Throughout my life I’ve never really known what it meant to be proud.
I’ve never sat back in the glow of an accomplishment and basked in its warmth.
Instead, I’ve always shaken it off like it wasn’t a big deal, or worse — concocted some situation whereby it was impossible for me to feel anything other than ashamed.
That was the pattern.
I starved myself of happiness. It’s funny how a man so overweight can be so emaciated.
If there’s one thing this blogging experience has taught me — it’s that I’m not alone. Out there in the world there are millions of people who live the exact same way. And silently, day-by-day they all go about the business of hiding.
They feel shame about their bodies. Their stomach is too big, their chest is to small, their arms aren’t toned, or their ass is too saggy. And because of this they choke themselves off from the rest of the world. And any drop of happiness that may come their way is quickly extinguished, drifting like a dying plume from a candle.
That’s not living. That’s waiting to die. And that’s simply not good enough for anyone. Everyone deserves a shot at turning things around. Some of us just need a little help.
The odd thing about help is you have to be willing to accept it.
In the past eight months I’ve made a series of small changes that have made a big difference.
I now understand what pride feels like — it’s the opposite of shame.
Whether it was my first hike, my first swim, or as simple as my first walk in public in just a t-shirt — all of those things make my heart sing just a little.
I’m now entering my third week of a running program — my first attempt a few months ago was thwarted by a bout of pneumonia. However, this time around I’m stronger, lighter and… well, I’m not hacking like a smoker on a treadmill. So that helps.
I’m experiencing what people refer to as the runners high, and man it’s amazing. Last week I ran for ten minutes, one minute walking and one minute running. Tonight we double that.
Being overweight and running isn’t necessarily the most comfortable feeling in the world. I have at least one thousand pounds of pressure pushing down on my joints, bones, muscles and ligaments with each footstep.
I ache, believe me. But through the creaks and groans of this frame, I’ve never felt this awake, alert, or alive.
And as shame continues to shed its thick calloused skin, the moments of pride that it has been covering for so long are starting to poke through.
And even though I still have quite a lot of work left ahead of me, the ability to feel proud of my accomplishments makes that work a little lighter than it has been.