*** Last month, Rebecca Godlove wrote a wonderful essay for The PediaBlog — “My Story: Running For My Life” — and detailed her motivation for losing weight and improving her physical fitness and overall health.  Rebecca tells us here how far she has come so far — and how far she still has to go. ***


Running for My Life: Week Four

By Rebecca Godlove — Pediatric Alliance, Chartiers/McMurray Division

The plan is very simple.  Per Highmark’s Couch to 5K program, you exercise three times a week, for twenty minutes each time.  You start out by running only a small percentage of the time; you walk the rest.  Gradually, week by week, you increase the amount of time you run until, at last, you’re able to run for your whole workout.

Yet, almost as soon as I began my program, I got derailed!  Although I was still walking briskly three or four times a week during my lunch break, I wasn’t carving out additional time to train for running.  The first week, my very first run on the Panhandle Trail was rained out!  (Hubby and I kept going, though – and posted soaking-wet self-portraits on Facebook to prove our determination!)  The second week, I got in one session.  Week three?  Nothing more than my lunchtime strolls.

I’m currently in the middle of week four (of ten), and this past Monday, I started to panic.  I was still walking – still gaining health and losing weight – but was I going to be capable of participating in a 5K?  The cheerful e-mail I received from Highmark told me that I should register soon for the Great Race.  My palms went sweaty.  September 29th is really not that far away.  I wasn’t going to be ready.   Maybe I could reboot my plan and just enter another race, later.  I wasn’t giving up, exactly, just…waiting for the right time.  Right?

Then I realized that I’ve been “waiting” my whole life.  Waiting for things to change on their own, or waiting to “feel” motivated.  I realize that there are a lot of things in my life that I cannot control – my genetics, my circumstances, or the actions or reactions of other people – but there are certain things within my power.  I am able to make a difference in my own health.  In my own opinion of myself.

Yesterday afternoon, I did something I never imagined I’d do.  I registered for the Great Race.  For real.  I got the confirmation e-mail and everything.  It excited me, and also freaked me out a little bit.

Last night, my always-supportive husband turned to me and said, “Let’s get up early tomorrow and go for a jog.”  Although he has been great at cheering me on, I wasn’t sure if he was going to participate in the race with me.  But at 6:00 this morning, my phone woke me with the theme from Rocky, and neither of us rolled over to turn it off.  We went for a casual run around the neighborhood.  It was only 15 minutes or so, but I was able to actually jog – not walk – for most of it, and I felt amazing when we got home!  I think that I’d gotten a head start on the plan by walking almost daily for three months beforehand, and my body was able to adapt more quickly than it might have otherwise.

I’m fortunate in that I have a supportive husband and family, and also an online community who has “been there, done that” and wants to cheer me on.  The thing is, not a single person has told me I can’t do it.  There have been a few reserved smiles and nods (mostly from those aware of how difficult it can be for me to follow through on projects).  There have been a few well-intentioned cautionary messages (“Wear the right shoes”, “take it slow”, “don’t beat yourself up”).  Then, there’s the cute, blue-eyed guy who has decided that he’d rather be running alongside me, rather than at home in front of the television.

There’s hope.

So much is riding on this for me.  It’s not about winning.  It’s not about finishing the race in “good” time.  It’s not about doing something trendy or cool (although running does seem to be the Next Big Thing, don’t you think?).  It’s about setting a good example.  It’s about completing something I’ve started – whether I have a cheering section or not.  It’s about believing that I really can change, both my attitude and my appearance.

If you’re on a path like mine, I strongly urge you to gather strength from people who believe in you.  Whether it’s through a religious organization, a club, or an online chat room, you really do need the support of others.  People were not made to function as isolated units!  You need to connect with folks who have been where you are and have succeeded, and also with people who are in the same boat as you, who can paddle right along with you!  It doesn’t matter if we’re talking weight loss, unemployment, recovering from addition or abuse, or the loss of a friend or family member.  Even a positive change, like a new baby, a move, or a marriage, takes getting used to.  Adjustments.  Patience.  Time.

There will be days when you’re convinced you can’t do it anymore, and you’ll need those people to look you in the eye, take you by the arm and say, “Sure you can.  Let’s do it.  Together.”

I’ll be checking again at least once more before the race – and I hope I’ll be able to encourage you with my news!

Rebecca Godlove