Last week, I found myself on an uphill swing when I discovered that I could indeed run when I put my mind to it. Running has always been my most hated form of exercise, ever since I was a kid being forced to do the dreaded mile run in grade school. By the time I got to high school, running the mile was the closest thing to torture I could think of. Luckily, I had a partner-in-crime who felt the same way. Brooke and I became friends during our freshman year and were pretty much inseparable for the next two years. She and I shared a common interest in uncontrollable laughter, sleeping through religion class, and generally getting into all sorts of mischief. The mile run during PE was a classic example of our wiley ways.
Our beautiful high school was situated on acres and acres of woods and rolling hills. It featured a large creek, a stable, and a few other cool old buildings and natural landmarks that our gym teacher used as markers for the run. We were instructed to start at the field and loop back via the route she had carefully planned. Since there was only one teacher, we were trusted to take the mile route on our own and get back in a sensible amount of time. The first few attempts at this run always ended the same way; Brooke and I strolling up to the field a half hour later, giggling, and getting dirty looks from our red-faced and out-of-breath classmates. Eventually, we grew tired of our teacher being frustrated with us so we devised a plan that only we could come up with. Instead of actually trying harder, we decided to wait until our classmates all passed us, then duck behind the bushes near the stable and wait until they looped back around and got a good distance ahead. Then, we would jump out from behind the bushes and jog back to the field, arriving only a minute or so behind the rest. Everyone seemed happy with our feigned attempt at moving our booties. We carried on this way for the rest of the school year, even going so far as to plant sleeping bags and thermoses of hot chocolate in our little hiding spot when the weather turned cold and snowy. Somehow, no one ever discovered our secret.
Eventually, Brooke moved on to a different school but we've remained the best of friends to this day. When I told her about my newly discovered running ability, she and I laughed about our high school past as if we were right back in the tenth grade again. It's amazing what we did to avoid being healthy back then. It's not like we pigged out on McDonalds daily and sat on the couch twenty-four-seven, but priorities were definitely different. All we needed to worry about was school, friends, boys, and having fun. My, how times have changed. When I think about my priorities now, I realize that health is nearly at the top of my list, running a close second behind family. I wonder, what might be different now if I had put my health and wellness at the top of the list back then? Would I be in the position of having to worry about fitting into my wedding dress now? Would I be less concerned about how I looked in a bathing suit? And would I give a second thought to my cholesterol or other weight-related health issues? Maybe, but what's the point of wondering?
As we age, it becomes part of our jobs as adults to re-prioritize and care more about our health. Of course, life might be easier now if I did put a bit more emphasis on it was I was a teenager, but there's no going back now. The best thing I can do is keep lacing up those running shoes and quit hiding behind any proverbial bushes. Facing life and all its challenges head on is what's shaping me both physically and emotionally as a thirty-one year old woman. I'm not a teenager anymore...and that's a good thing!
Published On: August 24, 2010