Even when no one is listening…

Hi.

My name is Rachel Sproles.

I’m twenty-four years old.

And I just ran eight mothereffing miles today.

481998_4386742989946_716500142_n (1)This was me a year ago on my birthday. At my heaviest I weighed 196 pounds. Today I weigh 172 pounds. I share this information because most people are afraid to. Back in January of 2013, I decided to start taking my health seriously. The girl you see in the picture next to the prettiest pink tractor you ever did see wasn’t capable of running eight miles. Not because of her weight; though it does make it more difficult. No, that girl couldn’t run because she didn’t believe she could. Years of being told otherwise had taken their toll. Until one day she decided to prove the world otherwise.

January and February were two loooooong months filled with walking 1-3 miles every other day on the Blue River Trail in Columbia City, Indiana.  My goal was to change my habits. I already had learned to love my body just the way it was. My energy level was lacking and that’s what I wanted to change. When I looked in the mirror I loved every inch of skin, flab and stretch mark. I knew that if I couldn’t love myself at my “worst” then I would never love any changes that took place. I didn’t want to buy into the grass-is-always-greener-mentality that I had witnessed so many friends and acquaintances readily fall into. I wanted to love all of me before trying to improve any part of me. So I focused on the little things. Baby steps towards healthy Rachel. I walked through the worst two months of winter. Bundling up. Earbuds in. One foot in front of the other.

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I lost ten pounds in those two months without even trying. At the same time, I focused on my diet. Cutting out junk food over time. Learning to fulfill my cravings with healthier options. I joined the YMCA.   Dedicating myself to hitting the gym four days a week. Starting with the elliptical and weight machines; I expanded my comfort zone by facing the demons inside I’d grown to love. In March, I added Yoga to my exercise program. And continued my struggle towards running a mile solid. The weight continued to melt off without me even trying.

In April, I ran my first 5K with my dear friends, Ben & Chad.  These two have been like brothers to me. Offering support physically, emotionally and spiritually. Running with them brought out all the less than perfect parts of my person. Some of my fondest memories are of the times we laced up to run outside exactly when I didn’t want to. Struggling for breath I would verbally express whatever emotion was coming to the surface. We’d talk it out. Sweat it out. Work it out. Until I had conquered that particular demon. That’s the beauty of running for me. I am so focused on maintaining control of my breath that I’m forced to face whatever fear lies deep within begging to be surfaced.

100MEDIA95IMAG0100Fast forward to May. I ran my second 5K race – solo this time. My mama walked her first 5K. And I couldn’t be any more proud of her. Since then, she has taken steps towards substituting healthier habits and food options for the family.  After the race, I started training for my first 10K race.Which ended up not happening but resulted in a personal run of 6.5 miles instead of 6.2 

After that race, my fitness bug experienced a sudden squashing. My body hit a stopping point. Twenty-four pounds of myself had vanished. The rest remained. Stubbornly shifting fat into muscle. I stopped calorie counting. There was no longer a need to. I had learned how to maintain a healthy “diet” effortlessly; even allowing myself to enjoy an occasional treat or two. Part of me felt like something was missing. While I had learned to love 196 pound Rachel…I was struggling to love 172 pound Rachel. Strange I know. After three years of hiding behind my weight my safety net was gone.

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The end of June, I cut off all my hair as a symbol of: independence, celebration, self-love and victory. I didn’t want to be the girl who hid behind long hair, excuses and unhealthy habits. I ran away to Tennessee with Amara.  For my first REAL “grown up” road trip. In less than three days our friendship graduated to sister-ship.  This woman is beautiful inside and out. I am so grateful to have her in my life. And now *big announcement time* living with me!  Her friendship is genuine. We fall so naturally into each other. Tonight we celebrate her moving in with a candle burning ceremony.

Amara helped me realized the importance of balance in life. There’s a time for everything; the key point being moderation. July was a month filled with parties, food and an insane amount of friends. I am happy to say I’ve maintained my weight without even trying to. I want to enjoy my life without being attached to a limiting fitness schedule. Eventually, I will make it to my goal of running a marathon! The Veteran’s Marathon is November 9th. I have no idea how prepared I’ll be by then but I WILL be running that day….just don’t know how far.

I tried sticking to a rigid running schedule and failed miserably. I ended up hating running all together. So I decided to focus on strength training by running shorter distances at a faster pace. My fastest mile time is 10:28. My personal goal for the month is to run a mile in ten minutes or less. Runkeeper  is my tool of choice for record keeping. I started using it back in April after my first race. Being able to look back over the past four months has helped me stay focused on exactly how much I have improved.

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Four months ago….

My fastest mile was 13:30. Today it’s 10:28.

The furthest I could run was 3.1 miles. Today I ran eight.

I just started running. In four months I’ve run over 90 miles.

I could barely make it through a shift at work without feeling exhausted. Today I’m frequently told how I “glide across the dining room”.

I was physically weak. Today I am basking in my own personal strength.

I struggled to believe in myself. Today I confidently conquered a goal.

That girl you see in the picture there is still Rachel. Only even MORE so. Each day, she is becoming more and more comfortable in her own skin. Eager to share her journey. Happy. Thriving. Alive.

Grateful for all the love in her life. Celebrating a year of personal victory. Surrounded by a community of support. Still putting one foot in front of the other. I may have had to walk through some awful moments to get here but it was worth every step. And though I may want to give up…and though I may have to slow down…and though I’m not quite where I want to be {YET}….

I AM BETTER THAN I ONCE WAS

As long as, that rings true I know I am headed in the right direction.

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Love,

Rachel 🙂 ❤

 

P.S. For details of my eight mile run click this LINK

 

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