I know, I’ve been gone for DAYS and now I’m going to magically reappear like nothing ever happened and hit you with a SERIOUS post. Ugh. I know. Blame the Texas humidity & the business-trip LUSH FEST that happened there this weekend.
(I’m still recovering.)
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In college it was really important to me to prove that I was self-sufficient and totally capable of taking over the world by graduation. I worked hard, at everything.
Between being a student full-time, playing softball, working two almost-full-time jobs, and trying to be a decent girlfriend to B, I was stretched thin. Real thin. But I took pride in being able to manage it all and never letting people see me break. I was composed, disciplined, & in complete control.
I never questioned whether it was worth it because at the end there was always a paycheck/good grade/won game to show for it. My results were directly proportionate to the effort I put in. Simple as that. Work hard, win big.
Another place that rule applied? Working out.
In the down-time that I did have (or managed to create) – I ran. As an escape from my everyday responsibilities, my jam-packed schedule, and the never-ending to-do list. That was MY time. I liked the quiet, the escape, and most importantly, the way it made me look & feel.
I remember the first time somebody tried to tell me I had a problem. I was about two years into this crazy way of living, and a friend called and asked me to go to Coldstone with her and her new boyfriend. I had gotten off work early and had an unexpected few free hours on my hands.
“Sure! Let me go hop on the treadmill for a little bit and I’ll meet you over there”
She called me an addict and hung up. (for the record, I did meet them… After 30 minutes of intervals.)
I remember at first being angry – like, how dare you put me in the category with drug users and alcoholics?! Those are the only real addicts.
And then I thought she was stupid. My habit was healthy – it was good for my mind & my body. So what if I wanted to burn off a few hundred calories before indulging in a sweet treat? (if I remember, I got a small sinless sweet cream with berries. Hardly indulgent)
And then, actually, I took a little pride in it. Good! People are noticing! Maybe they’ll be motivated to be active and watch what they eat, too.
Work & school were not suffering because of my running (a tell-tale sign of addiciton), but my relationships were (ahem, also a sign). I INSISTED on spending any spare second either on the trail or on the treadmill. I quit going out at night because I liked waking up refreshed and ready to run first thing in the morning. I spent more time with my iPod than I did with B, my friends, or my family. Combined.
By medical standards I was a few pounds from being considered underweight for my height. Still healthy. I’d gotten a few comments about being too skinny (mostly from my dad), but nobody was trying to ship me off to Betty Ford or anything.
When I went to my annual exam that year, I asked about switching birth control. I thought that’s what was to blame for me missing my period 8 months in a row. My kind of rude and very foreign doctor said to me, point blank :
“You’re skeeny and stressed. Do sometheen about that first.”
I quit one of my jobs.
I stopped coaching the local JV softball team.
I moved home & lived rent free while I job searched.
I made time for the people who mattered. (fyi, those are the people who are at the other end of a bad time waiting for you.)
And the same way my “healthy habit” sneakily became an addiction, it quietly faded out. (and my period came back.) I realize now that the same way people turn to alcohol, drugs, sex, cigarettes, Lifetime movies, comofort food, WHATEVER, I turned to exercise as an escape from what was really going on around me. There’s a difference between escaping from a moment, and trying to escape from your life.
I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about that disciplined lifestyle I was so proud of – Lord knows my running/eating/working/drinking could all use a little supervision & rigidity these days. I’m working to find someone between Me(Then) and Me(Now) – there’s got to be a Me(Healthy Balance) out there somewhere.
I need to find Her.