At the beginning of this year, I made myself a promise to get healthy. I vowed that not another year would pass by where I spent 12months complaining about my weight while I spend those same 12 months doing nothing about it. So, this year I’m doing something about it. I’m working out. I’m running. Crunching. Pushing up. Pulling up. Squatting up and down. Pulsing. Lifting. You name it. If it’s exercise, I’m probably doing it.
The thing about working out, is that for you to get better, faster and stronger you have to make progress. You have to do more today than you did yesterday and prepare to do more tomorrow than you have done today. That’s when it works best. Being the perfectionist that I am, I have purposed to do it the way that works best by doing more, trying to do better and I am determined to get stronger with every passing day.
When I took up running, I couldn’t run a kilometer without feeling like my heart was about to give out on me.Every step I took, my brain would yell at me to stop and when I wouldn’t, it would ask “Ebby, why are you trying to kill us?” Not to mention, my thunder thighs are not the easiest of weights to carry around while running. However, on a friend’s advice, I kept trying and giving my best and nothing else and slowly but surely, I started running farther and faster and getting consistent. Of course, my thunder thighs did not get smaller, life is just not that easy, I just got better at carrying them. This post however, is not about working out, at least, not entirely.
This past Sunday, I ran the farthest I have ever run in my whole life. 12.22 km. 8 of which I ran non-stop at an average pace of 8 and a half minutes per kilometer. I’m sure every single athlete reading this is rolling their eyes at the fact that I probably run at their strolling pace, but trust me, when you’re me, carrying around the blessings my ancestors bestowed on my lower body, it feels like flying. In fact, I’m convinced that the wind would have been blowing through my hair if my kinky afro would have allowed. So, I ran 12.22km. (I will not leave out the .22, every little centimeter counts) I was meant to run the 15km trail, but trust me and my directional challenges to miss a turn and shorten my run by three kilometers. In retrospect, it was the grace of God. I don’t know if I would have made it out alive had I done 15. I struggled to get through the last four kilometers and survived by bullying and scaring myself into finishing.
I hit kilometer 11 and my thighs wanted to stop and in my head, I spoke to my thighs,
“I would leave you behind if I could, but in case you have not noticed, we are running in a forest, and I know it looks calm right now but there are animals in this forest. I will not be eaten by monkeys. You are my only transportation, suck it up.”
I know that monkeys don’t eat people but my brain was in distress, logical cognitive function was not a priority. By the time I was finishing the run I had been chanting in my head,
“You cannot die in the forest. No one will find you.”
When I got back to the meeting point, (I go running with a couple of friends) , I see my friends standing around chatting, smiling, laughing and telling stories. Two of whom had run past me twice, at neck breaking speed looking like they were running along the beach for a lotion commercial. When I saw everybody looking dapper, taking selfies and chilling, I told my body to stop exaggerating. The run was not that hard.
For the next few hours I laughed, made jokes and told stories. I ate and ate. I enjoyed the company I was in. I had fun. Then I came back to my room and I was alone, unmoving on my bed.My calves were on fire. My thighs were throbbing. My shoulder and neck were aching. My back was sore and I had one of those migraines that makes your ears ring. In that moment, I felt lonely. I wished I was married to someone, anyone. I wished I had someone who would give me a foot rub and a massage and a hug and a cuddle and a bubble bath. I wish I had someone I could call and tell that yesterday was very emotional for me, that I wanted to give up and that I never want to run again. Ever.Someone to be vulnerable with.
But alas, I am a strong woman. A strong personality. A forceful personality. A force to be reckoned with. A fearless, reckless, shameless woman.At least that’s what I have been told. Vulnerability is not an everyday luxury. It’s what I believe too. That means I reach my left hand over and give my right shoulder a massage and vice versa. I rub my own feet. I lie down in a dark room and think calming thoughts of my epic manless future life to help with my migraine. I stretch my legs to the wall, to the floor then to the wall again to ease the pain in my legs for three hours until I fall asleep from the exhaustion of lifting my thighs up and down. I take a cold shower while thinking of fire to ease the soreness in my muscles, because I can’t really do anything about the cold water and sucky bathrooms in public school. I will walk around really slowly for the next two days because my thighs are on strike, but they’ll get over it and thank me later.
Also, being the kind of strong woman I have been told I am, that is the stubborn, no-nonsense, never ever smiles kind, I don’t admit that maybe I should take the advice someone gave me and start praying and fasting seriously for a husband who can carry me around. Up the stairs. Down the stairs. To the bathroom. Out of the forest when I call him and tell him to use GPS to track my position when I choose to give up because I know he’ll come for me. I never admit that I like hugs and probably need more than the average human being. I would have to be mad to admit that potatoes only go so far as a life partner.I don’t admit that I cry a lot on my own, that I want to cry about everything that’s going wrong in my life right now.I don’t admit that it’s hard sometimes even when people think strength comes “naturally” or is your default setting. I don’t admit that I’m scared sometimes, that I’m scared all the time.I don’t admit that sometimes I want someone to run with, but only if he’ll shut up.(I can’t talk and run at the same time.) I can’t admit that I wish my dad could solve all my problems, like when I was younger. I don’t say that sometimes I just want the easy way out. I can’t admit that I wish life would give me a break. I don’t say these things and I won’t. I’m a woman now, a strong one at that, which means I have to suck it up.
As I write this, I am still aching, my body is moving like a toy soldier and I’m having a packet of crisps and a bottle of soda to help me get through this, because I must get through this. I have to keep my promise to myself, because if I stop running and working out now because yesterday was hard, I might give up for good this time. I have to get over how miserable I feel right now and manufacture motivation to do those sit-ups, leg raises, crunches and squats tomorrow. I have to get over my fear that one day I’ll be running and I’ll fall and die. This is not an exaggeration. I have a very healthy fear of falling, it is why I walk slowly, it is also why I’ve never learned to ride a bike. The slower you move, the less injury on impact.However, I have to learn to ride a bike, because we’ll be going bike riding soon and I can’t be melodramatic about potentially breaking my hip when the bike flips over and I land on a sharp rock. I know the exact feeling; I fell and landed on my right hip on concrete when I was 12 years old while I was running really fast. Yes, that’s when my fear of falling started. It doesn’t take a psychologist to see that.I have to get over my insecurity that the thighs given to me by my giantess ancestors can’t do more than look clumsy and out of proportion and trust them to get me up a mountain this year. I have to not make a mess of things and build a life for myself. I have to be okay with the fact that I might always run alone . I also have to admit to myself that 80 times out of 100, I want it that way. I have to move forward and grow. I have to get better. I can, so I will.
As I write this, I am trying. I am trying to let go and let God. I am trying to stop the world from turning me bitter. I am trying to live without being defined by my heartbreaks and failures. I am trying not to be “the girl with issues”. I am trying to remember that I am not a victim because life happens to all of us. I am trying to push myself out of my comfort zone, even if it means getting on a two wheeled contraption I don’t trust to hold me up. I am trying to smile more. I am trying to be positive. I am trying to believe that I’m one of those Christians who can get a miracle. I am trying to believe that it will work out in the end. I am trying to finish what I start. I am trying to appreciate experiences. I am trying to learn good life lessons.I am trying to be happy. I am trying to be strong.
I’ve been told that I am a strong woman. I’m just trying my best to prove to myself that those who said it are right.