“When you shift your mind to doing something (even when you don’t want to), you’ll be less likely to completely fall off the fitness wagon. Don’t let your ego fight what’s happening to you right now. Gracefully accept the conditions that present themselves as opposed to fighting the reality of your situation. Go with your flow, based on who you are right now, and stop fighting the truth of now because you so desperately want to keep up with your past. If you can do this and accept this, then you’ll know how to stay fit and healthy for the rest of your life. DO YOUR BEST AND FORGET THE REST.” ~ Bring It, Tony Horton.
And so my mind shifts in my mental conditioning; mind over matter. The hubs was mildly surprised when I informed him that I had signed up for a local 5K, alone. So that this is clear, I am NOT a runner; nor do I enjoy running. When I used to sign up for these races, years ago, it was always with girlfriends; claiming we were doing it for the cause. But truly, I ran for vanity…to hang with the girls, to appear athletic, to try to stay trim. When I took my fitness personality quiz, recently while reading the above book, I shouldn’t have been surprised at the results. I am a meditative player in fitness, I seek inner stillness and peace; preferring to work out alone. For decades I have believed that my motivating factor to stay on track with fitness was to join group activities: gym classes like step aerobics and zumba, fitness boot camps. The social atmosphere was to keep me accountable; to make me want to come each day. Really? How can this be?
I had to really think through this discovery and as I did; it became clear. I am a tortoise, slow to realize things that have been before me all along. Most of my adult life I have been the hare; jumping and jockeying around, socializing and believing that my frenetic pace was getting me there faster. It was dizzying. But really, I have always returned to this same place; this crossroads where I wonder if I have ever arrived. I did get fitter, leaner…but the results never stuck. I keep trying to be what I was in the past; younger, leaner, idealistic. But that is not where my flow is; nor really ever has been. Although I enjoyed the gym, I got bored with the group fitness classes. They couldn’t vary the routines enough. The boot camp became too big; too competitive and the rebel in me decided it was time to opt out. One of my flaws is my competitive nature and I found my excuse to leave the boot camp that I had believed to be so great. I got great results. But that way of fitness was not sustainable; nor practical. I don’t want to have to kill myself and do theatrics to maintain a healthy form or lifestyle. I had to find my own way and have returned to right here, right now.
When we moved back to our community in 2009 we decided to join this run. In spring 2009 the eldest and I had run 5Ks together and woke, each morning, walk/jogging the streets of our north county San Diego home. We returned to our current home in August 2009 after a lengthy eviction and our routine abruptly ended. Though my son continued to join school running activities this was the last time he and I would enjoy running together in October 2009. Life got in the way. And so, without any warning, I found myself online registering for this race, alone, four years later. There was no rhyme or reason. Though I walk this same mileage in the mornings my mental goal was to run it. The hubs wondered “WHY?” and I, at the time, had no answer. I had not begun to read the above book and told him it was for our community; the cause. My schedule was full and I knew I would arrive home late from a school event. There were no friends joining me. When my head hit the pillow at 11:30 PM the night before, I constantly awakened to the sound of howling wind. My monthly visit from Mother Nature arrived and I was exhausted, bloated and achy. I stood watching the sun rise in the morning chill and when the foghorn went off, signalling he beginning of the race, I turned up the volume to my iPod and set-off.
The first mile found me running into the wind as the front of the pack separated, I, in the middle. I slowly made my way around the runners who had taken off at a fast clip; tiring as they headed into the wind and climbing path. I fixed my gaze on the tall, swaying grass; concentrating on breathing in and exhaling out; keeping my pace steady. I started to notice the fields, the rising sun and the shadows of the runners that I approached. I sucked in wind; my lungs heaving the dry air and I turned my bill of my cap down to try to be more aerodynamic. I concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other and thought of Tony Horton’s quote above. That was when the light bulb went off. Running is not an activity I enjoy and so, subconsciously, I had placed myself into this situation to mentally test my mettle. I knew, physically, I could finish walking but I had set my mind to run it; however long it took. Bring it! As i rounded the crest of the hill I made myself face ahead and it was then that my mind went blank and stopped fighting my body. I gracefully accepted the conditions I was currently in. If I can do this, accept where I am in my current path of life, then I can set my mind to anything. I know I am not some twenty something year old running with girlfriends for time or looks. I am a mid-age mother fighting to find her way to be the best that she can. I know what my physical limitations are and so, I pushed only as much as I knew my body could take. I broke my pace, twice: once in answering the call from the hubs to inquire where I was on the course, the second to quickly text that I was approaching the last mile. While texting, a teacher from my kids’ elementary school called to me, telling me to keep running, that I had passed her awhile ago. I was tired and sorely tempted to power walk to catch my breath. I quickly hit SEND and began to place one foot in front of the other, continuing for the last mile. I did not realize I had passed her, again, until the finish line. And much to my surprise, my time was similar to four years prior. By seconds.
I had not deliberately chosen the pink top; the shirt at the top of my drawer that morning. But as I cooled down I noted what I was wearing; the pink to commemorate breast cancer awareness in the month of October. I thought of my friends and family who are survivors of single and double mastectomies and the one girlfriend, my age, that did not. The race to find the cure continues on. It is this that spurs me to find my healthier self; to beat the cancer odds; to age well. My mammogram is already scheduled in two weeks and at my annual physical I know what I need to do to get to my healthier place. Yesterday I returned home to find my personal journal that I have kept for ten years; the log of health stats, articles and pictures that tell my story. I am able to see the cycles; the transitions, the yo-yo dieting and the things that worked. In its reading it has taken me ten years to arrive at where I am now and the work that needs to be done. Extrinsic forces do not make me value health; that lies within. In the periods of weight loss it was I, alone, that got myself there; not the gym, a trainer, or a group. I am slow, the tortoise, in getting there. But I arrive in the same place; finally getting the meaning of the journey. It is intrinsic. I’m gonna do my best and forget the rest.