This past December I started running. There was no reason, really, other than the fact that I had just made/eaten my weight in Christmas sugar cookies and it was almost 70 degrees outside. I felt like a giant sack of lard, so I threw on my running shoes and went out the door.
It wasn’t pretty. I struggled. And a mile later, when I felt like dying, I got annoyed at myself. People do this all the time. It’s the easiest way to exercise that exists. It requires almost no equipment and very minimal skill. People run marathons. Why couldn’t I muster out a mile?
The weather stayed unusually warm for December in Arkansas. So, I kept running. I set a goal to run three times a week.
It’s been rough. There were a couple of weeks where I didn’t meet my goal. But now I’m averaging four runs a week at about 4 miles per run. I still have to stop and walk occasionally. I have a rule, though. I don’t walk until I’ve gone at least 3 miles now. I’ve been slowly increasing it by quarter mile increments. And I don’t allow myself to walk for more than a tenth of a mile at a time.
I’m slow. Really slow. On a short run my paces averages around 10:30 to 11 minutes per mile. On a long run (I do one a week that’s at least 6 miles) my pace averages around 12 minutes or more.
In fact, I’m not even sure you could call what I do “running.” It’s more like “slogging.” I’m fighting the whole way. I still haven’t figured out how to make it feel natural and easy. Maybe it never will. At least not for me.
But I’m still doing it. And I feel good about that. I’ve even figured out that if I queue up an engaging podcast (like Serial, Rabbits, or Tanis) then it can take some of my attention away from the fact that breathing is difficult and how much farther do I have to go and is that a blister I feel forming on my toe?
I’m not writing this to brag. Trust me, if you’ve seen me “run” you know there’s absolutely nothing to brag about. I’m writing this because ever since I started running over 7 months ago, I’ve been obsessively checking my weight. Surely all this running means I’m losing weight? Surely I’m going to look like Blake Lively or Chrissy Teigan any day now. Right?
Unfortunately, I don’t. In fact, I’m not losing weight at all. For a little while I even put on a couple of pounds (although that might’ve been a bloated menstrual cycle thing….). My weight has stayed in annoyingly the same place this whole time. I tried determining if maybe my subconscious was saluting my exercise efforts and allowing me to eat more than I realized. But I’ve noticed it’s kind of the opposite. I drink more water now. I have more energy so I don’t drink as much coffee, and nothing sucks worse than running 4 miles the morning after you’ve gorged yourself on pizza and beer.
Not that I would know from personal experience or anything….
My point is. I don’t think my diet has changed.
So what’s the deal? I was starting to get frustrated with myself. Was I not trying hard enough? Did I need to go on a diet? Why wasn’t I losing weight?
Don’t go down that rabbit hole. Trust me. You might never come out.
I was frustrated. This was supposed to be good for me but I was just annoyed that it “wasn’t working.” And the only gauge I had for determining whether or not it was working was the number on that scale.
On the first day I did a long run (6 miles) I was super proud of myself. My husband (who has many noteworthy and endearing attributes but giving random compliments for no reason is not one of them) made a remark about how I should be proud. That he was proud that I was doing so well keeping up with my running. In the same breath he mentioned that he could see a difference, that he thought my legs were more toned.
And in that moment I forgot about the number on the scale. I was proud of myself. I felt good.
I’m not going to notice the little gradual changes. All I know is that my run today felt just as hard as my run yesterday. But if I force myself to think about it, I know my run today felt much better than those runs back in December and January did. In fact, I know it felt better than my runs back in May, when we moved to a new house in a neighborhood that doesn’t have a single flat stretch of ground within 10 miles. Hills. For. Days.
I still weigh myself. It’s not like I had this epiphany that has completely changed my body image. Things like that don’t happen. I don’t care how many self help articles say they do. But I don’t weigh myself as often, and when the number is the same I remind myself that I might be burning fat, but I’m also building muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat. Everyone knows that.
The point is, I feel good about myself. Maybe it’s all in my head, but there does seem to be less cellulite on the back of my thighs.
Still no thigh gap. But I am convinced that’s a myth anyway.