June 2013 was the month where I took a pro-active stance and decided to put my fitness back to the top of the list. After a 47-lb pregnancy weight gain, juggling life with a newborn and a 9 year-old, the loss of my beloved grandmother, a career, solo parenting for three months, and a move across the state, I wanted to get back to the activity I had neglected for almost 18 months – running. I ran my first 5k on the treadmill in November of 2012 and it was physically challenging. It was a distance I took for granted, but now I found myself struggling to finish one mile. I ran my next 5K on Mother’s Day, 2013. On that run, every weak muscle in my body ached. I couldn’t breathe, and I crossed the finish line by the Grace of God. I came in 322 out of 492 runners with an average pace of 12:17 per mile.
I had seen the Insanity infomercial numerous times, and mentioned to my husband on multiple occasions that I wanted to sweat with Shaun T, creator of Insanity workouts. I wanted to sweat like the people on the commercials. I wanted to have before and after pictures like the ones I saw flashing on television. I wanted to be one of “them” and tell my story. Fortunately for me, my husband gave me the Insanity workout for Mother’s Day right after that Mother’s Day 5k run. I completed the 60 days of Insanity, and at the end of August, I started running again. Running didn’t necessarily become easier, but I wasn’t struggling like I had been on my Mother’s Day 5K. I spent the months of September and October logging more miles, but I knew that I needed more than running to become a stronger runner, and to attain the sub-2 half-marathon I was working towards prior to my pregnancy. What I needed was strength training. Problem was, I had never picked up a single weight in my life and I had no clue not only how to lift correctly, but what an effective weight training workout looked like.
In late October, I ventured into something I was intimidated of doing – Crossfit. I walked into the box, looked around, and immediately questioned what on Earth I was doing there. I was like a fish out of water. And even more intimidating, I did not know a single person. Thus, even though I was working out with a group of people, I was a complete stranger and felt totally alone. I didn’t fully immerse myself within the Crossfit culture. I spent the month of November wrestling my negative thoughts. Every time I stepped inside the box, I took a deep breath for fear of the pain that lay ahead. And every time I stepped outside of the box, I felt small, reminded of how weak I was and questioning if I could ever feel good about truly “killing” a workout.
I’ve never doubted being able to finish a workout, even if it meant being the last one. Yesterday, was a different story. The negative voices in my head began their barrage of defeating thoughts and made me question whether I could successfully complete the workout. Like it’s usually the case, everyone was finishing their workout before me, and my repetitions became slower, harder, more painful. Hot tears started forming in my eyes and they soon started mixing in with my salty sweat. My friends started cheering me on. They were not going to let me quit. They knew I could do it. Every fiber within my body wanted to give up, but I knew I would regret it. I knew that if I threw in the towel, my tears would be larger, and the pain of surrendering would be greater than the pain of enduring the workout to its completion. And then it happened, after a combined ninety 55lbs thrusters, ninety pull-ups and 800 meters of rowing, I was done. It was 30 grueling minutes of physical and mental pain. I broke down and cried. I couldn’t keep my bearing. I apologized to my friends and thanked them at the same time.
Twenty four hours later, I needed to look back to see how far I had come. I want to remind myself of the progress that had transpired over the last year. The pictures below serve as a reminder that I need to embrace the grueling moments like the one I experienced yesterday, because they are the seasoning to the moments of glory and success. As little as the progress has been, it is better than going backwards. I do feel better about myself. I am proud of how hard I have been working and how far I have come since my 5k in May of 2013. In fact, my progress proves that my efforts are greater than my negative and self-defeatist thoughts. And my progress will continue, because I won’t quit no matter how grueling the workouts get. I just have to make sure I stay hydrated, because there will probably be plenty of sweat and tears ahead.