People who know me well IRL or who read my blog frequently enough have had some really fantastic, supportive responses in regard to my decision to walk the Katy Trail. People who don’t know me well think they are being supportive but kind of miss the mark. So, I just thought I might take a minute to clear up a few things about what I am and am NOT trying to do/accomplish with this challenge. 🙂
1. I AM trying to improve my health.
I have diabetes. Exercise is a really important component of controlling my blood glucose which, in turn, helps reduce a lot of the health risks associated with diabetes. It’s not a magic bullet but it’s the closest thing I’ve found. But here’s the thing, I struggle with exercise. I think I associate it with all of those diets that failed me on so many levels and my subconscious rebels. But I also simply struggle with motivation and follow through. Having an end goal, deadline, and specific parameters helps with that.
2. I am NOT trying to change the shape of my body.
When you say to someone who has struggled (or not struggled since not all fat people struggle with that fact) with their weight that you think it’s so great that they’re “trying to get in shape” it’s condescending. I have a shape and I’m pretty okay with it. Yes, there are things that are difficult when you are fat but honestly, being short is more challenging for me than being fat. I have to ask my children to reach things on high shelves all the time. Like, nearly every day. It’s really rare that my weight keeps me from doing something or forces me to ask for help but my height is a problem all the time. So, this challenge isn’t really about what I look like, what size my jeans are, or a number on a scale because those things don’t matter (much) to me any more.
3. I AM trying to have fun.
I know exercise is important but I also just don’t think it’s very fun or interesting when I could be reading, writing, watching some cool sci-fi, or hanging out with friends and family. I’ve read lots of HAES focused blogs about moving for fun and health, not as a means to punish yourself, but I’ve never had much luck finding that for myself. However, this challenge finally has me excited about exercise. It’s fun again, like it was when I was a kid playing tag or a teen on the cheerleading squad, and that motivates me to get up off the couch and go.
I’ve walked two miles every day but one (and I was helping my brother move that day) since deciding to do this challenge. I don’t have to force or chastise myself, I don’t need other people to remind or encourage me, I just do it because I really want to. Because I’m having FUN! 🙂
4. I am trying to reach new limits but I am NOT trying to push myself there.
Yes, this is a challenge for me but it’s more a challenge of endurance and follow through than anything. The Katy Trail is used by runners and walkers but it is designed for bikers, converted from a rail line. It’s flat and easy. I’m not really hiking, I’m long distance walking. And I’m perfectly okay with that. I will have to push myself to accomplish the longest walks so I’ll gradually improve my physical strength and endurance but I’m not pushing it. I know myself and if this stops being fun, I’ll quit. Right now I’m walking about a 30 minute mile at a comfortable pace. I can feel a slight invigorating burn in my nose and chest when I breath in at that pace. I warm my muscles enough to shed extra layers of clothes but not so much that I’m dripping with sweat. I am tired enough to need a break when I’m finished but not exhausted. It’s a comfortable level for me, for now. I figure as time goes on and I increase my distance (I’m shooting for 2.5-3 miles today) my pace will also increase. But it will happen gradually, not because I forced it.
5. I AM doing this for myself. I AM also doing this for the people I love.
I wanted something motivating, fun, challenging and just plain awesome to help me ring in my 40th year. I don’t really spend money on myself but I have for this project. I’m also carving out time for myself not just on the Katy Trail but also for training. This is most definitely about wanting to feel good as I grow older. It’s also about seeing family members lose limbs to diabetes and being afraid of that future. This is, first and foremost, a selfish endeavor. And I’m okay with that because I don’t live a selfish life. I think it’s okay to be selfish sometimes, just not all (or even most) of the time. But in the back of my mind I’m also doing this for my kids. In the darkest corners of my imagination I’ve contemplated what it would be like for them if something happened to me, like a diabetes induced stroke, and I don’t want that for them. I don’t dwell on it and I know I can’t control everything but, I’ll do what I can to protect them. As parents we protect our kids from so much and often don’t even think about protecting them from our own self destruction.
So, that’s it. A fun, challenging, healthy, self-motivating, primarily, but not entirely, selfish endeavor. I’m ready! 🙂