Monday, October 11, 2010

I run.

Last week I went for a run around the neighborhood.  I went my normal route which is just over 2 miles.  When I hit the corner of my street I started walking as a cool down.  One of my neighbors stopped me and said "wow, I didn't know you were a runner." I was quick to answer, "Oh, I'm not." Her next statement has stayed with me: "Well, if you have babies you're a mother, and if you run, you're a runner."

I guess I am.
I'm a runner.
But how did I get here? Well, let me share with you a bit about the journey.

I would call us a healthy family.  We eat organic food as much as possible (especially when it really matters with the "top" fruit and veggies), we don't eat a lot of processed foods or sugary snacks, we take vitamins, we don't drink soda, and we stay active.  But being "active" did not interpret into consistent "exercise" for me.  Sure, I chase the kids around the yard, I run up and down the stairs a bazillion times a day, and take the girls on walks pretty frequently (especially during the school year).  So you can imagine my shock when my doctor told me, "Your weight is perfect but that doesn't mean you are in shape." Um, ouch.

TMI alert!
I was in the doctors office because I was consistently having intense shooting pain every time I ovulated.  It was debilitating and obviously painful. I was relieved to hear that it wasn't anything serious, but what my doctor did tell me surprised me.  Apparently I'm prone to ovarian cysts.  While they are not uncommon, the fact that I have them so frequently, they are so large and rupture, is uncommon (thus the pain).

Her solution?
Either take birth control or run.  That's it.  Either take a medication that I have not had good experience with (if there was a side effect, I had it on birth control),  or run twice a week for 15 minutes.  It seemed like a no-brainer for me.  So I started running.  The whole idea is to hit the anaerobic state of breathing and then keep it there for at least five minutes.  Your body releases a whole mess of Seratonin and adrenaline when that happens and both helps prevent cysts from forming.

I wish I could say it was easy and I just put my shoes on twice a week and went for a leisurely jog.  But it wasn't easy.  The first day I felt like my body was ready to give out after about 30 seconds of running. I learned how to pace myself (and kept repeating "it's just 15 minutes").  Then the weirdest thing happened....I started to like it.  I didn't have weight to lose, but my clothes started fitting better.  I had more energy.  I was in a better mood.  The most amazing part? The first month I started running, I didn't develop any cysts.  I thought it might have been a fluke, but then the second month rolled around and I didn't develop any cysts.  It was working!!  Another way I know it was working? When I got sick with Labyrinthitis I didn't run for almost 6 weeks and my cysts returned.  It was a painful reminder of how consistent I have to be.

Running has to be part of my routine, as much as brushing my teeth and doing laundry.  If something is important, we just make time for it.  (This can translate to reading our Bible, etc. etc. etc.).

Our families have been plagued with medical challenges in the last few years.  The unfortunate part is that most of the medical challenges are ones that are avoidable.  High blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes....all complications of obesity and a lack of diet and exercise.  We've learned that it's a choice.  You can choose to exercise or not.  You can choose to eat the right foods.

We choose to eat right (most of the time...we're not perfect).
We choose to exercise.

We choose to help our bodies perform to the best of their ability.

We choose to model healthy living for our kids.
We choose to try and be around for them as long as possible.

I'm not saying we are going to be marathon runners *there's actually evidence that TOO much running is bad also*.  But 15 minutes  a few times a week? I can do that.  I will do that.  I choose to.


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