The past three years have pretty much been about surviving for me. I haven’t been running and I haven’t been working out. More than a few times, I thought of just shutting this blog down and moving on with my life – without running and fitness. In a lot of ways, running is who I was, not who I am. Ever since I did survive a blood clot in my leg (DVT) that went to my lung (PE) just over three years ago, I have been unable to run. At first it was physically difficult for me to do so and after that, it became an emotional struggle to even think about putting on running shoes. I began running way back when to lose weight, take care of myself and get my life together. It worked. I was happy, healthy and in better shape than I had ever been in my life.
Then, my mom passed away while running one day and then I almost did after running one weekend. I hated running – I still do sometimes. I had given it everything and in return, I faced more heartache then I ever envisioned at just 29 years old. None of my happy memories of running mattered to me anymore. I locked running up and threw away the key. I refused to care – about running, about my health, about my happiness. I felt betrayed by my body and my emotions. How was I out of breath just walking into the kitchen and how could I hate something that had once brought me so much joy?
For the past three years, I tried my absolute hardest to forget about running and the good times. I had no choice. I had to focus on making it through what proved to be a long and difficult recovery and managing a lifelong illness. Here and there, I tried to walk or jog, but it always ended (or started) in tears and I once again found myself on an emotional roller coaster of sadness, fear, blame, anger and betrayal.
I shifted my focus to other things – my relationships, my writing and my pursuit of new passions. I immersed myself in blogging about my recovery from blood clots and eventually, a new career. It felt good to be driven by something other than my feet on the pavement and eventually, I stopped missing running. I stopped wishing I could run again, I stopped wondering if I could and this time, I didn’t feel guilty. I gained weight again (I wasn’t moving at all) and I stopped paying careful attention to what I put in my mouth. I couldn’t afford to care about anything else so I didn’t. I developed an “It is, what it is” attitude. Managing a chronic illness is time-intensive and exhausting – I didn’t have the time, energy or resources to manage my situation and pursue good health. I was operating in survival mode, my only capability.
Through it all – even my success in online advocacy and my profound happiness in my new career – I began to notice an old feeling again. Just like all those years ago, I started to feel like I needed to take the steps to get healthy again – even if that meant lacing up my shoes and jogging down the street. I joined a gym, not unlike all those years ago, and had a few good treadmill runs, but I couldn’t get back into it. I didn’t feel anger or sadness, just defeated and disheartened. Who was I kidding? I’m not a runner. And there I was, back at ground zero with no way out and no motivation to even look for one.
Then one day, I was scrolling through Facebook when a post on Sam Heughan’s – the Scottish actor best known for his roles as Jamie Fraser in the Starz series Outlander – Wall caught my eye. The post was simple. It said, “Let’s get ready for MPC” and featured a small video clip of Sam running. I clicked on the link which directed me to the My Peak Challenge website where it said, “It all started on a mountain.” And I was hooked.
In it’s second year, #MyPeakChallenge is the brainchild of Sam, who believes that there is significant power in sharing the feeling of accomplishment and exhilaration that comes with completing a physical challenge. He also holds a firm belief in the power of exercise to unite people across many different ability levels. Something hit home – I used to hold those beliefs too – and I felt something stir inside of me. I clicked “Add to cart” and signed up for the 60 day Prep Program which includes a customizable and scalable nutrition and fitness plan to prepare me to succeed in a challenge I later choose to complete. I was also very excited about the private Facebook forum, where I would receive direct support from Sam himself and his personal trainer John Valbonesi of Fight Camp Glasgow. And, no less than half of the the proceeds of the program (just $89) go to Bloodwise to support blood-cancer research. There really wasn’t a single reason I could think of to say no.
This week I completed my first week of the My Peak Challenge Prep Program, which included several days of strength training, cardio and rest too. I completed every single workout – and I ran too, my own choice for cardio activity. I’m logging my food choices, macro nutrients and calories on My Fitness Pal while slowly incorporating Sam’s shopping list into my diet. Although weight loss is not my only goal nor the primary goal of the program, I am happy to say I have lost 4.8 pounds so far.
I’m taking it a day at a time and taking care of myself. Excessive weight is a risk factor for blood clots and so is sitting for long periods – both things I can work to control, in light of the risk factors I cannot control like an incurable clotting disorder. I am tired of feeling sluggish and sick and I am tired of feeling embarrassed about my size, even though I know I have nothing to be embarrassed about. I was just about done feeling the way I do when My Peak Challenge just happened to give me the last bit of motivation I needed to make a change. Finding and holding on to motivation can be hard, even when all of the motivation is right there in front of you. Here and now in my present life, the My Peak Challenge is exactly what I needed to inspire me to change. I can’t wait to see what mountain I will climb next.
Tell me about you. What motivates you to make a change? What goal are you working towards right now? Are you a member of any fitness or nutrition programs or groups to help you achieve your goal?
Until the next mile marker,