i celebrated my thirty-third birthday yesterday. and i’ve been considering writing a specific blog post for weeks now, but have wavered about whether or not it’d be a good idea. i intentionally stopped posting facebook updates about this topic months ago for several reasons, but i’ve finally decided that this place — our family blog — would be an appropriate place to share my thoughts. so… here goes.
i am now officially thirty-three years old. in the last year, i changed my life. literally. it was a simple change with unbelievable results. a year ago, i ran out of excuses. i hated my body, and dreamed of a different one, but i had lots of excuses. i had never been an athlete. i never exercised or worked out. i hated sweating. i loathed running. in fact, the last time i truly ran had to be in high school when we had to run a mile twice a year. those were probably the worst eight days of my high school career. i hated running and i was no good at it. i had never cared much about my body or what i looked like. i have no idea what my weight or pant/dress sizes were back then. in high school and college, i was never fashion-minded. i wore what i liked and i never wore make-up — i just didn’t want to ever feel ugly without any on. i never went out of my way to look attractive. i wanted to like myself, but doing anything to appear pretty or especially sexy to anyone else felt vain and conceited and wrong.
in the past ten years, i’ve carried three babies within me and i have birthed three beautiful boys. i’ve been either pregnant, nursing or taking care of a newborn or toddlers for most of the past decade, often times on little sleep. when i haven’t been doing any of the above, i’ve been catching up on sleep or re-claiming my post-pregnant body… until a year ago. my youngest son, tate, turned two. he was sleeping through the night for the most part, and i hadn’t been nursing him for over a year. i was getting good sleep, and tate didn’t need me 24/7. i was running out of excuses. i kept feeling an internal nudge to start running. i wanted to be healthier and i dreamed of being “fit” like so many of my friends here in summit county. to be honest, i was skeptical about whether or not jogging/running would make any real difference. if i could even do it. but i had never tried before. i really didn’t have any specific weight loss goal, but i did hope that i would begin to feel better about both my body and who i am.
so, a year ago, i started walking the uphill road that runs past our neighborhood. i started out walking and running and walking some more. running was hard and i was easily winded. it was hard, but it felt good to be trying. i measured out a half-mile from our house, so that i knew what was a mile round-trip. i focused for a long time on walking & running that mile. eventually, i was running more of it than i walked. and then i started lengthening my route to two miles… two and a half… three… three and a half miles. i worked my way up to walking the first half-mile as a warm-up and then running the entire rest of the route. the first mile and a half are steadily uphill. the reward is running back downhill past the neighborhood (catching my breath) before turning around and running back up the hill to our house. it has felt good to end with a hard uphill push. this winter, i’ve been going to the local rec center to run before our daily family schedule begins. as an all-or-nothing, perfectionist-type person, i could easily become obsessed with running, so i limit myself to running three times a week. recently, with the unseasonably warm weather, i’ve been able to run outside again. a few times lately, i’ve been able to start running before the half-mile mark and push myself to run further up the hill than i ever have before i turn around to run back down. it feels incredible to be running further than i ever believed i could. i am even running my first race — a 10k race on memorial day — with some friends, which is something that i’m truly excited about and never thought i’d ever be able to even consider doing.
i said that i have changed my life because i have. i do enjoy running now. even more than that, i enjoy the way i feel after i’ve done it. i feel proud of myself. (i eat healthier and less now… because i’ve worked so hard and because i CARE.) i feel like i’ve accomplished more than i thought possible. i feel empowered. each time that i run, i start out by asking God to transform my body and transform my mind & heart. and he has done that. we have done that together. it has been a ton of hard work, but thank God, the results are tangible. i have lost almost exactly 40 pounds in the last year. 40 POUNDS! that is so much more than i ever imagined would be possible. i have dropped from a size 12 jeans to a size 4/6. my body has changed dramatically. my bra size has gone down from a 40 to 34. i am proud of the fact that i can see between my thighs when i stand with my legs together. i have hip bones and collar bones that i couldn’t see before. my face is thinner, my arms are thinner, my fingers are thinner. slowly but surely, my belly is becoming flatter and flatter. i finally feel confident about myself and my body.
one of the highlights of this journey for me happened one night a couple months ago. phil and i were walking down the stairs after putting our three boys to bed. i must have given phil a hug from behind and he automatically picked me up on his back to give me a piggy-back ride. honestly, for the very first time in our lives together, i wasn’t afraid that i would be too heavy for him. i was able to enjoy the fact that my husband would be able to carry me easily and i didn’t have to worry about crushing him. it was a glorious moment.
so, why do i share all of this? well, i certainly have not wanted to speak about it because i have not wanted to brag about how much weight i have lost. there is hardly a day that goes by that at least one person in our community here doesn’t compliment me on the way i look. for the first time in my life, i truly value and appreciate the attention. i can accept those comments now because i feel like i have earned them. but, for those closest to me, it does seem to be a little much. an awful lot of focus on me and the way i look and for that reason, i try to talk about it as little as possible. i’m still not totally comfortable with so much exposure in the spotlight.
i did decide to write about this journey because i want everyone to know that it IS possible. i had severe doubts before i started, and yes, it does take a lot of motivation and determination to actually DO something. even to just begin. and it will be slow and hard at first. but it IS possible. if i can do it, anyone can. anyone can. YOU can. the best moments in this journey have been when i see someone else get inspired to start trying. to start walking or running. i didn’t see huge results in the first 4-5 months, but something was happening. and every month after those initial months showed results. so, if you’re where i was a year ago — dreaming of a different body and a healthy life — it’s time to step out the door and start moving. wake up early if you need to. start by walking if you’re uneasy about running, but you can do it. and it will be sooo worth it.
p.s. thank you, phil, for helping me. for allowing me the time and space to take this journey. for buying me a rec pass and encouraging me to keep going. thank you for loving me just as much a year ago as you do today.
thank you, olivia ward, for inspiring me. i still think about you every week as i run. your determination and commitment motivated me and helped me get started.
and thank you to my friends and family who encourage me to persevere every day.