I have hinted at why I started to exercise. Before having kids I had a job where I almost exclusively sat at a desk all day, peppered with frequent lunch outings and snack breaks. I didn’t think I had time to exercise. When I had my first son I kept working, but I breastfed him, so I spent nearly a year walking the couple blocks to his daycare to feed him and then back to the office. An amazing thing happened: I lost a TON of weight. I credit nursing, mostly. So as he got older and I weaned him, I kept eating like a nursing mom, and the weight packed right back on. I was so disappointed! I felt like I had blown this amazing opportunity. Between weight gain and struggling to get pregnant again, this was one of the darkest times of my life. When I gave birth to my second baby boy, I knew I couldn’t mess it up again. My husband and I started a Couch-to-5K program when Boy No. 2 was roughly 5 months old (which coincided with the new year as well as the beginning of stay-at-home-motherhood). I signed up for a race to keep myself accountable, and the rest is history.
But I chose running specifically for one primary reason: It was free. I wasn’t really interested in committing to a gym membership or a social group. I didn’t have to buy a bunch of stuff, and I could do it whenever I could work it into my day. I had this strange philosophy from the beginning: You shouldn’t have to have a bunch of money to spend in order to be healthy or in shape. I still feel that way. So if the plan you’re trying to sell me requires me to buy hundreds of dollars of equipment or special shakes or sign a contract, I most likely won’t — it just goes against my beliefs. Fitness should not only belong to the upper class. And I have seen so many examples of the difference just getting outside and being more active can make. It’s something that could turn around the obesity and health crises that are so prevalent in poor, rural places like West Virginia and it doesn’t involve medicines or surgeries! What a no-brainer!
The picture is of me after finishing that first race – on March 23, 2013. It’s my FIVE YEAR ANNIVERSARY!
I felt I was off to a roaring start with this blog. There’s so much I want to say and even more I want to do. 2018 is to be my year of adventure, building on the experiences of the past 5 years. I want to backpack more, run more, kayak more, rock climb …
And then I hit “share.”
What followed has been so much doubt. I weigh too much, haven’t done enough, don’t have a dramatic enough back story to write about what I’m doing.
So here’s the takeaway after a few days of pity: never look at anything I do as bragging! Don’t look at me and think you can never live up to me! I have so many weaknesses and probably my biggest is self doubt. But I have proven to myself time and again that I can be in control and do more than I thought possible. Change really can happen — have I said that already?
So I can’t spend too much time feeling sorry for myself, and I instead have to put in the work. Right now that means consistent workouts and Sunday long runs to prepare for the Harpers Ferry Half Marathon in May 19. It isn’t very glamorous. I did get out for seven sunny miles this Sunday, but the rest of the week it’s treadmill time and some Beach Body strength workouts all from the basement, where I can hit pause to open a pack of fruit snacks or wipe a butt. Not much fodder for a nicely packaged social media post.
Over time I have been “following” the social media of more and more running/outdoor brands and figures. I LOVE seeing all the pictures of people skiing and climbing and of deserts and summits and winding trails through forests. I hope as my kids get older, I’ll get to explore it all.
It’s easy to see these beautiful images and feel like a failure, but the cool thing is, when I look back on my own accomplishments I see something that those types of posts can’t reveal: persistence. Day in and day out, I’m hustling wherever I can, bribing my almost-4-year-old to take a stroller ride or sneaking to the basement yet again to do s workout video. These small choices add up. It’s cliche, but brick by brick I am building a foundation that I’ll keep working on — indefinitely. At the end of the day I like to set goals, I like to get outside and I like to inspire my kids that they can do the same. That’s something we can all do.
I’ve asked myself a million times where I’m meant to be, what’s meant to be … expecting some little twist of fate to drop me where I belong. In my dream house or dream job perhaps. Or with the destined amount of children or living in the right town.
Never did I expect that place to be among ultramarathoners, thru-hikers or triathletes. But then again, who believes in fate anyway? I LIKE it here. I might look like a total fool rock climbing or paddling, but it’s where I WANT to be. I feel like I have a right to belong, with my mom-bod and after-school taxi service, just as much as anyone else. It started as something I was doing for my kids. Being an inactive mom of two boys (then three) simply would not cut it. If fate ever told me anything it’s that I would need to get off my butt if I want them to have the best life and if I was to be a part of it. Not that I’d die, exactly. I wasn’t ever morbidly obese or completely sedentary, but I was not in any kind of shape either.
So I changed it. I think becoming a mom in my case (the thing so many people blame for the decline of fitness) lit a spark I never knew I had. I’m still not thin or muscular or naturally athletic. Keeping an exercise routine or going on a run is never easy. Not much is. But I am doing things I never thought possible and my wish list continues to grow. I feel like that’s setting a pretty good example for my kids in the process, too.
I don’t know yet where this all will lead. Maybe to bigger and bigger adventures, or maybe just a series of New Year’s resolutions over the years, but I feel excited about whatever it is that comes next!