Today’s morning post is brought to you by a reader named Beth. Enjoy!
When Caitlin changed the name of her blog from See Bride Run to Healthy Tipping Point, I didn’t give much thought to the meaning behind the terminology. Like so many bloggers and blog readers, I, too had once had a healthy tipping point – something that made me change my life for the better, lose weight, and commit to a healthier lifestyle. Or so I thought.
After college, I lost about 20 pounds and shifted my eating habits toward a balanced diet. But let me be honest: my fitness journey has always been motivated by vanity. Sure, I love the feeling of accomplishment that comes from finishing a long run, and I take pride in creating beautiful, healthy meals from seasonal ingredients. But really…I exercise and eat well because I want to look good. For the last nine years, I’ve been working toward smaller hips, buffer arms, a flatter tummy and a tighter butt. I want to go down a size, accentuate my assets and make the world think I’m at least two years away from turning 30 (when, in fact, I just hit that milestone in December. Don’t tell anyone.). I appreciate the good health that comes from all of this hard work. But throughout my 20s, if you were to ask me why I take such good care of myself, my first response would likely be, "Because I’d be fat if I didn’t!"
It wasn’t until recently that I reassessed my priorities and shifted my thinking about health and fitness. Sadly, this comes as a result of a friend’s pain and suffering. An otherwise healthy 31-year-old, my friend visited her doctor complaining of shortness of breath and swelling in her leg. She was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, and in the span of a month, went from living her life to being scheduled for an emergency heart and double lung transplant. She survived the surgery, recovered at home, and amazed us all by returning to work six months later.
However, the excitement was short lived: An infection forced her back into the hospital last month, and as her body fought to ward off the germs, it also turned against her new organs, catapulting her into rejection. She’s now back to square one, sitting in the hospital and waiting to be re-listed for yet another set of organs. Even the smallest tasks feel like a marathon, as she can barely take the few steps to the bathroom without feeling short of breath. Medications have dried out her mouth making it difficult to swallow solid food, and her muscles are weak from weeks of inactivity.
Visiting her in the hospital has brought forth a range of emotions – fear, of course, along with sadness and anxiety over her pending operation and arduous recovery process. But after working through these feelings, I also found myself reflecting on how her experience has changed my perspective on my own health and fitness. Being fit and healthy is not a given….it’s a gift. I am blessed to have the ability to run, climb stairs, lift weights, and hell – even get out of bed in the morning. Instead of running one more mile to burn 100 extra calories, I should run one more mile because my heart and lungs allow me to do so, because my body is privileged and powerful enough to do so.
I suppose you could say this is my way of closing the door on fat talk. I still care about how I look, but I’m choosing now to focus on the full scope of my fitness accomplishments and how they contribute to a pretty amazing life. My body may have a few wrinkles, dimples, rolls and folds, but it’s also carried me through three half marathons, countless hikes, and treks across some of the most amazing cities in the world. It’s something to appreciate and to be thankful for every day.