Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Wall

I was at the gym this morning as I have committed, like everyone else out there, to live a healthier life in 2011. I used to love the gym and so did my late husband. The gym is where we connected and it was what we had in common that we both like to share with each other. Having a baby and a career did take me away from my workouts but I didn't have any negative thoughts about it. Returning to my fitness schedule was something I was going to get to, eventually.

Fast forward to my husband being diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure. His condition was largely caused by his inability to stop using metabolic steroids. My buff husband was more concerned about how he looked on the outside and less concerned, if at all, about the damage he was doing on the inside. It caught up with him and took his life too early for anyone to comprehend.

My attitude toward the gym changed significantly after his passing. I hated the gym, I hated what it represented, the people involved in that lifestyle, anything and everything related to the thing that Greg loved more than me and his daughter I detested. To me, the gym was his other lover and his inability to heed my words and sometimes threats to stop using an illegal substance to modify his body chemistry told me that he placed something else above his family.

Bearing my bitterness toward all things "workout" in mind, I spiraled into a season of overeating, practically mainlining ice cream and crying. Momentum slowed in the last part of the year and I started to re-evaluate my behavior toward my body. I was unhappy with how I looked, how I felt and remorseful about demonstrating an unhealthy life to my young daughter. I am all she has parent-wise now and I can ill afford to run myself off the rails. I want to, God willing, be alive for a long time. I reconciled myself that diet and exercise were in dire need of being implemented in my life. I took stock in what things were causing me pain. Sugar made the top of the list. Sugar, to me, might as well be heroin. I can't get enough of it. I am never satisfied with whatever amount I have. It had to go. I fired my counselor, sugar, last week. Nothing sweet has passed my lips, sweetners included in about a week. I feel great. Sunday I resolved to go back to the gym. That brings me to the wall.

"I love to work out", I kept telling myself. I joined a women's gym a few months back so I didn't have to be around the meat heads or participate in the singles scene at these places. I thought I'd feel more comfortable with those obstacles and distractions away from my view. I could just really focus on what I wanted to do. I went one week, then I didn't. Then I went one day, then I didn't. I was struggling with a routine. I have time to work out now. I thought I didn't before. What gives?

The wall. The wall is what I put in front of me so I could give myself a reason not to succeed. I didn't mean to build it but there it was. Brick by brick, little by little I placed every single piece in place in a foggy, angry haze and then wondered how it got there when I came to. Fear of it taking too much time to succeed or that I wouldn't at all, resentments about what the gym had now come to represent to me, excuses (lots of those), rationalizing that I didn't have time or not enough time to get my whole workout in, "giving myself a break", every last one, mortared by my own mind, cemented to resemble truth. I reached the wall today when I wanted to stop the elliptical machine. I had programmed in 45 minutes of time. At minute 15 I was telling myself I was a 1/3 done. At minute 17 I was lamenting that fact that I wasn't half through yet and watching the clock like it speeds up if you stare at it long enough. At minute 28 I was telling myself that 30 minutes was 'pretty good' and that I could stop then. Why? I wasn't tired, I wasn't winded or sore. I just wanted to stop. The wall was there in front of me. I could make it out in front of my mind's eye. It was too tall, too thick. Too often when I face the wall I give up. "This is too hard", "I don't want to do it". I do want to do it though! I don't want to live in this body and demonstrate a sedentary life to my little girl that robs her of being able to have her mom participate in the things she wants to do. I want to be able to practice soccer with her, chase a frisbee, go sledding. I want to be an active playmate. For crying out loud, I'm not that big! I just need to shave off a few pounds and feel more fit. If I want to have those things, why do I turn away when I put forth the effort of going after those goals? As my feet glided on the little platforms there in the midst of my morning's exertion efforts I pondered. Why do I stop?
I heard a small inner voice. "Run through the wall". What? "Run through the wall". The voice was quiet but directing. It wasn't angry or condescending. "Run through the wall". The voice knew I could do it but I wasn't entirely convinced. I kept moving. "Run through the wall". I remembered a conversation in a movie about a guy who had to run a marathon to win his love's heart. Problem was, he wasn't a runner and he had about a day to train. Impossible. The two main characters had a whole conversation about a runner's wall. It is the point in distance running where the runner believes it is just not possible to keep moving. They call it "the wall". If you can run through "the wall" you can finish the marathon. The runner's high takes place after the wall has passed. I contemplated that. Before I knew it, I was on my last 10 minutes on the machine. My workout was somehow lighter, I felt invigorated and buoyant. I wasn't as hot but I was plenty sweaty. I was also pleased with finishing my task. I felt accomplished.

As I made my way home I gave this some more thought. Could I really be that angry about Greg's death that I would give up something healthy to make a point? A point to whom? Does my aversion to working out do anything to right the wrong I thought had been committed against me? Even so, the person of whom I have a resentment towards is gone now. What good does not taking care of my body do? It certainly isn't making me feel any better. There are many "walls" not just in running. It is the imaginary limit I place on myself that allows me to give up or compromise my mission. I can convince myself to a fault that the wall is there and I can't cross it. Sometimes I think I could cross it or scale it at least but I am afraid to. What if I can't? What if it isn't worth it in the end? Run through the wall. Dig your feet in, gather up speed and run, full force into the wall. Believe you can do it. The past failings, mishaps, all of it is where it is. It's gone. Stop talking to yourself about the wall and what you can't do about it. You can plow right through it. In the end, you don't need to fear something that isn't really there. The question is, do you really trust that you can? The voice knew there was nothing to doubt. I could run through the wall. I just needed to be told that I could. I needed to believe that the voice had more knowledge about the wall than I did. The voice was right. Oh yeah, the guy in the movie runs through "the wall" and wins his girl's heart. See? Run through the wall.

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