health

how I started running again

As most of you would know, I run for beer! :) 

As most of you would know, I run for beer! :) 

On Sunday I ran the RunThrough.co.uk Finsbury Park 10k race. It was -4 degrees, I ran with about four layers on, wasn't able to keep my no-toilet-break record, and stopped to walk twice, but I finished! And that was all I wanted.

It’s been a strange couple of years for me. Full of incredible highs, but equally full of lows. Stress, anxiety, grief, burnout…. they certainly make life less fun. They rob you of the ability to see the bigger picture. My wellbeing/self-care is always the first to suffer when I feel like that. But the desire to run, to keep up the kind of training I'd been doing, had completely left me, After years of running a half marathon every weekend, I was exhausted and needed a break.

That's not to say I've not gone running since then - but it's been jogs round the block when I could be bothered, really. But until Sunday I hadn't run a proper race since 2013. Sunday was my first 10k in all that time.

I started running again last year. Once a week, with a group at work. I was in a very apathetic place, very much with a can't-be-fucked-what's-the-point mindset, but figured once a week was better than nothing. Most weeks I managed between 4 and 5k on those runs. It wasn’t a marathon, but, as I say, better than nothing.

I spent so much of last year feeling utterly drained, unable to move forward. Spending such a long time in the company of your past takes a real toll on your sense of self, I discovered. I spent a lot of last year wondering who the hell I was any more. Things that used to be so easy for me were suddenly REALLY BIG THINGS. Like going to parties where I didn’t know anyone. Like writing. Like running. Those things used to excite me, give me energy. But now I NEEDED energy to do them. It was exhausting, frustrating and left me in a bit of a heap.

2017 is only 26 days old but I’ve already bought new running shoes, done two park runs, my standard run with my work running group is now 6k and now I’ve done my first 10k race in nearly 4 years.

Six years ago, almost to the day, I had just started training for the London marathon. I was doing 10ks before breakfast. So you might think it’s a bit disheartening to only be doing 5ks and 10ks considering how fit I used to be. But it’s really not. I feel so happy, so grateful, to be running again I don't care about the distances. I just want to run. It's part of who I am. Something I didn't realise until I wasn't doing it any more.

My life has been a series of ebbs and flows, ups and downs. You can’t have one without the other. The story I shared in The Latte Years keeps going. I’m not the same person who went through all those highs and lows in the book – I’m not even the same person who wrote it, a mere two years ago. I’m a work in progress, always. I’m (still) learning that when life gets a bit much, as it does for all of us, not to let go of the things that take a bit more effort than sitting on the couch with Netflix and crisps, because it's those things that truly light me up from the inside.

Returning to running - not just a jog here and there when I could be bothered - has been marvellous. Not just the joy of being physically active and pushing my body beyond its comfort zone, but I’m remembering how to be my own cheerleader. I’m remembering how important it is just to show up and give it a go - you don't have to be the best, just do YOUR best. How important it is to just run your own race and not worry about what other people are doing, how much further ahead they may or may not be. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my good health, for the ability to run at all. I have been reminded that negative thinking, in running and in life, is a luxury I simply cannot afford.

Most of all, thanks to running, I feel more like myself than I have felt in a very long time.

PS: I totally signed up for that 10k because of the medal. Isn't it beautiful?

philippamoorerunthroughuk10kfinsburyparkmedal

before, after and now

I could have written a post about "this time 10 years ago" but I think you all know that story by now. 

I could have written a post featuring some old pictures of me, and pictures of me now, but while I'm proud that 10 years later I'm still a healthy size, what I've tried so hard to do with my book, and with my mindset in general, is resist getting stuck in 'before and after' thinking. Reaching goal is never the end of the story, and the 'after' photo is actually just a moment in time. Holding on to it is rarely straightforward. Weight loss success stories are certainly very motivating to read, but I think it would be far more interesting to check in with them 10 years after their 'after' picture is taken and see how they're doing then.

And I'm also not going to write a post about 10 years of maintenance, because when I consider the stretch of time between 25 April 2006 as I stood on my set of scales in my bathroom in Melbourne and saw a number I longed to see staring back at me, and 25 April 2016 as I type this in my study in London, "maintenance" is the last word I'd use to describe this period in my life.

All the losses and gains in my life since that day in 2006 have had nothing to do with weight. Everything in my life has changed so how could I possibly expect to maintain anything? It was an effort to get out of bed some days (occasionally it still is!)

Merely a few weeks after that scale victory, my life as I knew it fell apart. But thanks to having reached that goal, I had the courage to walk away from the wreckage and I knew that I could survive. Thanks to the highs, lows and plateaus of the previous year of point counting and weigh-ins, I knew I had the strength to persevere when I hit rock bottom, crawled back up, and got smacked down again. It was almost as though that year had been preparing me for what came next.  

The greatest thing weight loss taught me was learning to believe in myself. I hadn't learned it when I was younger. Back then it was all about creating a life that looked good to the outside world rather than anything that felt true and aligned with who I really was. I designed my life with fear, anxiety and self-loathing as my architects.

Weight loss helped me kick those bastards off the job, and compassion, courage and self-respect took over the blueprints instead.

But while they're fabulous architects, they're not perfect employees either. Those three occasionally take leave when I least expect it - I wouldn't have you think for a minute that fear, anxiety and self-loathing have disappeared for good. They never did, and they never will. I've had to learn to deal with them when they show up in productive and conscious ways instead of going backwards, to the days when I let them run the show. I don't always succeed, but I can always turn the car around in time. If I've maintained anything over the past 10 years, I guess it's that. 

Weight loss happened to be a tool I used to wake myself up, to get off my arse (literally) and start taking control of my life. But I outgrew it long ago. I don't need to get on scales to see how in or out of control my life is. I just pay attention. Life being in balance is something I feel now, rather than measure. It's not a number. It's not a dress size. It's a feeling. If that feeling is off, I try to do something about it. If I'm feeling good, I keep doing what I'm doing, until that doesn't work anymore. What works right now might not work this time next year. That's cool. Despite being a bit of a control freak, I try to roll with things. I try to have high standards but low expectations.   

I have no idea whether 10 years later I am still at goal weight. But you know what? I don't care enough to find out. Because I'm healthy - physically and mentally - and I'm pretty happy with who I am. That's what matters to me.  That's what I'm proud of. I have fought for the life I have now, over and over, every step of the way. I've used every brick thrown at me to build the strongest foundation I possibly could.

So what I'm thinking about, and what I want to celebrate today, is that 10 years after reaching 'goal' not only am I still healthy, but I've kept moving forward. It was not weight loss I had to maintain, it was all the other changes. And naively I thought that would be easy. But everything keeps changing, all the time. Nothing ever stays the same. You can't hit the 'pause' button once you've reached a moment where you think you've got it all. You have to keep working hard, even though you already have.

10 years ago, I chose the road less travelled by. And I keep choosing it. No matter what. I could give practical weight loss tips about eating more greens and exercising more, but it's all ultimately useless if nothing changes inside of you, in your head and in your heart. You don't have to be motivated. You don't have to live by a set of rules. You just have to start caring about yourself and paying attention to your life.

Keep choosing to be your best self and live your best life, every day. That's the secret.  Stick to your path, even when the going gets tough. Don't retreat back to the smooth, safe highway. Stay the course. Keep choosing. Keep going. 

Here's to another 10 years of that.

****

To celebrate this little milestone of mine, I'm giving away a signed, personalised physical copy of The Latte Years which I will post to you, anywhere in the world. Just read the T&Cs and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below! 

T&Cs:

  • One winner, one prize

  • No cash alternative

  • Open internationally

  • You can enter once a day until 12:00am (UK time) on 1 May 2016

  • The winner will be chosen completely at random by Rafflecopter on 1 May 2016

  • Once the winner is announced and notified via email, you have 24 hours to claim your prize or another winner will be chosen

  • PM will retain proof of postage but can't be held responsible for the vagaries of the postal system or the customs regulations/duties in your country.

 

Good luck and THANK YOU for all your love and support, particularly if you've been following along for the whole of these past 10 years. I am so incredibly grateful xx

PS: The digital versions of The Latte Years are still discounted until midnight Australian time today!