A Fool’s Race or How To Prove Yourself Wrong
This is a special guest blog post from one of our 2016 participants. Leslie is sharing her story and hopes to inspire others with this post.
Last year I foolishly signed up for The Great Pumpkin Run which lead to one of the single most emotional breakthrough moments of my life.
Now wait, I know that sounds a bit dramatic but trust me when I say this, it is absolutely true. So let me give you all a little bit of backstory to fill in the gaps.
I have always been a ‘big gal’. Despite years of working out at the gym and eating right most of the time, no matter what I did, every small accomplishment quickly dissolved. I was very healthy for my weight and I was strong, so I did have that going for me.
Please if you are reading this don’t sit back and think of all the diets, pills, and workouts that come to mind that would have “solved” my problem. Trust me when I say this, I could write 95% of the diet books out there. When you grow up overweight you can become a diet and weight loss expert, even if none of it works on you.
What makes us so amazing as humans is our individual genetic makeup mixed with our environmental exposures. We can no more perfectly explain away my weight than we can explain specifically why twins have opposite cowlicks, why a woman can eat bacon and smoke every day since she was 12 and live to 100, why you may have a mole on your arm, or why for the love of all that is good that ONE hair keeps growing where it should not?!!
My whole life as a ‘big gal’ I strived to be confident, competent, and to live a good life all while trying to figure out how to take up less space. See when you are a big person it is in the wiring to constantly be aware of how much space you take up. Also it is pretty common to have the feeling of needing to apologize to the universe for taking up that space. I was not proud of my body but I was proud as a person. I was not ashamed of my body but at some point I just started to ignore it. After all it didn’t want to listen to me when I asked it to lose weight so why should I listen to it?
So.. getting back to last year. I was struggling with some big life decisions. Doctors had provided me with a plan to fix what was broken. After all part of my body wasn’t working the way that it should and there are solutions for those kinds of things. Solutions that could be great or could be terrible.
I decided to prove to myself that I didn’t want or need to make that decision. I could just keep being me. My weight hadn’t been ‘that’ bad had it? Did it really impact my life that much? I have friends, family, I travel, I have fun, I even enjoy going to the gym. Why change?
So I signed up for a race. I signed up to prove that I didn’t need to change. I signed up to prove that I could let my inner runner out despite clearly being more physically equipped for sumo wrestling.
That race completely wrecked my plans to stay the same!
As the day of the race arrived last September I began to realize that the adage ‘mind over matter’ specifically matters when the matter in question is almost 400 pounds. Unfortunately, I don’t have any super powers so flying or levitating through the race was going to be out of the question.
As many of you have read before, the morning of that race I cried the whole drive from Lancaster to the race site. I debated turning around. I debated getting the packet and leaving before the race started. I prayed for rain (because I did NOT sign up for a wet race). I prayed that I didn’t see anyone I know so that I could leave if I wanted to without having to explain myself. I mentally bartered and promised so many things to the decision-making part of my brain. I was out of there, I had made up my mind to just leave, but then, the universe put its foot down and said enough. Or… alternate version.. I ran into someone I know and NOW I couldn’t escape.
So I did the race. Slowly. I walked a bit, stopped, bent, breathed, and went on. Real runners and walkers quickly passed by me in waves. But I persisted and I finished.
What happen during that race though was so fulfilling on so many levels that it is hard to explain.
First of all, I saw human spirit and kindness for miles. I saw friends and family encouraging each other and those around them, even strangers like me. I saw people striving for personal bests. I saw people just in it to get to the end. I saw people laughing and struggling all at the same time. I saw creative people, I saw energetic people, I saw tired people all just working their way through. I saw compassion and belief in themselves and others. It was JUST 5K but it was so much more for so many people that day. And I… I was in the middle of it. Their good positive energy and support lingered around me the whole race even though the waves had long since passed.
Second of all, I saw a complete lack of selfishness in many people and so strongly in one individual that sacrificed her time and her race to be my companion, even though we didn’t know each other. She came along before mile one and stuck with me to the end even when I burst out crying. I did not expect such support from anyone and there it was.
Third of all, and this was so huge, I had to listen to my body because I didn’t have a choice! My body told me the whole time that it was broken and it needed fixed. It also told me that walking a 5K over bumpy paths was truly one of the most idiotic things I could have chosen to try to convince myself that I didn’t have to change. “Here’s your sign”!
I finished my race at about 1 hour and 45 minutes. The key there… I finished.
A few months later doctors fixed what was broken. The race had made it so clear to me that despite confidence and relative healthiness, a change was required. The race reminded me that there are thousands of things that I want to do in my life that my body could not do. I could no longer deny it.
Over the past few months I’ve lost a lot of weight. My body is fixed and NOW I understand what it is like to be a ‘loser’ consistently for the first time in my life. I’ve lost over 90 pounds (I know you wanted to know) and I am not stopping here.
I’ve been conscientious with my loss. I could have started working out like a fanatic but I’m taking things slowly and appreciating every change in pounds, my physical body, and in my spirit. I am not taking any of it for granted!
Here we are in August and the race is just a few short weeks away. I’ve been walking and I have been driven to be active by the changes I’ve experienced. Sometimes I even feel like a kid again, so excited to play outside and do stuff.
I’ve also made it my personal goal to be able to do this race in under an hour. A little over a week ago I walked 5K in 56 minutes. I am loving my body, what it can do now, and I am definitely listening to it with all ears!
So if you remember from earlier in this blog my goal for signing up for the race last year was to prove I did NOT need to make any changes and that race proved quite the opposite. Fortunately for me I saw the sign. So this year I signed up to celebrate my changes and to let the universe know that I appreciate every change I’ve had and all the future ones to come.
If you get nothing else from this blog, I ask you to ask yourself where you are at and where you want to be? If you are not making decisions that directly lead you from where you are to where you want to go then take the time to sit down and draw up a map. Be open to the possibilities. After all you never know what might be waiting for you at the finish line.
Leslie C. Egiziano
–Sour Fish Events