glow notes

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Three things I never thought I could do

  1. Run
    I ran as a teenager and loved it. Then I went to college, majored in English, and sat on my butt a lot reading and typing papers. When I was 22, I took a running class and -youch!- my hips started hurting and never stopped, even once I quit running. I thought I could never run again. Every time I tried, it caused huge problems. I felt crippled and old.

    Over the years I've seen various practitioners to work on this problem, done a lot of yoga and PT exercises, all with varying degrees of success. I got to the point where I didn't hurt too badly if I didn't run and I did stretch a lot.

    This year, I started seeing an amazing physical therapist, who trained with the incredible Gary Gray, inventor of the "functional" training concept.

    Lo and behold, I can run. I just needed to retrain my body. On Saturday I ran 3.26 miles in 32 minutes, peaking at 7 miles per hour (or about an 8:32 minute mile). Not a world record, but it's a gold fricking medal for me.

  2. Stop overeating for real
    I've never been obese, but that is a testament to my metabolism, not my habits. I've never woken up in the middle of the night to down tubs of ice cream, a whole pizza, and a boatload of cookies like the people you see on PBS specials about binge eating disorder. But I have empathy for that behavior.

    Food is immensely comforting. Eating is pleasurable. Eating certain foods releases chemicals in your brain that ease depression and anxiety, and perhaps in my brain more than yours. This is both a psychological and physiological process. Cravings can be overwhelming, and compulsions terrifying because they create the illusion of powerlessness.

    You can't just quit eating the way you can quit drugs, so I went through a whole process of retraining my relationship to eating and feeling and life, as well as resetting my body chemistry with exercise and supplements. Recovering from the habit of overeating has been a long, hard (but immensely rewarding) road.

    I call this a habit, not an addiction. Why is that? Because I believe that addictions of all sorts are simply very ingrained habits that have negative consequences. These habits can cause chemical changes in the body, of course.

    I truly never believed I could do this, but I never gave up trying. And I never gave up asking for help. And here I am.

  3. Mountain bike
    My first experience with mountain biking was on a trail above my ability level, in the mud, with a bike that was too big, with a group of experienced bikers. Needless to say, I spent most of the time walking my bike. When I did try a downhill stretch, I fell on my head and hurt my neck badly.

    I didn't try again for 16 years. When I did, I bought a bike that fit me. I chose a novice trail.

    I loved it. I love it. I want to go every weekend. I want to go pro. I am a mountain biking fool.

    I'm still bad at it, but I'm learning. I am now comfortable with various surfaces including sand, rocks, water, and dirt. I can go uphill and downhill very slowly. I do not yet like ledges, but I'll get there.

This is just a few things I've done, indicative of deeper transformations. There's not much I don't believe I can do now, it's a just a matter of choosing what to do next.

What have you accomplished that you never thought you could?


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