Stepping Up

I have an embarrassing confession.

Two nights ago, I was walking upstairs to tuck my children into bed. I frequently joke with my younger daughter that I cannot make it up the stairs. She enjoys coming to my rescue and pulling me up with her, turning it into a little game. Unfortunately, the game felt all too real.

I was winded trying to walk up my stairs.

I’ve been trying to return to my old running habits, but things have been going slowly. Some mornings I set out, and moving seems impossible. It’s almost as if I have forgotten that I am a runner. Maybe not a fast runner, or a strong runner, but I’d like to think my medal rack counts for something.

I knew I was out of shape. I didn’t realize I was too out of shape to walk up one flight of stairs.

Most of the time I try to get out for a run, my mind is thinking of the jeans that are a little too tight, or the extra fat that crept up when I wasn’t moving fast enough to escape. I’ve never really been a skinny person, but I was never as large as I am now. I don’t want to be worried about my looks, but it’s hard not to.

So much of the world is focused on being tiny, they forget to emphasize the need to be healthy. When I am feeling good, I want to run to feel healthy. I want to have the energy to run my miles in the morning, and then go out with my family for the rest of the day. I want to wake up knowing that I am slightly stronger than I was yesterday.

And yes, I want to wake up and know that my jeans will slide on easily instead of requiring a wrestling match, a pair of pliers, several pleas to higher powers, and a flowing shirt to cover up the muffin top created when I am done. I want to know that the clothing in my closet will fit and make me feel good.

Mostly I want my daughters to know the truth. Being healthy is difficult. It takes work, and dedication. You have to find something you love doing so that you can do it often.

I want them to know it doesn’t matter how you look, it matters how you feel.

I don’t want my daughters to grow up thinking daily about the diet they should be on. They are creative and intelligent girls, with goals and ambitions that reach higher than the desire to wear a size zero jeans. My older daughter would like to go to Oxford; my younger daughter wants to be a musician and an artist.

They already know themselves better than I ever knew myself.

I tell myself I want to be healthy to show them what is important. But I think in truth they are showing me what is important. Neither of them care what they look like. My younger daughter doesn’t have a concept of skinny; she likes to eat, but she also likes to run around and play.

I suppose I need to reevaluate how I approach my exercise and eating habits. Instead of trying to be an example for them, I need to let them be my example. Splurge a little, enjoy my fruit and vegetables, and then run around and play.

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