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Face Your Fears, Baby!

Posted Apr 16 2012 4:09pm

I know there are lots of people in the world doing amazing things every day, and the Olympics are coming to town soon – so my miniscule athletic prowess isn’t all that impressive in the grand scheme of things… But today, for the first time since I broke my knees in 2007 (actually considerably longer than that – I’ve never been particularly fit!)…

…I ran!

On a treadmill!

I’ve had the fear of doing that for years and years – not just because I couldn’t walk without dislocating a knee. When I was in school, I hated running. I’ve just got no natural aptitude for it. Plus, there are all the embarrassing things that come with being the fat girl trying to run – the jiggling boobs, the wobbling butt, the ill-fitting clothes… It’s just not a good look.

So, for the whole time I’ve been trying to get fit, I’ve avoided it.

But today, I woke up with a bit of a fire in my belly and headed out to the gym, determined to stomp into Monday. Music on, head down, I was doing my usual program on the treadmill – and then possibly one of my favourite motivational tunes ever came on. (If you’re interested, you can find it here – forgive the family plug, but she really is fabulous and it’s a great song!)

Next thing I know, I’ve got the finger down hard on the speed button and I was off! Only for a minute, mind – but I did that three times before the end of my workout. You know, rinse and repeat.

Given I thought for a very long time that I wouldn’t be able to walk without discomfort for what was looking like the rest of my life, this was no small thing for me. So you’ll have to forgive me if I’m feeling rather self-congratulatory – I haven’t yet high-fived my reflection… But give it time.

It did make me think, though, how much of both the weight loss, and the PhD, are about squaring up to ‘the fear’ and charging it head on. I know many of my fellow PhDs will be familiar with ‘impostor syndrome,’ whereby you spend your days waiting to be found out as undeserving of your place in academia – and as a fat girl in the gym, you spend a lot of time waiting for the tap on the shoulder asking you to leave. I even feel like a bit of an impostor now – I’m definitely not done being the ‘fat girl’ yet, so writing a blog about fitness seems a little bit wrong.

But these sorts of things can stop you doing what you need to do. God knows it’d be easier to just go home and live up to the stereotype with a bucket of Ben & Jerry’s, drop out of the PhD, cancel my gym membership for pizza money, yadda yadda… That would be easy.

But is easy what you want?

Remember the times you’ve kicked ass, and had that brief flash of not feeling like an impostor. Those moments, basically, where you feel like the business. Take those moments, cling to them – and then get off your ass and make them happen more often! That feeling, I think, is worth a whole lifetime of ‘easy.’

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