I sat here trying to find a way to ease into this topic, but after thirty minutes of careful contemplation it seems that “easy” is not going to happen. So, let me just get this out there: many of us are here because we are making up for a problem somewhere else.
I can tell a lot about a person by the reaction they have to this statement.
You will generally have one of two reactions. Option 1: Some of you will think “NO! I am here because I made some wrong decisions in my training and ended up in a pickle. I don’t have other problems.” Option 2: Some of you will think, “Yeah, what else is new, Jill?”
Option one is pretty. It’s tidy. It means that all we have to do to clean up the mess is apply a specific solution. There will be a struggle to do train less and eat more, but eventually it happens because logic prevails. It’s very social media friendly; #gotmyperiodback #warrior #recovery. Champagne bottles will pop when we have to buy tampons or Diva Cups. It’s all very high-five-able. These are the people that write to me asking how long they have to wait to go back to exercise. They are the ones who keep their eyes on next year’s races, this year’s weight gain, last year’s body.
There is a shadow behind them. They are smiling while eating pancakes for breakfast, but there is something. They are walking instead of jogging today, but there is something.
That shadow is more important than the pancakes and the walking. It has more power than the larger size in jeans and the hashtags.
Here’s the part you don’t want to hear: unless you deal with the shadow, you’ll never find peace.
I have been in both categories, but have found that the one most conducive to health is the second option. “What else is new?” has power. It means acceptance. It means we know why we are here and it’s not pretty or worthy of hashtags. It means there may or may not be any races in my future, but my mental and physical wellbeing is more important than some arbitrary measurement of “fitness” and a complimentary wicking t-shirt.
It means that I ran too much because I was sexually abused as a kid and never got over being angry about it. It means that I ran too much because had a painful divorce and never saw my ex-husband again. It means that I ran too much because I had two miscarriages and having no period sometimes felt like a relief from having to contemplate my desire (or lack thereof) for having children.
What else is new?
Not these shadows. They are, in fact, very old.
You may not have reasons like mine. Yours may be lighter or heavier. You may know that they are there or you may still need to discover them. You may be spending your time with calorie trackers and macro counters and GPS watches, determined to put your effort into the numbers...lest the shadows show themselves.
Don’t do this.
If you are young, if you are old, find your shadows. If you don’t like to look in the mirror right now, if you can’t look at photos, if you are afraid of who you were or who you thought you'd be, find your shadows. If you want to be something other than what you are, if you have listened to the voices that tell you you’re not enough, find your shadows. If you don’t like what I am saying, if you are afraid I might be right, if you haven’t thought about all of the amazing things that STILL MIGHT BE if you JUST LET GO, find your shadows.
Rip them out. Turn on the lights. Examine them. And then stare them in the eye saying, “What else is new?”
And then you get on with it.