I’ve never been an athlete.
I mean…seriously not an athlete. I have always been well behind the curve, always physically weak, always slow.
Yet I’ve also always had dreams – actual nighttime dreams, I mean – that I could run so fast, I practically flew.
And that is just weird, frankly.
Or not. Because at this stage of my life, those dreams are forcing me to recall some uncomfortable facts I’ve hidden about myself.
Folks, for me, this is about so much more than running. It’s about an unhealthy child, an unhealthy adult, and a brand-new dream, this time one that’s right out here in the daylight, beckoning.
If you were the kid picked last for dogeball, if it took you years to bypass “please love me” and graduate to “I want to be strong – that IS loveable,” if you’re ready to take charge of your health, yet the bat-outta-hell “programs” all over Facebook scare the crap out of you, then honey, let’s talk.
Skinny? Fit? SO Not the Same
Or…they can be. Of course a person can be very, very slender, and be fit.
But not I, at least not in the past.
I stayed thin for years by starving myself. Starving to the point of fainting. Of losing hair. Having miscarriages. Eating dinner lying down on the couch, literally. Just hanging my head over the edge so my chin could rest on the coffee table and trying to spoon stuff in.
I looked great, according to family and friends who were watching me slowly die right in front of them.
For decades, I thought the applause – “I don’t know how you have so much willpower!” – was good enough.
I mean, what’s more important than being beautiful? What’s more important than being loved and accepted, especially for someone who had never really felt that way?
Until recently, I had no idea how to answer that question.
You see, I’ve lived my whole life this way…seeking approval and always falling short.
I’ve Never Been Strong or Fit
Like, never. Literally.
As far back as I can remember, I’ve never been able to run so much as half a mile, even slowly.
I’ve always had trouble lifting things due to my weak arms. I’ve done Pliates for a year or more, consistently, and never progressed beyond the “do this modification if you’re a beginner” strength level.
I would fall down after each short workout and just want to die. Exactly like in gym class.
Fifty Years of Unfitness
As a little girl I always remember being tired.
I didn’t grow well, and in gym (what’s now called PE) I was a total failure…at everything. I was the last person picked for the team. My lungs would feel like they were bursting if I had to run. And catching stuff? Girl please.
Even on a baseball field – which requires only sporadic bursts of running – I just couldn’t move very fast, no matter how hard I tried. And when jogging around a track for warmups I would practically fall down. I was always the last one to finish laps, and I was always the one who had to stop in the middle.
I was never able to connect with a ball, either. I’d put my hand up, sure the softball was falling directly toward it, and that friggin’ ball would bounce on the ground next to me. I’d swing the badminton racket and the birdie would fly right on by. I couldn’t kick. My foot would kick out, connect with nothing, and sometimes I’d fall right on my ass. Yes, in front of everybody.
Before you ask, no, I wasn’t overweight. I was a very thin child. Then at the age of 11, right before my first period, I “ballooned” all the way up to 120 lbs. at my full height (eew! Pig!!) and started starving myself.
But before that, I ate more or less normally. Yet I still had no energy or strength. And this was in the 1970s, when we kids were outside all the time. So it certainly wasn’t for lack of exercise.
I love to walk now, and I always have. But my youngest child was lapping me – just by casually walking – before he was anywhere near my height or leg length.
Okay, So…Why Running, Then?
It seems weird that I would choose to try running, given the fact that it has always been so hard for me.
I described the dreams I’ve had for years in this post. That’s my reason for choosing running, specifically.
But if it hadn’t been running, it would have been something else. Because after 50 years of feeling like an utter failure physically, even as an overweight person I want to be strong. I want to not feel like a weakling every single day. I want to be…kind of like everybody else.
That sounds ridiculous; who wants to be like everyone else?
I’l tell you who. Somebody who actually hasn’t ever fit in.
Sue me. I want to be healthy. Like a normal person.
And I’ve decided that, even if at my own pace, I’m gonna crush thing.
Who’s with me?