FiAs – we are all ambassadors of this amazing group of strong women. And this time of year, as the excesses of season seem to pile up and the focus on what is truly important seems confused for many in our communities, I hope you will reflect on the impact FiA has had on your path and consider sharing it with others. This may lead to some awkward conversations as you try to explain the whole 5:15am meetup, the nicknames, parking decks and in the rain craziness…so may I suggest you point potential FNGs to this beautiful post penned by Tupelo Honey? This may be the nudge someone you care about needs. Thank you, Tupelo, for your testimony.
A Love Letter to Running and to FiA
What a great year dedicated to taking my fitness back, after a 3-4 year hiatus to have two babies and to complete my master’s/NP degree. I took up running as a way to dive back into fitness and, boy, has it been a rewarding (and challenging) experience! Before this year I was NEVER a “runner” (some would even question that now, since sometimes I’m more of a jogger), although I had “dabbled” previously.
I don’t have a runner’s physique, I don’t find running easy, and I am slower than most others who consider themselves runners. Even dabbling, I had never done more than a 5k before this year and even then, I couldn’t run the entire thing.
When I first started (consistently) running at the beginning of this year, I couldn’t even run a full mile and it would take me around 15 mins to do so.
This past year, I’ve completed multiple races, including: 2! half marathons, several mud runs, several obstacle course runs, a Spartan race, a Warrior Dash, several trail runs, a 12k, an 8k, a Turkey Trot, and multiple other 5ks, not to mention, possibly hundreds of miles in training runs (alongside some amazing women)! And I’ve already lined up races for next year – thanks to these women!
I’m not fast and I will never win races (and that’s ok), but I’ve fallen in love. I love the way I feel after having a good run, or even after a bad one, because I did it. I got up, laced up my shoes, and went for it.
I love the way it feels to accomplish another fitness goal.
I love that I’ve lost (slowwwly) about 20 pounds (I do still have a few to go before getting to my “happy, healthy weight”), along with losing several inches, and that I’ve dropped 2-3 (depending on the fit) pant sizes.
Not to mention, I LOVE my running partners, who are dear friends, whom I’ve met and run with this entire year! They push me, inspire me, motivate me, and they keep me going, even when I don’t want to.
I love that I have changed my lifestyle and my diet. I’ve changed to a mostly plant-based diet and I eat better and healthier. I don’t (usually) – hey I’m not perfect – turn to food for comfort anymore. I’ve significantly decreased my daily caloric intake and I now choose better foods and smaller portions overall.
I love that when my kids see me putting on sneakers they ask, “Are you going for a run, Mommy?” (I can’t wait until they can run with me).
I love that I now feel like my outside (mostly) matches my inside.
Let me explain:
In my 20s, I was constantly told I was beautiful. However, I didn’t “believe” that I was beautiful, or at least not deep down in my heart, or in my soul, because I struggled (like a lot of young women) with self-esteem issues. Of course, I would have my good days, when I was all “glammed up” with my “face” on, aka my make-up done to perfection and with my clothes done to a tee. (I would never even let anyone see me without make-up on, especially my eyeliner. I was obsessed with it and would even re-apply my eyeliner multiple times in one night!! Previous to my now husband, rarely had anyone ever seen me without any make-up on. Anyway, I digress). Inside, I was struggling with low self-esteem, low self confidence, and low self-worth. My inside didn’t match my outside.
In my early 30s, I started to really “find” myself and started to truly grasp self-confidence and genuine self-esteem that had eluded me for so long. I began to feel more and more comfortable with myself and who I was as a person, as a whole. I began to realize that my worthiness wasn’t tied to my looks at all, but to my heart and to my soul. And my heart was good and my soul was good (not perfect, but good). While I no longer had the long, dark, flowing locks (I had started having grey hairs creep in), and I no longer had the glowing, fresh-faced skin (I had started getting wrinkles, laugh lines, and sun spots), and I no longer had the long and lean body I once had (we know what happens there when bulges start to appear in odd places); I had still learned what it was like to accept myself fully and to love myself unconditionally, flaws and all, inside and out.
But by my late 30s, once again, my outside didn’t match my inside. I was way more secure and confident in who I was as an overall person and woman. I was fully secure with my stance in life and where I was going. Not to mention I had a great husband who loved me no matter what and still told me almost daily how attractive I was to him.
However, I had also gained more weight than I would have liked (in the process of birthing babies and finishing grad school). My fitness and physical health had taken a backseat to everything else going on in my life.
Approximately one year ago, around this very time, I was sitting in my kitchen talking with a friend about how I was starting to become very uncomfortable with my body, with my weight gain, with my eating habits, and with my complete lack of physical activity. I talked about needing to match up my outside with my inside, once again. I talked about wanting to be a good role model for my kids and wanting to incorporate lots of physical activity into our daily lives.
And that very week, I signed up for a running group, Run For Your Life. There, I met some amazing people who helped kick off my running life and launch me back into physical activity. And that quickly led me to what is probably one of the most amazing groups I’ve ever belonged to, FiA (Females In Action), which has been a God-send. As someone else stated, “I may not even know some of their real names, or what they look like in the daytime with actual clothes on, or what they even do for a living, but I know how they make me feel.”
There is just something about meeting up as the very first order of business for the day, having just rolled out of bed, bare-faced, in the dark, before the crack of dawn (before the rest of the day’s challenges creep in), outdoors (no matter the weather or elements), in a parking lot, or a park, or a parking garage, while 95% of the city is still sleeping, all with the same goal in mind: to get or stay fit and to help encourage each other along the way, making each other and ourselves stronger all the way around (mind, body, soul) in the process.
I still vividly remember my very first post, on a January morning, 1/12/15 to be exact, on a Monday, at Lion’s Den. It was very cold and it was raining. I didn’t have any gloves and Whistle handed me hers to use. It was Firecracker’s birthday and we were doing birthday burpees and push ups under the awning. I remember thinking, “Wow, these girls are hard core. This is exactly the kick in the rear that I need.” And I’ve been hooked ever since.
When people say, “What’s the catch?!” I honestly say, “There is none. Unless you consider working out at 5am a catch. Even then, you get used to that, and the pros FAR outweigh the cons.”
So, thank you, running. And a huge and heartfelt thank you to FiA, to the ladies who started this group, and to those who keep it thriving by showing up every morning to make it happen!! We are truly #BetterTogether. #FiAmetro #FiAChangesLives