When I did my self introduction for my students back in September, I always shared with them one interesting fact about myself: “I like to go for a run every morning,” I would say proudly as I clicked through pictures of all my racing bibs and the Tough Mudder last June.
And when I shared the same interesting fact with my new students last month, I felt like a fraud because I haven`t been running every morning. Or at all most days. This year I`ve crammed in more traveling than I ever have before so my body is exhausted, without routine, and I cannot bring myself to run when it`s oppressively humid or raining on Amami. Excuses, excuses, I know.
It`s been over three months since I completed the athletic achievement I am most proud of: running the Sakura Half Marathon. Now whenever I lace up and set out on my usual running route, it`s hard to imagine I am that same runner who finished her first half marathon in 2 hours and 7 minutes. Because these days, I`m struggling to even complete a 5k.
So I admit it. I`ve hit a rough patch with my fitness. I`m discouraged, but I need to remind myself that I`m maintaining. I haven`t gained or lost any weight this year because at least my eating habits are under control. Becca two and a half years ago would be binging at the end of the day if she weren`t working out. I used to believe that if I stopped exercising for more than a week, I`d have lost all my hard work so I`d just start overeating again to reset my cycle again on a Monday. Always on a Monday. Yoyo dieting at its finest, people.
My Strava running app says I`ve logged 12 runs since the beginning of April. Okay, they have been some of my worst times in a year, but at least on average I`ve gotten out there two times a week. That`s better than I thought. And even though I`ve lost some endurance, I`m so grateful I haven`t put on any weight again.
What I wish I knew in high school and college was that it would have been okay to have bad days. I didn`t have to turn those days into bad weeks, bad months, and then eventually bad years. (I remember the time I cried when I was 24 and at my heaviest. It was already June and I hadn`t exercised once.) A normal cycle for me would have been to never miss a work out and limit myself to certain health foods (like Slimfast Shakes) until I reached my goal weight and then just stop because I thought I had “made it,” and I didn`t need to try anymore. Oh, how wrong I was. One binge at the drive-thru would turn into five more binges that week and then I was right back to where I started plus more weight on my swollen belly than before.
So that`s why at the end of 2014 I set off to change my mindset about food and exercise. Because diets have an expiration date.
Just this morning my supervisor told me I needed to do a routine physical with all the other teachers. Of course that included having my weight checked. I told her I was nervous because I wasn`t prepared at all for a weigh in and I`d already had breakfast and a mid-morning snack. I told her I only weighed myself first thing in the morning and after I`d gone to the bathroom.
“It`s not going to make a big difference,” she told me.
And she was right. I was relieved that the scale showed me no surprises. I weighed the same as I do in the early morning.
I know I`m not invincible from relapsing. And I also know that just because I`ve kept the weight off, it doesn`t mean I am exempt from having bad running days either.
But at least I can say that right now I`m in control. And as a good friend of mine on the island says, “Going without running for two weeks doesn’t mean you’re going to gain weight. Just watch what you eat.”