Jogging. Jogging and walking 12 miles. I did that yesterday with my training partners.
Me. I did it.
Julie G. Ridl, 43 years old.
The woman who couldn’t run a quarter of a mile a year ago.
The woman who couldn’t get out of her chair easily two years ago.
The woman who for most of the past 10 years would stop halfway up a flight of stairs to catch her breath. That is, if I couldn’t find a way to avoid the stairs altogether.
I am the woman who would not have even been outside in temperatures as high as they were yesterday, much less exerting myself. Much less enjoying it.
I am that woman who nursed her swollen feet on a bench at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris instead of seeing the art she’s only ever seen in textbooks, all of it within a few hundred feet of her. You know? I was *that close.*
AND yesterday I was wearing shorts. In public. I don’t have Hollywood thighs, but they’re perfectly respectable thighs for a woman my age. I explosed them to air yesterday. Anyone who wanted to could look right over and see them. I didn’t care.
We ran through the centers of two tourist towns on a Saturday morning. We ran through the woods, and along Lake Michigan. We were far from alone. There were runners and bikers and strollers and dog walkers out all around us, people of every age and ilk.
This moving-your-body-through-space thing? This is the kind of thing that a lot people do on Saturday mornings.
It has taken me two years to move from frighteningly immobile to completely mobile. I have taken baby steps. Each little step felt on the one hand like not enough effort, and on the other like a very difficult challenge.
From kicking a board across a pool to swimming laps to swimming miles. Elliptical machines and weights to Yoga to Pilates and belly dancing and adult ballet. Biking and walking to jogging to running.
It has been especially hard to prioritize exercise over other things that frankly I like to do more than exercise.
Much of it has been uncomfortable, a little embarrassing, or completely frustrating. I’ve had days of obvious improvement and weeks that seem as if I’m getting nowhere.
But I just kept going. If I got bored with an exercise, I switched. I filled my house with therabands and dumbbells and balance balls so that I could get in a little more between commercials, before showering, while waiting for the soup to simmer. I’ve done pushups in the office bathroom, flights of stairs in our building while waiting for documents to print. Squats while brushing my teeth.
I am not today a gifted runner, a fast swimmer, or a brilliant biker. I can’t lift very heavy weights or beat you in a game of Ping Pong. I am mediocre at all of these things. And very happily mediocre, too. The point is, I CAN do all of these things, when I couldn’t do any of them two years ago. And I will try anything, when before I was too embarrassed to even watch.
So, I’m saying, if excess weight has kept you from being as mobile as you want to be, please know it can happen for you. You may be past believing it. I know I was. But if there’s a glimmer of hope inside of you, know that when you decide it’s time, when you decide to make permanent changes, you can do it.
It is possible to be a whole lot more fit than you are today.
Someday I’ll return to Paris and see what I missed. That’s easy. There are a lot of other things I missed I’m not ever going to get back. That’s hard. And that’s behind me. I’m looking forward to missing very little from here on out. I hope you miss very little too.
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