Thursday, May 22, 2014

How many miles does it take for your love handles to go away?

{this was originally written 9/2013}

A freakin' lot. That's how many. 30 a week to be specific on just how many. The magical number, ladies, is 30. Isn't that depressing? When I was 19 I am pretty sure the number was about 12 miles, and my metabolism allowed me to eat cereal all day, everyday, with  a bag of chips and an ice cream cone each evening for good measure. Now, only five short years later, I haven't seen the effects of training for a marathon on my body until I hit my 30 mile a week mark. Then my hips finally, finally decided to inch their way in, tighter, smaller. They probably won't ever get back to where they were, and I haven't even had children yet. How absolutely terrifying. Makes me want to drown my sorrows in chocolate chip cookie dough. Let's not talk about how much beer I drink compared to when I was 19. Let's just not talk about it.

This whole marathon thing started accidentally for me. I'm going to tell you a really long version of how it accidentally happened, by the way, you don't just get to know right now. So, go grab a rice cake or something and then come back and start reading.

 After an entire childhood of soccer, I got to college and decided to take a jogging class. It was my fitness elective. I thought it'd be easy, I think. Mostly just a way to get outside for an hour instead of being in the gym or a classroom. I hate the gym. I hate being inside. The thought of working out indoors has kept me from knowing things one should know at my age about gym equipment. Instead it just looks scary, especially when being used by men in spandex. I prefer my men bearded and in flannel and a jean jacket, thanks. I know what a treadmill does but it's just so hot, and sweaty, and unless Sixteen & Pregnant is on while I'm running I really can't seem to stay motivated. Anyway.

I hated running when I first started class. I wasn't completely out of shape, but I wasn't in running shape. I wasn't in a running state-of-mind, actually. Every active thing I had ever done was a team effort and it was competitive. This was just three miles of open road, or a circular track, and myself. And my ipod. I really didn't like it. I was bored. But something amazing happened, about four weeks after starting the class, I ran my first four miles outside. Endorphin's kicked in (at least, that's what Runner's World tells me is happening). I called my roommate on my cool down and said "I liked it!" It was the first time I ever associated running with something akin to joy.

Post-class, I stayed at it for a while, and unbeknownst to me got into the best shape of my life. Eventually, though, becoming-an-adult life caught up and I stopped running so much. I started working. A lot. Life got really stressful. Running was still my release, but it didn't happen enough. At my highest weight, I had gained 25 pounds from the time I was in jogging class. I was also slightly underweight during the class, but 25 pounds on a 5'4 frame is a significant amount - and the ideal weight had definitely been surpassed. Holy crap. How did that happen?

Well, now, fast forward to 2013, in which began the worst five months I can recollect living, at least in the past ten years. This may come as a surprise to some who know me well, but maybe it shouldn't. Having to essentially cut myself off from the two closest communities I had known for two years, on top of the worst heartache of my life so far, spiraled me into a very sad place. This jumpstarted my diet! Just kidding. It wasn't a diet. I did lose 15 pounds because I was mostly just too depressed to eat. I would bring a sandwich to work for lunch, but never had the appetite to eat it. At night I was more interested in dominating online Facebook games and stalking than eating dinner. Luckily, though, it started getting warmer outside, and one day I put on my running shoes, ran eight miles, and haven't looked back at my blues since.

It wasn't quite that glorious, okay, honestly I didn't even realize it was happening until after a couple months I realized this running thing was doing good things for the rest of my life. It kept me motivated. It got me out in the sunshine. It gave me a reason to care again what I was putting in my body, and to eat well. I also started realizing what amazing people were all around in my life, and I started to treasure them beyond belief. It was almost too good to be true, how did I have these awesome friends, roommates, family to love and support me? How can I be so blessed? Once I was able to take a look at my life, I realized that 2013 could still be good. In fact, it could be great. It could be one of the best years of life so far. Why not?

I am a person of faith, and I believe that beautiful and powerful things can happen at any moment. One of them is that we can ask for healing, we can ask for things to change. And yet, sometimes we take advantage of all the asking, meanwhile sitting and moping. We don't get off our buttskis and do anything about it. I was sitting, and waiting, and praying for instantaneous change; for things to get better, for my heart to heal, for answers to come. While I didn't get everything answered, I did discover that we have within ourselves what we need to change. Maybe I knew this already, but I was learning it all over again. Running was what gave me focus, gave me insight into how great my life already was, and all I needed to do was look. And run!

It reminds me of that quote from Conan O'Brien during all that unfortunate network bologna a few years back he had to go through:

 "If you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen."

I would arguably say that there is no better advice to give. That, and, it really, really, is going to be okay. I have seen so many people in the past year go through a lot of hard things, my hard things so small in comparison, and I must say, most of those people are so much stronger than they were. Sure, there has been therapy, sure, there have been moments that seem like they cannot be gotten through - but they were gotten through. Maybe life isn't looking like you wanted it to. Maybe you accidentally got kind of fat. Maybe someone left you, or you left them. Maybe your career just got flushed down the toilet, or you wish it would be. Maybe your college degree is worthless. Maybe you had something happen that was sad, and you can't even tell anyone.

I don't know if running is your thing, or the answer to all your problems. But I bet it would help. And if running really isn't your thing, a good, long walk outside might do the trick. I know this: while your heart is pumping and your muscles are shaping (even ever so slightly), and there is a a beautiful world to look at around you, your mind can rest. And in chaos, a resting mind is a good one. A satisfied heart in your accomplishment is a good one. Work hard. Be kind. Amazing.


Brian Wawok said...

It is true, somewhere around 30 it goes from maintaining to dropping a pound a week.... magic.

Kim said...


Amy Adamo said...

Beautiful. And encouraging. Thanks Emma!

Roe said...

Words to live by... Thank you

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