As an active person who enjoys running and working out very much, I have come across more than a handful or twenty of these “Streak Challenges.” I have even participated in several of them….actually I am part of the Ragnar 31 Day Challenge through the end of this month. These challenges can be anything from running, walking, hiking, swimming or just any sort of intentional movement. I have participated in many of these challenges looking for some inspiration and encouragement. They offer that to participants through their Facebook pages, events and daily texts with quick advice. They even offer, at a steep price, shirts and medals that I quickly purchased to feel part of the group and the challenge. I mean, we all want to feel like we are part of a group, right?? I certainly did feel that sense of belonging and group synergy….but I also felt something else…..anxiety, depression, unworthiness and just overall crappy about myself. There were so many nights where I sat in bed at 9:00pm, exhausted by a full day of working and committee meetings. Now as I lay there, all I could think about was how the hell I was going to get my 30 minutes of whatever movement in before I fell asleep. Some of these nights, my movement was stretching in bed or attempting some half-assed yoga in bed with my pajamas on already. Many more of these nights ended up with me thinking about how crappy I was going to feel if I DIDN’T get my movement in. I felt like I was a complete failure. I felt like I was not as good as the other people doing their daily movement and posting it all over Facebook. I also felt very anxious that I might not get the next day’s movement in if I didn’t just go to bed and get my average of 5-6 hours of sleep that night. I felt like there was something I was not doing correctly…I mean all these other people got their movement in today….what the hell is wrong with me? I felt unworthy to participate in the group any longer as I had failed at the streak. No movement=no worth to me.
I started to think about why I put myself into the situation that I could ever possibly feel like that. I know I am worthy. I know I am not a failure. I know I put more movement in then most people. But yet, I felt very bad about myself for 30 frickin’ minutes that I didn’t move. I have worked very hard over the last 5 years or so to really discover who I am as a person, as a mother, as a friend, as a daughter, as a girlfriend and as an athlete. I was never one of the skinny, fast girls that took first place in their cute little shorts during the mile run at the 5th grade track meet. I have ALWAYS had bigger thighs. I used to try to hide them at all cost. They were embarrassing….especially when they developed cellulite in Junior High. Not until I started working out again after giving birth to my son in 2002 did I decided that my thighs were a thing of beauty and I should be praising them, not hiding them. My thighs allow me to participate in so many activities I hardly have time to rest. They have carried me 50 miles in a Trail Ultra through a spring snowstorm. They have allowed me to hike 50 solo miles of the Superior Hiking Trail with ease. They have pedaled a Fat Bike through 40 miles of a snow and ice during a Winter Ultra race. All these things along with training for all of those events and everyday activities that I enjoy doing. My thighs have allowed my social life and my circle of friends to expand and connections to deepen. I have such deep friendships and relationships with people that I met by running in groups or at running events. I don’t know what I would do without these people in my life! They have become one of the pillars of life that keeps me balanced and at peace with myself. My thighs are the one body part that I have loathed the most in my lifetime but have brought be so much joy at the same time!
Joy comes to me in so many forms. Seeing the sunrise on the top of a bluff while out trail running. Witnessing a friend complete their first triathlon with a huge smile on their face. Watching my kids be happy in their own lives. Chatting with my sister on a hike in the middle of nowhere. Sitting quietly on top of a trail looking out over the beautiful lakes of northern Minnesota. I do not find joy when I say to myself “get your butt moving for 30 minutes or you have failed!” I don’t feel the need to force myself into situations where I question my own self worth over 30 minutes of movement. I understand that this type of commitment might work for some people that want some accountability for their movement daily. Nevertheless, at the cost of my own self-worth, it is no longer a challenge I choose to accept. The challenge I am going to hold myself to will be the “No Streak Challenge” challenge. I want to stay positive about myself and what my body is capable of doing on any particular day. If my body says it needs a day of rest, I WILL take a day of rest. If I worked hard the day before with perhaps a workout in the morning and a workout in the evening, I WILL rest the next day. Moreover, I WILL feel good about myself for listening to my body and giving it the rest and break it deserves! I mean, my gosh, if you had to do what the body does just to keep us alive plus all the extra strains we put on it, you would be tired too! In fact…you ARE….listen to your body! I will no longer feel unworthy, unwanted and unaccomplished. I will feel joy in allowing my body to push when needed and to rest when needed!
No movement=rest and internal peace, not guilt and self-degradation.