Look up

anonymous-376540_1280On a recent visit to the gym, I noticed a new gym member. She was noticeable because she was almost inside the locker while changing into her gym wear, and she walked around the gym with her head down and her hair covering her face. I instantly recognized myself in her.

Like her, I used to walk around the gym looking at the floor. I avoided eye contact with others, I refused to look at the ceiling-to-floor mirrors, and when I stepped on the scale, I made sure there was no one close by. I used to change into my gym clothes while still wearing my office shirt. I was carrying extra weight (a lot of it), I was embarrassed and worried that the fit and slim gym goers would think I did not deserve to be in the same room as them, and I did not want anyone to notice me until I reached my ideal weight.  I don’t know if this woman’s reasons are the same as mine but I’m willing to bet that they’re not that different.

It took more than a few trips to the gym before I peeled my eyes off the carpet. It could have been the constant cheerful greetings from the gym staff, or the small helpful gestures and encouraging words from fellow gym patrons, or the sense of pride that slowly swelled in me every time I stepped inside the gym, but one day, I looked up. Then I looked around me. Then I smiled at the lady struggling with the leg curl and later asked a beefed up stranger to teach me how to use the rowing machine. Then, I looked at a mirror and noticed the promising outlines of my biceps. I remember thinking, “Why didn’t I look up much earlier?”

I wasted a lot of time worrying about what others thought of me, when in fact my fellow gym users were too focused on themselves and their workouts to even notice me, much less judge me. Contrary to my fears, those who noticed were supportive and helpful to insecure beginners like me who had no clue how to use exercise machines or do squats properly and safely. Many of them were once overweight and beginners themselves. Not once did I encounter anyone who laughed at me, at least not openly. And, forget about being invisible – if you are the only one who goes around the gym obsessed with the parquet flooring or who changes into your sports wear while fully clothed in your business outfit, you will be noticed. 

Maple leaves by the roadside

Maple leaves by the roadside

I’m not saying you shouldn’t look down once in a while. You don’t want to trip while walking, do you? And sometimes you’d find art on your pavement.

 

 

 

 

 

But most of the time, all you see is asphalt, a gray brownish sidewalk, or just plain old dirt.

Pavement

Pavement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, when I run I’d rather see this:

Fishing boats

Fishing boats

Wouldn’t you? So, the next time you are feeling insecure and feel your head bowing down, look up. The view is usually so much better. And, more importantly, you (yes, you) deserve to be seen, to walk around with your head high, to be confident, because regardless of how you look, or how imperfect you feel, or how small you think you may be, you are not; you are awesome.

Look up.

The last days of autumn

Autumn never stays long enough and winter arrives too early; this year, winter arrived far too early. Over the past four weeks, I’ve watched the golden trees along my running path discard their red, gold and yellow leaves; I’ve suffered the autumn breeze turn into a blustering frosty wind; I’ve observed the migrating birds fly south.  Continue reading

My exercise-induced sugar levels

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First post-run BG
When I started self-monitoring my blood glucose, I was a zealous tester, testing up to ten times a day. But I tested only for food and not for exercise. Testing for other things meant using more strips, which were not cheap, and pricking more times than my fingers could handle. In addition, I did not consider it necessary because exercise is crucial to controlling diabetes and lowering high post-meal BG level, which I thought meant that exercise automatically gobbled up my BG. But one blood test laid bare my ignorance. Continue reading

Postmortem of a half-marathon

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Although I finished the half-marathon which I ran two weekends ago, I failed to meet the cut-off time. Why? The long and short of it is that I was ill-prepared to meet the challenge. Why?

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Missing the cut-off time

I may be a slow runner but I’ve always officially finished my races, until last weekend, when I did not make the cut-off time of a half-marathon.

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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What matters

Yesterday, I ran my long run along Tama River in preparation for a half-marathon this coming Saturday. In the middle of the run, I heard the approach of a large mass of running steps behind me. Without thinking, I started to step aside to let the runners pass. That involuntary reaction was honed from years of getting out of the way of fast runners.

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Image courtesy of olovedog at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Break from Diabetes

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As the plane taxied down the runway at 1:00 a.m. on the first day of my vacation a few weeks ago, I reached into my bag for my dark pink UltraMini. My husband, with a look of concern, asked why I was testing my blood glucose. I felt fine. I just wanted to know my body’s reaction to the stress of flight and time zone changes. My husband quietly asked me what I hoped to gain from that particular piece of information. Continue reading

Slowly but surely

turtle-152080_640A few weeks ago, I’ve had a pleasant surprise. As I was going through my journals, I discovered that I had lost between nine to ten kilograms (the number is still fluctuating) in the past six years. That’s about 1.67 kilograms a year. Of course, I was extremely ecstatic.  Continue reading

Where’s kindness?

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I’ve been angry these past couple of weeks after I heard about Robin Williams’ suicide. My anger is not directed at him but at those who were callous enough to call him selfish, cowardly or worse for choosing when to leave the world. Continue reading