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What Happens After Ownership?

Last night, I was honored to attend and be a part of the Another Mother Runner book party in Atlanta.  The Mother Runners, Dimity and Sarah, have launched their third amazing effort, Tales from Another Mother Runner, and I had the privilege of contributing an essay to the book.

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My essay was about ownership.  Ownership?

Yep. That’s me.  Me… the gal who totally owns herself as an amazing runner and athlete. Who stalks people’s race times.  Who challenges people on Strava.  Who believes in herself wholeheartedly, and knows that she will be amazing at all the races she starts.

Oh. Wait. No… that’s not me. At all.

Yet, I am fiercely competitive by nature.  But I am incredibly meek and timid at the core, and yes, seriously lacking in self-confidence.  (“No, way!”anyone who meets me would say.  But “oh definitely!” is what anyone who knows me would say.)

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I have been teetering on the edge of some big things lately.  Big big big.  Things that have me questioning everything in my brain and in my heart.  Things that make me wonder if I am fundamentally flawed, or just a hot mess that needs a new pair of pants to snap out of this weird state.

But here’s a really cute picture of my running kid, as a relief:

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The good news is that the Ironman training has knocked out any depression I was experiencing.  I’m just too tired to be depressed at present.

So as I stood before a packed room at the Marietta Big Peach Running Company and read my essay, “I Just Try Really Hard,” I realized just how incredibly far I have come.  Also, I realized that I am still battling so many of the same demons… the same demons from when I started triathlon almost five years ago.

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I wrote that essay sometime last year, and one of the funniest parts of my essay (to me) is this:

“If I wasn’t careful [and didn’t start taking ownership of myself as an athlete], I was going to find myself signing up for yet another Ironman, just to make the darn point that I could be better, be a real athlete.” 

The funniest part of that?  In the time since the essay was written, I not only signed up and completed another 140.6… but I had signed up for two more Ironman races.  Holy cow.  Snicker snicker.

So, am I still battling ownership of myself as an athlete?   Or is it something else?

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“Historically, I accepted myself only with caveats. I will get better. I will get faster. I will be thinner. When I am an Ironman, I will be a real athlete. When I am (fill in whatever), I will be happy…”

I read an incredibily insensitive post awhile back that went something to the tune of this: “If you’re overweight, you should just stop your fat face from eating…being overweight is not a sickness- you’re lazy and slack and useless.”

Oh.  Well, I am glad that has been cleared up for all of us.

I met Coach Brett on Tuesday for my Resting Metabolic Rate and V02 max testing.  The RMR testing basically tells you the amount of calories that your body burns at rest. The average person is around 2000.  I came in at a whopping 1296, which is actually lower than it was a few years ago.  The reason?  Apparently, a body can become more efficient and burn fewer calories the more it trains.

[Oh, thank you body. Thanks a lot. 🙂 ]

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So I learned that I can eat even fewer calories than I thought to lose weight.  And what a bummer that is.

[But as a side note… thank YOU body for being that strong. I mean, that’s pretty cool, right?]

But I also know what the issues with my weight are. I understand them exactly.  And it has so very, ridiculously little do with food.  I am neither lazy or slack or useless. I just have an internal struggle that I happen to wear on the outside.

Those of us who are fortunate not to have weight problems don’t wear their emotional struggles on our bodies.  Being overweight is one true emotional and psychological issue that is available for everyone to see.  (Not to mention there are actual medical conditions that cause weight gain, so judge not… because you may not have a freaking clue what someone is going through. So anyway, I digress.)

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Ownership.  I have struggled with owning myself as an athlete for one reason, and one reason alone.

My stupid ass weight.

A number that measures the Earth’s gravitational pull against my body.  A metric. A number. And I’m not even “good” with numbers.

I wondered last night, driving home from the book party, if I didn’t have a metric to define my body’s space in the universe… would that change things?  What if there was no such thing as “weight” and clothing sizes? What if we were just bodies and people, and no one gave a damn about those things?

How would I feel… as an athlete?  As a mother?  As a woman?

The funny thing is that I am more comfortable in my own body right now then I have ever been.  I think maybe that’s a part of getting older.  I don’t have time for the twenty-something body obsession. I am busy. I don’t have time to put on make-up most days, let alone fret about it.

But I think the comfort in my own skin has also come from many years of training in triathlon now… I mean, you can only wear so many spandex outfits before you start to think, “Well, it is what it is.”

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Also, my V02 max testing revealed a fitness level of “excellent.”  I have spent the last day relishing in that.  Excellent. Fitness. Me. Wow.

So while I still struggle with ownership of myself, in general, I think the willingness to dig down and look at the internal struggles–to really try and enlist help to peel back the layers and the “why” behind these sabotaging behaviors–is a very important step.  To take pride in the “excellent fitness” moments.  To focus on those? Also, a huge step.

At the same time, I am desperate to figure out the self-sabotaging behaviors. To unlock them.  To stop them. Or to at least recognize the causes and the whys… right now, I just see the results of waking up from a zombie state where I have eaten the entire pantry.

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And for those of you who have all your issues figured out, I am envious.  [And also, happy for you.] But remember that just because you are at peace, that doesn’t mean you necessarily fought the same battles as that “lazy” and “slack” and “useless” “fat” person you know.

Be nice, be kind, be welcoming, be compassionate, be understanding.

Accept your friends and co-workers and fellow triathletes as they are, and as they show up to the start line, and as they slog through the finish. That is their special moment of ownership. You never know what rocking that Spandex may do for them. A finish line could be that one little clue that cracks open years and years of internal torment for them.

I pray, on a regular basis, that one of these days a finish line will do it for me.

I fight more battles inside my own head than can possibly be sane or healthy.

But I keep going.  No matter what.  I just keep moving forward, in hopes to find the one blessed finish line… where it all becomes clear and makes sense to me.

26 Comments

  • Kris

    April 29, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    If you haven’t read “The Power of Habit”, I highly recommend it. I’m working on my habit of always eating when I’m bored or procrastinating or anxious or stressed. I started today changing my routine as I finally accepted and owned up to my cues, and so far so good. It will take time but I’m tired of being overweight. Just 6 lbs is all I need right now over the next 7 weeks and then I’ll continue with the remaining 10-15ish.

    Oh and get a new pair of pants just because 🙂

    Reply
  • Karen

    April 29, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    You are awesome. Own it. 🙂 Side note, my RMR is 1066. I think I might have cried if it was below 1000. I mean really, that is basically two cupcakes.

    Reply
  • KBG

    April 29, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    I love you for so many reasons but I especially love you for your honesty about weight. Everyone has their monsters and weight is mine (no matter what the number on the scale says).

    Reply
  • Heather S.

    April 29, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    I hear you. My height allows me more wiggle room (that’s probably not the best term here, eh), but I also feel the same struggles with food choices/ amounts and beer. I turn to food and beer in times of stress. With two young children and stubborn parents battling health issues halfway across the country, etc. etc. I often find myself stressed. I read and read that my belly is because of what I eat. I ran the six miles in my race on Saturday feeling every french fry, every IPA, every chocolate brownie jiggle, jiggle jiggle.

    Sometimes I shake myself out of the guilt. Other times I want so badly to “look” like I workout. It’s a constant struggle on top of a few other health issues.

    But I appreciate so much when powerful athletes like
    you stand up to the “usual” molds and say, “oh yeah? I do that, too. Yeah – *me*”. You make me keep going. I am sorry you’re hurting, but I do appreciate you so much.

    Reply
  • Karen G

    April 29, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    You were awesome last night! I loved your essay when I read it and even more when you did. I too have struggled with body issues my entire life and still work daily to fight the anorexic tendencies I developed in high school. It is real, it is hard, and it is awesome to hear and read something like what you wrote. So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

    Reply
  • Kim T

    April 29, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    Thank you for this. I struggle with those things as well. I have a lot of inner termoil right now that I’m working on as well. I’m hopeful that signing on with a coach will help me focus on other things and bring clarity. Thank you.

    Reply
  • Kathryn

    April 29, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    I think I’ll reference this well-worded observation that “weight is an internal struggle you wear on your skin” next time a friend or family member decides weight gain is a viable piece of gossip!

    Practice compassion, always.

    Reply
  • R S.

    April 29, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    Oh wonderful woman…if you could have written what is inside my head, this would have been IT. And I couldn’t agree more about loving who you are, how you are…you are amazing, and can do hard things! I find that my age, too, is inversely related to what degree of shit I give about the number on the scale (How’s that for numbers?! ) but more about how many days and moments I have, and what I choose to fill those days. It is so hard to focus on that, but it is all about the gratitude for the gift – of all of it. Cheers to many, many more finish lines in your future : )

    Reply
  • liezl van niekerk

    April 29, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    I have found that through the journey change happens, sometimes effortlessly. God has a way of changing us as we move along, being willing and aware. I’m sure that, when you look back you realise that some of you’re issues are not as big now as what they were when you started, maybe some has even vanished. Although you still struggle with stuff, you are way farther than where you were 5 years ago! Joyce Meyer always says:” I’m not where I want to be, but thank God I’m not where I used to be. Enjoy the journey, it’s God’s gift to you….Our lives will NEVER be perfectly the way we want it, but maybe the best we can do is to embrace the beautiful life that we were given, warts and all. Embrace the imperfect and you will find perfect peace.

    Reply
  • Kristin

    April 29, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    Once again you have left me in tears… How you can put down on paper thought that constantly bounce around in my head aimlessly allows me to see things a little clearer. I started this journey about the same time you did… At a lighter weight. As I inch toward the big 50 I still battle with the weight and know I always will… That and accepting myself as a triathlete… Time to make the doughnuts… Once again … Thank you.

    Reply
  • M @readeatwriterun

    April 29, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    Hugs. As always, you give voice to the thoughts and feelings of so many. I’m not sure many are ever at a stable, static “at peace” in this area. (if they are, good for them and kudos!) Maybe the evil voices and self-defeating behaviors get less as you beat them back over and over again. And that habit is a good spiral that helps others.

    Maybe a good metric is how many women (and kids and significant others) you are helping, how many you’ve encouraged, how many will make their lives better because of something you said, wrote, shared….and your example! That’s a pretty big number, I’m thinking. The ripples you create can go on for generations. You encourage one mother or grandmother to get started on a goal, tri or not, and she passes it on to the women around her, to her co-workers, her daughter/granddaughter, and it changes who THEY are and how they live THEIR lives. And they pass that encouragement and example on to others. And so it continues. I hope you feel some deserved pride and ownership in that as well as in your own efforts in athletic pursuits and in life. Trying to be better in anything and as a person isn’t easy, nor is trying something new.

    I like this quote (edited, attributed to Marianne Williamson, but hey, it’s wikipedia)
    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

    You know who you are now, with all the quirks, problems, baggage (“wearing it on the outside” what a great phrase) but you don’t know the Mere without these issues, and it’s scary to not know who you might become. What does that person do, love, look like, feel like? Is she happier? Do the same people still love her? How we identify ourselves and how we treat ourselves is a security blanket, a comfort, a known in a world of unknown scary things – whether it’s to our benefit or not, I suspect we hold on to it sometimes when it may no longer serve. It’s got to be painful for a butterfly to break out of a chrysalis.

    May you find more peace and your light shine ever brighter, and may it shine on many more who are lost or in darkness, gloom, despair, depression or other bad situations physically or mentally.

    Reply
  • Shawn

    April 29, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    Meredith,
    It was so nice to meet you last night and hear you read your essay. I could “hear” your voice as I read today’s blog post (today was my first visit, and I’m so glad I found it)! Thank you for this essay. It speaks to me on so many levels. This line, in particular, stands out: “Be nice, be kind, be welcoming, be compassionate, be understanding.” I just imagine how much better the world would be if we could all practice this piece of advice! Thank you, again!

    Reply
  • cheryl

    April 29, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    I have never had the weight issues- but I do know what it means to be sad, alone, angry and broke because of poor choices in my life. Triathlon helps, but yes, it doesn’t and won’t solve everything.
    I am much more proud of finishing other things in my life (i.e. hurdling things I once saw as obstacles) than crossing any IM, marathon or Ultra finish line. Hope you find happiness and contentment at the end of yours.

    Reply
  • Ed c.

    April 29, 2015 at 11:07 pm

    Thanks for sharing. Even as an older guy I fight the weight battle and wish I could do better. You continue to inspire and touch many of us with your wisdom.

    Reply
  • Stacy B

    April 30, 2015 at 4:33 am

    Your honesty is … refreshing. You don’t stand behind excuses, you just are who you are. I wish I could have made the book party to finally meet you in person! I think we all have our own internal struggles and sabotaging behaviors. Your openness about yours is so appreciated.

    Reply
  • Melanie J.

    April 30, 2015 at 10:08 am

    Oh, I’m so glad I got around to reading this one! I’m still at the very beginning of a long journey, and I can totally see myself where you are now, about 2 years from now, still damning the scale while actually in good shape. It’s why I’m shooting for numbers quite above what the “charts” have for my height, because I know now that when I was that size, I thought I was fat and I was actually in great shape. I’ll never understand why people feel the need to hate publicly on the web, but I’m sure glad there are people like you out there to call them on it with great essays like this one. Thank you!

    Reply
  • Lisa

    April 30, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    It’s as if you read my mind and put it on paper. Thanks for another great post. Anyone who has never struggled with their weight can’t know the reason for the weight or the enormous amount of brain damage that comes from living with it and trying to lose it.

    Reply
  • Kristy

    May 2, 2015 at 8:20 am

    Seriously, this post struck me at my core and made me tear up from the passion I could feel coming from your words. Thank you for these beautiful words of encouragement to the swim, bike mom army. <3

    Reply
  • RunningOnEmpty

    May 2, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    I read what you write, then I read the comments about what you’ve written, and I’ll reiterate a previous observation. You’re a force for good in this world SBM. Here’s hoping you find the peace you want 🙂

    Reply
  • Kelly

    May 9, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    I really resonate with this! I’m about to run my first sprint tri next weekend, and when I put on that spandex (seriously, tri suits are unforgiving. Like leaving the house in your Spanx and forgetting the clothes that go over it), I want to be proud of what my body can do that it couldn’t do before, not creases and dimples.

    Reply

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