I’ve been avoiding writing this post. Behind the scenes of this blog, I literally have 11 drafts attempting to formulate words that would communicate what I was longing to convey. I should perhaps start a new club called “Over-Thinkers Anonymous.” Would you fit the criteria? Before we go any further, Club, our first order of business is to discuss motivation versus inspiration. .
On Motivation versus Inspiration:
Motivation is the outward factors that fuel, ranging from sheer willpower to the influence of others. Inspiration is inward fuel from you connected to a long-term vision and legacy. Motivation is meant to fan inspiration into a greater flame, not sustain it. If you can find and connect to the vision within you, you will find substance that will remain when it gets hard, schedules get crazy, you are tired, and you forget why you even started. If you have an emotional, mental, spiritual connect point that propels what you do, you will have a flame that will endure and you will be more likely to succeed at the thing you set out to do. For instance, if you want to have energy to run around and play with your children, if you want to love yourself, if you want to be healthy to grow old with the ones that you love, you’re going to need inspiration to propel you to those end goals. This spans far beyond fitness. The why behind the what is what will be the fuel for the journey ahead, so keep that in mind as you read this.
I run. I run a lot. I run almost every day, and workout 6-7 days a week as a fitness instructor and for my own personal workouts. Right now I’m training for my first marathon, which I’ve been avoiding like I have this blog post…for the past year and a half–the marathon, that is, not the blog. And here is the question: why? Why do I do what I do? What is the vision behind the decision to run a marathon or do fitness the way I do?
Another “why” to ask is why I been avoiding things I love, such as writing and fitness? I mean this is what this girl’s dreams are made of, right? Wrong. You see, I like to write about hard things. You can read an example of what I mean here.
I’m a student, a forever student. When it came to blogging I wanted to read and study up on it before I really delved into it. I mean, I suppose I’ve been doing this type of writing since LiveJournal–any of you readers remember that oldie? But some things you don’t learn by mental preparation; experience itself is the best teacher, as some have said. The trouble was that I fell into this trap of comparing all these other blogging experts with my lack of experience. Lesson learned: Don’t let your lack of experience disqualify you or keep you from a new experience altogether (in fitness and beyond). It’s a Catch-22 equating to anguish.
We have a choice in the matter, and at times the self-doubt, accusation, and insecurity are the only things suggesting we’re disqualified. Although doubts and accusations can come in the full vocal form of people at times too. It’s a moment of decision when you’re faced with accusation. What or who do you choose to believe? Have you ever thought your inexperience, lack, and need could qualify you for something? Sometimes our lack of experience doesn’t disqualify us, but qualifies us for an invitation to the very endeavor we’ve never sought. Just because you haven’t done it in the past–the past is done. What are you going to do NOW? If you measure and limit your ability and possibilities to what has been done you will never grow.
In my case, I was measuring what I could be by what other people are and have done. How short-sighted and constraining. I felt I had to do blogging this way or that way, and there were endless options, and I didn’t fit in any of them. I was like Goldilocks without a chair.
I also saw and wanted to pop the bubble of all the perfectly polished blogs and ideas, not out of envy or anger, but I was wondering what was real and raw, unfiltered, with imperfect lighting behind the screen. And the week I was finally getting around to the “last” draft of this part of the series on fitness it was National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (NEDA) 2017. It was a confirmation and nudge to me to share my fitness journey. What does that have to do with anything? Everything.
I’m an athlete. I have been and as far as I can see, always will be. It’s in me purposefully. But my journey with fitness has had its ups and downs. And here it gets realer than real and there’s no awesome way to dive into sewage. Just do it. As a six year old I began throwing up my food on purpose. I didn’t know this was called bulimia until I was about thirteen years old, the age when I started slicing my skin to try and cut out the pain I felt.
“Every single day I run, walk, or drive past the house I was raped in as a child.”
In the past couple months this sentence above would shoot through my head like a hot bullet as I ran by this house I speak of. I kept thinking, “This must be a sentence I need to write and get out.” This inspiration was immediately followed by hundreds of thoughts questioning the very idea, trying to punch holes in the sails and reason as to why I should not share such a thing. But there it is in black and white. I’m not holding on to it. It’s not something I should be ashamed of and hide. The man mentioned in my previous post, the one in uniform with the badge of honor, was my best friend’s father.
Sleepovers became disastrous, and I had not the slightest idea of the disaster it was producing until I was a suicidal 12 year old with scars all over her body and withering to naught due to a compilation of eating disorders that weren’t feasting on anything but my soul and body. But I seemed fine. I was an excellent athlete, student, and a pleasant, lighthearted child. I seemingly had no remembrance or recollection of the aforementioned childhood sexual abuse (CSA) events until I was about 15 years old. Repression is the most bizarre and brilliant self-protection method that the human mind is capable of performing. I’ve given myself to study it and help others walk through trauma, for I have a vengeance to see freedom and victory to every former victim.
So what the heck does this have to do with fitness?
We’re getting there, I promise. There is purpose in the waiting and you need this foundation to catch the vision. And if you’re willing to continue, Reader, then I think you’ll get it.
I used to run to burn calories and be skinny. When I was a teen I had severe insomnia. I was a human science experiment, trialing the endless medications and remedies the doctors had in mind. I would run in the middle of the night because “running” out of things to do happens when you’re awake for months at a time. I’m delighting in thinking of a time before all the GPS watches and modern gadgets when I was just running beneath shooting stars. A love began to bud. I began to process the days, weeks, years in miles. A collision came when my vision and passion to run began to outweigh, literally, my original intentions rooted in self-hatred.
There were days running felt magical and effortless, but when my health began to deteriorate due to not nourishing my body properly, running became impossible. It wasn’t that physically I felt bad, most days. I felt like I could continue activity per usual, even breaking high school athletic records in some of my most unhealthy states. But my organs and body functions weren’t that impressed or sustained by a high school record. I had to stop exercise altogether at certain periods of my life because I literally could drop dead at any moment. I was heart broken because I had to stop something I loved so much. But my physical frame was failing and I was in a high percentile to break bones or have heart failure–at fifteen to twenty years old.
At some point, I began to want life more than I wanted death. This was a new thing for me, and running had a big part to play in this. Running began as a tool to purge myself of the filth I constantly felt within due to the abuse that sought to obliterate my value as a human being. It was never successful. Rather than running being a tool to slowly kill or punish myself, it became a tool to fight for freedom, for a life I had never known or envisioned. Running was a tool, but not a means in and of itself. Running is not the end goal, for it’s temporal. One day my body will fail me and I will no longer be able to run. I will probably be sad on that day, when it does come, but it’s not my inspiration. It’s not my source of life, but a key player in the hand of the Maker in making me whole.
I hadn’t known what life really was and so I was scared. I was scared of even the thought of life without an eating disorder, since having it as a source of control and “stability.” Even if it was killing me, it was the most consistent thing I had, and that comforted me. It was a love-hate relationship if there ever was one. I was saying good-bye to a friend I’d had since I was six years old, yet I couldn’t wait for “ED” as I call him (eating disorder) to die. Either ED died or I died. There was no middle ground. ED had to have all or nothing. Luckily, so did my Jesus. And he wasn’t a fan of ED trying to steal the most precious one that belonged to Him. He died for me so that I could live in Him and choose freedom that impossibilities and percentiles bow down to. I’m more than a number on a scale or a statistic. Sayonara, ED.
Wanting life and choosing life are two very different things. One is a seed and one is a deed. You can lay in bed and want breakfast as much as you’d like, but until you choose to get out from beneath the cozy covers and step out and do something you’re only going to be growing more and more hungry. Well, unless you get someone to make breakfast for you, and then that can be called codependency, so keep that in check. No one else can choose life for me, nor you; no one else is responsible, as much as we’d like to be off the hook at times, if we’re all honest. There’s no one who can claim all the blame. You have to plant the seed, the possibility and potential for life, in the ground and there it begins to grow into something beautiful that may actually become a tree and feed you and others.
The Fire In My Bones
So I choose to pursue a lifestyle of fitness because my life depends on it. It’s that real. My mental health and even healing from PTSD depended on it. If you’re pursuit of fitness is rooted in something other than making yourself healthy, it’s important to get to the bottom of why that may be. In order to gain a proper perspective on health and fitness, the way I related to my body through food and exercise had to be confronted head on. For me that mentality (yes, mental health, the mind) had to be adjusted through an extremely painful process of healing. Healing and dealing with the poisonous infection inside of me was possibly worse than the actual events that caused it.
But it was worth it. It is worth it, this minute to not have torment. Some of you may never have had the reprieve from such mental, emotional, physical, spiritual wrestles. I want to tell you there is peace that is more than a possibility that is your portion. It’s not just for someone else, the lucky one, the one off; it’s for you too. You may even have a hard time believing that. I’ll say it again if I have to. I can tell you till I’m blue in the face, but you at some point have to hold in question the beliefs that might be questioning and killing your true identity and potential for fear of what you might be if you’re unleashed. I’m here to say come free. Take whatever that next step is, run and flee out that prison door into who you’re made to be, and it’s more than what may have been. Run and don’t stop until it’s accomplished.
Do I feel like choosing health everyday? Is it a cake walk and as simple as black and white on this page? No, don’t be misled. Some days I run by that house I was raped in and think nothing except perhaps how many miles ahead. Some days I run by the house I was raped in and pray for that man and his family. I used to pray that God would kill or harm him to repay. So. Serious. Now I ask for mercy, to give him what he doesn’t deserve, because that’s what I’ve been given. Also I know that every man will give account for what he’s done to the One who has seen it all. Some days I run by the house I was raped in and fume with anger. (If you didn’t pick that up from 4 or 5 sentences back.) Some days I cry out, I mean an ugly wail like someone is dying, for other little girls and boys that are being abused or are who now grown and sifting through the ashes. Then I run even further and faster and fuel myself even better because I know my value and the outcome of my story is all but done, and evil won’t have the last word.
Read more about those benefits and fitness’s role in mental health and beyond here. It’s more than just physical, people. Running has become part of my freedom rather than my bondage. Fitness and running are just as big a part of my mental, emotional, and spiritual health as they are my physical health. Health is holistic in nature; our beings are intricately woven together, rather than compartmentalized and severed. That is why speaking on the mental and emotional trauma, fear, and relationship to food and body are not a far cry and disconnected from fitness. Fitness should serve health and wellness, working in concert with every other aspect of you. You have the power to choose. So choose well and choose wisely; choose health and choose life.
I choose to nourish myself so I can be free and run. I choose every day to fuel my body to think and function for the purpose and mission I’ve been called to complete just by being me, a living, breathing witness of eternity, if we’re still speaking honestly. What inspires me is to see a generation, young and old, set free from any and all bondage and walking in their true identity and purpose. In order to complete that mission I need to be firing on all cylinders, and that includes health and fitness.
This desire is what inspires my fire; now find yours.
Find Your Fire.
I leave you with questions to help you along the journey of discovering your WHY. What is your fire?
- What is that inspiration, that deep fuel and fire, within you? What makes you light up on the inside? What do you talk or think about most? What have you wept over? What have you dreamed of?
- What is something you want to overcome in your life that you’ve struggled with for years? For example: to know your worth, to love yourself, to know you’re beautiful, to overcome a battle with food and body, to overcome depression, etc.
- Do you think fitness or physical activity may have a role to play in those struggles? (Hint: Read The Skinny on Fit, if not =] )
- What is one practical next step you feel you could take to move forward in becoming a healthier you?
- Accountability is being held responsible to one’s own dreams, visions, plans, responsibilities. Do you have accountability? Do you have someone who will remind you of your vision and plan? That someone can be a close friend, spouse, family member, etc. Remember, the level of your accountability depends on your type of need.
- Do you have short-term and long-term goals as they relate to food, fitness, mental and spiritual wellness? Write down your vision; make it plain. Put it on sticky notes all over your car or office. Write it on your mirrors if needed. (You’re getting a picture into my life with these suggestions, by the way.)
- Do you know your fire? Share it below if so!