I first started running in November last year when the days were short and wet.
It wasn’t easy but, I found myself forced forever forward, somehow compelled to get myself on the road and keep moving.
The human mind is a fascinating thing. Capable of stagnating for months, weeks, years even – with the body necessarily suffering the effects of the stasis. That’s how some people live their lives. Their daily rituals and routines, comforting and safe, become their prisons and eventually their death sentences. Unless there’s something or someone to shake them out of their stupor, they can live like this interminably. As if in a dream – the days fall off the calendar. As each day follows the same pattern, the memories of them converge until retrospective and prospective thinking become one and the same.
In such a way one can truly lose a grip on their time on this Earth. This was how I lived for half a decade. With the absence of any clear structure to my life (my University course hardly featured in my mind), from late afternoon start to passing out, inebriated and breathless, in the early hours of the morning, I could feel the precious years of my youth slipping away but I had not intention of taking control of them. In truth, it was easier to slide into obesity and deterioration.
I’m now over 6 months into my new life.
The old habits that I’d spent so long forming: excessive eating of chocolate bars and hours spent glued to my sofa, have been replaced by new healthier addictions.
It might sound strange but that’s what they feel like. Most people like to believe that their day-to-day lives aren’t ruled by tiny compulsions and habits, but I believe that is how we are all programmed. Every little action that brings you pleasure, no matter how big or small, has the capacity of becoming addictive. That’s how the chocolate bars felt to me. Everything from the act of purchasing them to the final bite of consumption was an experience that had become compulsively enjoyable. I simply couldn’t imagine feeling satisfied without them; happy would never be the right word.
It’s only once you try and overwrite these dopamine inducing highs that you realise how transient they are.
Whilst you’re in the midst of the addiction, you cannot envision living life in their absence. But I can safely say, after taking the first steps to reducing my weight and regaining my fitness, that no lifestyle is set in stone, nor should it be. Human beings may well gravitate towards habitual modes of behaviour, but to our credit we’re also capable of adaptation. To my surprise, I now experience a familiar rush of endorphins around halfway through my daily run, similar to the same high that I would get from my regular bar of chocolate.
For the last few months, that release of feel-good chemicals has started to disseminate throughout the entire run and even bleed into the rest of my day, on either sides. Who would’ve thought that simply going for a run every day would bring me such a feeling of elation.