Articles Comments

Facebook Link Twitter Link
Pace Calculator

Digital Running Club » Columns, Fitting it In » Rethinking


I’ve been running for a long while now and getting used to the pitfalls and perils of the hobby, but there’s one change of thought that has started me thinking. I have never thought of working out as “fun”. In fact, I will go to great lengths to avoid working out, but recently, I have discovered that my attitude towards fitness in general has, somehow, shifted to a much more positive mindset, and it is a great feeling.

What I have come to realize is that this process is not just about getting in the habit of showing up at the gym every day– it’s about changing the way I think about why I’m showing up in the first place.

When I started this journey, I was determined to lose weight– and, admittedly, I didn’t. I’m guessing that the nightly 10PM hamburgers had something to do with it, but more than that, it was because I was thinking about fitness in terms of what I wanted to get out of it – not what I was getting from it. Even since I shifted my line of thinking, I haven’t lost a great deal of weight – a combination of eating habits and new birth control probably has something to do with it, but relinquishing the power that the seemingly un-moving number on the scale has over me has lifted a lot of figurative weight off of my shoulders.

I had the privilege of being asked to speak at a medical conference in my area. I was asked to come perform some of my poetry and speak on my personal experiences, which was an interesting opportunity to look at myself from a different perspective. During a question and answer panel discussion, I was asked about my mindset when exercising. Then and there, I realized that what made the biggest difference for me wasn’t necessarily the time or effort I was putting in – it was the shift that I made from working out for the sole purpose of dropping a jeans size to working out because it makes me healthier.

Granted, this isn’t the most earth-shattering revelation that has ever occurred. But what it did do was finally make me sit down and think about why I started this project in the first place. Currently, standing on a scale is not a true testament to my progress, nor is the last time I logged the last 5K I ran at the gym. Rather, it’s the change that I’ve made mentally that has been the biggest success for me.

It’s really quite startling to realize how long I’ve been stuck in an unhealthy mindset. Granted, my research into this phenomenon shows that most people who consider themselves “recovered” from an eating disorder still deal with the issues relating to food and body image every day, so it comes as no surprise that I, too, often have moments of insecurity. But thinking back on how long I’ve been determined to “go to the gym to lose weight” as opposed to “Go to the gym to better my health” is almost embarrassing. And, yes, losing weight is a component to having better health, but it is not the sole benefit of any type of work out program. It’s just hard to see past anything but that when none of my clothes fit.

Yes, added muscle tone and the ability to run a little longer than the day before has been a bonus– but my progress has been slow. I’m just naturally a slow person. I have had many a discouraging day spent huffing and puffing through my required daily run, and I’ve left feeling both bitter and angry about my lack of progress. However, knowing that I managed to actually get to the gym and spend that amount of time on the treadmill makes the sting of not seeing the scale move down a couple of pounds a bit easier to bear.

When I finally garnered the courage to step on the scale after an 8-month hiatus, I kicked it across the room and burst into tears like a six year old. I had gained 40 pounds– but that wasn’t what the tears were for. I just simply didn’t want to admit that I had let this happen– that after months of being happy and simply enjoying life and food and friendship, I was suddenly again letting myself be defined by the number on the scale. And, yes, it was a little disheartening to see a number 40 pounds larger than I remembered, but it was more than that. Until I knew what that number actually was, I hadn’t given a second thought to the idea of working out for any other reason than it made me feel better and gave me more energy. But suddenly, with that cursed number in my head, I was determined that those 40 extra pounds HAD TO GO. RIGHT NOW. NO MATTER WHAT. It seems silly, and juvenile, and it probably was. But I spent the better part of the next four months desperately working out to reverse the effects of 2 years of hamburgers and extra crispy french fries– and the scale barely moved. I was furious. How could this be happening? I felt absolutely betrayed by my body — but what I never stopped to consider is that maybe, my body needed those four months of getting used to the idea of moving everyday before it decided it was time to let those extra pounds go.

Since shifting my mindset, I’ve only really lost a few pounds, but for the first time, I’m okay with that. It took me nigh on two years of eating only rubbish and not exercising at all to put on the extra weight– it’s going to take me longer than four months to get rid of it. So, for the time being, I have decided to forget about losing weight entirely and start working out for me. For the extra energy, for the improved sleep and for the knowledge that I am doing something for myself that will impact me much farther on down the line. If I lose weight in the process, awesome. But, at least for me, this journey can’t be just about losing weight, or it becomes a journey of large disappointments with the occasional small successes. I would much rather focus on my successes than failures– and changing my ultimate goal from “thin” to “fit” has made all the difference.

I know that I am not going to revolutionize the fitness world with this idea. But being able to get to a place where I’m able to accept that is a wonderful, positive feeling. Yes, a fitness DVD contract would be fantastic, and I might finally be able to afford a new car, but looking at myself in the mirror and accepting that I will probably always have awkward hips is better than being on the cover of a magazine any day. But if you want to put me on the cover of your magazine, that would be cool, too.

Written by

Catie Osborn is a recent graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, where she received her BA in Theatre Arts and spent a year abroad in England studying Shakespeare and what life is like with a credit card. She is a jack of all trades, including (but not limited to) play and comic book writing, sandwich making, wedding planning, slam poetry, musical theatre and excessive video gaming. She has a number of cold blooded pets, her favorite being a chameleon named Yoshi, but she's holding out for a puppy.

Filed under: Columns, Fitting it In · Tags:

Leave a Reply


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>