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Chasing Freedom

Reclaiming Fitness Pt. 2

By June 7, 2013 March 18th, 2014 4 Comments

Reclaiming Fitness Pt. 2But I didn’t plan to give up running. In fact, over the next several weeks in Washington, I explored new routes, trying to find a way to get 10-15 miles in without getting lost. One morning, after my mother had visited, I was supposed to take her to the airport by 11 a.m.

“I’m just going to head out for a quick run tomorrow before we go,” I promised Mom. “I’ll leave early, so that I can get home and get you to the airport in plenty of time.”

Mom just barely caught her plane.

I kept seeing Laurie, telling her the things I knew she wanted to hear. She didn’t keep a scale in her office. She said it distracted her clients. Instead, once a month, we borrowed her colleague’s digital bathroom scale. When I asked her why she didn’t use a big, doctor’s style scale, she asked me why quarter pounds were important.

I rode my bike to Laurie’s office, ten miles from our house.

“What was your workout today,” she asked me every time.

“I just did some yoga, actually.” But I kept my bike stuffed under her fat, green bushes, so she never knew about my “unofficial” workout.

I never meant to quit. I only tweaked little things. I heard the Holy Spirit tell me to start doing my quiet time with Him before I worked out. Part way through the deployment, Patrick suggested that I get a dog. My new five pound companion, Brave, liked slow walks and playful romps much better that long distance runs.

In the quiet of my prayer chair, early mornings were so much more delicious and fulfilling than they’d ever been on long runs in the dark. Meandering walks with my puppy, watching him eat grasshoppers, or stopping for every child on the street to pet him, swelled my heart with a gratitude that I never felt over a new pair of Asics.

Running fell away like a mysterious shadow. It had never had substance, only floated behind me, reminding me of where I’d been, what I’d once accomplished, and driving me to do more.

It’s been five years now since I sat in Laurie’s office, hoping she couldn’t read my mind, knowing that she probably could. Today, I find myself barely running at all. I’m still active. I love to move. But the compulsion, the phantom fear that I can never stop, never do less, is gone.

When I ran, I used to inhale constantly. Often, I finished a run feeling like a bloated, miserable balloon. But recently, I’m adopting yoga, learning to match my smooth deep inhales with full, complete exhales. I feel like I’m blowing away all my effort and self sufficiency, trusting that like my breath, it will come back to me.

In yoga, my movement isn’t a workout, it’s called practice. Yoga leaves me room for failure, for days of less and infinite days of more.

Much as running melted away, my healthy body has resurfaced. And I’m not afraid of it, of its size, of its potential or its failure. I’m actually reclaiming my love of, discovering the true definition of fitness.

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Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • kathy says:

    I enjoy reading your posts Abby. My running of about 20 miles per week I dont feel is necessarily obsessive.
    (training for a half) But it is the “urgency” to have to get it done sometimes that is obsessive. There’s ALWAYS this fine line between obsession and just being mindful and taking care of our temples.
    Thanks for your posts

    • Abby says:

      Kathy,

      I appreciate your heart and your attentiveness to thin line separating the joy of moving our bodies, the fantastic freedom God has given us to use them expressively – and the danger of using them to serve a false god of thinness, superior fitness or otherwise.

      Good luck on your half marathon. Racing can be such a fun experience, especially when you can do with a bunch of girl friends (:

      Blessings! And thank you for the encouragement. I’m honored that God used my story to strengthen you!

  • Michaela says:

    Thank you so much. I am so obsessive about my workouts. Some of my reasons for working out aren’t “bad” necessarily. I’m in the Army and I need to stay fit. And I love to run. But there’s this extra thing there like a tumor…I push too hard when I could just enjoy it. I just tore a muscle in my calf and the thought of taking a break from running for a couple weeks sends me into panic. Your posts are very encouraging.
    Thanks again!

    • Abby Kelly says:

      Oh Michela,
      I’ve been exactly there and my heart hurts with you. A tumor is a great description, like a cancer devouring something that could be beautiful, wonderful and fun. I’ll be praying for you!

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