Saturday, December 31, 2016

Are you talking to ME?

I think the Universe has been trying to tell me something. For a while now. It started as a bit of a whisper. Some time in late summer I discovered podcasts. I know. I’m a bit of a late adopter. Whatever. I’m not sure how I got turned on to the Running on Om podcasts but somehow I found my way there, working my way backwards through episodes. Early in that discovery, I listened to one of the regular recurring episodes: Ask Lauren Fleshman. And I’m not gonna lie, it was the birth of a girl crush. I then became selective in my walk backwards through ROO podcasts, listening in reverse order to all of the Ask Lauren Fleshman episodes. And I thought I heard the Universe whisper: you should start writing again Karin.

Did I? No. Of course not.

I had a bunch of conversations with myself about why I’d stopped. Why I hadn’t resumed. And it really didn’t have anything to do with not having things to say. I’ve written many, many blog posts (in my head). No, I wasn’t writing for deeper, more uncomfortable reasons. Reasons with louder voices than those whispers from the Universe.

Here’s the ugly truth of it:
  1. I'm embarrassed.
  2. I feel like a fraud.
Yup, it’s not writer’s block or a fear that people won’t like my writing - or even that no one will read it. It’s about those two feelings in the context of this blog about …about what? Weight loss? Fitness? Health? Transformation?  Let me attempt to explain.

What am I embarrassed about? Well having lost the significant amount of weight that I have, I feel – at least to some extent - like that has defined me. Who I am. The most important thing about me. I’m Karin, who lost 120 lbs. Karin, who used to weigh 255 lbs. Sometimes I’m OK with that and I contribute to using that as my label - as my defining characteristic. When you sign up for an Ironman race, there’s a box where you’re supposed to say something about yourself. “I’ve lost 120 lbs” is what I usually type. And you know what? The crowd freaking LOVES that at an Ironman finish line. And I love the finish line rah-rah. 

But sometimes I feel burdened under the weight of who I used to be. I was at a party a friend threw 
Worst Photo Ever Taken. Ever. Like, ever.
where I knew very few people. I knew with certainty when my host was having a conversation with someone across the room, nodding in my direction, that it was about my weight loss. Do you remember the Bridget Jones movie, where she introduces people with an interesting tidbit about them? "This is so & so, he’s a top lawyer in his field." And "This is so & so, they climbed Mount Everest!" "This is Karin, who lost 120 lbs." Like it is the single most interesting or notable thing about me. Maybe it is. But so often, when that’s the first thing people know, I feel like I’m that woman again. That that is how people are seeing me. As that 255 lb woman. That woman whose skin I still inhabit. And I’m just so embarrassed. Embarrassed to have ever let my weight get to that stage in the first place. I mean, who does that? And if YOU did that, I don’t judge you. But I do judge me. Does that make sense? It doesn’t have to. It just is.

So that brings me to the fraud thing. That’s multifaceted. One aspect: well that 255 lb woman? I’m still wearing her skin. And so you know what… no matter how hard I train, or how little I eat, or how clean my diet is, I am never, ever going to have a great body. I will never be comfortable in a bikini on a beach. I will never achieve that mental picture I had of what I was working towards. I will always have a muffin top. Gaining that much weight leaves a mark; a friend once asked me if I had loose skin and said she wondered what the point was in trying to lose the weight, since she’d just have loose skin. [Sigh] I understand. But do I regret the weight loss? No. I regret the weight gain. Big difference.

And so if I’m trying to think a little less shallow - and point out that there is more to life than having a great body, and that this new life – all this training and racing – that’s where it’s at. That there’s value and meaning and reward in all of that, that is so much better than the number on the scale or the size of your jeans… Well, yeah! Woohooo.... Get on board! 

But here’s the thing: Yes, I’m still training, Yes, I’m still racing. But... each Ironman is slower than the last. And I don’t understand that. And if I’m not waxing poetic here about racing and challenging myself, and getting better (because I’m not getting better), then I come back to all this eating well and exercising stuff as the means to an end: how big (or small) I am, and how I look and damn if I am not STILL battling my weight. Yup. Currently about 10 lbs heavier than my typical off-season weight. Maybe more. This never-ending f&*ing merry-go-round. How can I write this blog when I’m only 110 lbs lighter than I used to be? When I’m racing slower? When I don’t have that triathlete/fit chick/super awesome body of my dreams?

But the Universe kept whispering. Often through the podcast Tea with a Titan, where host Mary-Jo Dionne interviews people who are masters of transformation, inspiration, authenticity, and bravery. I listened to her interview her husband, ultraman athlete and friend Chad Bentley, who spoke of his own physical transformation. I didn’t hear embarrassment about where he had come from – and what’s more, I didn’t see any reason why he should be – but I was encouraged and inspired by the possibility that his transformation demonstrated.

I listened to the interview with Danielle Krysa, the Jealous Curator. Who talked about her passion for art and her need to be in that space (I’m paraphrasing) and who she began writing, and continued writing, even when no one was reading. And this time when the Universe whispered to write, I had an a-ha moment about the need to write being about the need to write. Not necessarily to be read. But if you’re reading, I’m glad you’re here!

I listened to the interview with Susanne Biro and her admission that she’s afraid in almost everything she does… I’m totally paraphrasing. I should have written down the quote because she made the comment while discussing a face to face conversation with Richard Branson, and being brave enough to ask a question, and I was stunned. I thought it was just me who felt that way! How she said it was perfect. How I said it is not. If I wasn’t on a self-imposed deadline to get this posted today, I’d go replay the podcast. Instead, I’ll suggest you just go listen to it yourself. It’s worth your time.

Then Oprah whispered to me. Kind of. I saw a commercial for Weight Watchers and could not believe she’s their new spokesperson. I mean really. She is arguably the most successful woman in the world. And she’s still battling her weight. This woman who could pay someone to slap the food out of her hand! I’m in good company I guess. Weight struggles: the great equalizer.

And then – since I still wasn’t writing – the Universe got a bit more direct. Out of the blue this past Thursday, in the middle of a workout, my trainer Scott asked me if I was still blogging. And he said I should be. That I had a voice. And things to share that could help people on their journey.

So I’m back. My 2017 goal: one post a week.

If you’re still here: thanks for reading.

And thank you to the ladies who let the Universe whisper through them: Julia Hanlon, Lauren Fleshman, Mary-Jo Dionne, Danielle Krysa, Susanne Biro, and Oprah!

And thank you Scott for the nudge of encouragement. And for your commitment to getting me #laf. Seriously, make it happen bro.