I started running in earnest in June 2010 after a health scare that made me reliant on drugs for a while. Back then the aim was to bring down my blood pressure and tire me out so that I could have some decent sleep at night. My doctor told me I could either try to get healthier, or stay on drugs for the rest of my life. When faced with such choices, it was an easy decision to make.
I chose running because it was the easiest thing I could start with. I didn’t need any fancy equipment and I could start at whatever level I was comfortable with. I knew I was a solitary runner from the very beginning; though I enjoy running with friends, solo runs are particularly cathartic as I get to talk to myself and sort things out in my head. On days when I didn’t feel like sifting through my problems, I just listened to music and let my mind wandered off on its own.
The fact that I HAD TO run made me very disciplined about it – I did it every day, starting with running nonstop 7mins at a time at very slow speed til I was able to run for an hour at 12km/h consistently.
Back then I ticked all the boxes for beginner runner injuries – black toes, blisters, cramps, exhaustion and worst of all, excessive carb cravings that made me ate 12 cupcakes at a time. I invented a lot of rules for myself like no dessert or coffee unless someone else is buying, no canned or frozen foods, no reading or playing video games or working in bed.
It was hard but the physical results were immediate. My blood pressure normalized and became steady, I sleep better at night, and after 3 months my doctor decided I have shown enough improvement that I could be off the pills. (side note: I still see my GP once every quarter for tune-ups. If like me, you too have a medical condition, please consult your GP before starting any exercise or diet routine).
2011 was a good year, I was running consistently, logging at least 25km a week. I learned to temper my pace so that it was more sustainable, joined running clubs and ran in races; and I developed a cereal/oatmeal obsession that got me down 2 dress sizes. But around September, after I moved in with family, laziness set in with a vengeance, so did excessive carb intake that saw me put on 12kg in the span of 3 months!
In January 2012, I’ve accumulated enough guilt and started to run again. Unfortunately, the body was not what it used to be – I sprained my right knee 3 times within weeks of each other and rendered me useless for months after that and I started baking lot, which meant I ate a lot of cakes too.
It was only in end-August ie right after Hari Raya that I was able to start exercising again, walking this time, as running was out of the question. It was frustrating and time consuming with very little result to show for, but after week 4 I began to enjoy it more and more. Since then I have been alternating walking and running rather consistently, though I did have a 1-month relapse in Nov due to heavy travelling.
Though 2 years is a short span of time, the physical difference is enormous. Age does catch up on you. I notice that my body recovers slower and it is a lot less resilient than before. It takes longer to bounce back into form after every relapse too, so it can be frustrating to see the same number popping up on the weight scale despite months of exercise and portion control. I could do it longer and take on a more rigorous routine, but “things” seems to fall apart – knees crumble, joints stiffen, excess weight remains unmoved – almost everything seems harder and requires more effort just so that I can get back to my baseline (for me that would be running 5km nonstop under 40mins).
I know for a fact that for me exercising is a daily struggle. Food is another battle, sleep the third one. I still carry about 3-4kg excess weight that I need to get rid of, and the knee still hurts when I overdo it. But I hope in 2013 my relapses will become fewer and shorter. It will take a lot of work and threats and persuasion, but I have been doing this for 2 years now and I think it is about time I buck up and get rid of all my tired, old excuses.
So my resolutions for 2013 will be the same as the one I had in 2012 and 2011: I wish to get fitter and healthier, and I hope to work on my attitude and behaviours so that I can become a nicer person too (no grumpy old lady tag for me, thank you).
Happy 2013 everyone. Live, love, learn, LEAP!
p/s: In case you think running is no big deal, below is my before and after pic. The left one was taken in 2005 when I was starting to pile on the pounds; this wasn’t even me at my heaviest! The right one was taken 2 weeks ago; apart from correcting the hue and saturation of the pic, I did not doctor it in any other way. This is not me at my optimum weight either, I still have about 4kg to go before I am comfortably in the good BMI range. But the whole point of this composite is that running works to help improve my health, and I got the pictures to prove it :)