I’m going to brag for a minute because I’m proud of myself.
It’s been made out to be such a dirty word – it’s unbecoming to be proud of oneself. It’s considered a deadly sin, to be proud.
But when you work your ass off and you start seeing changes in yourself, you should be proud. You earned it.
And so today, I tell the story of why I am proud of me!
It was Day 24 of my 100 Days of Running/Walking. I’ve briefly mentioned it before, but I haven’t made it a public affair. Beginning on September 27th, I started 100 Days of Running and Walking. Every day, I commit 30 minutes to either a run or a walk, regardless of the weather, how I am feeling, or what is going on in my life. Every day. For 100 Days. No excuses. Odd days are run days, even days are for walking.
And so, it was Day 24 – October 20th – and it was pouring. I’m not just talking a light rain with intermittent breaks. I am talking buckets of water falling from the sky at a rate so fast that it filled a stray wine glass left on the patio to the brim in less than an hour, type of rain.
As I laid in bed that morning, listening to the sound of the rain slamming on the windows, I contemplated skipping my walk.
It’s such a good day to stay in bed and read.
I wanted so desperately to stay inside, snuggled up in my bed.
Just get up, Melendez.
So, begrudgingly, I did. And as I do every morning since starting the 100 Days, I put on my workout clothes. I don’t allow myself to get dressed in normal wear or to stay in my pajamas – even if the walk or run isn’t happening at that moment, I only put on workout clothes when I wake up. It’s the first step in holding myself accountable.
Ryan (the dog) and I moseyed on downstairs. He was eager to get outside for his morning bathroom break. I slid the glass door open and stepped aside.
He sat down and sighed.
Even under the protection of the deck upstairs, the rain was splashing into the house. Waterfalls were flowing off the sides of the deck, forming massive mud puddles in the backyard.
Ryan whined and lay down.
Even he wasn’t having it that day – and all he had to do was run outside to pee.
“Well, pup, it’s supposed to do this all day. I’m not sure what to tell you. Are you going out?”
He stood up, huffed at me, and sauntered back upstairs.
“Guess not,” I said aloud to myself.
I grabbed my raincoat and put on my sneakers before standing at the front door, watching as the rainwater turned our cul-de-sac into a stream. Water flowed from the driveways into the street – I was certain the nearby river would flood our neighborhood by day’s end should it keep raining like this. I sighed, wanting to follow Ryan back upstairs.
If you don’t go now, you won’t go. Just get it over with.
And so I pulled my hood over my head, and stepped out into the torrential downpours.
I walked, head down, one foot in front of the other, for 15 minutes, until I heard the chimes on my phone, indicating it was time to turn around. My legs and feet were soaked. Water sloshed from my shoes. It was as though I just swam to my turn-around point.
As I took my phone out of my coat pocket to turn off the timer, the rain started to let up just a bit. I could lift my head and look straight ahead, instead of down at the ground. And when I looked up, I was taken back by the beauty of the dark, gloomy morning.
It was peaceful. Not a soul in sight. Traffic on the nearby road was non-existent. The smarter folks were probably still snuggled in bed, warm and dry, avoiding the outdoors that morning.
I stood for several minutes, admiring nature’s art.
It was in that moment when I realized that had I opted to skip my walk, to cave in to my inner-laziness or to the four hundred excuses I made that morning, I wouldn’t have been able to experience that beauty, that moment of stillness in the rain. And I was suddenly incredibly proud of myself, and what I had accomplished that morning.
It wasn’t just that I went out for a walk in the rain. Anyone can do that. I was proud because two months ago, that rain would have deterred me from doing anything productive. Two months ago, the rain would have been the perfect excuse to put off taking care of myself that day. And it wasn’t just that day – even on perfectly sunny, great-day-for-a-run days, two months ago, I would have found an excuse not to get out and do something healthy for myself.
But not that day. That day, as I stood in the rain, watching the droplets form ripples in the puddles, I realized that I had broken through a barrier. I put my self-care first. My commitment to my health, both physical and mental, came first. I made a commitment to myself, and I followed through.
And damnit, I was going to be proud.
I nearly skipped home that morning. I was so stupidly happy, with tears in my eyes, because I felt that I had finally done it – done what, exactly? I wasn’t sure that morning. Because I knew that this was so much more than just committing to a 30-minute walk or run every day.
Two weeks later, and I am still proud of myself. I recognize that the pride isn’t due to my ability to run or walk every day. I am proud that I’ve discovered my power to change – that I have control over the decisions I make every day, and that by taking one small step, every day, no excuses, I can make a lasting difference in my life.
I have the power to change.
Experts say that it takes a minimum of 21 days, but sometimes as long as a year, to form a new habit. I’m anecdotal evidence that this is true. It took me 24 days, and today, having finished Day 38 as of this writing, I can say that the habit is securely in place. Even when work consumed my every waking moment, and I still hadn’t finished the second grade auction project, and N’s Halloween costume was still needing sewing (Day 30), I went for a walk. Even with a sinus infection turned upper respiratory infection, I still got out for a run (Day 35). And when the weather went from 78 degrees to 34 degrees overnight (Day 37), I still went for a run.
Because I made a commitment to myself.
Because I proved to myself that I can make changes.
And so I’ll be proud.
Because I’m worth it.
What is a habit that you are trying to form or break? How do you hold yourself accountable?