I used to run. A lot.
In 2008, after mercifully dispatching two back-to-back serious relationships, I overhauled my lifestyle. That’s to say, I became a vegetarian, I bought a pair of running shoes, then spent the better part of that year learning the novel notion of self-care; I learned what mattered to me outside the context of a relationship. That was pretty neat. It was a lot of work, but neat.
In the ensuing decade, I ran two marathons (terribly), and a smattering of 5k’s, 10k’s, and half marathons (opposite of terribly). When I get in the groove of it all and settle into a routine, I love the way etching positive habits and discipline into my prefrontal cortex makes me feel. A cocktail of the endorphin variety.
I haven’t run in five months, though, eschewing the many pleasures of hauling my doughy sack of flesh outside to knock out a few miles, for the insidious pseudo-pleasures of after work martinis and afternoon weekend Manhattans (though, towards the end, morning Manhattans). Being drunk also meant eating like shit, and eating a lot of shit. And so I did, and would, and how!
It’s no secret that fat shaming is awful and not the way forward. It’s a losing man’s game. But the shame we feel for ourselves, that savagely mean motherfucker of a critic inside my head is giving me the most grief. I have a healthy level of vanity, sure, that’s fine. But I also have a stable, not-so-fleeting memory of how it feels to feel good. I felt good when I was 34 pounds lighter and in shape; I felt good when running half a mile didn’t leave me winded and wanting to heave; I felt good knowing I was taking care of myself, and it’d show. And now, ten years after running my first marathon, that inner voice is like, “look at what you’ve become, you fat loser.” Among other things.
So, just like overhauling my lifestyle and taking charge of my health ten years ago amidst two heart-smothering breakups (with guys who were ultimately no good for me), I’m doing the exact same now, but with booze. That relationship is over. It wasn’t good for me. Although I already have pangs of separation anxiety, there will be beauty beyond this layover in what feels like profound loss.
I’m taking up running again, starting today. This time, however, with no foreseeable goal in mind other than hitting the road and logging miles, clearing my head, and weaponizing the benefits of exercise to combat the emptiness of abandoning an addiction. These first few weeks will be slow, painful, and embarrassing. It will take a lot of work getting back in shape, just like being sober is going to take a lot of work. But I’m so ready to actually do the fucking work, and get as bloody and humiliated as I need to get. It’ll be worth it.