After watching other dietitians’ blogs, I was VERY leery to add a section on my physical activity. Since Chad and I are using this as a tool to track his weight loss and hope take him from morbidly obese to obese (and hopefully further!,) I didn’t want to in any way diminish his work and commitment or intimidate or discourage anyone else who might also be on the same path. However, since this is a blog partly about how we function as a couple, and because non-obese people set goals that are challenging as well, I will be sharing a bit about my athletic endeavors, such as they are. To prepare you, here is a glimpse into where I am coming from.
I am fortunate to take after the thinner of the two sides of my family tree, and have never been considered overweight or obese. As a matter of fact, I had always been on the thin side, which was helped out by sports in high school. However, I had earned the Freshman 15 like almost everyone else, and my activity level became sedentary–other than bar-league sand volleyball. After several years, I decided I needed a goal, an endpoint that will hold me accountable for the routine exercise I should be doing. My little commuter town held a yearly sprint triathlon, and I decided to go for it! This often seemed crazy, especially since I never ran track or cross country in high school, and always power-walked the mile fitness test! But I knew I could never stand all the running that would be required for a running-only race, so I thought this would build cross-training right into my schedule. Also, because it was a local race, I knew how horrible I would feel if the race came and I wasn’t at the starting line! I had planned it early enough that I had practically a year to train, and when the day came, I was quite nervous, and felt like an imposter! “At any moment, someone will look at me, my inappropriate hybrid bike and my obviously non-track body, and tell me I don’t belong!” Then, as I was making my way to the check-in tent, I realized that of all the hundreds of people around, no one was looking at me. At all. If anything, they had the same looks on their faces that I knew was on mine; they were worried only about themselves and if they could live up to whatever goal they had set after their year of hard work. After that, I was no longer embarrassed, and after that race (and after 2-3 races per year for the next several years,) I had no feelings of embarrassment or dread. I only felt the nervousness that comes with excitement and hopefulness.
During all my athletic endeavors, from t-ball to today, I have had NO public glory in sports. As far as I can remember, I have NEVER “placed” in any tournament or season standings, never made an all-city team or even been voted MVP. When the “individual sport” season of my life began, things were no different. From the 5K and 10K races I ran to the sprint triathlons I did, I never made it above the bottom third of my age group. I don’t ever expect to make the top 3 finishers, or even make the top 30%. Part of the reason for this is I have never come close in all the years I have played sports. But the other reason I learned on the morning of my first triathlon: you don’t race against the people standing around you. It doesn’t matter who passes you and who you may pass. You race for yourself. If you don’t, you always lose. If you do, you always win.
As a lifelong BOP-er (Back Of the Pack,) I can say that all the cheesy lines are true. The journey of a thousand miles DOES begin with a single step. Just being there IS a victory. It ISN’T how you finish but that you had the strength to start. Run your own race.
Currently, I have started over once again. As happens to all of us (healthy weight dietitians, too,) I had an “off-season,” where my fitness suffered, along with my attitude, my body and my self-esteem. But I am glad to say I started another season of fitness, which has just been topped off by accomplishing a major goal; one I never would have thought I would have while walking briskly around my middle school track.