I am not a runner. Full stop. Never have been, probably now that I am on the downward slope toward 50, never will be. I’ve never considered myself an athlete. I’m starting to realize that just because I don’t participate in competitive sports or run, I can still be athletic. As a kid I rode my bike around the “neighborhood” like it was my job. I grew up in the country so a ride “around the block” was a 4 mile journey that included 3 miles of rutted dirt roads. I also lived and did chores on a farm growing up. Ever “put up hay”? Yeah, kind of hard core physical labor. Add in mucking out stalls and hauling water in the dead of winter when all the outdoor spigots are frozen and you can consider yourself a full-on weight lifter.
I love to do yoga and walk. I used to love lifting weights at the gym. I am very flexible. I still consider myself pretty strong. But my cardiovascular endurance has always been my weak point.
I started smoking as a teen. During my late teens and 20s I was a pack a day smoker. I quit “for good” when I was trying to get pregnant through my girls’ younger years. My husband and I were “social smokers” on occasion. Then one day in 2009 my dog died. It was the hardest day I’d faced in a very long time. I was broken. I had been surrounded by smokers at the theater for months and was never tempted to go back to cigarettes and then on that day I caved. All I wanted to do was sit outside on the deck and cry and chain smoke. So I did. Until my kids came home from school and then I took a shower, brushed my teeth and flushed the butts. But it was too late, I was a smoker again.
There is one universal truth you can always count on; smokers love other smokers. Once I started smoking again I loved my friends who also smoked. If I had decided to not buy another pack in order to “quit” I could count on them for one, two, half a pack, to bum. I think they loved me too because I would often buy a pack on my way to a social engagement but not want to take the remainders home with me so I’d give it to someone or leave it on the bar on my way out.
As much as I loved the act of smoking I hated the reality that I was a smoker. I was embarrassed by it. I’d never admit it to anyone. I hid it from almost everyone who wasn’t also a smoker. I had an elaborate ritual of ridding myself of the evidence. My arsenal of air fresheners, breath mints, hand sanitizers, etc. was epic. I made sure all of our friends who did know that I smoked knew that it was a big secret from my daughters. (Ha! Like the two smartest, most observant children on earth didn’t know!) I was only deluding myself.
But then a great convergence occurred. Steve and I decided that enough was enough, we had to stop smoking for good. Then it just so happened that all of our friends who smoked also quit. My last cigarette was sometime back in July. I don’t remember the specifics. It just was. Have I been tempted since. Hell yes! As a matter of fact, now that I am thinking about it, I’d go for a Marlboro Light right about now! But then again, no thank you.
I was recently reading a juicing blog and one of the commenters said something along the lines of, “I really want to start juicing and eating healthy but I smoke. I don’t see the point of doing all these healthy diet things when I still smoke and don’t exercise.” A very thoughtful and profound response was something like, “Turn that around. Instead of looking at it as ‘I smoke so I can’t do healthy things.’ Start doing healthy things and then your response will be, ‘I’m juicing, exercising, fasting, etc. so why am I still smoking?” My husband has a cousin who for 25 years the entire family has said she and I are the same person in two bodies. She lost over 100# in 2012. Her resolution for 2013 was to quit smoking. Think about that. She did what many think is impossible. Diet and exercise to the point of losing 100 pounds. Then when that goal was met, she took her life and health to the next level. No excuses. (She’s kind of my hero!)
So Steve and I are once again ex-smokers. I am moving ever so slowly toward also being an ex-meat eater, don’t know if I’ll ever get there completely. I feel like there are too many cultural, social and familial traditions in the way to make it 100%. But I am eating so many more vegetables and non-meat options than ever before. I am also an athlete on my own terms. I am rediscovering just how strong I can be. This is the only body I have and it has to last me a lifetime. I don’t plan on dying in my 50s or 60s so I’d better start respecting this bitch, she’s going to be housing my soul for probably a good half century more if my family history has anything to say about it.
Steve and I just signed up to “participate” in a the Chicago Color Run 5k in June. I am not quite ready to say that I will run it. But I will finish it. Already I easily walk 5k at least once a week. Will I run it? Maybe. June is a long way away. Our team right now consist of us plus 4 friends. None of us are runners. But we all want to do something that will challenge us, push us out of our comfort zones and be a lot of fun. If you would like to join us, drop me a note in the comments or send me a facebook message or email and I’ll get you the information to join our team: The Purple Lo-Lites.