Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Fat Athlete

As soon as I finish writing this blog, I'll be heading to my basement to jump on the treadmill.  I don't use it as much as I should - I do most of my running at one of my gyms. But with the blizzard we're still dealing with, I just don't want to go outside right now.  And it's officially been more than a week since I've exercised.

Last weekend, we were in Duluth visiting my husband's family, and I "stood up for myself" and insisted upon getting in my gym time on Saturday.  I found directions to a local Snap Fitness, drove there by myself, and got in an amazing workout.  It was glorious!  I was proud of myself for making the time for my workout and taking the extra steps to do it.

Since then -- nothing!  And really, there's no excuse.  I could have found the time; I just didn't.

In spite of my inactivity (and perhaps, this might be part of the reason for it) I had a great weigh-in for my first official week on Weight Watchers.  Down 5.8 pounds.  I knew that I was having a good week.  Just paying attention to what you're eating is quite the eye-opener.  Who knew that I could put away an entire day's worth of calories in a couple hours during the evening? Well, I guess that I probably did know that -- I just chose not to admit it to myself.

So now I'm going to head down to the treadmill.  But not before I tell you how I became a runner...

Back in the day - and this was the late 1990s - I was a fat single girl living alone in an apartment.  I had a friend who had always sported quite a wide bum and upper thighs.  But she started running, and suddenly all the extra padding in those areas melted away. Intriguing...  I also had a subscription to Self Magazine, and noticed an ad for a triathlon.

"Hmmm," my mind said.  "A triathlon.  Running, biking and swimming.  I could do that.  How hard could it be?"  And so, I decided to start with the running part.  I found a "starting to run" plan somewhere (I think from Runner's World magazine) and I got started.  Note that I was 215 pounds at this point.  And was completely sedentary.  But I did it.  I had this idea in my head, and I went with it.

I ran for a year before joining Weight Watchers.  During that year, I didn't lose weight.  I'm sure it's because I continued to eat as I always had -- or maybe more, since I was running now.  But I got to the point where I could run two miles at a time, without breaks.  I don't know too much about running, but that seems pretty good for an obese person.

Here's the thing:  after an incredibly painful start, I became a runner.  It seemed that I was good at it, regardless of my size.  As I became smaller, running was a critical part of my workout routine.  I got better and faster.  I have never aspired to run very long distances.  I've done a couple 5Ks and those are plenty long for me.  I think ideally, I'd like to get to the point where I can do 5 miles at a time for my "long" workouts.  But that's about it for me.  I no longer aspire to a triathlon.  I think that was just a little inspiration to kick-start me on this journey.

But I became an athlete, even before beginning to lose weight.  I found out that I had the capability -- the talent, even -- to be athletic.  To work out and enjoy it.  To be successful at it.  And to use physical movement to feel better about myself -- and to simply feel better.

I truly believe that everyone has an inner athlete.  I happened to find an outlet for that athlete in running.  My husband plays tennis.  I think everyone has something they're good at that's good for them.  It's just a matter of finding it.  Best wishes to you as you exercise your own inner athlete.