BABY STEPS: RUNNING A MILE

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.

That 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 still hurt.

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 expecting.

I cried.

I didn't 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.

I 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.

I 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.

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.

5 comments:

  1. Beautiful post Dawn, I'm so happy you've come into this feeling of self-acceptance. I think most people can identify with how you've been feeling about yourself although having health worries makes it worse. I was the same at school, I was always picked last for teams, I was terrible at sport and skipped PE whenever I could.. I just hated everything to do with it. Now I'm exercising all the time for myself and I love it. I started with running too :) I hope this is the start of you discovering what your body is capable of xxx
    Lucy @ La Lingua : Life in Italy

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    1. Thank you. I knew I had to make some changes if I wanted to feel better and be better. The hardest part was staying motivated, but I'm quickly finding that I actually enjoy getting up and working out! I'm still far from athletic, and far from being able to run any great distance. However, I'm proud of myself for having come this far, and I hope that you are proud of yourself, too! It can definitely be challenging!

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  2. Dawn KUDOS to you for not being afraid to look in the mirror. You're beautiful and don't ever lose sight of that! Congrats on the changes. I recently started eating veggies myself. Makes a difference doesn't it?

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  3. Oh babycakes. I feel ya. I am all angles, all the time. I too, could not have been less interested in sports. I remember when we were forced to play kickball or volleyball or whateverball in school, and I would only move if the ball was coming straight at me and usually then just to knock it away. That made the boys so mad. I just didn't get their life-or-death competitiveness over some stupid P.E. game. Now, of course, I get that they were probably all just slaves to their testosterone and had little control over it.

    I did enjoy ballet and other forms of dance so much, but dance back then was truly a performing art, emphasis on the art. These days dance for kids has become a competitive sport too, with dance competitions and psycho moms and trophies and all the negative aspects of kids' sports, and it's a shame. Those didn't exist when I was growing up.

    And lest you think that means I'm not a klutz, I just dropped a tin of coffee on my toe this morning and I frequently run into things. Anyway, I've been trying to start exercising too. I was so sedentary all winter and feeling super out of shape. I'm not sure I could run a mile right now. So if you do it, I'll do it. We should have a gangly girl running pack. :D

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  4. Such a beautiful post...good for you for taking care of yourself! Here's to many years of your happiness!

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