Monday, April 1, 2013
When people ask me why I run, I never give them the full story. I give them the Silent cliff notes. I tell them, I run because I can. Running clears my mind and it is the most freeing part of my day. Even though I don't always feel like it, I run because the results of my running is something I want to maintain as long as humanly possibly.
But, these aren't the only reasons I run. I run because I have a duty to stay on this earth as long as I can. I know that I cannot control my future, but there are some things that I take ownership of and that is my health. Not many people know this but I for a long time I was upset with my mother for dying at such a young age. How could I be mad about a stroke that was uncontrollable? Well I was 18 and I didn't know much about heart disease but I knew this much, if you take care of yourself and workout regularly, you can reduce your chances of fatal heart disease. My grandmother had passed away from a stroke when I was a little girl so my mother knew the risks. Doctors had encouraged her to take better care of herself for years. What the doctors hadn't taken into account was the 4 full time jobs she was working.
My mother had a full time job with Los Angeles County she held for years in order to take care of her girls on her own. Her other three full time jobs, her daughters, never wanted for anything. They were clothed, fed and had a roof over their heads for years after their fathers departure. So, my mother and her health took a backseat. She never worked out, always smoked cigarrettes and consistenly consumed meals that included only easy to prepare processed snacks and fast food. Unfortunately, genetics combined with years of bad habits took my mother away from me forever when she was barely 51 years old and I 18.
I remember a year later crying inconsolably at the anniversary of her passing. I was mad that she hadn't made changes in order to be there for me as long as possible. I decided to be the change I desired. I was going to follow a healthy lifestyle in order to prevent fatal heart disease. But I knew that it wasn't happening at 19 so I chose to make changes at age 28. Why 28? Honestly it seemed far enough away for me to still enjoy the terrible food I was consuming that I believed was more important than my health but early enough to prevent permanent damage.
At age 19, I was already very physically active. I was a cross country runner and basketball player in high school and when I graduated from high school, the cute LA thing to do was to join a gym. I had no idea what I was doing but I looked damn cute doing it. In college, I never went too long between workouts and I maintained this routine for years. At age 25 I picked up long distance running again and willingly entered runs several times a year. As my age increased, so did the length of my runs. I completed my first half marathon last year and I will be running the NYC full marathon the day after my 29th birthday this year.
But for a long time, I continued to eat like a 19 year old in mourning. Up until last year, I didn't pay attention to the nutritional value of food I placed in my body. As long as it tasted good, I was eating it. For this reason, I wasn't completely taking good care of myself.
Now, much to the chagrin of my friends, I watch not only what I eat, but also what the person across from me that I care about is eating. I'm not at a point where I am an annoying health nut, although a few of my friends might strongly disagree. I still enjoy fluff meals and sweet treats a few times a week but I am better than I have been and will continue getting better as years go by. These new eating habits coupled with consistent running have resulted in me being in the best shape of my life.
These days, I am no longer upset with my mother for her untimely passing. I know there are things that were out of her control and people she cared more about than herself. Namely, myself and sisters. However, I made a vow to myself at 19 that I would do everything in my power to prevent heart disease by following a heart healthy lifestyle.
I do not smoke, I watch what I eat, I maintain a healthy weight, I get my regular health screenings and... I run.