Two weeks ago, I ran a mile. Just one. To a lot of individuals, one mile is no fancy accomplishment. I know this. But on June 4, for the first time in my life, I was able to run a mile in under twenty minutes. In under fifteen minutes. In under ten minutes.
In high school,
my awkward body and asthmatic lungs were never impressive. I could
barely slog through a quarter of a mile. Athletically, I was good at
nothing, and--when we used to pick teams--I was, at times, picked last.
hurt, I'll be honest. Sure, I had grasshopper legs and triangle elbows
and orangutan arms. I was a tangle of limbs and slow reflexes. But it
Eight years after graduating from high school, I'm still awkward,
klutzy, and terribly uncoordinated. And I'm okay with that. Really.
Because, two weeks ago, I ran--I finally ran--a mile in under ten minutes. I
found a way to keep breathing. I found within me a motivation I
didn't think existed.
A year and a half ago, I started
gaining weight. I started feeling like someone else; my
clothes--clothes that I had worn since I was seventeen--no
longer fit. My back hurt. My shoulders hurt. My knees hurt. My sides
hurt. And I was bloated. Bloated and swollen and sore. I found my
appearance--of which I was already excessively
self-conscious--appalling. At times, my abdomen was so inflated that co-workers asked if I was
understand. I didn't know why certain foods would cause my stomach to
balloon within fifteen minutes. I didn't understand how I could eat
strawberries, but not bananas. I felt ill constantly--I was bloated,
nauseous, and suffering the pains of indigestion.
came to dread mealtimes. For a year and a half, I cried over my inability to fit into
tried and true articles of clothing. For a year and a half, I avoiding
eating, if I could. For a year and a half, I hated mirrors. For a year
and a half, I hated myself. And, for a year and a half, I worried about all of the similarities between I and my mother, and wondered if I, too, had MS.
was finally brave enough to visit the doctor in May. We
talked. They took my blood. They sent me a bill. I bought some pills.
It's been a month and a half since that first appointment. I've had follow-ups since then, where I was encouraged to take more pills and was required to pay more bills. However, after a few changes in diet, exercise, and determination, I'm losing weight. I'm eating vegetables. I'm running. And I'm not
afraid of the mirror. For the first time in my life, I don't turn from
my reflection. Sure, my arms are still gangly, and my knees are still knobby. I'll
always have a handful of unexplained bruises, and, at my smallest, I'll always be a size 10 (hips, ahoy!).
But when I look in
the mirror, I don't see who I was eight years ago--an awkward teen
judged for her disinterest in sports. And I don't see who I was a year
and a half ago--an insecure twenty-something who looked as if she were
expecting. I don't even see who I was in May. No, I see me.
with curly brown hair. Me, with scarred knees and bruised calves. Me,
with small breasts and long arms and crooked teeth. Me--awkward, klutzy, terribly uncoordinated. And I'm
okay with that.
Because, after eight years, I can finally run a mile. I can finally breathe.