"Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time." -Thomas A. Edison
Some days I look in the mirror and I'm so thrilled with the way things are fitting. I can see a difference — my hard work is paying off.
I feel confident and powerful. I feel strong and healthy, like I could climb a mountain or run a marathon. (Common sense tells me, regardless of my feelings, that's not true, but whatever).
Other days, despite what the scale says, I feel fatter than ever.
I throw on outfit after outfit, some still too tight and others too big. I ask my husband over and over, "Are you sure I look OK? Are you sure I don't look like a whale? Does this shirt fit? Does my butt look lumpy?"
Sometimes I wonder if I will always see a fat girl in the mirror or if eventually my reflection will match what other people are seeing — a slightly less fat girl.
Those days, it's hard not to eat junk and binge on pizza or brownies. "What's it matter? I'm going to be fat either way."
Those days are the ones that take a lot of extra effort to get into the gym, and once I get there I still don't work out as hard as I do on the good days. I just can't make myself run six miles, I only feel like running one.
Those are the days I want to take a rest day the most — and the days I need a rest day the least. Those are the days I rely on measurable milestones to tell me what the mirror can't.
For example, I no long have work clothes that fit, which leads to a slightly misleading reflection because everything still looks enormous to me, whether the body underneath it is smaller or not. I make before-and-after pictures at least once a week, because then I can see where I came from and where I am.
I ran an eight-minute mile on the elliptical the other day; last week I beat it and knocked that mile out in 7:45. I also broke an endurance record for myself. I struggled for a while to make four miles in 30 minutes. I wanted the four-mile mark and got worn out not long after half an hour. Eventually I worked past the 30-minute limit.
Last week, I was having a particularly good warm-up prior to crawling on the elliptical, I optimistically set the time for an hour and decided on a 30:30 workout. That is intervals of walking for 30 seconds and sprinting for 30 seconds. You get a three-minute break every five intervals.
I made it to 30:00 and decided to work toward 45:00. When I hit 45:00 I realized I was only 15 minutes away from 60:00. For the first time I stayed on that elliptical for an entire hour — 64:00 minutes after cool-down. I ran 6.75 miles that day, in addition to the 6.2 I hit on the recumbent during my warm up. I've never been so proud of myself in my life.
This week, I finished a 10k on the recumbent bike in 29:34. By the time my cool-down was over, I managed to make it 6.91 miles miles in 32:24. Usually, it takes me that long to finish the first six.
My mirror may not scream, "Look at how thin you are!" But my body has been consistently saying, "Look at how strong you are." And I'm beginning not only to believe it but also to embrace it — I'm CRAZY proud of how great my calves look for example.
I actually bought a pair of (not gym) shorts and wore them in public without worrying about how fat my legs looked — because they're not fat. They're strong. They've carried my weight, and frankly they deserve to be rewarded by an occasional escape from jeans on a 100-degree day.
I also signed up for my first 5K. I was supposed to do the Couch to 5K program at Great Plains Health, but something has come up literally every week and I've not been able to make it. Regardless, my mentee and I are participating in the Community Connections Doggy Dash 5K and I'm both excited and terrified. I figure not letting her down will keep me going, even if I walk the whole way. The thought of signing up for a 5K a month or two ago probably would have crippled me with anxiety over finding an excuse to get out of it within the six weeks that I had.
I guess my point is: Your mind isn't always honest. Your reflection isn't always what other people see. Your progress is never insignificant and you ALWAYS deserve to brag a little (or a lot) when you hit a personal milestone.
I've had a lot of people email, call or come up to me when they see me out and about to tell me that my journey has made a difference in their lives or the life of a loved one. That means more to me than any mile time.
A few have asked if they could send me their accomplishments or voice their frustrations. YES. Absolutely yes! Tweet me, send a message to my Facebook page or email me. Without a cheerleader, this would feel almost impossible. I've been incredibly blessed with a support system of friends, family and readers. I can't coach you, I can't give you advice, but I can absolutely tell you how awesome you are.
Just keep working on it.
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