Cravings: Pickles and Ice Cream

When I started the “Couch to 5K” program, I knew I would discover things about myself. I knew I would find out just how far I could push myself physically. I assumed I would find the 22 year old body I’d been hiding under the remnants of 2 pregnancies. I hoped I would attain the nirvana of the “runners high,” and all the mental benefits it brings with it. To my surprise, none of these “goals” has been achieved. Instead, I have realized that I have incredible cravings.

The very first day that Emily and I started running, I felt this hunger in the pit of my stomach. I mean this literally. I texted her at least 7 times that day, talking about how hungry I was, how much I was eating, how much I wanted to be eating. I was convinced I’d jump started my motabolism, and I would be eating carb loaded meals 5 times a day for the foreseeable future. Twenty-four hours later, my body had adjusted to its usual busy, but unfit, resting motabolism. It has not re-awakened. Needless to say, I have not lost tons of weight during this program, but I haven’t gained any either, so positives all around. I have dropped a waist size, but gained a size in my thighs, so I’m still wearing the same jeans.

But the program has revealed other cravings, too. The first is my craving for competition. Be it with myself, with my running partner, with that girl from high school who ran then (and now does it for a living), or that guy who lives at the gym and has comments about my training, I’m always looking for the next opportunity to “out do” or prove someone wrong. Having a competitive nature can be positive, if it doesn’t become a detrement to your relationships. It is like ice cream, sweet and sometimes a motivation, but having too much can make you sick, and others too.

From my "super mom" competition

The more I’ve learned about about my competitiveness, the more I recognize that it fills every part of my life. At work, I strive everyday to do my best, but really, I’m striving to be better than my co-worker. Fueling this (undisclosed) competition is the fact that a promotion is available, and only one of us can get it. I also try to be better at my home, too. Whether it be some handy-man job that my husband seems to think he will get around to, stretching to the top shelf to reach the tupperware that I use everyday, or getting my kids fed-changed-and-asleep faster and easier than anyone else who does it, I make it a point to prove myself the best person to be in charge in my home. Yeah, how healthy is that for a marriage? At church on Sunday I try to make my kids the cutest, and best behaved in mass, while also appearing to be the most devout and considerate mom in the building. Really? Competition at mass? (BTW, I don’t really think anyone even notices my efforts- unless I fail, which happens more often than not.) This competitiveness really has a hold on me, and the C25K program has showed me just how much it infiltrates every part of my life.

Accompanying my need to be better, comes the craving for validation. Like pickles, validation is a wonderful flavor added to the meat of life, but on its own it is a bitter, salty item that can cause all kinds of problems, including retaining water… or, I mean, resentment. My need for validation also infiltrates all aspects of my life. When I post photos of my kids to facebook, I sit around all day wondering what people will comment about, and how many people may actually be thinking my kids are as cute as I do. I volunteer for projects I hate, just so I can hear someone say the words, “well done.” I even hung a card on the fridge because my grandma wrote that she was proud of me. It is a nasty aspect of my personality, and sucks to admit, but I crave validation for everything I do so much that it can be a more motivating force than any other thing in my life, including loving my family, friends, and God.

Of course, I know deep down that these “vices” are slowly eating away at my soul. There should be only one craving in my life, God, but lets face it, validation for your good deeds and faith doesn’t really come from above while we are on this earth, and patience isn’t one of my best virtues, either. Suppressing this much of my being is an incredible task, and if I challenge myself to do it, I’m really only feed my cravings yet again. And so, the C25K has revealed to me that I am pregnant with negative attributes that I need to learn to control and accept, so that I don’t encourage them in my children. Hopefully, I can focus my personality in a way to succeed as a woman, employee, mother, daughter, and wife, without becoming too much for my friends, family, and co-workers to take.

And so, tomorrow I will run my first ever 5K. I’m telling myself I’m only racing against my best time, but I’m guessing that once I’m out there with everyone on the line, I’m going to be pushing myself to beat the guy in the green shorts or the girl who put make-up on and curled her hair before she came to a midnight race. At least I’ve really enjoyed the training, and getting to know Emily a little better. I’m nervous as to what I will discover about myself as I continue running, and we aim for a 10K, half-marathon, and even a full marathon in the next year or so. Or maybe I will stop running when I come across the finish line with my head pounding, lungs grasping for air, thighs burning, ankles throbbing, and a view of the second to last person to cross the finish line.

And now I will check this blog and other posts constantly for the next two days to see if anyone has any comments. Sigh.


5 thoughts on “Cravings: Pickles and Ice Cream

  1. Ah Jules, where did that constant need for validation come from? I guess it’s the positive reinforcement (a good thing) that we got as children. I did, and still do, live to hear someone say they’re proud of me, that I did a good job, that I’m somehow a worthwhile human being.

    So, STEND, I’ll always be here to tell you I’m so proud of the amazing woman you’ve become, you’re doing an amazing job, and every day with you in it is brighter than the day before.

    BONUS: I’m not super competitive, so you can always be better than me at something too 🙂

    And yeah, I just fed your ‘vices’…. sorry….

  2. You are awesome!! This makes me want to apologize for screwing you up and not validating you enough so that you feel these things (mostly because that’s my personality to think everything is my fault), but more than that, I just want to say that you were born with that competitive nature as you will remember the statement you made when you were only about three, when we complimented your sister on how pretty she looked and you said “what about my hair”. Own it, embrace it, and recognize when to tamp it down, so that it doesn’t eat you alive…especially in Mass 😉
    I love you just the way you are…a true blessing to all who know you!

  3. You’ll probably beat me. I keep telling myself that I won’t bust it out of the start like everyone else and keep my own pace. Unfortunately that probably won’t happen and I’ll be gassed during mile number 2. Save some water for me after the race 🙂

  4. For the 5K, just set your goal to not walk at any time during the race. Then set little goals like beating that girl with the really cute body in front of you. Once you pass her, aim for the dude with no shirt. Just keep pushing yourself. 5Ks are much harder than the training because you DO push yourself harder than ever before so that you can beat that other person. You will be sore. You will be dying. You will be proud!

  5. Juile,
    You are an amazing woman raising 3 amazingly beautiful daughters! You do so much sometimes that I just want to come over, watch your girls, and send you out for a few minutes (hours) of “Julie time”. I pray each and every day for you and your family that you strive to come closer to God, because He ultimately is the one who will always correct our wrongdoings and praise the right things. He has mercy and love that never ends because that is his nature. Love you, Julie!

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