Keep Moving: Fat Girl Running
Yesterday I fumbled headfirst into running again. My doctor wants me to start exercising at least 6 hours a week. I about died of exhaustion just hearing the suggestion. But the reality remains: I am fat.
After my son was born I cited the baby weight and the stress of divorce as the barrier to shedding pounds. But over the years my body has become a cottage cheese factory and my stomach resembles a fanny pack permanently affixed to my midsection.
The eternal feminist I am knows allowing myself to feel bogged down by my current weight does nothing for the body acceptance movement. I get the hypocrisy and I apologize. Perhaps I might feel differently if I felt better. My joints hurt. Heartburn greets me during romantic interludes. I eat only to complain of a stomach ache later. My quality of life suffers as a result of the bulge.
So yesterday I donned my running shoes and hit the pavement listening to Pink’s Beautiful Trauma album. Each song’s beat set a comfortable rhythm to my stride along the trail. I ran. I hate running. I walked, faster than normal. Pink kept me moving. Before I realized it I had made it two miles without dying. I veered off the trail and I ran along a winding country road lined with cows, prairie, and sunflowers. I felt…present. More wild.
I began titling chapters of my autobiography in accordance to Pink songs--- somehow she managed to create an album that summed up my life up to this point. My whole darn existence certainly feels like a Beautiful Trauma. Memories played like movies in my mind as the sun started creeping behind the hills. The mosquitoes found my legs and I managed to swallow a couple gnats. Yet I felt powerful. I allowed my hips to keep propelling my legs despite the arthritic crunching of my bones . Three miles in and I felt the blister forming on my callused crooked foot. I adjusted my steps to compensate the pressure.
I envisioned muscles actually forming as my breath became shorter and exhaustion set in. I had to keep going to be less fat--- to wear pants with buttons again.
On the final stretch the memories of when I “used to run” swamped my positive thinking. I ran years ago to save not only my health but my marriage. While my marriage never recovered I managed to lose almost 70 pounds investing in fitness classes and training for a half marathon. In a year my body changed dramatically looking sleek in spandex and shrinking.
I thought of Loretta, one of my first running cheerleaders. She’d run slow and steady chatting with me. She’d run any chance she could even in the middle of the night. She loved coaching non-runners like me. Unfortunately in the process of my separation and divorce she and I parted ways. I felt vulnerable running. I stopped wanting to be vulnerable in her presence.
My dog, Morley, also ran with me regularly. He loved the trail and the time we spent together jogging next to the ocean. I craved this time with him and have never opted to take another dog running since. That dog was my best running partner. Once when I set out for a five mile run at my quickest pace I stopped in my tracks suddenly bleeding on the trail. The pain struck me down writhing on the pavement—far from help and home. Morley tried to aid me along and eventually sat next to me while I clenched my stomach. I crawled home with him pulling me. After that day my dog never left my side. His loyalty never escapes me.
The sound and smell of the salty ocean returned to me as I shifted my path to the dirt road on my way to my car. Thoughts of Teresa took over. I just kept seeing her face. Her blue eyes, blonde hair and expression of true empathy. Teresa knows the intimacy of too many feelings with no place to go. I heard her remind me how she ran for me: for me to heal. And the gratitude of her sacrifice started to take shape for me in ways I forgot to honor years ago. I wiped away tears recalling specific conversations and moments we shared while we trained for a half marathon together. This woman did something she hated for me--- so I wouldn’t be alone. She sensed my loneliness and provided a useful space for me to manage it. And she spoke to me, encouraged me, cried with me, and urged me to keep moving. She knew the urgency of the metaphor for my life. Staying married meant staying stuck. She knew this. So she ran with me up hills, in sand, in rain, and through mosquito filled areas so I could keep moving towards a healthier path. By the time the memories of Teresa cycled through my heart Pink’s song “You Get My Love” lulled me to the end of my run. I stopped thinking about my weight as my motivator.
When I got home I relished in the fact I moved again. I sensed a touch of reckoning with my feelings about running and why I kept avoiding returning to the task all this time. But I did not feel peace. I felt uneasy.
I sat in the bath soaking my joints planning my next foray into fitness when I received a devastating text. A friend passed away. I stopped breathing for a moment and closed my eyes thinking of that gorgeous sunset and the sunflowers that lined the blacktop on the hill I climbed. Sweet friend—keep moving, this hill is not forever, this hill meets the orange and pink sun. The sky will hold you and the soft green earth will cushion your feet. Keep moving---- peace is there among those flowers. Yet it wasn’t me I heard or saw saying this. It was Teresa. Keep moving.
While you were sleeping I decided to lay it out Every bad reason All of my pointless doubts Where I went wrong I whispered the ways that I'm ashamed of myself While you were dreaming I handed you all my fears My thoughtless decisions Turned into thoughtful tears What have I done for the first time I blame myself But you get my love, baby You get my love If there's only one thing about me that you can trust You get my love, baby You get my love Don't let my mistakes take that away from us You get my love I'm no longer hiding Though you're not awake to leave I can tell by your breathing It's no longer a fantasy I'm still not prepared For when you wake up And turn to me But you get my love, baby You get my love If there's only one thing about me that you can trust You get my love, baby You get my love Don't let my mistakes take that away from us You get my love The light comes in, the dawn is rising down You opened up your eyes Once again I have to risk it all The time is now But you get my love, baby You get my love If there's only one thing about me that you can trust You get my love, baby You get my love Don't let my mistakes take that away from us You get my love, baby You get my love If there's only one thing about me that you can trust You get my love, baby You get my love Don't let my mistakes take that away from us You get my love