I never thought I would be a runner. I ran cross country for about two weeks in high school, but I dropped that when my hating it conveniently coincided with severe pain in my left knee, which turned out to be the result of several osteochondromas (non-malignant bone tumors) rubbing against the muscles and tendons.

In fact, I never liked exercise of any kind. My hand-eye coordination is horrible; P.E. was always my longest class of the day, though there were others for whom it was longer. Basketball days were absolute worst; the game mystifies me to this day. And the thought of spending hours in a gym, or running without a bear chasing me, or doing any kind of workout at all … unfathomable.

But I was lucky. I was blessed with a high metabolism and genetically small frame. I wore the same size pants well into my 30s. And then, as they will, things changed.

I’ll skip the details of my weight gain and loss, but let me just offer this: At one point in my heavier days, I developed the idea that as much as I hated to think about it, the only way I was going to lose any weight was to run it off. I would run only as far as I could, and then stop, and see if I could run a little bit more the next day, and so on. Well, I discovered I literally could not make it to the end of my block, and recovery took about a half hour. I gave up.

But it turned out I started losing weight without exercise. Maybe it was my new job, maybe the stress of losing both my mother and my father-in-law a month apart, maybe that I forced myself off of ice cream before bed … whatever it was, I started to shrink. And I thought, “If I’m shrinking slowly doing nothing, I might shrink quickly doing something.” And I was right.

On these pages, I’ll record the mental and physical transformation that I have found through the (for me) highly unlikely process of running–mostly mental. But unlike P.E., your participation is strictly optional.