January 17, 2012

Accomplishments

This past Sunday, I ran my first half marathon. Something that struck me while I ran was that I've never referred to this as "a half marathon." It's always been "my first half marathon." It's as if I've always intended for this to be a beginning, the first of many.


I finished in 2:20:35, a time I'm exceptionally proud of; despite having my carefully selected running playlist in my ears, it's still quite a long time out there on your own, and my mind wandered inward quite a bit. To the beginning, when I decided I had to get healthy before my health decided for me. And to now, in central California, long physical and figurative distances from July 2010 and the way things were at rock bottom.

When I finished grad school in May 2010, the commencement speaker said something that stood out to me very profoundly.
You are University of Illinois alumni. This is an incredible distinction that no one can ever take away from you.
Given my state of mental exhaustion after two years of teaching, taking classes, preparing (and then taking) my comprehensive exams, this bit of wisdom was exactly what I needed to hear. I worked incredibly hard and pushed myself intellectually, and the reward is that for the rest of my forever, I'll be a Master of Arts. No matter where I go or what I do with my life, I will always be able to look back and say look what I did here - look at what I was able to accomplish with some hard work, sacrifice, and dedication.

I've been trying to keep the same mindset with my weight loss. Since relocating, I've had a lot of really great days. But there have also been many dark times, times when I am at my worst. Times when I feel the same as I did at 345 pounds - sad, alone, and worthless. Most of my stress and anxiety about the plateau originates from a few of the initial causes of my super obesity: fear of abandonment and feelings of inadequacy. My phone call to my mother telling her that I was moving to California went unanswered, my voicemail message received no reply. Then I decided to end a long-term friendship shortly after arriving, and my intended long-distance relationship failed quite miserably after only a short time.

And I regained a few pounds, and while I've been able to maintain, essentially, within ten pounds of my Chicago lowest weight, there's a bigger issue here for me: at 195, I'm able to say "I've lost 150 pounds." But for the most part, I've maintained 196-198. It's a seemingly small thing, but knowing what it feels like to be on the other side of the milestone, "I've lost 149 pounds" is a very tough place for me to be. It pains me incredibly. It feels like failure, which is a really terrible and backwards way to see things. The difference between 192 and 198 has caused me so much stress, when I should be focusing on the difference between 198 and 345. I get overwhelmed and frustrated by my lack of progress on the scale, when really, I need to be waving my banner and cheering myself on.

And yes, my mother is still radio silent, but her choices are out of my control. Things with her will work out eventually, I'm sure, and for now, I just need to accept what I *can* control. And yes, I ended one of the most meaningful friendships I've ever had, but with one-hundred-percent certainty, I can say it was the right decision. We learned a lot from one another over the years, but we got to a point where we couldn't grow together anymore. It was time for us to move on, and I have no regrets. And yes, my Chicago-to-California romance didn't work out the way I had hoped, but it was better to end things and move forward than continue to pursue something that neither party was entirely invested in; in doing so, I've been able to spend my time getting to know other people and learning more about what I really want in a relationship.

And as I crossed the finish line, my weight was absolutely the last thing on my mind. I've changed my life. I've saved myself from what I was certain to be an early death due to morbid obesity. I got up. I got moving. And I haven't stopped. I walked. Then I ran. And I've biked, and I've lifted. And every decision, good or bad, has brought me to this moment. Some nights I've gone to bed hungry, and some nights I've gone to bed a bit too full. But I've always woken up with the knowledge that today is a new day, and the only limits to what gets done are my own. My accomplishments are many, and no one can ever take them away from me.

29 comments:

Kelliann said...

As always, insightful, inspiring and awesome. Congrats on this amazing milestone - not just the half marathon, but such realization and honesty with yourself. You rock, my friend.

Meghan said...

You look beautiful in that picture!! BEAUTIFUL and happy!

quirksandsmirks said...

Congrats again! You are a true inspiration and a total rock star!

Kara said...

Congratulations!

Kara said...

Congratulations!! So proud of you.

Taryn said...

Congratulations on your half marathon, the first of many I'm sure. I also want to say you are absolutely beautiful. You look so happy and you have a wonderful light in your eyes

Jessica said...

Congrats!!! You look amazing in that picture!!!

icandothefrug said...

I love your posts, they're well written, often times inspiring, and just enjoyable to read.

Prof. D said...

{Hugs} Congratulations, Congratuoations , Congratulations. You are awesome. You did Great. You are always very inciteful. Know that you can only control the things that you can control. You are truly an inspiration. Keep working diligently towards your goals and enjoy the journey. 13.1 is nothing to sneeze about. Go Mary.

Miss Carrie Ann said...

You look so happy and beautiful in that photo! Congratulations!

sheila said...

Great photo of you. You look so triumphant!

Amy said...

Absolutely incredible. Your best post yet.

LoriV. said...

Mary, you should be so proud of yourself!! What an awesome finish time! And I'm so jealous of your cool medal!! What fun!

Leigh C. said...

Congratulations! Great accomplishment:)

Claire said...

This is so impressive! Excellent writing too. Congratulations!

timothy said...

fabulous, insightful as always! so proud of what yo've accomplished and i know letting go isnt easy. just remember how far you've come. the weight-loss journey is almost over but then the life journey awaits! xoxoxoxoxoxo

Caron said...

Love the picture. Beautiful eyes and beautiful smile. What an awesome job on your "first" half marathon. You are doing great. :)

Shannon said...

Another wonderful post, as usual!:) Congrats on your first half marathon!
You look beautiful, and so happy!

He Took MY Last Name said...

Wow, Mary, look at you. So strong and introspective. Taking time to really determine what you want! Good for you, you continue to be an inspiration for me. Keep up the good work, not just the half marathons, but your positive thoughts as well.

SlimKatie said...

Congrats!!! I'm so proud of you. You have come such a long way, it's completely amazing.

I love the medal! And that's a fantastic picture of you.

Marissa said...

What a great accomplishment! Congratulations to you and all of the obstacles you've overcome! BE PROUD!! and your time was AWESOME!!!

Laura said...

I've been waiting for this post!!! Congratulations! You look so content with life in that picture and that makes me thrilled :)

Kelly said...

Hooray! I was thinking about you this weekend. I'm so glad you had a great race. You've worked hard and it's amazing to see that hard work pay off, when you realize that you're out there on the road, one foot in front of the other, and you're confident and strong. Congratulations! (After almost 2 years of running (slowly), I aspire to a sub-3:00 HM, so your time seems magical to me!)

Christina said...

Congratulations, Mary! You are amazing. Let us know how soon you register for the next one.

Hyla said...

I'm kinda tearing up over here in NY! That was an amazing post accompanied by the most beautiful picture I have seen of you yet! Way to freakin kick ass and take names!

Weight Wars said...

I am so proud of you! You look amazing too, really really well done. Well done all of this. Saying goodbye to those who aren't healthy for you and understanding that you will never control other people.

Tim said...

If any picture was to win a competition to show what being proud looks like then your picture with your medal would definitely get 1st prize.

I'm so proud of you, not just for the half marathon but for everything you've done to get to where you are today. You've made some incredibly tough decisions in your life and you've faced some really difficult challenges yet you keep on battling. I can't even describe in words how much respect I've got for you but trust me it's totally loads! :)

I'm pretty sure ages ago I posted a comment on your blog saying something like "Whats next? half marathon?"

Well...now you've done that....what's next? Triathlon? Marathon? ;) hehe

Poison said...

Amazing, I love this because it speaks to me sooo true. You're such an inspiration and I need to keep that in mind that going from 170s to 180s right now isnt like im going from 170s back to 280s already. You always say the right thing! lol. I love that picture! I wanna do a half marathon now too!! eek!

Ann said...

I love love love LOVE this and I am SO PROUD of you!!!!! :)