Heart pounding, running out of breath, lungs failing, sweating like a pig! That was me. I still recall, very vividly in fact. I had just taken up running and those first days were just pure torture. Why subject myself to that, you ask. Well… I was driven by an incessant desire for a flat tummy.

It all began when I fell pregnant.

You see, these kids we adore so much, come with a price tag attached. When they first make their debut in this God’s green earth, they wreak enormous havoc on our bodies. What with the weight gain, the stretch marks, the loose muscles? And…. voila! the next thing you are left with is a flabby belly and non-existent waistline. And don’t get me started on the ‘girls’(boobs), all shriveled and saggy, perpetually on a downward trend. The crown seems to go to the boob that touches the knees first.

More often than not, there is little that can be done to reverse the damage. Sure, technology can miraculously recreate and give you perky boobs (like those of Nicki Minaj), a flat stomach, and an intact vagina. However, for the average woman like myself, it’s never that serious. We work with what we have. I figured that I possess a strong pair of legs, which by running, would burn off the fat and flatten my tummy. So just like that, I launched into what would later morph into a lifestyle: running.

I lived in Dubai at the time and with the temperatures averaging 30+ degrees, a treadmill was the safest place to run unless one was brave enough to tempt a heat stroke!

Heart pounding, running out of breath, lungs failing and sweating like a pig! In retrospect, I had great intentions but was doing everything so wrong! I had picked up a luminous green fitting top, black pants and a pair of black sports shoes. They seemed sporty enough for the gym and off I went! It didn’t take long to figure out the treadmill operation but I do remember one inscription on the machine. It was in red and stated that I was to make an immediate stop if became dizzy. I do not recall what I had consumed before the workout nor do I remember what I ate afterward. All I know is that I accelerated the speed so high that it left me gasping for air. I didn’t have a concrete guideline of how to go about it, I just knew that I wanted to dispose of the fat.

Talk about fumbling in the dark!

If I knew then what I know now, I would do my due diligence and consult a personal trainer. Not only would he(I prefer a guy) shed the much-needed light on the basics, but he would save my neck from the agony of exercising poorly. I would enlist in a running group for some motivation. To heighten my commitment, I would carve out a definite time to run 3 to 4 times a week.

I now know that quality training gear is important. A lightweight, stretchable pair of pants and top not only make you feel sexy, which is superb motivation but also guarantees superior comfort. A good sports bra is must, gotta be gentle with the saggy ‘girls’! Next time you are out shopping for a sports shoe, go for one with a cushioning, it will minimize the running impact on leg joints.

I had no idea how easily manipulated the body can be, till I embarked on running. When I began, not a soul under the face of the earth could make me run more than 1K. Gradually, I realized that with proper warm-up and consistency, I could extend it to 1.5K. And with time, even clocking 7K. I began to feel as if I was giving Kipchoge a run for his money. Haha! I learned that running is a test of will, influenced by the mind. My lungs had slowly adapted, could readily absorb oxygen and convert it to fuel which kept me engaged for longer.

I had some humdrum days when the motivation gauge read zero. Twice, I stepped up to the treadmill and couldn’t last longer than 5 minutes. I recall stepping down and walking away. No amount of positive self-talk or mind power could make me run. It was then, that I learned to hearken to my body. At times, I forgot to stretch the muscles after a rigorous workout and ended up nursing sore muscles. The only way to alleviate the pain is to stretch, which is never a pleasant experience.

Several months ago, I sprained my right ankle and boy has it had an impact on my regimen! It’s bad enough not to feel a tinge of motivation, but it is worse to be oozing with zeal for a good run but be grounded due to a sprained ankle. I no longer weave my hair, because sweating after a workout used to cause an itching frenzy enough to bruise my scalp!

In light of all these, you might wonder why continue?

If running were to be mortalized, I believe ours would be a symbiotic relationship. I would feed it because it feeds me. The effect of rushing endorphins is exhilarating. Endorphins trigger the happy side of your brain. These hormones reduce stress and leave you feeling so good! I often refer to it as ‘runner’s high’.

Thanks, endorphins!

I would feed it because it is the best stimuli for clarity. My mind possesses razor-sharp focus after a good run.

I would feed it because, in addition to strengthening my heart, it promotes proper blood circulation and is immensely relaxing. I would feed it because it not only makes me come alive but all that sweating flushes toxins and clears my skin. Who doesn’t want clear skin?

I would feed it because it bags the crown for being the best regimen at weight management. God knows I live for those once-in-a-blue-moon moments when folks confuse me to be my son’s sister! Ha! Unfortunately, they are as short-lived as a flash of lightning. He never lets a minute pass, before telling them that I am indeed his mother and not his sister. Kids. They take everything away from you; perky boobs, flat tummy, tight muscles and even moments of glory. Would it kill him to just let it slide and let them believe we are siblings?

I am not yet at the crest of my heart’s desire. But I am nowhere close to where I started seven years ago. I am still striving to lay hold of that highly elusive flat tummy. I also think that I am doing poorly with regards to giving Kipchoge a run for his money. Taking into consideration that I embarked on running 7 years ago, I should be pumped up and fit enough to contest a full marathon. So I guess I need to roll up my sleeves and step on it.

 

The Christmas glitter is almost here.

It brings with it barbeques, luncheons, brunches, and dinners. And just like that, the bellies begin to inflate. A bit of bulging here and an emerging love handle there. Before you know it, the waistline is nonexistent and we begin to think that another baby is on the way!

Could this be your cue to take ownership of your body? What better way than to kick-start a running regimen? Small incremental steps will go a long way and you will look back in amazement at how running can transform your life. Your skin, tummy, legs, and glutes will improve significantly.

Your body will thank you for it.

Most importantly, your health will thank you for it.

Happy running!