3 days. 3 blogs. 3 hours of exercise. This was the unofficial challenge I set for myself going into this long weekend. And here I am at the other end of it, successful! It hasn't been easy, and I've dealt with a lot of old emotions this weekend, but I'm happy and proud that I did what I set out to do which never would have happened before I started Spark.
I have actually been dreading this long weekend for a while. I knew that my boyfriend would be out of town at a conference, and I was upset that out of any weekend of the year, this dumb conference had to be held on one of the only ones that I got three consecutive days off. I'm not doing a show. Work is in its slow season right now. And the post-show craziness of getting caught up with life seemed to resolve itself at the end of June. I really was going to be boyfriend-less, plan-less, and tempted to revert to my old habits for 3 solid days of a pity-fest. But I was determined not to let that happen. So I vowed that I would use what opportunities I could to perform a mini-triathlon (swim 500m, bike 10K, run 5K) over 3 days. Swim, bike, run.
The first day was the bike ride. And I already blogged about how freeing it was to discover a new neighbourhood that I had never ventured to in my 6 years in the city and going on 4 in my current place. 6.24 miles = 10K check!
Yesterday was my "run" day. Considering I don't run yet and it was far too hot to start my C25K training, I decided to walk for a frozen treat and log some miles on the way. The day was hotter than hot, but I accomplished my mission and busted through some mental barriers that had been holding me back. 4.17 miles = 6.71K check. I blew right past that 5K mark and walked a personal best for myself.
Today was all about the swim. I was out of my element because I wasn't going to my regular pool. I was going to a very crowded, very public, outdoor pool that is across the street from my house but which I had never ventured to before. I donned my "cute suit" which is not my lap suit, left the goggles and cap behind and grabbed my beach towel and a magazine. To my surprise and JOY, I was literally "swimming" in my cute suit! It's a two piece tankini of which the bottom is now too big for my bottom and the girls looked like two little lumps of coal clunking around in the bottom of a stocking. No matter - I was elated. The water-bra would hold them where they needed to be just for today. So off I went to the park, past the kiddie pool and through the locker room to a sea of bobbing heads in the water before me. This is a BIG pool It's Olympic size - which means it's twice the size of my regular lap pool and it is PACKED. So much for being able to squeeze out a little corner to do my rounds. But I took in the sun and made it into an opportunity to people-watch and tread water for 45 minutes. I got a chance on the wall to do a few reps of some flutter kicks and pool push-ups (where you use the side of the pool in the deep end to hoist your body up out of the water without being able to kick off the ground) until I noticed a group of male teenagers ogling me every time I surfaced. Perhaps it was better in my too-big bathing suit to leave the push-ups until the girls were slightly more secure. Finally the whistle blew and the pool cleared for the next session. I toweled off, threw on my cover-up and meandered home to read my magazine in the sun. Ah - blissful. And to think - I still managed to squeeze 45 minutes of exercise into such a luxurious afternoon. So it wasn't my regular 500m lap swim, but I'll still get to that on Wednesday night and since last week I am now up to swimming 640m a night - well on my way to the standard sprint length of 750m! Triathlon complete!
So all in all, not a bad weekend for doing things I thought I couldn't. Emotionally though, it was a hard 3 days for me. I was without my partner in crime, the man I have spent every weekend with (almost) for the past two years of my life. I know our time is slowly drawing to an end (he moves to Germany in September) and I know that this weekend was only a foreshadowing of what is to come for me. My first reaction was to get mad. Why have all my friends forsaken me? A long weekend in July and not ONE invitation came my way by means of any of my "acquaintances" in the city - and I know A LOT of people. I was angry that I am always the one that throws the parties. I am always the one inviting other people to come over. I am always the one with all the plans. But why, when I needed it the most, was an invitation in my direction out of the question?
I realize now that I have spent the last 2 years in a comfortable place. I love being with my boyfriend, and he with me. We don't need a lot of other people, and he is not really a social butterfly by nature so we tend to hang out by ourselves. He has never prevented me from hanging out with my friends, but I have been more apt to choose him over them anyway - not exactly the behaviour that's going to ensure future invitations.
I wanted to curl into a ball and eat. I wanted to load up a full season of TV on DVD, hole myself up on my couch with the cats and eat a frozen pizza, or two. My old life was coming back to haunt me. The self that was so lonely, and so ashamed and so needy of the attention of others was hungry. But rather than sit around and wait for them to come to me, rather than be mad and use that pent-up frustration as an excuse to binge, I decided this weekend to take action. I posted my availability on Facebook and went out for my walk while I waited. When I had returned and showered and sat down again at my computer, there it was - an invitation to go to the lake and watch the fireworks.
I was nervous. Old me tried to make excuses for just calling it a night, staying home and watching DVDs by myself. "You're too tired", "You've already walked 4 miles today", "You've just had a shower and are already in your pajamas".
I picked up the phone and started to dial. One ring, two rings, three rings...answering machine. "Uh, hey Jackie, it's Jenn. Thank you so much for the invitation. I would LOVE to go out with you guys tonight. Give me a call and let me know what's up and what I can bring. And hey - thanks! I really didn't want to stay home tonight."
I got myself up, got dressed, and headed out to the 24hr Dominicks to pick up some picnic food - a huge veggie tray, hummus & pretzels and a sandwich for myself. All wholesome, healthy treats so I could stay on track AND have fun. I arrived at the pre-determined location to find my friends, anxiously awaiting my arrival and genuinely happy to see me. See? That wasn't so bad!
I had a great night. Food, friends, and to our utter amazement, the fireworks barge pulled up RIGHT IN FRONT of where we were sitting. I have never seen a more spectacular or up-close Fourth of July show in all my years in America. Wow!
So on this Independence Day long weekend, I feel like I have at long last found, embraced and challenged my own independence. I was out on my own in the world and I made it. I passed my own tests with flying colours. I surpassed some fitness goals, I combated that dangerous feeling of loneliness by admitting that I needed some time with my friends, and I surprised myself by being able to act on my REAL needs instead of acting on my impulses for need by eating.
It has dawned on me just how much I would have missed of this long weekend were I not making these significant changes in my life. I am LIVING - as hard as it is sometimes, I am LIVING. At 310 pounds and climbing, I was not living my life. I was surviving. I was making it through. But I was not enjoying it.
I am sad for how much of my life I have wasted. But I am done with wasting what I have left. I have the power to make things happen for myself right here and right now and I AM DOING THIS. LIVING - and living to the best of my ability and beyond- feels so darn good.