I am still riding the high from my race. I feel like a little hypocrite though. I said many times to many people, that I wasn’t going to ever enter a race and I really thought I wouldn’t. It’s not that I’m not a competitive person – I certainly am, and I’m sure others would agree. I just never felt very competitive in an athletic sense. Part of the reason I never considered a race is because I always thought that’s just why people run – to train for something. I have never felt that I needed a race as an end-goal to run. I’ve always been pretty disciplined and to keep things interesting, I started setting little goals – run 5 km, get up to 7 km, now do 10 km, etc. My friends would also try to change my mind but I was pretty stubborn – I think I wanted to be that one person who didn’t run a race, I don’t know. I’m also not a person who likes to run with a group. One or two people, sure I’ve done that and it’s fun; but running with a few hundred strangers? Yeah, no thanks.
I discovered early on that I just like going for a run to clear my head, to get some exercise and to keep fit. But then I started getting hurt and quickly learned that in order to keep running and avoid injury I had to do some other kind of cross-training. Over the past few months I started doing more weights at home, and especially weighted quad sets, in order to get stronger legs. The extra little bit has started to pay off – I am running a little faster, I recover more quickly and have had less injuries.
I’m going to own that hypocrisy now. I kind of, sort of really liked running with all those people. I thought it was pretty cool that there were spectators along the route ringing cowbells and encouraging us. It was even inspiring to see the half-marathoners encouraging us as we approached the last kilometer of the 5k race. “You’re almost there! Run! Run!” I’m getting chills now just thinking about it. I thought that was pretty amazing.
And let’s be real here – I’ve had three children and weigh 20 lbs more than I did the day I got married. Pregnancy and childbirth change a woman’s body, more than I ever realized. While I would love to be the weight I was on my wedding day, the way my body shape has changed, I would probably look really unhealthy and anorexic. A more realistic goal was to eventually get down to my last pre-pregnancy weight. That has proven to be more difficult than I first imagined and I’m not even sure it’s ever going to happen. So the next goal I set was to fit into a particular pair of jeans that I was wearing before I got pregnant with my third child. I have tried to ignore the scale (so much easier said than done), but when there’s one a few feet from my office, it gets hard.
Over the past several weeks I have a number of patients (all women, and all fairly new moms) comment on how fit I’ve been looking and I’ve heard several times, “Wow, doc, have you lost weight?” Usually I reply with a quick and embarrassed, “Oh, gee, thank you”, and ask what brings them in in the hopes of redirecting. More often than not, my question gets ignored and I am asked how I do it, how do I find the time with work and having 3 children? While I really try not to spend the first few minutes of their appointment discussing myself, I think it’s important for some patients to hear this. My first answer is always that I have a stay-at-home-baby-daddy. Without his support and encouragement and his sacrifice (though he would never call it that) to stay home with the kids, a lot of things might be different. (I can’t imagine what pick ups and drop offs would be like if we both worked, not to mention finding the time to exercise?!) The second part of my answer is that I run. It’s the purest form of exercise I have ever done and it’s quick and cheap. I run home from work at least once, maybe twice a week; husband and I alternate running on the weekend. If I go on Saturday, he goes Sunday or vice versa. Then I always get asked if I diet. The answer is always no. We try to eat healthy during the week with salads, veggies and fish or chicken but we often splurge on the weekend with steaks and other fun foods (ie chicken wings, pizza, fries, beer and wine). I know what my weaknesses are and its primarily dessert. We don’t have dessert after dinner anymore. I might have something sweet after lunch at work but I justify that with a run home afterwards. So basically what I tell patients is that I run so that I can still eat what I want. Now, I realize that the majority of people can’t do that, so I continue by saying that eating healthy, well-balanced, portion-controlled meals and having some form of daily exercise (even if it’s walking or taking the stairs instead of the elevator) can go a long way to keeping fit and staying healthy. Fad diets never seem to work long-term. They can be taxing on one’s system and the rigidity of some of these diets just can’t be sustained over time.
I’m fortunate enough that I’ve never had to resort to a diet, unless cutting back on dessert is dieting. For me, running works and for now I’m going to stick with it. And maybe I’ll run a few races a year for fun because why not? My ultimate goal (and yes, I realize it’s a bit shallow) has always been to wear my favorite jeans again. Despite what the scale may say, I have reached that goal. And running got me there.