We’re about three weeks away from the end of my 25 x 32 plan, and it’s not going well. OK, let me rephrase – my attempt to get down to my high school weight by the time I turn 32 years old is just not going to happen. However, even though I have the right to view this as a disaster, I’m OK with it. After all, a few great things have come out of undertaking this challenge.
First off, I found out about a health issue that I didn’t know I had. Until I get health insurance and am fully covered for more doctor visits and testing, I won’t be completely sure of the extent of my thyroid issues. But once I threw my back into dieting and exercise and not only didn’t lose weight, but gained it (and have continued to gain, sadly), I had stronger evidence that there was something wrong. Two rounds of blood tests gave conflicting answers as to what that “wrong” was, but the barrage of symptoms don’t lie. As a result, for the first time in years I’ve been able to be more lenient on myself. Before I felt almost destructively guilty about my weight and appearance. Now even though I don’t want to be unhealthy, I’m learning to separate “being 135 pounds” from “being beautiful” a little, and stop raking myself over the coals for not being skinny.
The second thing that’s happened during this challenge is that I’m rethinking what it means to exercise. For so long, I’ve considered Bikram yoga and running to be my top favorite modes of exercise. But I don’t enjoy running, and both exercises take such willpower to even get to class (or the starting line) that I can’t reliably say that I’m going to do either on any given day. Every day I wake up with a grand plan of running a few miles, then going to yoga class, and every day I find myself sleeping in, instead. I have a lot of trouble waking up in the morning, anyway, and there’s nothing appetizing with the thought of dragging myself out of my comfy bed to go cause myself pain. How do people do it?
This weekend I had a breakthrough. I was finally truly honest with myself, and realized that I don’t like running. It was hard to admit. I like the prestige that goes along with being “a runner.” But I hate everything about the process, so the odds of actually being able to talk myself into doing it on a daily basis are pretty slim. Even if I go out running a few days in a row, every day isn’t working me towards setting up a habitual daily run – each day is just one more day that I haven’t quit yet. It’s just not compatible with my personality, and forcing myself to go every day feels just as shitty as when I don’t run and feel guilty about it.
Instead, I realized that I should replace running with an activity that I don’t mind doing, and can reliably do every day without growing to hate it. Since I’ve been walking for over 30 years, and haven’t grown tired of it yet, it seemed logical to replace my intended daily (ha! more like bi-weekly) run with an actual daily walk. I decided I’d look at it as training for when I finally get to go on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, and look at it as a time to learn and improve, rather than to lose weight.
Since another of my major resolutions of late has been to read more books, I subscribed to Audible.com, and now each morning I walk five miles, listen to a chapter of an audio book (right now I’m “reading” The Happiness Project), and, if I feel like it, even stop to take a photo or two along the way. It’s seriously the best thing I’ve ever thought up. In one fell swoop I’ve solved my problem with waking up early to exercise, actually exercising, having time to read, getting some photos taken on a daily basis, and upping my fitness level for my pilgrimage.
Not too shabby.