I find it fitting that the Bariathlete’s home page has a definition of what it means – transformation through weight loss surgery, the ability & desire to do new things with our bodies – things that were previously difficult, and/or impossible. It’s nice to have a word defined for us – and to be able to grasp the meaning. Sometimes the definition is more “meaningful” to one group of people than others, based on life and circumstance.
Therein lies my internal struggle – defining myself as an ATHLETE. What does that mean? Where are the clear-cut boundaries? When will I know that I’ve arrived?
I am two and one-half years post-RNY. I have lost the majority of my weight, though I never quite reached the number-goal I had set for myself. (NOT a problem in my head…another day’s topic.) I have FOUND LIFE…which was the majority of the reason I underwent surgery in the first place. I have CHANGED, though from time to time my food-addiction-monster likes to TRY and rear its ugly head. But, I want to be an ATHLETE!!!
I found the Bariathlete’s web page (and Lea) two weeks after my surgery. She has walked me through countless races – 5K, 10K, a ½ marathon, a duathlon, a triathlon, and met me at the finish line of my FIRST MARATHON. Friends look at my accomplishments, and say, “I couldn’t do what she does – she’s an athlete.” (To which I always reply, “Anyone CAN do what I can do – but not everyone WANTS to do what I do.”)
The struggle is that I know that I’ve mostly walked these races, regularly not hit my planned training targets, could have given just a little more most days, eaten a little better, and on and on and on. I hobbled the last three miles of my marathon, likely because I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been. I am currently nursing ANOTHER injury – because I didn’t do what I knew I should have done (strength & stretch-wise) while training for this next marathon (ending in my now having to plan to do a half instead of a full).
I don’t LOOK like an athlete. Hovering right at 200 pounds (whether training or not), I am down to a size Large in most clothes. But, the saggy skin on my arms & thighs disguises the muscles below. (Those looking at me don’t know the saggy stuff is just skin, and not fat waving at them.) I am still classified as “Athena” at triathlons – meaning “bigger than most?”
So, am I “really” an athlete? Have I arrived?
The fact is, YES, I AM. People get hurt…athletes and non-athletes alike. The summer leading to my decision to have WLS, I spent nine weeks in a cast – due to severe pain from NOT doing anything. My father stepped wrongly off a curb, fracturing his ankle. My non-weight-challenged friends who train for IronMan regularly have setbacks due to training issues. Injuries happen. Life happens – to athletes and non-athletes alike.
I AM AN ATHLETE – I do what athletes do. I plan, I prepare as best I can, I have a life, I have injuries, I recover. I walk, I run, I bike, and when I’m feeling particularly spunky, I swim, or go rafting, or even Stand-Up Paddleboarding lately. I will never be the fastest. Currently my run/walk breakdown (a la the Galloway Method) is 1:1 – making my per mile pace a very exciting 14:45 on a good day. But that’s a far cry from my 21:00 during my first 5K!
I AM AN ATHLETE. I may not fit “the” mold…but that 26.2 is firmly tattooed on my heart! Marathon, cycling, swimming…may not be your thing – but YOU get to decide & define for yourself! Go forth and “Athlete!”