Lifestyle Change

The Struggle is Always There

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.

The Good Days

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.

Me and the Sakura Mascot right after my half

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.

Salmon days always and forever now

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.

My usual running route over the bridge near my house 

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.”

Crossing the Labor Day 5k finish line in West Warkwick, RI. 9/1/15



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