A Journey of 5000 Meters

Diet-wise, this year is looking pretty much like last year and the year before – two pounds forward and 2.5 back.  There was one year where I did have diet success.  It was more of a lifestyle victory than a diet.

One spring about three years ago, I started a job with abysmal pay and benefits but lots of walking around the building.  I added a walk to my lunch routine.  An app junkie, I found a calorie counter and began controlling my portions. Summer progressed, and getting really serious, I started running.  With the aid of  another app, at summer’s end, I ran my first 5K with my sister and her kids.  It would turn out to be my only 5K.

That fall I headed into one of the periodic depressions that have plagued me since childhood, and I fell off the the diet and exercise wagon.  I fell hard.  Even with a better job with great people, pay, and benefits, I started spiraling down in early fall.  I knew the mental health benefits of daily exercise, but I could not get myself to run (after 40+ years, I’m still surprised that depression isn’t always rational).

This winter has been a lot like that winter three years ago.  Work was good.  Life was good, but every single day was a struggle to get out of bed and, once out of bed, not give into the temptation to dive into a permanent oblivion.

I plodded through winter, knowing the cycle would progress eventually and getting help when I knew I needed it.  I’ve been coming out of this curve for a few weeks, seeing pieces of the moderation and even the mania that will follow.  Spring is coming.

Outside, spring is here.  As with the last two years, sun has inspired thoughts of exercising again (dieting is a more distant goal).  Last Monday, however,  news of the Boston Marathon Bombing took all attention away from spring and diets and work.

Tuesday it rained.  The weather fit my mood in the aftermath of the tragedy.  It didn’t inspire running, but it became a good day for reflection.  Knowing little would change during the day, and that there was even less I could do to change things, I’d already decided not to gorge on news of the bombing.

The kids home for Spring Break, so working and keeping them busy helped divert me.  Thing1’s improved report card had won him back some forfeited computer time, and Thing2 embarked on a new construction paper sculpture.  We all worked quietly for a while.  Then, forgetting it was a rainy day, I accidentally broke the relaxed rhythm.

“Why don’t you two go outside?”  It was an automated question, timed, after all these years, to go off when children have been inside for too long.  “Go do something. You’re wasting your lives in here.”  Thing1, with the perfect amount of pre-teen sarcasm, quickly reminded me of the downpour outside.

Rebuffed, I lumbered back to my desk.  I sat down, my girth forcing air out of the seat cushion with a sharp whooshing sound.  I didn’t, as usual, automatically push from my mind the irony of a behemoth of a mom telling two wiry kids to get moving.  Today, I reminded myself, once again, that they deserved a mother who could keep up with them now and into their futures.

I shook off the irony and clicked on my email.  Then, despite my resolve, I clicked on a Boston webpage.  Pictures of Monday’s victims flashed on the screen.  Below, there were life stories of people who had been physically whole until the day before.  Then I saw a story of a school trying to raise money for the wounded.  My spirit lifted a bit as I found another story of a man who had never run a mile resolving to run the marathon next year to fundraise for the survivors. Through all the stories ran a theme of people trying not only to help but to live fully.

I got back to my email.  I’m physically whole, but I had to admit that I take a lot of my life for granted.  There are even some parts of it, like my health, that I toss aside very casually.

Wednesday morning I got up before the kids.  The rain was gone.  Without waking the boys, I slid on a pair of running shoes that hadn’t seen daylight since October 2010 and slipped out the door.  For the next 30 minutes I ran when my app told me to run and walked when it told me to walk, and there were times I had to stop.  I doubt I’ll be in that marathon group any year, but, chasing my acorn-squash shaped shadow through the woods around our house made me hope that I was taking the first steps of a better journey.

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