Six months ago, in the beginning of April I told you that I was breaking my silence and returning to blogging. Alongside that, in the “This is #MyBariLife” blog, I announced that thanks to the good folks over at BariLife I was going to get the opportunity to not only find my voice again, but to try to gain back something else that I had lost over the course of the last year and a half, my love of running.
Motivation is a strange thing. Different things motivate us at different times in our journey. There was a time that running was like therapy to me. It provided me an emotional connection to my father, it provided me a way to release emotions that I didn’t know how to deal with. It provided me moments of quietness and solitude that allowed me time to process my emotions and work thought them. Moments that I rarely remember to take and often underestimate the importance of.
Even on some of my worst days, I had the motivation to run.
Because any time I ran, I felt better. But, then that changed. The time, money and solitude that running provided me became the source of drama and confrontation in the relationship that I was in, and slowly, because I started associating negative things with running, I became less motivated to do it.
When BariLife came along and offered to give me a redo by allowing me to go back to Paris and gave me a second opportunity to participate in the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend event, I found that some of that motivation again.
As I said motivation is strange. It changes. This wasn’t the same motivation I once had. I wasn’t really motivated to run. I was motivated to try to find my motivation again. I was empowered by the opportunity to go on an adventure where I could try to find what I had lost.
I was inspired by the fact that I had the opportunity to travel to a different country and run a half marathon there instead of just running some local event in town.
I found inspiration and hope in the fact that I had a chance to redo an experience that hadn’t turned out quite the way I wanted it to the first time.
I felt driven and compelled by the fact that I had the opportunity to share this adventure with all of you. I was moved by the fact that sharing this adventure might help inspire others.
Motivation is a constant internal conversation with yourself.
I’ll talk about that more in my upcoming race re-cap. The little conversations you have in your head when you must convince yourself to keep going even when your body is tired and you’re struggling. Those internal conversations with yourself are literally one of your most powerful self-motivating tools.
It might be the conversation you have with yourself at mile 11 when you’ve hit a wall and you’ve got to push to finish. It might be the dialogue you have with yourself a 6am when you don’t want to be awake, you don’t really want to go for that training run and you must talk yourself into doing it and remind yourself of why your there.
The way you speak to yourself, the conversations you have with yourself during your training and during your runs, are important. These moments, where you are the only one that can say the thing you need to hear to help yourself keep pushing are the times when you must be your own biggest fan.
Those conversations my friends, that is the stuff that motivation is made of.
I have learned something through this return to running that I want to share with you. I had lost my motivation to run because it had lost so much of the positivity that it once had in my life. But, I allowed that. I allowed negativity into my head space during my runs. I decided what I was thinking about and what I was feeling. I decided what conversations I was having internally when I ran.
Motivation has two i’s in it.
I’ve learned that when it comes to running and my own personal motivation to do it, I must own those two i’s. I must remember that this is something I want to do and that I am the one who controls my experience. Those are my i’s. I want this. I control this.
If I focus on the negative things going on in my life when I am running, then I can’t blame anyone else but me for the negative things I associate with it. But, if I focus on the positive things, remind myself that this is about me, about me living the best version of #MyBariLife possible, then it can be what it once was, a time of respite from all the negativity. A time of escape where I focus on myself and what I am going to do to continue making my life after weight loss the best that it can be.
I’ve always said, tell yourself you can’t do something, and you won’t. Tell yourself you can, believe in yourself and do everything you can to achieve your goals and you won’t be saying “I can,” you’ll be saying “I did.”
At every single Disney run event I have ever done, I’ve purchased the souvenir t-shirt that says, “I did it.” Every one of those shirts has signified that I accomplished the distance.
This time was different. Every run before this, I had the passion and the love of running already inside me when I started training. When I reached the finish line, the celebration was in the fact that I had accomplished the distance or put another half marathon on the books.
I didn’t know it yet, but this was about way more than running.
As a sexual abuse survivor (see my previous blogs in which I discuss this) , I have lived a great deal of my life telling myself that I won’t allow what others did to me to be what defines me. I’ve worked very hard to make sure that the life I live is mine and that I do not give them the power of allowing their abuse to be a determining factor in how I love and in how I experience relationships and intimacy. Some days that is harder than others.
What I realized, in the last five months as I tried to take back my love of running, was that I had to apply the same survivor mentality. I had to stop letting the last year and half define the experience for me. I had to stop letting what I had gone through influence how I experienced something that should be good, healthy and positive.
It was about how I define myself. It was about how I talk to myself internally. It was about breaking out of the victim head-space I was stuck in and living the life of a survivor again.
I thought I was going to Paris to take back my run. I thought I was on a mission to experience the joy, positivity and emotional high that running had once offered me. But this was about way more than running. I was going back to Paris to take back my control. I wasn’t just looking for my love of running again. I was looking for that part of me that refused to let negativity and past experiences control my life and define who I am. I was looking for the “You can knock me down, but I get right back up,” inside me.
I’m very happy to tell you that I found myself again. I even know the exact moment it happened. I’ll tell you about that in my race recap. But I did it. I found my internal strength. I found the “I am the author of my own story. I decide how this story ends,” in myself again.
I know that for so many out there, something similar happens. You have weight loss surgery, you change your life. You make healthy lifestyle changes that work for you. You’re happy. You’ve got life by the balls. You’re thriving. Then something happens. Life smacks you right across the face. You feel wounded. You feel beaten. Right there, in that moment, it’s hard to find the inspiration to get back up. The longer it takes you, the harder it gets.
But I’m here to tell you that just like my story, yours doesn’t end there. Each one of us has that come back in us. Sometimes it is hard to find. But it is in there. Inside of you. Just like it was inside of me. Whether your bounce back is in nutrition, fitness, or emotional wellness is irrelevant. You’re stronger than what life has handed you to deal with. You can change the end of this chapter. You can write a happier ending. You are the author of your story.
Through this opportunity I found the I in my motivation again. The “I did it!” shirt and the medals from this event, mean something even more profound to me than any other’s before. I found my run in Paris just like I wanted to. But, I found it by finding myself.
Every time I see the medals and the “I did it!” shirt, I see that accomplishment. I took back #MyBariLife and I really hope the message you hear in all of this, is that no matter where you are right now, #YourBariLife is yours to do what you want with.