5:25 am – My alarm goes off, and I am instantly wide awake. Time to RUN! I’ve been waiting for this for 2 days. Yesterday was a rest day, so I’ve been chomping at the bit to get back out there today.
Within 15 minutes, I’m headed out the door for a nice 3-mile run.
It’s still dark and silent outside, and it’s a bit chilly. The only light I see is coming from the street lights peppered throughout the neighborhood.
I pull up my #WinnersWin playlist (warning: some of these songs are explicit, so if cursing offends you, don’t listen!), pop my earbuds in, and head up the street.
As I conquer the first hill (which is tiny, but for some reason feels huge today), a huge smile appears on my face. (Yes, I’m that girl… the one who SMILES when she runs…)
You see, when I run, there are a few phrases that are always on my tongue: Thank you, Father, that I have legs that can run! Thank you for giving me breath in my lungs! Thank you for a heart that beats, and blood that flows through my veins!
When those are the most prevalent thoughts in my mind, how could I keep from smiling?!
But it hasn’t always been like this…
In fact, I had a revelation this morning, and it actually brought me to tears in the middle of my run.
But before I go there, let’s rewind a bit…
What you have to understand is, “fat” has been the word that I have allowed to define me since I was 5 or 6 years old. I was called “fat” throughout my school years, and I took on that identity. I owned everything they said about me, until it was the only thing I believed about myself. “Fat” became the standard by which I lived my life. I saw myself and the world around me through the filter of “fat”. “Fat” was the most prevalent, most consistent characteristic and theme in my life.
During my freshman year of high school, my struggle with bulimia began. I went through phases of really, really difficult times, and times that were so easy, I thought I was done with that forever.
When I got to college, however, I quickly spiraled down. I began starving myself for days or weeks at a time, interrupted by a binge/purge here and there. I got to a point where I could not keep anything down. It was a terrifying experience. (You can read about that here.)
I also started running in college. And when I say running, I mean running. Anywhere from 4-8+ miles a day – often in the middle of the night, when nobody would see me. I was constantly in pain. (Hello, zero nutrition, plus pushing myself physically every day? Not a good idea!)
I dropped 100 pounds like that. I should have been ecstatic – I had never looked better! But I had never felt worse about myself. Because I still saw myself through the filter of “fat”.
After college, I gained all of that weight back, and then some. I’ve lost a lot of weight, and gained a lot of weight back. In fact, last year I lost 60 pounds! And then suddenly I lost control again.
While I have been mostly “healthy” (meaning, I have not dived head-first back into my eating disorder), I have dieted, worked out, starved myself, binged and purged, and any combination of those for periods of time since then. Just under the “healthy” terms, like “watching what I eat” or “healthy diet and exercise!”
^^^ That paragraph right there… that is the scariest thing I could possibly write right now. Scary, because I’m admitting those thoughts and behaviors still have some power over me. Scary, because I’m admitting that I still hide behind the excuses of, “I’m just watching what I eat,” and “No thanks, I’m not hungry.” Scary, because I’ve worked so hard to overcome these things. Scary, because I don’t want those things to define me anymore. Scary, because I’ve convinced myself that those things discredit everything else I have to say. Scary, because the world says I’m not supposed to talk about these things – especially as a Christian… especially as someone who helps others overcome these kinds of challenges in their lives… especially as part of the company I work for…
And yet, here we are…
Last week, I had a conversation with my friend, Dani. I don’t even remember how it came up, but somehow we got on the topic of weight loss. It started as just a light conversation, but it got deep really fast.
I shared with her that I had tried losing weight several times in the past, but I have quit every single time. So, she did what she does best: she asked a series of questions to help me identify why I have quit, what happens inside of my head, and what I need to do in order to follow through on my plan and finally reach my goal.
It was an incredible conversation, and one day soon I will write about it in detail, because I learned so much. (But that’s a whole other post!)
Long story short, I walked away from that conversation with a goal, a timeline and a plan. A healthy plan.
And not only that, but I walked away with a list of things I know trip me up, weaknesses I know are there, thoughts I know will try to take over my mind, and a plan to overcome all of these things.
One thing Dani helped me discover was this: I usually do really well on a healthy eating & workout plan for about 45 days. It’s at that point that I begin slipping back into my old thought patterns and old behaviors. ”You’re doing so great! If you eat even less, you’ll lose weight faster!” or ”I can’t believe you just ate that… That’s going to totally screw up your progress and you’re going to gain all of that weight back. Just go throw up and you’ll be fine.”
And what’s so interesting is, I’m only a week in, and those voices have already started talking to me. I was prepared for my 45 days of bliss, but those days are O-V-E-R. Since I have identified that, those thoughts have been pulling at me, causing a battle inside of my head. It’s almost like it knows its time is over, so it’s doing everything it can to grab on and dig its claws in again.
Yesterday, when I hit 600 calories, my mind started screaming, ”That’s enough! No more!!!” I sat in my living room, debating with myself on whether or not to eat dinner. I was at war with myself.
But this time, I knew how to handle that. I had a plan, and I knew how to ATTACK those thoughts and feelings that were attacking me. I prepped dinner, ate, and finished the day strong. I went to bed with satisfaction, knowing this is such a DONE DEAL! I’m 100% ALL IN. I will not be taken out by this thing again. This time is different.
So, back to my run this morning…
As I’m running and smiling and thanking God for my body, which He designed and put together with all the right parts to accomplish great things, I had such a profound revelation that rocked my entire being.
This is what I realized: I have always worked out or ran or attempted to “eat right” because I hated my body. I hated everything about it…what it looked like, how it felt, the evil things it had been involved with, the places it had carried me, the pain it had caused me. Which is why it all ended in self-destruction, no matter what my original intentions were.
But this is the part that really hit me hard: For the first time EVER, I’m doing this because I LOVE my body…because I love what it can do for me, and I have hope for where it will take me and the things I’ll be able to do and who I’ll be.
And that’s what makes all the difference. That’s what gives me that extra boost of motivation, encouragement, willpower, dedication, determination, diligence.
The thing is, when you hate yourself, hate your body, hate your life, you won’t do what is good for you. You won’t pursue what is good, noble, pure and praiseworthy. You may start out with that intention, but self-hate will always self-sabotage.
Self-hate says, ”You don’t deserve this. You can’t do it, anyway. Who do you think you are? You should just give up.”
So, this is me standing up and boldly saying, I am doing this because I DESERVE to be healthy, because that’s who God CREATED me to be. I CAN do this, because I can do ALL things through Messiah who strengthens me. I KNOW who I am, and I LOVE who I am. And I am DOING this…you just watch me!
And tomorrow morning when my alarm goes off at 5:25 am, you’d better believe I’m going to be wide awake and ready to run! And I will praise my Father in heaven every step of the way, because He has given me legs that can run, lungs that breathe, a heart that pumps blood, eyes that see, ears that hear, and this beautiful life I get to live. And I love it.