Thursday, October 23, 2014

Why The Hell Am I Running?

When I finished all my crazy deadlines and tours and conferences and junk, the first thing I did was make new goals. I'm gonna go running so I can be less fat! I'm going to have a clean house for once! I'm going to learn new things! Because that's what you're supposed to do, right?

Heaven forbid we ever stop running ourselves into the ground for one second.

A couple weeks ago I was at the gym, walking around the track in preparation to do my run. It felt like I was about to torture myself. I had been adding a lap every time I went and was near two miles running—I just didn't want to run that day. Okay, I never want to run. Even when I was doing it consistently I hated it.

So why was I doing it? Because that's what I've been told I should do. If I want to be thin and healthy I need to sweat and count calories and somehow all of this is supposed to make me happy. Except it wasn't, and I wasn't losing weight either because I have been so dang high strung all year that my body is still not sure how to cope with the copious amounts of stress I put it through. And you know what? Running was stressful, too. Running made me think I needed to be more than I was, and guilty because I didn't actually WANT to be more.

That's when I decided not to run that day. Or after that, unless I wanted to.

I still go to the gym, but I walk the track while jamming out to Kpop. And I enjoy it. And I smile. And I kinda wish they offered Kpop dance classes because I'd so take that. Feeling happy and relaxed while moving for an hour? That is what I need. I realized I don't need to buy into the thin=happy crap they constantly feed us. I move because it reduces my anxiety—that's what I need in my life. Not something that's more stressful.

I don't know why we (women especially) seem to think we have to run ourselves into the ground to be proven Of Worth, but I have felt that many times in my life. I have to be an amazing parent who doesn't ruin her children's lives with her imperfection (impossible), I have to be a bestselling author because there is not other kind of author (not true), I have to have a pristine house (yeah right), and of course I must be a model while doing all this (I totally am that).

Where did all these expectations come from? Who is imposing them on me? Society? Myself? I have no idea. All I know is I'm tired of them. I didn't think I was buying into them, but in a way I was. I was certainly buying into the idea that if I wasn't 150% productive at all times I was a lazy piece of crap and it was all my fault I wasn't successful. I was running much faster than I was able, and it got me a load of stress and burn out.

I'm learning how to slow down again—which is surprisingly hard. My body is forcing me to, since my mental health is not good and I can literally only handle so much in a day before I start to shut down. But I've been doing crazy things like being 0% productive in a day…even a week. Doing not much more than consuming lots of TV and video games. I get all guilty-feeling still about this at times, but I'm getting over it. I'm reminding myself I have no deadlines, no contracts—I'm not actually slacking at all. I'm on vacation.

I'm allowed to walk instead of run.

I'm allowed to sit and do nothing if I want.


  1. I can completely relate to this, and it gets to the point where you just burn out, where you need to sit and do nothing and try to find a way not to feel guilty about it. And I always hate that feeling of exercise. Where you feel like you have to do it to be thin and pretty and happy when it never works that way. I always stress too much having to do exercise and never lose a pound from it. Finding ways to be active yet stress-free sounds much better.

    Have a good vacation, Natalie! A lot of the time doing nothing is the best type of vacation. :)

  2. Wow, this is a weird kind of inspirational. I'm a senior in high school and I started off the year with all these crazy goals. Join eight school clubs! Get a 4.0! Apply to my dream school! Write two novels! Go on dates! I'm doing it all, but not very well, and I feel like I'm slacking. Thanks for reminding me to just chill out sometimes.

  3. I've never really understood the running mindset.

    I get my exercise in by walking, rock climbing, and swimming. Each are great for the activity, and each give you the right mindset to be in.

  4. I feel your pain. Due to health problems I gained 50 labs and it killed me. Overnight I went from being the thin girl to the fat girl. It's been such a long road for me to learn to focus on my health and taking care of my body instead of hurting myself to be thin. Keep it up!

  5. We live in a workaholic, judgmental society. But it's really OK to stop, listen, and breathe. To rest, to relax, to let go.

  6. I recently came to a similar conclusion, but instead of giving up on running, I started running slower and I gave up on measuring distances. In BORN TO RUN, there's this dude who advises the writer to think "Easy. Light. Smooth. and Fast." He says you start with easy, and move to the others as you're ready. Doing that changed the way I feel about running. I even enjoy it now. :-) It's even refreshing and freeing to run now because I get to run the way kids run.

    Sometimes I walk, though, too.

    Whatever floats the boat. :-)

  7. This is so great. I came to a similar conclusion a few months ago. Exercising has always given me anxiety, and nobody understands it because exercising is supposed to make people happy. I'm glad somebody else sees it the way I do-- you put it perfectly!