Last Friday was a spectacular spring vacation day. The sunny warm morning was perfect for a run. I had a 5K on Sunday and had been pretty remiss about running this past week. I desperately needed the practice and set out for a 3 mile run through my neighborhood.
As I ran, I caught myself looking at my shadow numerous times. There were times when the angle of the sun cast my shadow as a tall thin runner. At other times, I turned the corner and the shadow cast the truth of my height and weight on the pavement. I have to admit I liked the shadow of the taller sleeker Tom. Funny things these shadows are.
Living in the shadow
For most of us, it is easier to live the shadow of our former selves. The shadow gives us protection and is more comfortable. It is about what is known and protecting ourselves from the unknown. The problem with living in the shadow is that we do not grow or move forward.
A challenge I had through my first year of my weight loss surgery journey was trying to live as a new person in the shadow of my former weight, habits and memories. I did pretty darn good and progressed well. At the same time, I knew I needed more than my daily treadmill routine and my surgeon’s and nutritionist’s advice and guidance.
In my second year post op, I upped the ante and began cycling and working on making changes that the shadow of my former self could never envision. My journey took a new turn; not so much in terms of weight but with physical and mental changes. I knew that I needed to own my success for it to be permanent.
Standing over the shadow
“I am a champion standing over the shadow of my former self.” — Adam Johnson
Adam Johnson, an amateur bodybuilder, wrote the above quote when speaking about the physical and mental changes he made in his my life. He chose to be the champion, not the shadow. This quote really speaks to my journey today.
Shifting the perspective from living in the shadow to standing over the shadow was exactly what I did during my second year post-op. For me, that meant building a wellness vision to live by. That exercise caused me to look inward and discover what changes I had to make and commit to in my new life. I often tell people that to my surprise I found that happiness came out as the primary motivator in my life.
That game of shadows on last Friday’s run did expose that I would love to be that tall skinny runner. It also showed the reality of the person I am. I would have probably thought of this differently four years ago. That shadow I lived under would have kept me from moving forward.
Today, I do stand above the shadow. Friday, I laughed off the image knowing that I am out here running, cycling, hiking, and enjoying the outdoors more than I ever had in my life. To me that means happiness and that is what defines me as a person.
I encourage people to stop living in the shadow and instead stand over the shadow. Is that easy? Heck no! Is it worth it? Heck yes! I am no psychologist or counselor; I cannot give you a step by step map to make that shift. My favorite advice to people is to make one tiny change today. Follow it up with baby step changes in the weeks, months and years to come. Soon you will be standing over your shadow.