Monday’s topic of “Change” over at Momalom’s 5-for-5 writing challenge finally gave me the (delayed) kick start to write this post…
Up until recently I’d held on to this one picture of me. It wasn’t paper, or digital, but something far more permanent. It had been inside my head, for years. In that picture I’m skinny, frail, and clumsy.
P.E. all the way through high school was torture for me. I was always the last one picked for any team. ALWAYS. (And it seemed that the only activities we ever did in P.E. involved teams, balls and a lot of throwing.) Classmates were nice to me but when it came to competition, I was a liability; I knew that, and didn’t blame the team captains. By 4th grade swimming, I’d become really good at forging excuse notes – I’ve got a cold, bronchitis, cramps…I became really good at giving up on the idea that my body was capable of anything but sitting, eating, and reading.
It’s a dangerous notion to carry into your adult life. It actually also didn’t help that I’ve always been slender, no matter how much I ate. Being a perpetual size 2 masked the fact that I couldn’t run a block without being winded, or have a physically exerting day without coming down soon with a cold. I’d get sick whenever I started an exercise program. It was a vicious cycle where I would try to make myself stronger, only to conclude that I was too weak to do it.
Like many people, I’ve started and stopped so many attempts to get off the couch. Then, a year and a half ago, I got tired of watching from the sidelines while my naturally athletic husband and son played ball, raced, or went to the beach. Late last year, I began rapidly sprouting grey hairs as well as the beginnings of a body that I can only say I used to see among my mother’s sluggish friends. Family time, fear of aging, vanity – whatever the reasons, it doesn’t matter – I pushed myself to start moving again, this time for good.
Last fall, Max (my husband) ran his first half marathon. I cried watching the old, the overweight, and the slow cross the finish line and for the first time in my life felt inspired to start a walk/run program. I ran a pathetic 50 seconds before my lungs started to hurt, and I gave that up too…for a few months. On and off over the last few weeks, I’ve tried getting back out there again. Today I can run just under 4 minutes. It’s hair-like improvement and I never dare tell my time to anyone but Max, but personally, I’m shocked that my body can actually change.
And I’ve started doing and enjoying hot yoga, something like running and swimming that I never even dreamed I’d be capable of because of its “extreme” conditions. Now every time I get through the non-stop 90 minute workout in a 105 degree room, I get a high reminiscent of what I experienced after giving birth to my son, the one true athletic achievement in my life.
After weeks of trying, I am finally able to do this: