Saturday, November 16, 2013

In Her Eyes

The conversation started simply enough - just like so many others. "How are you?" "Gosh it's cold outside!"

I was dropping Noah off at preschool and making small-talk with one of the ladies that works at the school. I was in a rush. Noah only stays at preschool for a short time and I had a list of errands I had to accomplish before getting back to pick him up.

She commented on my Facebook post about my awesome 20-miler last week, and said something along the lines of how crazy I was and how she couldn't imagine running. I hear these things all the time and usually just laugh them off (yes, I am the crazy lady with 12 kids who runs a lot...thanks for noticing!) but something in her voice, and in her eyes, caught my attention.

She asked a couple of questions about how I train, my goals, etc. and then said something along the lines of me being lucky because I was "tiny" and athletic. I told her that I had only been running for four and a half years and that I had lost 80lbs after being overweight for over 10 years. She was taken aback, and once I told her that, her demeanor changed and she started asking me questions. How did I get started? Why?

Her eyes brimmed with tears as she shared challenges she had been through in the past year, how stress had led to weight gain, how frustrated she was, how she knew she needed to do something but didn't know how to start, and how she was afraid to try and fail.

And in her eyes, I saw myself. I saw the "me" that I was five years ago. I remembered the stress, the insecurity, the frustration I felt at having let myself get so out of shape and unhealthy, the hopeless feeling, the self-doubt, the fear.  I remember feeling like exercise was something other people did, but that I didn't have the time or the energy or the strength.

I vividly remember years ago when a neighbor invited me to a 5:30am step class that she taught. I was polite and thanked her, but I remember laughing on the inside and thinking there was NO way I could or would get up that early on purpose. I remember having a long list of reasons and excuses in my head as to why I couldn't exercise.

I shared that with the woman at the preschool. I told her that I had been where she was and that she could do it.  I told her that as crazy as it seemed, that on the days I got up early and ran I had more energy. I offered encouragement, help, guidance, and support. I hope she takes me up on it.

I was so glad that I took the time to stop on a busy morning and talk with someone who needed some encouragement. I hope that maybe our conversation gave her some hope and motivation, and I am grateful for the reminders that it gave to me.

Do you ever look back and realize how much you have changed?

Have you always be active or do you remember getting started?

What advice would you to someone just trying to get started?


Kiley said...

That's awesome. I love having conversations like that with people. I've been active my whole life, with a couple years of being overweight. I hope you motivated her and I hope she makes the changes she wants to for herself. Thanks for sharing!

Christina said...

I remember just getting started ... it wasn't that long ago! My "start" wasn't due to weight, more so due to a serious health scare and understanding I just simply had to get more active, pay attention to what I eat, and just do it. The beginning was very awkward for a while, I felt so self-conscious running in public. I would only stick to my neighborhood, for the first couple months, doing laps. It took me a while before I felt mentally comfortable to run out on the main paths in front of everyone :)

Holly @ Run With Holly said...

I definitely look back and am surprised to see how much I've changed (and/or how different my life is from what I anticipated/expected!). But lots of small changes, over time, add up.

And that's the message I try to give someone who is just getting started: You don't have to spend an hour working out TODAY. You don't have to buy all sorts of fancy clothes/gadgets TODAY. You don't have to have a perfect plan TODAY. The only thing you have to to START. Think about something small you can do (three times up/down the stairs, two trips to the mailbox, 5 minutes of stretching), set aside the time (creating a habit is super important), and just get started! You can always adapt, refine, and adjust - but set aside the time, and just start somewhere.

HalfCrazed Runner said...

Start small and do what you love. Just do something! Time will pass whether or not you are doing something so stand up and go for it! Consistency is key!

Amy Lauren said...

I'm so glad you stopped to talk to her :). It shows that most really successful runners love helping beginners. It's sad when beginners don't believe that- they say "oh, you're so fast, you'd leave me in the dust" or think we'd never run with them. I run a 22-23 minute 5K but love running with newbies who are running 12 minute miles! Sometimes you can encourage them and push the beginners to see they can be successful :). And that little bit of encouragement goes a long way- I remember how great it felt for my friend who's a 16 minute 5Ker to do an "easy 3" with me one day! We have all been there.

coach dion said...

Have you created another running machine...

I feel gulty if I don't offer advice to people who ask!

Tina @GottaRunNow said...

I've run 15 marathons, but I still remember my first 4 mile run. I was so happy that I could run so far!

Adrienne said...

Accept where you are today-realism equals freedom and chances are if you do 80% of the right things, where you currently are will drastically change. Compare yourself with you and only you in a healthy, loving way.