About Me

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Pittsburgh, PA, United States
Six years ago I decided (age) 42 would be my magic number. I stepped on the scale for the first time in a LONG time. It was a BIG number, it was a SCARY number, but mostly I knew I had to own that number. I lost 40 pounds, leaving the obese category behind. In 2014 I committed myself to working out HARD and a low sugar diet, losing more weight and gaining nice definition. Then life happened, and I lost momentum, gaining some weight back. My goals now are different, and include completing my first ever marathon at age 48. GULP! You can read about the next part of my journey here.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Opposite of Story

I believe in the power of story.  A good story can teach, inspire, persuade, explain, entertain. Through story we connect with each other. A good story is just plain fun.  But our stories about ourselves are our greatest stumbling blocks, so deeply imprinted that we confuse them with "truth."  In the Martha Beck life coaching community, there are countless great examples of how to turn your "sad story" into a story of success.  Facts are facts, but the story around them makes the difference between the tired old life done me wrong song, and the story of the hero's journey.  Playing with the exercise of rewriting your own story is truly powerful, and I highly recommend it.

But.  Lately I feel compelled to leave story behind, wherever possible.  A few weeks ago, I participated in my first triathlon (it was a run-bike-run because the pool was under construction). Not only was it my first triathlon but my first race of any kind (barring the compulsory stuff in junior high).  I never ran in my life before I was 40.  This is not an exaggeration.  I NEVER ran.  I was the kind of kid that liked to read books and watch Bewitched, not run and sweat.  In my twenties, I did a lot of yoga, walked, and lost weight but never ran.  I was planning to write a blog post about the triathlon, but never quite got around to it.  I just was not particularly interested in my own story.  

I came in last in the triathlon, and there are several possible stories to tell, considering that fact. One is a sad story about how this completely demoralized me.  Clearly, this story is false. Another is a story of triumph -- unathletic, nerdy girl discovers her hidden potential at midlife, re invents herself, and finishes a triathlon, despite the emotional struggle of being last.  I could tell this story, and give it the hero's journey slant, but I won't, because I don't connect to it in any way. 

I've become a lot more aware lately about how my own stories about my identity have held me back.  I have always identified as someone who NEVER QUITS.   If I had to walk 100 miles, I would, unless I dropped dead first. But I never thought of myself as someone who was strong. This made weight training difficult at first.  At some point I just gave up the story. I didn't pep talk myself.  I didn't repeat mantras.  I don't tell myself I'm strong. I just gave up the story of "not strong."  My workout record demonstrates I am strong, by most standards, but it's not a story I need to hold onto.  I am working on giving up the story of being "not fast," when it comes to running.  I don't need a story of being "fast." I don't need a story at all to become stronger, faster, and maybe someone who quits a little more often because some things need quitting.

I recently participated in a weight loss contest at work.  I didn't win, and didn't expect to.  I set a goal of losing 18 pounds and lost 14 (in 18 weeks).  I went from a size 12 to a size 6.  When you factor in weight training, 14 pounds can have a much bigger positive effect than you would imagine.  I have no story about this -- it's just something I did.  I don't have a good photo from the start of the weight loss contest, but the one on the top is fairly representative of where I was at the beginning of March, with "after" photo on the bottom (from July 16).

What is the opposite of story? I think it's just living life, one moment at a time.