I don’t have to be a runner. Don’t get me wrong – I think that if you can run, that’s amazing, and I’m happy for you. It’s wonderful exercise and I hear it can be quite relaxing and refreshing. However, it’s not something I can do. I’ve bounced back and forth on the idea of running for years, but it just isn’t going to happen for me. I wasn’t able to run at my lowest weight – even running the mile in school was something that I found miserable and unpleasant. Unless I’m running to something or for something (like catching a bus, or catching a ball) I just can’t get into it. Add to that the fact that I have a bad knee (from an old dancing injury), and it starts becoming more and more apparent that running just isn’t something that I’m going to ever find an enjoyable hobby.
The problem is, though, that I’ve been trying to lose weight for nearly ten years, and looking through suggestions and inspiration and things online, it’s hard to find anyone that doesn’t go on and on about how “all you need to do is lace up your sneakers and just go”. As if the minute your hair is in a ponytail and your feet hit the pavement, you’ll be twenty pounds lighter and twice as gorgeous. I think if I’d spent the time finding other sources of cardio activity (and if it wasn’t the very first suggestion you can find anywhere you’re looking for a training program), I might have had an easier time coming to terms with moving my body instead of hating it for what it can’t and doesn’t want to do.
Life doesn’t stop until you reach your goal weight. I’ve been guilty of something stupid for the last decade – I stopped having fun in public for the most part. Sure, I get out from time to time. Mark and I go places, and spend time together, and I’m happy about everything we do. The problem is that I’m so ashamed of my shape that I try to stay inside as much as possible, and as soon as I go out in public, I worry that everyone will stare and laugh and insult me.
Unfortunately, this is something that has happened, so it’s not a completely unfounded fear. When I first started putting on weight, I was on a beach in a swimsuit, a halter top, and a pair of shorts (I believe they were a size six), walking down the boardwalk after swimming for a while. A guy leaned out of his car and yelled something about how “people like me shouldn’t be allowed to wear shorts”, and I immediately burst into tears. I think that’s the moment I started hating my body – until then I had not even realized that it was possible to hate your own body. I had gone two days prior to get a belly button piercing – something I would not have done if I had thought I was enormous or unfit to show myself off in a bikini, walking around on the beach. To this day, I have not worn another bikini, and I have not worn a pair of shorts around anyone, except for in the privacy of my own home. Not even in front of friends.
Logically, I know the extent to which that guy’s random comments should affect me to this day – that is to say, not at all. But there’s something about those words that has sat with me for nearly ten years. I wonder if the effect will ever go away, or if one random jerk has made me impossibly uncomfortable in my own skin for the rest of my life.