Encouraging Words from a Stranger

I’m so hard on myself.

At the gym, sweating like a pig, I run at 5.5 speed, my treadmill inclined at 2%.  I run 3 miles- slowing down twice, at 15 minutes and 25 minutes.  At the end of the run I do a cool down, walking at 3.0 speed, my Ipod blasting a sad Sara Bareilles song in my ears as I shake my head in disappointment.

Sara Bareilles – Stay

I am not happy with the day’s run.

Part of me knows I pushed myself harder on this day than ever before.  Part of me knows that when the treadmill indicates I’d burned off over 400 calories that’s a good thing.  But the other part of me is frustrated that I haven’t shed the 40 lbs I’ve been trying to get rid of for four years now.  The other part of me screams in frustration at the fact that I had to slow down twice during the run.  That same part of me criticizes the fact that I didn’t do 4 miles instead of 3.  I’m feeling defeated and more exhausted than necessary because of this negative side of me telling me repeatedly that I’m not good enough – I didn’t work hard enough.

Gym

I slow to a stop and do a quick stretch, glancing at the other people working out in the gym.  Some with trainers, some on their own.  They all vary in shape and size as they grunt, huff and puff away on their weight machines or resistance training exercises.

I envy them.

Mostly because they’re still working out while I’m nearly done.  Also, because they don’t seem to be quitting in the middle of their workout.  I wipe the sweat from my face and hop off the treadmill, making my way to the ladies’ locker room.  I tell myself that tomorrow I will do better bite my lower lip to keep from crying.

In the locker room I change next to a woman I’d seen sweating it out with her trainer.  I ask her how that trainer was.  She liked him.  Then she says she’d been admiring me while I was running.  She says she was impressed and hopes to get there soon.  I’m surprised by her compliment.  I had not expected it nor did I think I deserved it.  But it made me feel good to hear it.  Like I could go a little easier on myself for not doing the 4 miles.  Like I could stop kicking myself for not having dropped (and successfully kept off) the 40 extra pounds.

I felt a little lighter just standing there talking to this stranger who had bothered to look up from her own workout to notice me.

Sometimes that’s all you need.

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