As a child I was overweight.When all the other kids were running rampant I was usually huddled in a corner somewhere either drawing, reading or watching TV. It's safe to say I lived for rainy day recesses at school. Why? Because, while I did (and still do) truly love these solemn activities, I was mostly just embarrassed. Embarrassed because I couldn't run or move as fast as the other kids, and when I tried I often got teased. I quickly learned that to avoid hurt feelings it was safer to just sit inside and build up a wall of hatred against all physical activity. This became an unhealthy cycle—I was teased for being heavy, but too embarrassed and self-conscious to be active. This unhealthy cycle continued to feed my hatred for exercise, and I am almost certain it’s why I still don't really care for working out as an adult. I think I set the tone for myself then, repeating the mantra of “I hate running”, and “I hate working out” day in and day out. I’m coming to realize, however, the reason I “hate” these things is not because I actually don’t enjoy physical activity, but because I went so long telling myself I wasn’t capable of it.My life has changed since then. I started to slim down come seventh grade, and have continued to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle. Not going to lie though, working out is still not a favorite pastime of mine. Not even close. Probably because part of me still feels incapable of it. Although I know I’m not, I sometimes still feel slow and overweight like my ten-year-old self. Especially where exercise is concerned. A few days ago I went for a walk with my best friend at my old middle school track. And as I thought they might, all those middle school memories of being heavy and teased came rushing back. As I circled the field where my revisited memories had originated, I began to relive my past. I began to remember the many days spent dreading PE and all its associated activities. Capture the flag—nope. Tag—nope. Any physical group activity like relay races—double nope. Being outside—just nope. In terms of PE and physical activity, my theme song could have been Meghan Trainor’s “NO”. As we continued around that sandy oval track again and again I began to feel a different kind of emotion—empowerment. Seeing how far I’ve come in life, not only in terms of my weight and health but also in terms of my increased confidence, made me feel kind of badass. It left me wanting to shout, “Look! Look at us now little ten-year-old self! Look what life has to offer! Look what we’ve overcome! Look how much confidence we’ve gained over the years!”It also left me with the urge to…run. Yes, run. I know, I am also kind of baffled by this new found desire, but I think that burst of empowerment gave me the motivation and courage to kick my butt into high gear and finally do that one thing I've dreaded above all else. Or something like that.
Okay, so I know running around a track isn’t the most intense workout. I mean, it’s not CrossFit status. To me, though, running symbolizes the ultimate “I’m finally confident enough in myself to run and not feel embarrassed or self-conscious” work out. So, I have the desire to get into running, it’s just…the actually getting into running part that I need to work on. The starting something new is always the hardest, but I’m hoping to get into a routine where I slowly integrate this new exercise into my daily life. Yeah, um, wish me luck! Hey you seasoned runners out there—any tips or tricks for a running newbie like me? I think I’ll need em…
Leaving behind the weight (pun intended) of childhood fears and failures is one of the joys of adulthood. I resonate with those hurtful memories and the relief of viewing them in the rear view mirror. Perhaps the most empowering knowledge we gain as adults is the discovery that the “beautiful people” to whom we felt (and continue as adults to feel) inferior have their own insecurities and hurts. In reality, life is difficult for all of us, and looking past the exterior of others to have empathy with their plight as fellow vulnerable human beings empowers us far more than the feeling of gaining some kind of victory or revenge. Not to say that victory over our own childhood – and adulthood – insecurities is not sweet – it is sweet indeed!
October 22, 2016
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