Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Dangerous Passion

I just bought a new pair of running shoes. Not a huge deal, except that this past year has been completely lacking in something that has been a big part of my life for a long time. 
Sometimes I wondered if I'd ever run again. 

About four years ago I ran a marathon. I had started to train for a marathon that took place in Kentucky with my dad the previous winter. I've been running since I was 12 and it's truly something I love to do; my headphones in my ear, feet pounding the pavement, heart thumping in tune with the music. That rush when you stop and the thunder in your ear as time just slows with your fast breath.

Gypsy Slow Down
Right before my marathon

I was going to school, working in the evenings, and running thirteen miles on the weekends with runs in between. Being so busy meant I was forgetting to eat. Running and not eating enough meant I was losing weight. And losing weight made me feel like I looked good. So I kept it up. And without enough calories and wearing the wrong shoes, eventually I hurt myself. I got a stress fracture on the top of my foot and not only did I have to wear one of those horrible boots and walk around on crutches for weeks, I also didn't get to run my marathon. I was told I could have the fracture forever.

 It was pretty devastating and it taught me a valuable lesson, that our quest for perfection is a dangerous passion. But it was a lesson I unfortunately had to learn twice.

Gypsy Slow Down

Whether it's my looks or what I accomplish, I strive to please. But God isn't interested in perfection. Where I focus is where my heart is. And my heart was messed up, turned inward, focused on myself. My foot healed and I was able to run a half-marathon the next winter and then the full marathon (in a little over 4 hours thanks to my insane aunt who pushed me every step of the way) that February and it was amazing. 
Afterwards. During the marathon I literally thought I was going to die.

After Witt and I got married I trained for another half-marathon with my sister and we completed it in great time. I started to lose weight again because I started to not eat as much. I got very thin and I was not treating my body well. 

Being thin has been something I've striven for my whole life. Whether it was my roommate and I keeping each other on strict diets or judging what the other person was eating or me being at home and just thinking about everything I put into my mouth, it was an obsession. When I was running a lot and I was skipping lunch and snacks at work, it was obsessive. 

Gypsy Slow Down
Golden oldie!

I was a newlywed and while I had it together on the outside, inside I was not happy as I could have been. When your body is unwell, so is your spirit. I was eating but not enough and I was exercising a lot. I was down to the smallest I've ever been, just barely over the BMI for my height. Everyone would say things like, Wow, Claire you are so thin. It felt good. 
Outwardly I thought I looked good and to the world's eyes I might have. But inwardly I was shriveling up, just like my body. 

You would think I had learned my lesson. And just like that, my stress fracture came back.

It's been over a year, a year without running, a year of really coming back to God and him washing away a lot of those old obsessions, a year of a lot of the bitterness in my spirit leaving. In January I went to the doctor for a yearly exam and she said, well, we've gained weight this year! And I had. And she said, you can keep it up. Isn't that freeing? I am so much happier now that I'm taking care of myself. Now that the obsession has slid off my back, almost to the ground. I don't care if I don't exercise one day. It doesn't bother me to have a burger and fries at a pub. Before I would have felt guilty, would have punished myself the next day. 

I enjoy people more. I love my relationship with Witt, love how he loves my body the way it is now so much better than when I was as thin as I thought I should be. 
One chapter in Bread and Wine that I loved was her struggle with hunger and feeling ashamed for being hungry. That age old pressure on women to be thin and small. Like her, I've always had a huge appetite. I eat as much as Witt sometimes at meals. And I'm no longer ashamed of that. If I was eating cookies and cake all day, maybe there would be a problem. But when I am eating good food, I will eat as much as I need.

In Bread and Wine she also said that she has always felt that when she has an issue she wants to solve it and close the book on it forever. But that's not how life is. And this chapter on her weight and body image will always be open, will always be something that she has to resolve over and over. Good days and bad days.

Gypsy Slow Down

I feel the same way. But I've come a long way. And there are good days and bad days. I'm a good size for me now. I'm 5'11 and I know that as life goes on and there are children and growing older I'll likely look different. But this is the weight that my body has always gone back to at this point in my life. And for some it's a different weight. Bigger or smaller. Why do we all want to fit into the same mold?

This fall I will start running again. My foot is better and I got fitted for the right shoes to help with my fracture. I want to run a half-marathon with my sister in December. 
I love to run and this time I want to do it for the right reasons. This time I want to remember why I loved to run in the first place, because it feels good, because it makes my body strong and because when I run I feel free, something I should feel every single day. 

We should all feel free.

Gypsy Slow Down

I love those old photos of us and how much we've changed, in many ways!

We had Witt's family over the other night and we had a great time. I made flourless chocolate cake parfaits in a martini glass. I love making flourless chocolate cake because it's a really easy recipe to make sugar-free and it's wonderful with fresh fruit.

French Chocolate Cake with Stevia

5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream plus one cup for topping
3 tablespoons butter
5 eggs
11/2 cup stevia in the raw plus 3 tablespoons for cream
1 teaspoon vanilla plus 1/2 for cream
Fresh fruit of your choice

Heat oven to 350. In a heavy bottomed saucepan heat 2/3 cup whipped cream until bubbly. Turn off heat and add chocolate squares. Cover and let sit for 3-4 minutes until chocolate has melted. Stir in butter. In mixer, beat eggs 7-8 minutes until tripled in size. Add one cup stevia to eggs in last minute of beating. Add 1/2 cup stevia and 1 teaspoon vanilla to the chocolate mixture. Grease a cake pan. Fold chocolate mixture into egg whites, carefully combining. The folding parts takes a few minutes as you want to incorporate the two very well but not totally deflate the egg whites. Pour into pan and bake for 15-20 minutes until sides are slightly cracked and center is set. Meanwhile, whip the cream until stiff and add 3 tablespoons stevia and vanilla. When cake is cool, layer crumbled cake with whipped cream and fresh fruit in a martini glass. Garnish with a mint leaf.

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