Welcome to Small Success Thursday, hosted by CatholicMom.com. This is our chance to take stock of what we’ve done this week and recognize the good things that have happened. There are weeks where that’s really hard to do, but it’s important to thank God for all the little things He provides for us. Nothing is too small to thank Him for, nothing is too silly.
One thing that my husband has reprimanded me for years about is that I don’t take time to care for myself. I didn’t exercise, though I tried to eat right, I didn’t take time to do things for me. Sure, I’d have little time-wasting stuff (hello, Twitter?), but it’s not the same as when you keep something for yourself, maybe have an activity that renews you on a regular basis. When I finally decided that I needed to start exercising to lose weight (I heart Sloth and Gluttony!), Nathan was thrilled that I would be doing Couch to 5K. I’ve written before about how hard it was to start, how I felt like a loser for not being able to run for 1:30, how I improved far quicker than I imagined possible. So now running is the thing I do for me. It gives me some alone time (super-important for introverts who have to act like extroverts a lot), and it helps me be healthy. My successes this week (and there are really only two) are both related to that.
First of all, this is Week 8 out of 9 for my Couch to 5K training. Last week was the first week where there were no walking intervals in my workouts, and this week, I ran for 28:00 between warm-up and cool-down. I haven’t had to stop to walk at all, and I actually have gone about 3 miles every day this week! Day 1 I was 0.01 away from 3 miles, so I ran a little bit of my cool-down period the other two days so I could see that final total have a big ol’ 3 in front of it! The other two days, I’ve gone 3.07 miles in the Couch to 5K portion, and done a little extra cool-down period to get over that 5K mark in Nike+! Not only that, but I’ve gotten new personal records (PRs) on each 5K I’ve done over the last 12 days! (Oh, I take that back. Today I didn’t get a PR because I had a cramping calf for the entire thing. But I was only off by a few seconds on my pace!)
I’ve also been running in the neighborhood, which means I start my warm-up walking up the half-mile hill I live on. This is the hill I couldn’t walk at a steady 20:00 mile pace in May. I get about half-way up, then start running. And I keep running for nearly half an hour!
Today, I logged into Fitocracy (social media for exercise geeks) and put in all my Couch to 5K runs, starting from today and working backwards. I was tearing up looking at my times and distances as the distances shrank and the walking times got longer. My first Couch to 5K run was a total of 20 minutes of running and walking intervals. After warming up, I would alternate 1:00 of running with 1:30 of walking, and I went 1.91 miles. If you had told me that day, when I wasn’t even able to run the last 1:00 interval, that after 8 weeks, I would go 3.07 miles in 38:00, I would have laughed in your face.
So, yeah, I feel kinda like a big deal.
(And there’s only one more week of this left, so maybe I’ll stop being a running blog and be slightly more balanced in my writing.)
For my second trick, I’ll direct you to an older post of mine:
I can’t remember where I first saw it, though I’m sure it was on Elizabeth Scalia’s Twitter feed, but this article from about two years ago was shared. It discusses how Italian artist Anna Utopia Giordano took classic art depicting beauty (much of it Venus, who has always been shown as the epitome of beauty) and used Photoshop to bring the women into line with current standards of beauty that we see in the media. We hear all the time about how the standards are ever-pushing towards thinner bodies (and yet larger breasts). How our standards seem to have evolved into “you must look like a porn star.” But I hadn’t really seen anything – ever – that truly demonstrated it like this project.
What really makes the impact is that the art and the Photoshop are shown side-by-side.
If you only saw the image on the right, you might not think about how thin she is. After all, this is what we see all day, every day, in every magazine and catalog in America. My Old Navy emails are filled with stick-thin girls who look like they haven’t eaten in a week. Their website had this little piece of information in with the measurements for a dress I was buying:
You see that? 5’9″, wears a size 4. My 15 year-old daughter, who is 5’2″, wears a size 4. And yet this has been the standard of beauty my entire life! It’s the kind of thing you don’t even realize that you’ve absorbed at all.
Since that day, I have really changed how I think about myself. I stopped worrying so much about the scale, and I just concentrated on eating healthy foods as much as possible (and not freaking out if I didn’t for a day or two) and running. My weight isn’t that much different, though today, for the first time in a month or so, I dipped below 150 again. But my clothes feel different. In fact, the jeans that I was barely squeezing into (if I held my breath and worked to stretch them some) in May were feeling sort of loose. I was able to just pull them right on — fresh from the dryer! — last week.
Which brings me to my second success. (Finally! Good golly, I’m so talkative today!) I went to a pair of jeans that I nearly donated last week and pulled them out of the closet. They’re a size down from the ones I have been wearing, and I thought, “I wonder if I could get into them again.” I’d given myself until September to see if I’d wear them any more, and if not, I was ready to donate them.
It took a bit of squeezing, and some of that Blue Jeans Dance (you ladies know what I mean, right?), but not only did the jeans get on, but I buttoned and zipped them, too!
Then I started crying.
Ladies (and gentlemen), let me encourage you again. Take the first step. Find someone or something to challenge you to push yourself. Don’t do it so you can fit the modern image of beauty; do it to be healthy. Do it to do something good for yourself. Even in all of His Self-sacrifice, Our Lord always took time to be by Himself to be renewed. He went alone to pray. He took care of His needs when it was really necessary. While we live our vocations, which require sacrifice, we can’t completely neglect ourselves. Take that time, take that step, renew yourself a little bit.
Now it’s your turn! Share your successes from this week in my comments or at CatholicMom.com’s link-up!