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As the cliché states, anything worth achieving only comes through blood, sweat, and tears. Well, in my case, it was lots of sweat, some tears, and a little bit of blood—I tripped over branches periodically. At the age of fifteen, I encountered an obstacle I couldn’t simply circumvent: my weight. Unlike most difficulties I had encountered up until that point in my life, there was no instantaneous fix for being obese. I would have to persevere and remain diligent to see any sort of result; after a sobering doctor’s appointment, I decided I would wake up the next day and do what any sane person would: pound some pavement and go for a run.
With “Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac blaring in my ears – if Bill Clinton could win a presidency with that song, it could motivate me to run – I set off for a jog. Let’s just say “Don’t Stop” was still playing when I decided to stop running and start walking. I realized that I didn’t actually know how to run; I imagine I may have resembled an extra from the Walking Dead mixed with Phoebe from Friends in my attempt. I decided that it may be prudent of me to begin my journey with a “single step” and walk instead since I once bought the Lao-tzu quote on a bookmark (so it had to have worked for someone).
Well, walking became speed walking, speed walking became jogging, and, before I knew it, I was a runner. I had lost nearly fifty pounds in the process, and it seemed as if every person I knew was complimenting me on my weight loss. I relished in the way I looked because Anna 2.0 seemed better in every sense of the word.
Anna 2.0, I would soon come to find out, was not better in any way than Anna®. I still tripped over my own two feet as I walked, snorted when I laughed and ate from the “USE SPARINGLY” compartment of the food guide pyramid (occasionally). I was still insecure about the way I looked, and deep down, I was maybe even more concerned with my external appearance than I had been previously. Losing weight was not a panacea for the idiosyncrasies I had so hoped it would cure.I had accomplished what I had set out to do quite successfully; in the process, however, I had failed. I was trying to completely forget the person I was beforehand. I figured that if I lost weight, it would lead to an “aha” moment so life-affirming, Walter Isaacson would be knocking on my door asking to write my biography.
One seemingly unremarkable morning, while on a run, my “aha” happened. Looking back, there were two salient realizations that I came to that morning. One was that Oprah was a liar. Unlike her “aha,”mine didn’t involve Dr. Oz telling me to eat kale on my stage at Harpo Studios (I was wearing sweatpants). Moreover, if I stopped to look around at what I had already accomplished, I might realize that I wasn’t the magnificent failure I accused myself of being; in reality, I was the perfectly imperfect Anna®-constantly falling, evolving, and rising again (“being human” in Dr. Phil’sterminology).
Running is quite comparable to therapy (albeit more cost-effective). I am never the fastest runner on the track or the runner setting state records; in fact, I’m usually the person getting lapped by those runners. Running, however, has never been about beating other people; it’s always been about beating myself, especially on those days when I am two steps away from quitting. On those days, I think of the first step I took that partly-cloudy April day; I then break out my special presidential campaign playlist – including, but not limited to “Take A Chance On Me” (McCain) and “I Won’t Back Down” (Obama) – and take that first step for the thousandth time.
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