Scared Straight

In college, I had an acquaintance who told me that when she was a teenager she started to get into a lot of trouble, and her parents (I think maybe in conjunction with the local police force- the details are foggy in my memory) hired someone to pick her up and pretend to arrest her in order to show her what life might be like if she didn’t change her behavior. Essentially, they wanted to “scare her straight.” I have just finished disc one (of three) of ‘Weight of the Nation,’ and this movie has had a similar effect on me; it almost elevates poor health as result of bad diet choices and lack of exercise to the anxiety-inducing level of terror that climate change causes me to feel. At this point in the film, I’d like to eat only lettuce for the rest of my life and pledge myself to working out for an hour before going to work, on my lunch break, and after work every day. On weekends I think I’ll just spend the entire day working out. I’m kidding, sort of.

I actually am not as terror-stricken as I would have been prior to starting this fitness journey, but seeing the rise of obesity rates detailed in cold, hard data really emphasizes how dangerous this problem has become. The body type that people considered heavy in the 1980s is much different than the one we consider heavy today; this point was illustrated for me about a year ago when Don and I were watching the movie ‘Stand by Me.’  In this movie, there is a boy whom the others tease for being fat, and to me he looked like an average boy. Our idea of what a healthy body type is has changed quite a bit. This problem is so dangerous not only because it is costly for our health care system to have to treat all of these completely preventable problems, but the personal toll it takes on us to watch our friends and loved ones, or even ourselves, succumb to these diseases, some of which, as you’ll learn if you watch ‘Weight of the Nation,’ did not exist thirty years ago.  After I watch the rest of the movie, I’ll give it a proper review along with ‘Forks Over Knives,’ ‘Hungry for Change,’ and ‘Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead.’

I started the weekend by checking-in with Kim about my progress toward my 10k in under 75 minutes goal. We (she) decided that I should set an actual calendar date deadline as opposed to my sort of vague “by the end of March” original deadline, so I chose March 28th as the day. Soooo….. I have four weeks to talk myself into running with enough of a sense of purpose to cram those 6.2 miles into the length of time it takes to watch a Disney movie. I feel good about this (at least that is what I keep telling myself).

Yesterday, I bailed on my running date with Kiki and opted to trudge out alone. We had had a late night out at a beer garden sampling bock bier- a delicious seasonal dark beer that has a high alcohol content and is the first sure sign of Spring in Bavaria- and had made plans to run whenever we both felt up to the task. When I awoke yesterday morning, it was immediately apparent that at no point was I going to feel up to the task. I was a little hungover which put me in a foul mood, and sometimes misery loves company, but not yesterday.

I ended up going 5 miles (5 endless, excruciating  miles) on a different part of my dog walking path in one hour exactly. It was hard work and it was decidedly not fun, but at the end I felt like I had redeemed myself for my excessive indulgences the night before and my foul mood had transformed into a cheerier one. What I’m learning about running is that the hardest part (after the pain in my legs from having to propel my body faster than it wants to be propelled, and after the feeling that my lungs are going to burst, and after the hammering of my heart that makes me wonder if it is going to explode in a Game of Thrones-ian firework of blood) is the mental aspect. Some days you go out for a quick jog and end up running 5 miles because everything felt so wonderful, and other days you set out for your long run, and when you feel certain your legs are going to give out from exertion, you look over your shoulder to realize you haven’t even made it out of the driveway yet. Its really a tough sport.

I’m going to keep on plugging away at my training plan and hopefully the good days will outnumber the not-so-good days. March 28th will be here faster than I want it to be!



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