it would always feel that way. And then, I thought about where I was right then...and where I had been for a little while now. A place where I'm still overweight, but I'm not depressed or feeling defeated or tired and am actively walking in the direction of change. A place that is good all on its own, whether I rock two workouts a day, or go over my calorie goal. A place where I can lose 7 pounds and that's just another reason to be where I am...stay where I am...not the reason I'm there. The exercise routine I have going and the weight loss is awesome, but it isn't better than the peace and joy and lightness I feel inside...the contentment I have with my present and the hope I have for my future.

I'm standing here now, looking back on all the way I've come. I'm 28 pounds lighter than I was in April. I'm "running". I'm strengthening my body. I'm learning to handle food in a way that is helpful and not hurtful to me. And, most importantly, my heart is at peace. I'm also looking at all the way I have to go...which is a long way.  But, instead of feeling defeated by all that lies before me, I am hopeful. I see possibility. I see a future and a hope that I've not seen in a long, long time. I see that I was gifted this weeks ago in such a quiet and gentle way that I didn't even notice until now. And, I see just how kind and faithful and perfect God's ways are.

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