The one thing in my sad, self-pitying existence at which I am not failing right now is working out. I've actually lost 17 lbs since the semester began. I'd like to say "without trying," but I've kinda been trying, or started out doing so.
Over the summer, my alcohol consumption offset any reduction in calories from my candy abstinence. I also wasn't working out with the frequency and vigor that I might have had I been at home with my gym or in a less hilly area (I don't really do hills when I run, at least not when I'm trying to get back into running). So, when I returned and visited the doctor in August, I found that I had gained a little weight and tipped the scales at a lifetime high (that I know of, I didn't weigh myself for about 15 years). No big deal, really, but obesity -- morbid, diabetic, high-blood pressure, heart disease, joint replacement inducing obesity, not just overweight but healthy obesity -- runs in my family. I try not to think about it too much because, as a result of that family history, or more accurately, the habits that produced that family history, eating disorders run in my personal history.
Anyway, aware of both, I decided that it would be best if I tried to get back into eating healthy, abstaining from alcohol and candy, and working out more to turn the tide in the other direction. Also, both my analyst and the psychiatrist who prescribes the happy pills (a new one, trust me!) both said that exercise was necessary for my mental health, which is probably in worse shape than my physical health.
I started running. That is, I started doing what could be called "running" but most runners would scoff at my pace and call it a fast walk. Whatever. My huffing and puffing and chugging along like the Little Engine that Could did the trick. Two weeks in, I weighed myself. Since the scale was not the one at the doctor's office and was a digital scale, I didn't believe it. There was no way that I had lost that much in that amount of time. Still, I figured that the digital scale couldn't be off by that much, so took it as a small victory.
Two weeks later I tried again. Whoa! More gone. Even if the gym scale said that I was lighter than the doctor's scale might, I at least had an idea. This number was lower than the previous number, so I know that I had lost the difference plus whatever the real difference was between the doctor's scales and my first gym weigh-in.
Last week, I had to go to a meeting at the Self-proclaimed Main Campus. In one of the ladies' rooms I found a scale much like that at the doctor's office. "What the hell?" I thought. "Shitty week thus far. Might as well get some reality splashed on my face to top it all off." Nope, the numbers there matched the gym scale. I felt like doing a Church Lady Superior Dance.
I tried again at the gym over the weekend. If this scale is giving me the same numbers as the doctor's scale would, I've lost 17 lbs. I don't think I've ever lost that much in my life, outside of being anorexic. I'm in below what I considered my target. I'm below what I considered "better" when I was at the target. Hell, I'm getting into "now THIS is my real body" range (as opposed to "o.k., I guess I can live with this being my body now" range).
Despite this success, somewhere along the way, the workout stopped being entirely about the weight. The weight is a nice little reward, but the goal has become that high that you get after you've run a good distance, and the satisfaction of seeing yourself able to run farther and farther.
You see, I started with three miles. Three miles has always been a good, healthy distance. Then, about a week into it, I felt a little extra energy one day and added a half of another mile. Within another week, I was up to four miles. By the end of September, I could run five. In October, six. I stopped doing weights because they bored me. I just wanted to run. The more I ran, the more I wanted to run. This weekend, I tried 6.5 on Saturday. Then, possessed, I got up to 7.5 on Sunday. I've never run so far in my life. I'm now setting my sights on 8 by the end of the year --just to see if I can do it, not to make a habit of it.
That feeling of satisfaction, of endorphins: after I run is sometimes the happiest moment of my week (unless, of course, I see the Gentleman Caller!). It's a wash of energy, of calm, of well-being, of strength, of power, of accomplishment. I'm afraid to give it up, so I keep going back to do it again and again, farther and farther, much like getting into a good writing groove. I do it for that, now, not the weight loss. The weight loss has been accomplished. Now, I just want to feel awesome.