Consistency…Like Bread Pudding?

People talk about consistency all the time.  My Cubs – they’re a bit inconsistent, as wins go.

My checking account? Also not so consistent. 

My workout routine?  Please. It’s like lumpy pudding – all promising on the outside, yummy upon further review, but not always so good for you.

So when I started up as a leader for this Weight Watchers Walk It challenge, I thought “hey, this is good!”  The program is designed to get you walking (or running) for five days a week – for 8 weeks.  Talk about habit forming – even for me, this is quite a commitment.

Don’t get me wrong – I definitely keep myself active.  I run at least twice a week – and I’ve been swimming at least once a week lately.  Add in a couple of circuit runs (where I beat myself up with lunges, squats, pushups, step ups, etc. while running or walking) and I’m definitely moving 5 days a week.

But now, I’m following this program, and it actually requires me to move – to walk, five days a week, for the next 8 weeks.  And you know what? I’m absolutely looking forward to it. 

Why? Well, for starters, there’s just something reassuring about having a schedule you HAVE to follow.  My schedule says Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, I walk.  Period.  The time varies, but I walk 5 days a week, for the next 8 weeks.  My handy-dandy schedule is also VERY easy to get started – the first week, it’s only 15 minutes per day.  What’s not to love about that?  Who CAN’T find 15 minutes a day?  Even my mother, whom I love dearly, has committed to doing the program.

Today’s conversation with mom went something like this. 

Mom:  “Well, I had a really long day, and I’m thinking I might just go downstairs and get on the Gazelle.” 

Me: (Laughing, as “hard day” still means it’s only 6:00 there, and I know darned good and well she’s going to be up for 3 more hours…)  “You are not getting on the gazelle.  Put on your shoes, go outside, and walk for 7.5 minutes away from your house. Turn around and come home.  You can do it!”

Mom: “Well, you know, it’s not so easy – I walked out there yesterday, and those sidewalks are VERY uneven. You really have to look down.  And you know me, I want to stare at people and gape a little.  I don’t want to look down – then I miss everything.”

Me: “Okay, so go to someone’s neighborhood, where you can walk in the street, and you can stare at all the people you don’t know.  Just don’t get hit by a car.”

Mom: “I think the line is breaking up. I have to go now. Call me this weekend!”

Right.  So the point here is this: My mom is totally right – it’s a whole new world out there.  The streets may be uneven. You might have to wear the same pants two nights in a row!  Your hair may not be done, and you most DEFINITELY might forget to check the time and walk too far one night.  But you know what?  It’s not going to matter – because pretty soon, you’re going to pick your feet up automatically, and you’re not going to worry about tripping on the uneven sidewalk.  And you’re going to realize that your pants can go for two days without being freshly washed.  And you might even forget a watch ENTIRELY one day. 

And you’ll be fine.  Because you’ll just be in the habit – the one you’re setting out to form. 

Watch out – it’s going to happen – I promise.

Pride is Your Friend

 

Elizabeth Bennett (the famed heroine of Pride and Prejudice) might have had it wrong about pride. 

 

In Elizabeth’s estimation, pride is a wall that a person erects to keep others out. 

 

In a Big Girl/Guy Runner’s world (BG for short), pride isn’t a wall to keep others out – it’s a path – to health, better relationships, and the ability to look yourself in the eye, each and every day.

 

I got to thinking about pride after this article in the New York Times this week, talking about how men and women without jobs keep up appearances.  They go to coffee shops, and dress for “work” each day – because, in tough times, especially after a job loss, pride in yourself disappears.  In these times, pride helps – it can keep depression and anxiety at bay, and can also help motivate folks to keep looking for a job.

 

So what does pride have to do with BG Runners?  Simple.  We are all carrying around some extra weight.  We wish it were less.  We dream of being defined by something other than our weight.  And when we become runners – or walkers – we are creating a new definition for ourselves.  And that definition, frequently, is one we draw on as a source of pride.

 

Before I was a runner, I was just a Big Girl who could drink many beers with her colleagues, make anyone laugh, and quote a Cubs box score.  But now, I’m a Runner.  And as a Runner, I have a different identity.  I’m the half marathon expert.  The person who can tell the new runner about the best place to get shoes,  and the best “getting started” races in the area.  The woman who knows the course map for a dozen races, and can help you train.  The person who finished all those races with all those extra pounds.  The person who prevailed.

 

Running has added a dimension to my life that forces others to see me as more than the funny, entertaining, yet predominantly Big Girl, defined by weight alone.  And I’m not alone – many of my BG running friends realize that we created a new identity when we began running – one that expanded over time.  Today, we’re not just runners – we’ve become athletes, regardless of size.  

 

For those of us who wage an ongoing battle with food, identifying as a runner, or a walker, or an athlete, is all about pride.  It’s our way to say to the world “yes, I am capable of doing hard things”, or “yes, I have the capacity to prevail even when times are tough” or “yes, I even surprised myself”.  We are capable of consistent effort – and a consistent feeling of accomplishment – that we don’t normally exhibit in an area related to our personal health.   We know we haven’t conquered the food (or the beer, or whatever else leads to our pounds).  But we also know we’re capable of doing something to help ourselves feel better, and we’ve chosen this life.

 

So yes, we’re proud.  We’re proud that, even though we still battle food issues, we run.  We walk. We kayak, and play soccer, and bike, and run the stairs.  We are proud every time we get a workout in.  We are proud every time we complete an event we never thought possible.

 

And it’s that pride that gets us out the door the next day, and the next.   So don’t be afraid to be proud of who you are – regardless of your weight.  You are a runner, or a walker, and of that you can be very proud.

 

 

The Plus Runner (Walker, Hiker, Kayaker, etc.)

Plus Runner on the Trail

Plus Runner on the Trail

 Hello, and welcome to The Plus Runner! 

If you’ve landed here, it’s probably becuase, like me, you’re a Big Girl.  Big is relative – you may be a size 12, or a 22.  You may have never run a day in your life – or you may run every other day.  But whatever the case, you’re here because you’re looking for something to help you become more active.

 And that’s where I come in!

I began running in 1999, at the age of 24.  I was 5’9, weighed 245 pounds, and wanted to keep up with my active friends.  Since then, I’ve run 12 half marathons, another dozen triathlons, and taken up hiking, biking, kayaking, swimming, and lots of other low-impact, healthy sports.

And I’ve done it all in sizes ranging from 16-22. 

Over the years, I’ve started to recruit new friends to a more active lifestyle.  Because, if we’ve learned anything, it’s that even if you’re a Big Girl, being active can save your life, improve your mood, and keep your heart healthy.   What’s more, just because you’re overweight, doesn’t mean you’re not healthy!  My goal is to encourage more future runners, walkers, hikers, to hit the road, and redefine your life as an active person.

Coming up later this week: The Plus Runner Newbie Buying Guide (or: what do fat girls wear to run?) 

See you on the trail!